Andrew Osenga started a new podcast earlier this year called The Pivot. Episode 3 is his discussion with musician, producer, and composer Don Chaffer. Toward the end of the interview, Don talks about how he’s started writing for musical theater, and how it provides an outlet that he needs as a 40-ish father and husband.
…when you have kids in particular you just give and give and give and give. And one day you wake up and you’re like ‘what do I get, what’s my part in this thing? Because I used to do a lot of stuff I liked… sometimes I would go out to eat or watch a movie! That was crazy!’.
I told a monk friend of mine one time, he said ‘tell me everything’. And I said ‘well I feel like between family and work I’ve got nothing left.’ And he said “yeah! and a hundred years ago you’d be dead by now, too.” So, there’s just something about this phase of life, it’s just – he’s like, ‘people died at that point just because they were too pooped to keep living’.
And I feel like – so that’s what a mid-life crisis is. You hit these limitations and you think ‘I’d rather have, you know, a Corvette and a hot blonde with a boob job. And so you do these crazy stupid things, blow up your whole life. And it’s like — one of the jokes I’ve made is that my mid-life crisis was music theater instead of hookers and blow. But it’s true.
I think that it became – one of the things I realized is that you find a healthy outlet to give yourself some space, to do some things you enjoy. Because that’s important. You can’t live on only sacrifice. It ends up being a negation.
While love and sacrificial love are endless, hypothetically, they aren’t for a human, right? They’re only endless because they come from somewhere else. There’s some point you kinda run yourself out and you realize ‘I don’t have infinite capacity here to be a loving husband and father. I’ve gotta do something for myself.’
The other piece of it for a marriage is to try to invite each other into it together. Not necessarily doing the same things, because usually that isn’t going to help – you need space from each other – but invite each other into that headspace of like, ‘do some things for yourself. I’ll do some things for myself. We’ll get a babysitter if we can afford it. Or swap. I’ll take the kids tonight, you take them on Wednesday.’
I resonate with that more than I’d like to admit many days. (I bet my wife does, too.)