For many of us, our 30s is the time of life when we realize that adulthood is forever and that childhood is never coming back. It hits us that, now, it’s time to learn to adult and that 30th birthday changed everything! The inevitable and frantic question that follows is: What the f*ck to do?! Most of us start families in our 30s, enter more stable careers and housing situations, and watch our parents begin to age. And while the uncertainty and freedom of the 20s shifts into stability, the 30s bring new worries: financial savings, marriage and family planning, career fulfillment, physical fitness, and the more general worry of “life satisfaction”. These new difficulties can add new stresses, straining physical and mental health, as well as the health of relationships, and dealing with these difficulties proactively is where therapy can help.
The Thirties: A Whole New World
The beginning of physical ailments is an inescapable part of aging and many of the ‘symptoms’ begin in the 30s. You may notice that you can’t keep off or shed the pounds as easily as you used to. A softball game or long run may leave those knees aching in a way you weren’t expecting. And our sex lives begin to change as well: some of us notice decreased (or increased!) sexual appetites or longevity, sex in long-term relationships may begin to feel a little stale, and sex after childbirth – don’t get me started! A good sex therapist (like yours truly!) can help you and your partner talk through your ‘new’ desires and sexual attitudes and develop routines in a way that feels comfortable for you both. This can work in tandem with physical fitness therapy or simply a concerted workout regimen to help you (and your partner!) performing your best, for years to come.
Therapy: The Manual to Surviving the 30s
Physical changes aren’t the only thing you can work on in therapy. In general, a good therapist can help you talk any of the issues I’ve mentioned so far: how children can change a marriage or relationship so you’ll know what’s coming and how to plan for it, or how the decision not to have children can have stresses (and joys) of its own. One of the benefits of growth in the therapy profession is that there are therapists for many specialized types of issues. So, if you’d like to change your financial or professional habits—you’d like to actually start saving, you’d like to begin to set and meet savings goals, or you’d like to reconsider your career decisions—plenty of therapists specialize in these areas and address them specifically.
I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…I KNOW I Can!
Now, It’s Time to Learn to Adult: How the 30th Birthday Changes EverythingFinally, family relationships, in general, are always changing, and one of the most salient parts of moving into our 30s is how we begin to notice roles changing in families. Many couples are getting divorced at older ages, and while we often celebrate the new adventures that parents get to have who might once have felt ‘trapped’ by social conventions, we overlook that divorces like these can wreak havoc on the children, even if children are in their 30s. Inevitably, life changes for parents like this will cause feelings in the adult children, and having a therapist with whom you can address those feelings is invaluable. Another change is that, as our parents begin to age, our own family roles change: we may take on new family responsibilities, leadership, and even care-taking and end-of-life planning. A good family therapist can help families begin to work through these concerns, and even when families resist attending as a group, an individual therapist can help you work on communication strategies that make these transitions smoother and more stress-free for everyone.
You just read Part 2 of my therapy through the decades series. Don’t forget to check out Part 1, How Therapy Benefits Emotional and Sexual Growth in Young Adults
What were the thirties like for you? Share your life changing story from your 30s in the comments below!