10 Reasons Life Begins At 40
We have all heard the time worn phrase ‘life begins at 40’ and of course the pithy rejoinder ‘and ends at 41’. How many of us know the origin of the phrase or even understand what it is trying to say to us. The first part of the saying, which appeared on the scene in the early part of the 20th Century was actually a popular saying and gained currency when it was used as the title of a 1932 self help book by a gentleman called Walter Pitkin. The book was predicated on the fact that while date life expectancy in the US in the 1880s was only 40 years this had expanded rapidly, even given the horrors of the First World War and the Depression, to a (for the time) staggering 60 years at birth and still rising. Suddenly people had a potential retirement to look forward to, 40 was no longer considered old, rather it was a stepping off point into a new, previously unimagined, age of opportunities.
These days, of course, our life expectancy is much higher and many people are living healthy lives into their 70s, 80s and even 90s and beyond. With that in mind does the saying still apply? Is life over by the time you hit 35 or do the facts that we have families later and have the responsibility to care for ageing parents at the same time as we raise our children now mean that we have to wait until we hit 50 or 60 to really start enjoying ourselves? We firmly believe that life still starts at 40 and here are 10 reasons why!
10. Your 40s Are No Longer A Fashion Wasteland
If you are approaching your 40s now the chances are that your parents turned 40 around the 1980s. Think back to how they dressed…sure everyone made some pretty dire fashion choices in the 1980s and early 90s. Young people either channeled their inner Dallas and rocked shoulder pads or went all Fame with leg warmers and leotards. Sadly (or then again perhaps not) those looks were very definitely only for the young, most people with children, a mortgage and responsibilities were far more sober in their attire. Older women got to rock the floral sack dress that made them look like an extra from Little House on The Prairie probably topped with a dubious perm. Things were not much better for men. Younger men might have been dressing like Marty McFly but their dads dressed like, well, his dad. Middle age men wore sober suits in nasty shades of brown, tight shorts for sports and not much in between. The net effect was a huge gulf between the clothes that young people wore and the clothes that middle age people wore, meaning that people who were middle aged automatically looked old.
These days the line between acceptable dressing in your youth and in your middle age is much more fluid, sure there are conventions you should be aware of, no one wants to be ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ but turning 40 no longer means you need to sacrifice your personal sense of style. Indeed, you are more likely to be confident in yourself and therefore confident wearing what makes you feel good.
9. Modern Knowledge And Technology Helps Us Stay Young
Take a look back at photographs of your grandparents at age 40. Chances are they look an awful lot older than you do right now. Why was that? Partly they had a tough life, they may have lived through the War or the Depression and had to deal with the physical and emotional impacts of such life changing events. There were other differences as well, the wide range of healthy foods that we take for granted as so readily available today was just not available and many popular foods were cooked in saturated fats; people did not pay the same attention to nutrition as we do now. Furthermore most people smoked or lived with someone who did and suntans were seen as a positive thing.
All of this meant that people used to age faster than they do now. These days most women (and many men) will moisturize their skin, wear sun protection, take supplements, eat organic and exercise regularly. Experts believe that in terms of your skin, up to 80% of ageing is down to lifestyle choices and we are now equipped to make better ones than our parents and grandparents. This means that as long as we take care of ourselves we look younger for longer and turning 40 no longer needs to mean wrinkles and worry lines.
8. Your Children Are Out Of Diapers!
The issue of children and the age you have them is one area where people might claim that life no longer begins at 40 and try to push that figure closer to 50. Baby Boomers tended to have had their children in their 20s meaning that they got their lives and homes back in their 40s as their children left home for work or college. Members of Generations X and Y (particularly professionals where both partners work) are more likely to delay children until they are more settled in their careers. The average age of new first time mothers is now in the late 20s with more and more women waiting until their 30s to have their first child. While this does mean that children will still be at home when their parents turn 40 at least those parents can look forward to deliverance from the dreaded diaper.
Small children may be lovely but they are hard work, parents can expect sleepless nights, explosions of bodily wastes, messy homes, fussy eating and lots of other stressful situations. By the time most parents have hit their 40s they can look forward to a little bit of a respite as their children become self-sufficient teens. Of course there might still be some sleepless nights but for a whole host of other reasons and at least they can, in theory, wash their own clothes and get their own food! Parents can look forward to really getting to know their children as they grow up, discuss their life’s ambitions, share hobbies and favorite activities. Simply put, older children are a lot more fun.
7. But You Can Have More If You Want Them
What better way to celebrate life beginning at 40 than with a brand new baby? In our parents’ generation women who fell pregnant in their 40’s (even second or later pregnancies) were considered ‘elderly’. These days many women choose to delay formalizing their relationships or trying for a baby until they are established in their careers.
While women are told that fertility declines after age 35 (that famous biological clock) it is not impossible to get pregnant naturally in your 40s and, for those that struggle, IVF and other fertility treatments are more successful and accessible (if you have the money) than ever before. Being an elderly primigravida (older first pregnancy) used to be considered something akin to a taboo. Older parents were put on a dreadful guilt trip; the pregnancy would not be healthy, the parents would be too tired to care for their children properly and would die while their children were still young.
It is fair to say that there are risks to pregnancy in your 40s, women are more likely to miscarry, there is a greater likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities and birth weight is likely to be lower. Nevertheless as more and more women choose to delay pregnancy OB/GYNs are becoming more adept at supporting parents in their 40s through successful conception and pregnancies. Parents who delay pregnancy to their 40s are often said to be more established, have more time for the baby and to be more financially secure than younger parents.
6. Your Sex Life Starts To Get Really Steamy
It is a popular myth that young people are the ones having all the best sex. The truth is that, while they may be limber, those in their 20s and 30s have not quite worked out what turns them on. They are also more likely to suffer from body confidence issues and not yet have found their long term partner. As a result they are far more likely to fake it and pretend to be satisfied with their partners than those who have reached their 40s.
There is truth in the saying that practice makes perfect as by the time people turn 40 they are confident in their bodies, have learned what works for them and are confident enough to ask for it in bed. In a survey of the sexual habits of over 2000 40+ women, over 80% said that they were more adventurous between the sheets in their 40s than they were when they were younger. While more than a quarter of married women over the age of 40 admitted to having an affair a staggering 58% said the best sex they had was with their husbands, proving that long term commitment often pays off.