My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet) Book Club Discussion
1. Have you had a midlife crisis? If so, what was it, and how did you handle it?
2. The stars of My Favorite Midlife Crisis (yet) are 54-years-old, but not your grandma's 54. How does your midlife differ from your mother's? Your grandmother's?
3. Gwyneth never knew about her husband's sexual preference He'd kept it secret throughout their 26-year marriage. Are some issues better kept secret in a marriage? What secrets absolutely must be told? Need you always confess an extramarital affair? How about lusting for someone other than a spouse but not acting upon the impulse--must that be confessed? Is there ever any justification for keeping secrets from your spouse or partner?
4. Fleur decides at 55 she wants to get married. In today's culture, is a woman better off married or single? Under what circumstances is it better to be single than married? Would you chose the same spouse or partner today that you chose decades ago? If you found yourself single now, would you opt to marry again?
5. What advice would you give to Kat in dealing with Summer? Should you ever give in to adult children's emotional blackmail? Explore non-confrontational ways of dealing with a difficult adult child. How does the loss of influence over adult children alter the parent-child relationship?
6. What dating advice would you give to a friend starting over single in her fifties? Fleur uses all kinds of modern techniques to meet men. Discuss 21st century methods of connecting with the opposite sex. Have you ever used the following to meet prospective dates: 1) matchmaking websites2) personal ads3) modern matchmakers 4) dining clubs 5) dating services 6) speed dating? What do you think of these techniques?
7. Kat is uncomfortable when approached by a man 14 years younger? Would you date a younger man? How much younger? What are the advantages of the older woman/younger man dynamic? The disadvantages? Older men partner with younger woman much more frequently than the opposite. Does society view that paring differently than younger man/older woman? Explore the cultural acceptance of one, intolerance of the other.
8. Gwyneth has young Bethany McGowan nipping at her heels in the practice. How could she turn Bethany's attitude toward supportive rather than undermining? How would you deal with a younger colleague who challenged your authority? How does aging diminish a woman's power in the work place?
9. Gwyn succumbs to a coup de foudre, a lightening strike to the heart. Do you believe in love at first sight? Consider what factors contribute to love at first sight. What are the long-term prospects of a relationship that begins with fireworks? Does that kind of love last? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have fallen madly in love at all?
10. Throughout the book, the women cope with their changing self image during and post-menopause. Gwyneth, for example, who has always been attractive, nonetheless sees the consequences of aging on her face and rushes off to a plastic surgeon. Later in the book, her encounter with Ari Ben-Jacob, who is younger than she, boosts her self-confidence. How do the physical and emotional consequences of aging and menopause impact upon women's perceptions of themselves? How do these changes influence their relationships with men? Their sexuality?
11.Gwyn, especially, is juggling many problems in her life. Explore the coping mechanisms used by women caught in the generational squeeze between aging, ailing parents and needy adult children. How do middle aged women negotiate the demands on them from children, parents, and work?
12. How do middle aged women set boundaries within the family constellation? In Kat Greenfield's case, for example, her daughter Summer attempts to dictate with whom her mother should become romantically involved. How do you determine how much influence adult children should have on your decisions? How does the loss of influence over adult children alter the parent child relationship?
13. How does a middle-aged woman's relationship with her parents shift as both parties age, and how do all involved cope with this shift?
14. Discuss the legacy of unresolved childhood issues on adult children and their aging parents. In Dr. Gwyneth Berke's case, her father played the role of rescuer from an abusive mother. Gwyneth feels a strong sense of responsibility to him as Alzheimer's precipitates a mental decline. Gwyneth's mother is deceased. Nonetheless she deals with the memory of abuse. How can an adult survivor of childhood abuse respect her history and honor her survival while moving on to fully functional life? Discuss the differences between forgiveness and acceptance in these cases. Consider how anger and pain can be harnessed as motivation for a successful life.
15. Gwyn has been partner in a lucrative private practice but her passion is the Women's Free Clinic she established in midlife. You may live to be 100. What dreams do you have for the rest of your life? Discuss your plans for fulfilling those dreams.