I wrote the following earlier this year that may help with some of the answer to your question in the broader sense, and then I’ll focus more deeply on your question as it relates to those houses:
There are basic transits that correlate to significant life changes. The most common one in people’s minds is probably the first Saturn Return. But the transit paths seem to create nearly concentric elliptical movements that overlap each other. For example, while we see Saturn as the 7.5-year motions early on, at age (plus or minus) 21, when we are at the last square before the first Saturn Return, we’re also at the first Uranus square to its natal position. This pattern will show again about 21 years later when Saturn then opposes its natal position and Uranus opposes the natal position of Uranus. According to Barbara Hand Clow, Chiron spends most of its 50-51-year cycle moving between Saturn and Uranus. In her book Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, Clow writes that she “explored the three major shifts that we all experience in our lives—Saturn Return around age 29, Uranus opposite Uranus (mid-life crisis) around age 38 to 44, and Chiron Return around age 51.”
She and I identify her reference of the “mid-life crisis” differently, however. I see the period from about age 35 to 42 (and I admit that this is a flexible period that is really based on the patterns the various planets will follow along the elliptic, but we’re both around the same age period) as the Life Cycles Crisis. I pull away from calling it a simple “mid-life crisis” since there’s nothing simple about it, and I think our perceptions of this period can shine much light on things where we might otherwise falter:
This period starts with the first post-Saturn Return square and through the following 7.5 years, the native will experience the first Neptune square to itself, the first Pluto square to itself, and the first Uranus opposition to itself before the first post-Saturn Return opposition to itself occurs. I’ve seen people experience a variety of reactions from chaos to calm, collected, achievement-oriented growth through the Saturn Return, but I have never seen anyone find that 35-42-year period as calm. The individual experiences a sense of his/her own mortality through sudden losses of people from his/her past, a sense of regret for things s/he could have done differently, a massive self-reexamination that becomes a mental beating of self as if those things passed by could have been done differently. Perhaps it’s the way the individual responds that could make a difference between acceptance of the period for what it is and self-torture as a form of punishment for those things s/he sees as failure.
Saturn plays a key role in each of these shifts, serving as a testing ground for us to examine perhaps what we’ve done right—and what we could have done better. It may be the evolution of what becomes deep personal insights as we grow through each of these stages because Saturn is at the last quarter before the second Saturn Return around the time of the Chiron Return.
Depending on what aspects are involved with that natal Pluto position, the square tends to turn the focus on oneself even if one hasn’t intended it to be like that. From the first house transit, Pluto tends to make life pretty downright unbearable for the individual, and it’s hard for the individual to remember that s/he just might need to lighten up instead of clenching harder in fear of losing control over his/her life. There is a period in which a lull will be, or should be, felt here, and that will be about halfway into the transit. it’s easy to spot because the native stops fighting each and every thing as if there’s no tomorrow. But at the entrance to the first house, and again as Pluto moves toward the end of the first house, it’s simply agonizing for the native to endure.
For those involved with the person in the midst of it, if you feel like it’s something of a soap opera, you may well be right. Nevertheless, I hope that helps.
Steven Forrest says that a well-lived Pluto in your chart gives you the great gift of feeling your life to be meaningful. But if you do not work with your Pluto, do not honor its call, do not pay its price; the bleakness of life will get you. You will be enfolded by that worst feeling of all: the feeling of your life being without meaning. It’s a great insight and I have found it to be true. He’s a great teacher and you really must get that book I mentioned earlier if you are working with Pluto or trying to understand it in charts.
Steve talks about Pluto’s square to itself by transit as a time when your beliefs are questioned. When things you have always taken for granted come up for examination vis-à-vis their meaningfulness in life. This examination may cause you to change your beliefs. And that is a deep thing because our beliefs are what determine our choices and actions and it is these choices and actions that form our life. So basically, when you’re faced with this square, you’re in the process of transforming your life.
The transformation is going to come whether you like it or not. And since it is a square, you probably aren’t going to like it very much. I see the Pluto square activating when you find yourself face down in the carpet weeping, “Why me?” When you hold on to what is not been working for you, not wanting thing to change and appealing to God saying, “Please help me. Please fix this.”