Mid-Life Crisis Ahead
I would like to share my story with you. My story involves living with a spouse in a midlife crisis. It is real and chaotic. It is going to be hard and painful for me but here I am hoping I can help you with yours. It will be okay, like therapy to get it out of our systems to be able to move forward.
You will find that there are a lot of similarities between us. We will have more in common than you think. You are not alone thus the reason for this blog.
A midlife crisis can do irreparable harm to your life, family, and marriage.
We can help each other through this season and come out the other side. Better for what we have been through, for what we have learned and healthier for talking about it.
I want to help you navigate with compassion the midlife crisis that you are experiencing. It might be you that is experiencing it or it might be your beloved spouse. For me, it is my spouse.
Were you blindsided, like I was? I had a bomb dropped on me.
I first noticed changes in my husband in 2005. I have realized since then that the changes actually started years before. I am sure when you look back through the haze you will see signs that were there way before the bomb drop.
The stereotype is that men don’t seek help very often on their own. They don’t communicate. They believe they don’t need help. They have all the answers in how to fix anything.
When a man is in a midlife crisis the number one symptom is depression. Accepting a diagnosis of depression will say that he is weak. So, the problem had to be me, according to him. If he could only get away from me, everything would be great. And there, in a nutshell, is what they think. It is you not him.
The bomb drop is life changing. I heard things from my spouse that I have never heard before. Complaints about our life. History being rewritten. I love you but I am not in love with you. I never wanted or should have married you. I have been unhappy for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and so on. I can’t live like this anymore. It was all my fault that he was unhappy.
I was in shock as you would expect. Where was all this coming from? I knew we weren’t focused too much on “us”. We had a family to raise.
He was pulling away, distant and quiet. He had pity for himself that he wasn’t getting the attention he thought he deserved for taking care of his family. Which of course, wasn’t the case. The kids and I loved him. He was active in their sports teams and I was cheering everyone one.
When the bomb dropped on me, it was all news to me.
Now, my husband was never a romantic, something that always made me sad. We were moving into a stage of roommates. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything different though. Life was moving forward. I always made sure he had what he needed. But it wasn’t enough. How would I know, he didn’t say anything.
As I mentioned earlier most men don’t communicate well. Not like us. We want it all out of our systems. We as women (and yes you are my audience) will talk to our spouses or anyone who will listen until we’re blue in the face. True? God made us like that.
So I guess I assumed what he needed. I assumed I knew what he needed. I had his favorite drinks or food in the house. I took care of the kids and made sure we had a clean house etc. Didn’t you? That’s what family life is about. Nothing out of the ordinary. I would expect you to say the same thing to me.
He traveled a lot so I was raising the kids more and more on my own. How we got there was subtle. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. His job changed over time. He didn’t talk about his work, though I sure would congratulate him if he got a promotion.
I did complain about the travel. Because it was increasing and I was never informed that our lives were changing for him to be gone more. He got defensive. Much later It occurred to me that he liked it. He looked forward to being away from the family. When he was home, he did engage in a hobby with the kids. This took a lot of time, weekends and weeknights before dinner. That was a huge plus, he was a dedicated father. He helped them with their homework because I couldn’t. He was the brains. This was life. Nothing abnormal.
We took some nice vacations. Places he, for the most part, would choose. Once there he would go off to do his own thing. Wasn’t concerned about me. I guess we were always opposites. He was active and I am a homebody.
At the time I was sick with depression. I didn’t plan to get sick. I needed him and he felt I was suffocating him. I know he resented it. I thought I could count on my husband but I was alone.
Our vacation that year was tense. He did his thing with our kids and I would do my thing. During this particular trip, I asked him to spend some time with me. I got yelled at. I went to bed crying that night. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, or what I had done. I didn’t feel I was asking for much. It hurt to the core.
You will find that you blame yourself a lot for whatever he complains about.
After returning home, the distance continued. I tried and tried to get through to him. He would plant himself in front of the TV as soon as dinner was over. One child sensed the tension and would retreat to their room. I retreated to my room. The tension was too much. Like walking on eggshells. This went on for months and months.
I had no idea what to do. But as a mother and wife, we have an innate need to fix things. That’s what we do. He was completely closed off. I tried to talk to him and it was like talking to a wall. His eyes were black like a shark. I made suggestions for help. It didn’t matter what I said. Nothing got through. I am not even sure he heard anything All this constant talk was the ultimate insult. There is nothing wrong with him, again it was me. I was making him unhappy.
This whole scenario went on for more than 2 years. I continued during this time to always talk to him. Nothing changed. It would end in a fight or me in tears. Though we never fought in front of the children. Why I kept trying this is beyond me, the results were always the same. I didn’t know what else to do. Marriage counseling? Nope, he doesn’t need help, remember?
Finally, I said I couldn’t take it anymore. The tension in the house was too much to live with. He wasn’t making any changes for the better. And this is where I made my mistake. I asked him if he wanted to leave.
It was up to me to push him out. He couldn’t do it on his own. We called the kids together and told him that their father needed some space and time to himself. I was quite naive now, I still believed it was for a short time.
He said he would be back in a few months.
My mistake was to trust him. He told the kids we wouldn’t be getting divorced.
During this time, I never considered another woman. I knew where he was all the time. I was very insecure very early on in our marriage about his traveling. He told me nothing would ever happen. He also told me he would never leave me. I trusted him and his word.
I still trusted him throughout our separation. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out until he served me with divorce papers. There was another woman. My kids knew before I did. Looking back, of course, it all makes sense now.
Was I naive? I was with this man for almost 3 decades. I never had a reason not to believe him. Why wouldn’t I trust him? I had faith. I never once believed it would come to this.
A couple years later we are now divorced.
He has married the other woman. It is wrong and will not survive.
I can’t guarantee a restored marriage, only God can. My faith is in God.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is going to sound quite different than the way the world works. I still care for and about my husband. He is my children’s father. I believe in a Covenant marriage. I made vows that I intend to honor. I will always have hope despite what I see in the flesh.
More to come in the future.
Note: This post has taken me a very long time to write. I decided to skim over quite a bit so that I give you the highlights.
I have made a lot of mistakes but I don’t blame myself anymore. This was unknown territory. I finally let go of the guilt when we met at the lawyer’s office. He never once looked me in the eyes. I knew then that it wasn’t me.
You might see yourself in a similar situation. If you would like to share with me your situation I would love to listen.