Thank you for your site!
Can you emotionally detach from your husband and leave your wedding ring on? Or should I take it off?
Yes, it is possible to emotionally detach from your midlife spouse, and still wear your wedding ring. When I was going through this trial, I didn’t remove my ring. I don’t advise people one way or the other in regards to the wearing of their wedding rings. That’s a personal choice on their part.
Whether you leave your ring on, or take it off, is up to you. The ring is simply a symbol of being married, and if you don’t have the feelings that go with the wearing of the ring, it doesn’t matter one way or the other.
Now, it MIGHT matter to your midlife spouse if/when he sees that you’ve taken your ring off.
The midlife spouse is often harsh and judgmental about what the left behind spouse does–never mind what they’re doing. He might accuse you of wanting to be single–projection onto you of how he feels. He might use your removal of the ring for further justification of his bad behavior. Or he might even take this action as a personal threat to the future relationship he thinks he might have with you, but of course he wouldn’t be telling you this in so many words. He might just go and act out even worse than before once he saw the ring was gone from your finger. However, it’s also possible he might not do or say anything about it, but, again, wearing the ring, or not wearing the ring is your decision.
Also your site doesn’t say anything about dealing with children during a midlife crisis? I have an 11 and 10 year old and I have been honest about the whole process. That Daddy is going through a hard time and doesn’t want Mommy around right now. That we need to pray for him and feel hopeful that he will get through this so that we can all be together again. He moved out 1 year ago in August and when he comes to the house 2x a week I leave. It has taken me at least 9 months to realize that I can’t help him and emotionally detach. I know he is staying that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and that I am the problem is all par for the course. I love him and believe he can get through this!
Thanks for your time
I don’t normally give a lot of advice about how to deal with small children during the midlife crisis. There is no “one size fits all” kind of advice in this area. Each parent is going to be different in how they’re going to choose to involve, or not involve their children in this confusing process.
I’ve advised people before to use common sense when dealing with their children, because any explanation you give them is going to be age-related. The older they are, the more you’ll tell, with some details kept back, because it’s never a good thing to show the midlife parent as the “enemy.”
Right or wrong, that midlife spouse is still that child’s/children’s mother/father. It’s never a good thing to pressure children into “taking sides” or is it a good thing to discourage the children from trying to make a connection with their midlife parent. The child’s relationship with each parent should be separate–the other parent only getting involved when/if it becomes a matter of life or death.
One of the most painful things is to have a family broken down even further, because the left behind spouse gets angry at the midlife spouse for trying to “buy” “bribe” or otherwise “entice” their children into a relationship by becoming what one person described as being a “Disneyland” parent.
Children are smarter than we often give them credit for. A fake and a fraud can be spotted a mile off by children who are more discerning than most adults. Yet, in spite of everything, the love of a child still remains for that parent. It’s too painful for them to realize that their parent is being too selfish to consider them right now. They feel it’s a betrayal of the love they hold for that midlife parent if they say something to them, so most children will “stuff” their feelings, internalizing the blame, the shame, and the guilt. They need to be taught that it’s OK to speak their feelings outward, because they need to be validated, their feelings heard and understood.
Children are a part of your family, but they are not a part of your marriage. Those are separated entities. What goes on in your marriage is between yourself, and your midlife spouse. All you’re going to do is explain enough to the children to keep them from feeling that everything is their fault. We know this midlife crisis is not about you, and it’s truly not about the children, either. However, because children don’t think like adults, they have a tendency to internalize any negative situation that’s beyond their control, and make it all about them.
Set your boundaries firmly in the area of what you know is best for the child, but don’t seek to cut off all contact between the children and their midlife parent—except in the case of an affair partner, and the possibility the midlife spouse might choose to expose that person to small children. You can set a hard boundary in that area, and make it known that if the midlife parent wants to see their kids, then they’d have to come alone–that no affair partner can be present, because you don’t want the children thinking it’s OK for the commission of adultery.
I totally get that the midlife spouse isn’t always setting a good example, but from the past experience I had with a teenage child, sometimes the truth darts thrown from the lips of their own children do more good, than all of the rubber balls of truth thrown by the left behind spouse. Why rubber balls? Because they tend to “bounce” off the midlife spouse they’re being thrown at.
It’s hard to know exactly what to tell your children, when you don’t know a lot about what’s going on. It looks like what you’ve told your own children is enough for now. What they want to have is the reassurance that they’ll be taken care of, that their lives will be as stable as possible in spite of everything that is going on right now.
Again, any explanations given, should always be age-related. If it’s small children, under the age of 10, you can’t speak a whole lot of detail to them, to try and prevent their world from being rocked any more than it already has been.
Ages 10 to 13, you could go into some detail, but you’re still holding back some things that they don’t need to hear or see. Thirteen and above, are the pubescent years, and you could be more honest, while still guarding some details that they wouldn’t need to know, because there are some aspects of your marriage that wouldn’t be their business. Above all, use discretion when deciding how much detail you will give vs. how much you will hold back, because you know your children better than anyone else.
I hope this helps. ((HUGS))