Cake-Eating and the Mid-Life Crisis Affair

The term “cake-eating” is defined as the attempt  to take advantage of a situation that is morally wrong,  seeking to have the “best of both worlds” without having to choose one or the other.  It is more commonly known within the context of being married and having an affair partner on the side as “having one’s cake and eating it too”. 

What “cake-eating” is not: 

A person entangled within an affair, but still living at home, continuing to have the benefits of a family member, is not considered “cake-eating”.   A spouse in emotional crisis could care less who cooks as long as they eat, they could care less who does the laundry as long as they have clothes to wear.  A spouse in crisis could care less who keeps the house clean.   If no one is cooking, cleaning, washing laundry, etc…they do not care! 

If no one is doing anything to enhance the material comfort of the spouse in crisis, there is always McDonald’s somewhere up the street, or a Laundromat uptown.  The spouse’s state of mind within the crisis is not focused on who does what, their minds are centered on their wants, their needs.   If one does not provide a physical type aspect, such  food,  drink, or even clean laundry, the person in crisis will  find a way to get it.

There is nothing within the context of the mid-life crisis that dictates that if the house stays clean, laundry stays done, meals stay cooked,  the marriage is worth returning to, nor does the affair partner put any real emphasis on these things.  Being comfortable and who provides these aspects for  them, is the last thing on their minds.  This is not about which person does the most, the crisis is all about the person who is struggling within its grasp, and the emotional needs being met within them.

The process of “cake-eating” explained: 

Within the context of the mid-life affair, the “cake-eating” aspect begins and ends at different times.  The state of mind within the spouse in crisis undergoes a shift in perception each time it begins and each time it ends.   

To explain, when an affair begins, the spouse in crisis finds themselves caught between two people; their spouse, and their affair partner.  

There is an onset of deep confusion, and a genuine desire to be with both people. The affair partner is meeting some needs, the spouse is meeting other needs, creating this “best of both worlds”( or “cake-eating”) aspect within the situation.  However, as the spouse in crisis becomes drawn more toward the affair partner, their state of mind shifts, and an unconscious choice in favor of the affair partner  is made at that point early in the affair.   Whether this would be for a temporary period, or could take them on to a point of divorce that leads to a possible remarriage, only time will tell.

During this time, infatuation has their eyes “blinded”, and their ears “closed” to the pleas of the spouse they are abandoning.

This early “cake-eating” aspect ends once the spouse in crisis chooses to spend more time with the affair partner, neglecting their spouse completely, or chooses to move out to be with their affair partner.   Because the spouse within the affair  has now chosen to focus themselves solely upon the affair partner, this sets up circumstances for the entire structure of emotional needs within the spouse in crisis to be met by the affair partner.  At this point, the spouse who is dealing will usually experience a near-complete(or in most cases, complete) emotional shift away from them, and the behavior of the spouse in crisis becomes much worse.

This is a natural aspect, a consequence of a heart and mind that has turned itself away from one toward another.   There is no way to balance this type of emotional connection so one person can love or even connect to two people in the same way.  One or the other within the triangle will always suffer partial to full neglect,  whether temporarily or forever.  

Compartmentalization, though touted as a way of emotionally coping with this secretive way of trying to have this “best of both worlds”, is truly faulty in its emotional construction.   The harder one tries to keep these situations separated, the more likely mistakes will occur. It’s only a matter of time, before the two “worlds” will collide with a bang.

So, what would it take to hopefully swing this situation back in favor of the spouse that was left?  Well, time is needed for the affair to run its course, and time is also needed for the deceptive “masks” on both people to begin slipping and sliding downward.  There is an old saying that dictates  you do not know someone until you have lived with them, and this rings true, as full-time coexistence with the affair partner, brings forth a reality of its own. 

 Infatuation, which cannot last forever,  slowly gives way to dissatisfaction.   The emotional “true colors” of one or both people are eventually revealed,  and the steps toward the breakdown of the illicit affair begins with the little things that escalate into big fights.   These illicit relationships are nothing more than the “mirroring” of a typical  teenage-type romance.   There is no love, no dedication, no “mirror” of accountability, no honesty, no openness, nor trust between them.

 This union was created in deception, and deception makes a weak foundation, more like sand that is subject to erode during the storms, and trouble the couple will encounter during their time together.  Jealousy, insecurity, and the clear inability to commit shows clearly as the affair becomes less fun, and more work becomes required to stay together.

However, there is one thing the affair partner will not ever have with the spouse in crisis, and this is the very real aspect of a certain “strange connection” that is unbreakable;  maintained  between the still-married couple in spite of the ongoing affair.   The spouse in crisis does become aware of its effort to “draw” them back toward the husband or wife they have abandoned in an effort to seek “greener pastures.”

Just as their feelings and perceptions changed earlier to justify their affair, they experience a gradual changing back of the feelings they had once denied to justify returning home.    Due to these changes in their feelings, they begin to perceive the positive aspects of what they could not see in the spouse they left when they allowed infatuation for the affair partner to blind them.

In essence,  the spouse they once left behind, becomes perceived as  the “greener grass”, and human nature is such that it seems to always want what is out of reach.  The spouse who is dealing, by this time, becomes a more desirable option, because they will have(or should have) begun some major change, growth and becoming within, leading into emotional distancing between themselves, and the spouse in crisis.

In spite of the fact the spouse in crisis may be in an affair, they will often assume their spouse will continue in the same emotional place forever.   Because of their selfishness, and being secure in their justifications, their abandoned spouse becomes “out of sight, out of mind” for awhile.   However, after a period of time, an emotional “shift” begins within the spouse, that leads to a changed perception, and a much-needed “awakening” to circumstances  within the affair begins internally.

As the spouse in crisis begins to “awaken” within the context of their illicit affair, they will often perceive the spouse they left behind has begun moving “away” from them.  This is an unwanted move for the majority of people deep in the throes of a mid-life crisis.   Discovering the illusion of “control” over the spouse they abandoned has been disrupted, or even shattered, can be enough to begin the journey through a time of beginning to end their affair, whether they return home before or after. 

Each affair is different in the steps of this breaking down, and sometimes, the break is not completed in full until the spouse in crisis makes a conscious decision to begin trying to return home.  However, because the person in crisis does not wish to be totally alone, this necessary and permanent break may not be completed until after they return home.

If and when the person in crisis asks to return home, they are gambling on being allowed to return.  This is part of the “mid-life crisis is a crap shoot, a gamble” aspect.  They hope to return home, but know there will be consequences they will be called upon to face.  Because there is enough emotional strength left in them to take this chance, they hold the unconscious hope their spouse will not only allow them to come home, but will also help them finish breaking down the affair in full.

The move toward home may not happen all at one time, as the spouse in crisis may take some time to “feel out” the spouse they treated so shamefully.  The mistreated spouse holds all the proverbial aces, they know they do not have to allow this to happen if they do not choose to.  There are serious issues of trust, love, and a very real fear that if they allow them to return, they could leave again if the spouse in crisis is not ready to begin trying to at least mend some of the damage.

Not every situation follows the same kind of “script”, so what comes next is a common scenario that shows and explains “cake-eating” more clearly.

If the spouse who is still open to dealing with the situation allows the spouse in crisis to come home,  the road takes a much sharper turn into “new”, but “old” territory, as the “cake-eating” aspect begins anew.    Only this time, the situation “reverses” itself, in this aspect,  the focus turns back toward the spouse rather than the affair partner.  As time moves forward, there are still emotionally addictive, misplaced responsibility tendencies toward the affair partner, and the same confusion experienced in the beginning that must be fought and overcome.  

The “cake-eating” aspect continues as the person in crisis may try several times to end the affair, but the affair partner may not want to let go.   Emotional blackmail, that leads to guilt, that further leads to a false sense of responsibility, is often used  to try and “keep” what never belonged to the affair partner in the first place.

The spouse who is dealing, may or may not be called upon to draw a hard and fast line in order to force the hand of a truly “cake-eating” spouse in crisis.  Only the spouse who is dealing would know a reasonable amount of time to give the person in crisis a chance to end the affair , and stop the “cake-eating” completely on their own.   

 If  one’s intuition(the voice of God that does not shout, also known as “gut instinct”) advises any type of interfering, tread softly within what would be  described as an emotional “mine field”.   Tensions are usually running high between the affair partner, and the spouse in crisis, and one does not want to share in the fall-out.   Also, bear this in mind: the spouse who is dealing did not start this affair, therefore, has no responsibility to help break it down. 

One may be led by intuition to speak some truth into the situation, if and when needed, to the spouse in crisis.  However, if no intervention is necessary,  it is always advised to show love and acceptance,  “a soft place to land”, the “better option” when compared to an emotionally out-of-control affair partner.  Under no circumstances would the spouse who is dealing need to speak with the affair partner at any time; this not their problem, and nothing productive could come of this kind of contact.

As much negative drama as a person in crisis is known to create, they simply cannot take that kind of pressure from the affair partner.  So, the greater the negative drama between the person in crisis and the affair partner that is observed, the more likely the outcome will become a positive one.  Some affair partners get so angry, they “over-play” their last desperate hand, and this usually results in them losing everything.    

This is a totally desirable option, once the person in crisis realizes the affair partner is simply not worth dealing with anymore, all contact, and “cake-eating” stops.    With this ending, another aspect of the mid-life crisis begins, involving the full processing of the affair, but that is another article for another time.

Remember, there is hope, there is always hope in spite of everything, as long as there is love in your heart for your spouse in crisis.  🙂

Until next time! 🙂

BIG HUGS!!

Love,

HB

Since 2002, Hearts Blessing has been a pioneer in the area of knowledge and information written about the Mid Life Crisis. The owner and author of https://thestagesandlessonsofmidlife.org she writes articles that help people learn more about this confusing time of life. The main goal of this site is to help people know and understand that no matter what happens, every situation works out to the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose. :)
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One thought on “Cake-Eating and the Mid-Life Crisis Affair

  1. Hi Hearts Blessing I think having to wait for your response was all part of the ‘bigger picture’ so please don’t stress as it’s been an amazing time!
    The last 2 days I have had such personal emotional discoveries in my journey. These were critical growth areas for me and I strongly feel God’s presence telling me to guide my MLC gently with love and by focusing on trust issues I will land up pushing him away. His cellphone and online gaming are the only areas where he knows he can try push my buttons. On Monday I confronted him and then changed my normal reactions. He spewed a bit but came down quickly. I saw the defiant teenager in him then but I notice he is listening. His actions speak loudly – hugs me, made me coffe in bed (extremely rare even when newly married), helped paint the lounge, asking where our teens are and hugging them (whereas before he made no real effort to see them since he left 8 months ago) will come looking for me when I give him space.
    God is with me and the discoveries I make about myself are found in the strangest places. MLC continues and I know there will be rough waters ahead.
    Thank you Hearts Blessing your site is truly a lighthouse for The LBS.

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