Mid-Life Crisis Q&A-Cindy

This is from Cindy-her words are in regular font, my answers are in bold:

Hello HB, thank you for your site and all of the insights and information you have
shared. I am also hoping you might weigh in on if you think my husband is
experiencing MLC or not. In some ways he matches up and in other ways not.

First of all, I am 48 and my husband is 43. We would have been married for 14 years
this summer. We do not have kids. He works industrial construction and has worked
away from home for most of our marriage. As a result, I have been the one to run the
house, look after the yard, pay the bills, etc. and keep our lives running smoothly.
He is very handy in a number of areas and has maintained the vehicles and made our
home beautiful with various renovations. We enjoy the same things and for our
holidays we camp in the mountains, kayak and scuba dive. We did everything together
at home too. He has said that I have always been his best friend, we have so much in
common….

I must also say that he is very soft hearted and avoids conflict at all costs. His
father is very loud and controlling and kind of a “bull in a china shop” sort of
personality. His mother on the other hand, is like my husband and avoids conflict
and ignores her husband’s outbursts and just goes on as if nothing has happened. My
husband did not grow up in a home where conflict was resolved in a constructive way.
I also grew up with conflict and unlike his home, we didn’t avoid it, but got
everything out into the open. Everyone knew where they stood. I see now that this
difference in communication styles and abilities set the stage for communication
issues in our marriage. I have had councillors tell me that b/c of the issues my
husband had with his father over the years, any disagreements we had were
“amplified”. What might be a discussion to someone else, was considered to be an
argument in my husband’s eyes. B/c of his mom and following her communication style,
my husband never let me know I had hurt him, or that he was upset. Instead he always
pretended everything was fine, and buried these feelings, which caused them to
fester and eventually led us to where we are today. He however is oblivious these
insights and parallels.

**You married the direct opposite of yourself. Your counselors were right on the money with what they were saying. However, quite honestly, you also married a man who didn’t develop fully in the emotional department. Plus he’d never learned to take on proper responsibility. As a result, you were always put in the place of his mother, as basically, you mothered him–you did everything, while all he did was work–contributing financially was good, however he wasn’t very involved in things at home, other than what he chose to be involved in–which doesn’t seem to be very much.

In essence, you carried everything, while he carried very little–not a good balance.

I won’t go back through what your counselors had told you, because they probably detailed a great deal of what was wrong with him, and most of it entailed a very a deep immaturity, always running away from problems, and never taking responsibility for anything he did–why should he, when he could always shift it all on you?

He was a very shallow individual, selfish in many ways, hadn’t had to honor limits and boundaries on anything, because he felt these didn’t apply to him, although they would to everyone else—at least in his eyes.

In the summer of 2008, he and my brother wanted to attend the Sturgis bike rally. He
has always had a motorcycle, but had a serious accident (that, through the grace of
God he walked away from) and did not have one at that time. W/o discussing anything,
he purchased a new bike. At the time, we were financially strapped and when I found
out about the bike, I blew up at him, even saying that I didn’t know what kind of a
marriage we had if he did not feel it appropriate to discuss such a major financial
decision with me. Well that storm blew over, I thought. However, a few months later,
after returning from a month long job out of town, he announced that he wanted to be
married…just not to me anymore. He moved out, moved in with a buddy, maintained very
little contact, took no legal action, and asked to come home 4 months later. I found
out after the fact that he met an OW on that job. He didn’t break if off with her
until he was certain we were getting back together. He said really missed me and
what we had and that I deserved a second chance. He took no ownership for any part
of what had brought us to that place.

I took on 100% of the blame and responsibility for our problems. I am a very
responsible person by nature and felt my shoulders were broad enough to carry the
weight. I made no demands on him, raised no concerns about my needs and gave no
conditions that I needed before he could come home. I was just so grateful to have
him back. I did all that I could to address his concerns. I read self help books,
marriage books, was more active in the bedroom and more playful in that regard.
Whatever he identified as a problem, I took it to heart. Now, 5 years later, in my
mind, we had addressed the problems, things we’re not perfect, but what marriage is?
I felt that if he was unhappy again, he would be able to voice that long before it
became serious. Overall, I thought we were happy, we had a good marriage, we enjoyed
each other’s company, had fun together, we travelled together and had our future and
retirement laid out ahead of us. I was completely unprepared for what came next.

**The first thing that should have happened, was that you should have gone into self-examination–seeing yourself, the areas where you needed change and improvement, and then seeing that immature man of yours for the “little boy” he really was and still is–he had never grown up, never taken responsibility, and has never understood what commitment was really about.

However, you didn’t know to do any of that, so it didn’t get done.

The purchase of the bike without your input reflected someone who’d already begun to “think single” and because you blew up at him–decided he wanted to be married, just not to you..however, his actions completely set the marriage to the side, put it asunder, and even went out and got another woman to see if that would “fix” him…and of course, it didn’t.

When he did and said, all that he did and said, then “woke” up somewhat and returned to you, at that point in time, once it was clear he wanted you again, and had enough clarity of mind to understand what he had done–and even if he hadn’t wanted to see it, you should have then held his feet to the fire, and made it extremely clear he would not do this again.

He might have rebelled and left again, but that would have been on him.

It’s very clear that he made certain that he wasn’t going to be the one who ended up alone–this is common within the crisis.

The thing about it was, something should have changed after he did all these things, but therein laid the problem–NOTHING changed–you’d always blamed yourself for what were his problems, and you tried to fix yourself, in an effort to “fix” him, and this never works.

Once more, you took on ALL of the responsibility, while you allowed him to get away scot-free…he never faced the issue within himself that drove him to cheat on you, and since you didn’t examine yourself either, learn what you needed to about yourself—and begin going through change that would lead to the changing of the situation– to such an extent he would understand that this would not be tolerated again, the situation repeated itself again from another aspect as illustrated below:

Last summer, we decided to go to Sturgis together as part of our summer holiday. He
has not been there since 2008. I thought it would be fun and see what it was all
about. We went with my brother (who is a friend of my husband) and his girlfriend. I
thought we had a wonderful time. Upon returning home, he dropped the bomb, saying he
had lost that heart connection to me. I’m angry all of the time, I don’t respect
him, I embarrass him in public. I got the famous phrase ILYBINILWY. He said the
marriage has been difficult right from the start and has never been right, I’m too
confrontational and am never happy, I’ve been even worse these past 5 years etc etc.
He went on to amplify disagreements we’ve had. He cited examples of trips we had
taken and if there was a problem, he focused on this event and said the whole trip
was terrible and that he did not enjoy himself at all. We have no good memories…the
bad outweighs the good and he can’t do this any more. He’s been unhappy for a long
time. We were like roommates and didn’t give him enough intimacy and he is never
going to have to beg for love again!

**Classic “rewriting” of history to justify what he was doing–blaming you, and going to a lot of trouble to point out all your “faults” and even blaming his marriage.

He did this a week before he had to go on a 2 month job out of town. Following the
announcement, he once again pretended that everything was fine (as he always did in
our marriage). Acted “normal”, and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t eat or sleep.
I did my best not to cry, beg or plead and carried my pain inside. After he left, he
would call every week or so to “see if I was OK” and once he returned from the job
and moved in with his parents, would come over to visit. He would be here for
several hours, or watch a movie with me, share a few drinks, always acting as if
everything was normal between us. He said still being friends is very important to
him. I’m a good person he says now. He respects me, I’m as great teacher and a
wonderful dive instructor, I’m one of the smartest people he knows….it’s too bad it
didn’t work out. He feels deep regret about that. Oh, well.

**What you describe is also part of the “mask” they wear during the MLC–avoiding themselves, their actions, and completely evading anything he’d done to cause all this trouble. More actions of the MLC, showing deep disrespect for you, but pouring on flattery to prevent you from holding him accountable. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However, this aspect shows clearly within this situation…and it’s also a major part of his ongoing crisis.

B/c he didn’t take legal action last time, I believe that his Dad pushed him to do
so this time. What other people think is very important to my husband and I
suspected he would need to get some sort of paperwork going to “save face.” So I was
not surprised when he decided to take this step and we are now legally separated.
The only monster I ever really saw from him was through that process and even then,
it was brief, although he sent me some very very hurtful texts that cut me to the
core. I did not respond in kind and the whole process was very straight forward. We
used the same lawyer and agreed on everything ahead of time. For someone whom he
claims is “always angry and confrontational” he experienced anything but as we
divided things up. Throughout the whole process, and since this began, friends and
family have been amazed at my strength and that I have consistently taken the high
road with every decision and encounter. He doesn’t understand why people in “my
camp” are so upset with him. “We are both good people, it just didn’t work out, we
are too different….why can’t they see that?? We’ll both be happier in the future and
find people who are better matches. He gave me my second chance. Now he is sure.” 🙁

**HE decided these things, NOT YOU. How arrogant and pompous of him to tell you that HE gave YOU a “second chance”? You gave HIM a second change, and he blew this to pieces. However, he was controlling and manipulating this whole situation all this time. Again, he’s refusing to face the fact that he’s responsible for ripping his marriage apart…that’s also why he doesn’t seem to understand why people are upset with him.

I’m surprised you hadn’t already gotten upset, and stuck him with a LOT of truth darts–he’s ripped your life to shreds.

And all of his things are still here, his bike, his clothes, most of his mail comes
here. He says that will change when he buys a house, but just can’t find the right
one. I don’t question this and just let it be.

As far as I know, there isn’t an active OW. Although he was seen out for supper with
someone new and their body language indicated more than friendship. When he realized
he was seen, he looked like a deer in the headlights and left the place by a route
that avoided being seen again. He keeps in touch, keeps wanting reassurance that we
will be/ are still friends, stops by unannounced, gives me compliments, is
interested in my day and my life…

** He’s obviously dating while separated–and from what you say, he’s not finalized HIS divorce. That’s crazy, but that’s also MLC–when he got caught with the other woman, then it scared him into thinking he’d lose you, so all these keeping in touch, wanting reassurances started. It’s apparent he wants to keep you in his life while he does what he wants, when he wants to do it–and is hiding what he’s doing. It’s also apparent that he hasn’t awakened again to what he’s done yet.

However, he KNOWS what he’s doing is wrong, but does it anyway.

You’ve not moved beyond him, and you would need to begin moving forward for yourself.

Something needs to change, and I would gather it needs to be you that makes these changes. He needs to see that you’re not going to wait on him. I won’t suggest dating, I don’t advocate dating if one is still married, and I don’t advocate dating if one is divorced, but wanting to see if they can salvage their marriage but there are other ways of moving beyond him, and leaving him behind.

Go get a life that doesn’t include him.

As for other possible MLC behaviours, the last time this happened he wanted to
switch careers, but didn’t follow through. He is saying the same thing again and
wants me to help him make a current resume. He talks about how his body is wearing
out, comments on how other people misjudge his age, is self-conscious about his
thinning hair, has talked about getting a nose job. He has always been into going to
he gym and that continues. He has always been “boyish” and friends have commented
that I didn’t need any kids b/c I had him. They meant it in fun, but there was a
kernel of truth to it.
I’m not sure what else to add…..

**More MLC script on his part–he doesn’t want you, but he wants you to help him. Since when are you his guardian, his keeper, his “mother”?

So here it is nine months later and I am unsure if I am seeking answers in the right
place and would appreciate any feedback you might offer in that regard. I am doing
OK and have spent the winter on personal growth and getting to a better place every
day, regardless of what he is doing. I strive to make every encounter with him a
positive one. I accept the relationship as it currently is and my role in what
brought us here. I am moving forward with my life (which is not the same as moving
on). He is just so “nice” and doesn’t do all of the the nasty things that other
spouses do. He enjoys spending time with me, will take me for supper and says how
much he enjoys our visits. He tells me how wonderful I am now and have so many
positive qualities…. We were always great friends, but not good as spouses he
claims.
Is this MCL?? Why is he so different than the others I read about? I keep trying to
figure out where my H fits. People talk about them being in a fog and doing crazy
things…I don’t see that. He seems happy and comfortable with his choice and taking
our life apart, piece by piece. All very friendly and matter of fact. All of the
talk about depression and tunnels…maybe that comes later?? Maybe they hide it and I
won’t see this?? He seems so “normal.”I’m sorry this is so long.Thank you once again
for taking the time to read all of this and I look forward to your reply.

**Maybe you’re making things TOO positive for him. He has not had to suffer any consequences for his actions against his marriage. You’ve always been his “safety-net” and I believe it’s time that you began to remove that safety-net from him, and let him fall down on his own.

Honey, there is NOTHING normal at all about his behavior toward you. He blames you and justifies himself, has an affair, abandons you, gets a legal separation from you, you catch him dating another woman (again), and you talk about how “nice” he’s being? None of what he’s done is anywhere close to “nice”!

You haven’t done one thing to rock the boat, while he’s done everything possible to rock the boat—and you’re not getting it. You’re not showing him that things have changed, because HE has changed them. This wouldn’t mean that you be nasty to him or anything–it simply means that while you would need to continue moving forward, you would also need to stop making yourself so available to him.

He’s definitely within MLC, and from what I can see, and what you’ve described, he’s within the third round of it. Nothing changed that first two times–you made whatever changes you made around him–and they were all surface changes–there were no emotional changes in you (i.e. boundaries on your time, etc.) that called for him to respond to them. You didn’t learn to set boundaries on any of his bad behavior, therefore, he thinks it’s OK, when it is NOT OK.

My advice is that you’d better get ready to begin more growing up for yourself, and realize that for right now, he is using you for what he can get from you. He’s treating you very disrespectfully at the moment, and I’m not sure you’re seeing this clearly, because he’s cloaking it behind an emotional mask of sweetness and light.

He knows what he’s doing, but as long as you don’t call him out on any of it, he will continue treating you as a convenience, and you are NOT a convenience..you are more than that.

He has never had you turn your emotional back on him, has he? No, because you’ve always turned yourself inside out to please him. Where has that gotten you? Nowhere, because all he’s doing is trading one set of complaints for another set of complaints, and nothing changes.

Eventually, you’re going to completely lose him–however, one cannot lose what has already been lost. Don’t help him with anything, make it clear to him that he’s chosen to leave you, and since he doesn’t want to be married to you, he cannot expect you to continue being his friend.

You may see some pretty nasty behavior on his part, when you begin setting boundaries on his dropping in unannounced, stop answering the phone every time he calls, and begin exercising healthy distancing from him.

This is not about vindictively getting him back for anything–this is about reclaiming your self-respect. He’s been through three rounds of this, and nothing about you speaks of having changed your behavior toward him in such way that reflects healthy boundaries on your part.

Hon, he’s walking on you every chance he gets, just because he can…only you can stop that in him by changing the way you’re doing things.

He might decide to simply go on, if you choose to set limits on when he can see you, but that’s a chance you take. If you look at the past pattern, each time, he’s done this, he’s escalated his behaviors. Each time, you didn’t meet him with any boundaries…and boundaries don’t mean constant confrontation. Look those up, begin understanding what they mean, and begin putting some in place to stop some of his “using” of you, because he is using you for what he wants.

He has to begin to understand that if he doesn’t straighten up, he could lose you forever, and love doesn’t mean allowing someone to treat you disrespectfully, cloaked in sweetness and light.

You don’t have to tell him anything–all you would have to do is SHOW him, as he would find it harder and harder to find you when he wants you.

You would need to learn to begin living a life of your own, AS IF he wouldn’t be returning. In that process, you would begin leaving HIM behind, and I suspect he doesn’t want you to do that, but on the other hand, if nothing changes on your part, he will continue doing whatever he wants, when he wants, and he may never be forced to grow up, and realize what he’s losing in you.

When one doesn’t like a situation, one takes steps to change it, letting go of the outcome in that process.

I hope this helps–ask questions if you need to.

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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2 thoughts on “Mid-Life Crisis Q&A-Cindy

  1. Thank you HB for your thoughts and advice. I have taken some time to reflect on what you have said. Since this has happened (again) I have used the time to really look at our marriage, myself and my husband. (Just as a point, you mention that this is the third round of this for us but it is only the second: 2008 and last Aug.) As I mentioned in my first post, after the first time he left and then said he wanted to come home, I made no demands or placed any boundaries, as you call them, on him. Where I am now compared to where I was then, are very different places. If/when he expresses an interest in coming home again, I know that I will not be able to welcome him (as I did before) with open arms and eyes closed. He has done too much damage and caused too much pain. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me! My trust and belief that he would not do this again would somehow need to be rebuilt and earned. As you have said, I allowed him to shift responsibility onto me and was I was the “mother” while he was the “boy.” It’s hard to respect a man when he is not acting like one, and he felt this. That is not the marriage i want to return to. My love language is Acts of Service and I felt that all that I did showed how much I loved him. But what i did was taken for granted and also enabled him. Much would need to be talked about, recognized and changed.

    As to acting “as if he is never coming back,” I am doing my best to do that. I have done a great deal of reading over the winter dealing with personal growth, have come to terms with issues from my past, recognized that the only person that I can control is me, not let myself get caught up in problems and issues of others like I used to, let go of negative emotion and I make the choice to be as happy as possible every day and have gratitude for all that IS good in my life. I have expended my social circle and taken up some new activities. I was always busy before and independent by nature, but now I’m doing some things that are new and have no connection to things I’ve done with my H. I do have two trips planned this summer that would have been things we would have done together, but I am doing them on my own (and to his disbelief). But I’ll be honest with you, as much as I do to “work on me” and move forward without him, I am still looking over my shoulder. I’ve read your article of dropping the emotional rope and letting go and I’m not sure how to take this and actually have it occur. Throughout this process, I have prayed long and hard and surrendered this to God (over and over) admitting that for perhaps the first time in my life, I realize that I can’t fix this (or him), control this or have hard work result in the outcome I desire. And I also believe I have truly let go to let God do the work He needs to do on both of us. Both of us have things to learn. I know how much I have come to understand (so far) and I must trust that my husband will come to understand and learn what he needs to as a result of this process. But how to really detach emotionally still eludes me.

    As you say, perhaps I am being “too positive” and he has not had to feel the consequences of his choice. In some respects he has. I have put boundaries on him with respect to where I teach scuba, that I will not socialize with him if people we know are involved. I will not discuss anything “emotional” with him and when he says I can still talk to him about how I’m feeing, I told him (calmly) that he is not that person in my life anymore. I do not pick up the phone, but let him leave a message and then get back to him later. I only respond to texts that are required and even those are not answered promptly. But God calls us to love unconditionally and to turn the other cheek. Forgive 70 x 7. Friends have asked why I have not “lost it” on him and i say I can’t explain it, but I just feel in my heart that I’m not supposed to do that. So I treat him with kindness when I do interact with him and recognize that it is the “child” in him that is doing this, not the man that I married. As I move forward (and if I can figure out how to drop the emotional rope) my husband will feel that void, and the difference in my energy. I ask for God’s help with this too.

    Thank you again for all that you do to help us with this journey. Your insight and perspective are so very valuable and are a life line when trying to make sense of this craziness and where we find ourselves as a result of our spouse’s MLC. Thank you for all of the articles and especially for taking your time to share your thoughts on the many questions we all have. I for one, am very grateful.

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