Note from the Author: This page will be dedicated to answers directed toward people who submit questions into the comments block. Since I have a tendency to become rather long-winded in my answers, I will put the longer answers I give, along with the original comment that prompted the answer here, and link it to the comment that was left for me to read. In the interest of preserving privacy, all questions and answers will be edited for personal details.
Happy New Year!
How can I tell if my husband is in withdrawal or entering acceptance? I have ridden the roller coaster for a number of years now. The OW is, apparently, out of the picture and he is desperately trying to get a job that enables him to move back home (weekly commuting and weekend parenting for nearly 4 years now hopefully comming to an end). He has been taking antidepressants for 6 months, in individual therapy to deal with his own problems – avoidant personality, narcissistic mother etc, major childhood trauma etc for 16 months, changed therapist in July. And we started couples counselling in 2 months ago, although he says he finds this very hard as he still has so much internal and individual work to do. He is also in withdrawal from the affair which he will be leaving behind. He is definitely reconnecting with the children. Never been “nasty”, mean with money and still affectionate (hugs etc) with me. How can I tell if he is entering acceptance and when do I need to prepare myself for that second stage of reentering the tunnel. It kind of helps to know when to keep quiet.
Happy New Year to you, too! 🙂 Thanks for writing me. 🙂 Overall, it looks like you are handling things quite well at this time, and you seem to be a very determined and strong woman-those are two great qualities to have during this time. 🙂 The first question I would have is, are you SURE, the OW is out of the picture? If so, how do you know? Is your Intuition informing you she’s gone, or is your husband insistent that she’s gone–the reason I’m asking, is you’re saying she’s “apparently” out of the picture, and that tells me you may not know for certain. The next question I have would be why were you riding the roller coaster with him? Why didn’t you get off it, and live your life? This always was and still is, his problem, please don’t make it yours. You are not the one having a Mid-Life Crisis, your husband is.
One of the most difficult aspects for people to face and even internalize, is the fact that the Mid-Life Transition/Crisis is a developmental process that takes TIME, just like puberty also takes time. The man that eventually emerges may look somewhat familiar, but he will not be exactly like the man you once knew if he lets this do all of its necessary work on and within him. Rome was not built in a day, and this time of life will not resolve in a short time. It was not designed to be a short process in the first place. However, regardless, hope remains, as long as there is love in your heart. 🙂
Another suggestion is, to not so much focus on time, as to focus on what you have, instead of what you think you lack. You are willing to stand for this man in strength, and I would encourage you to continue forward. You have already come a long way, and believe me, it is worth standing into the end of everything, when it all ends. However, do not forget to continue live for yourself during this time-your marriage is not the only thing that matters-your children, and yourself also matter.
Either way, at this point in time, from what I see in your description, your husband is currently still in Replay. If he has dumped the Other Woman, like you say he has, and is currently dealing with the Affair Processing (Other Woman Withdrawal), which also takes time in itself to complete, this does not automatically mean he has passed on through Replay. He will still have some additional growth and developmental aspects to face, and some regression(which includes a “returning back” to the “old” in order to begin learning to come forward within his own individual growth), he’ll still go through in order to progress forward, before he enters the next stage, which is the Stage of Depression(the deepest valley). How long this will take, again, would be up to him, because he is the one who is going through. No one has control over what they do, or when they do it.
However, take things one day at a time, things will fall in place, as they should, when they are supposed to. Your concern at this time should be giving him the necessary space so he can handle his process of Affair Processing, which involves, grieving this lost connection, processing the affair for what it meant to him, and eventually, purging himself of the place she had occupied within his head and his heart.
When a connection is made, whether through adultery, or it remains solely emotional, two connections are forged-one in the mind, the other in the heart, and both connections must be completely broken, processed fully, then purged-this is the main reason all contact needs to be broken and the affair partner never contacted or seen again. If there is contact, the emotional “clock” is reset back to zero, and it all begins again. This is true regardless of whether she dumped him, or he dumped her. This aspect takes time to finish, and it is like grieving a death-because this IS a death of connection, and this will finish and complete on your husband’s time.
He may or may not talk to you about it, and again, he will need space. You do not want him to avoid this; he would need to complete it. If he does not, he will continue carry it, right along with being unable to forgive himself, and it will hold him back from moving forward for himself. There is a lot he must needs to overcome within himself, and you might see some tears, some sorrow, and some depression on his part, in spite of the Anti-D’s he’s taking, but remember, this, too, shall pass, in time.
Don’t let anybody tell you that he doesn’t need this time to work himself out-a time for accountability will certainly come about, but not right now-even if he were to talk, because of his current state of mind that continues to be entitled to what he wants, when he wants it, it might be more like victimization, guilt, shame, etc. This would be because he would feel he abandoned this person, he felt responsible for her. He is taking Anti-D’s, and while that’s good in itself, it will not remove everything, it will only clear his mind enough that he will be able to cope with everyday living.
It is all too easy to mistake the Affair Processing for the actual Stage of Depression, partly because there is the same depressive grieving that occurs during that time, and because depression is evident throughout the Mid-Life Crisis itself.
However, the Stage of Depression is a stage of its own, and normally the Mid-Lifer who has had an affair must complete the processing of the same, then, begin to get on track with the facing of what it was within them that led them down this road. This is usually connected with the very first issue they encountered upon entering Replay.
So, this is why, once the affair processing is past, and he continues forward within himself, you should observe him going through a later regressing into an earlier time, and in that process, you would observe him returning back temporarily to the person you knew once before he begins moving forward again into this next stage.
If you are at the place that you need to be within your own journey to wholeness and healing, you should already know how to handle each aspect as it comes about.
The two journeys of the two people, although separated, are connected in such a way that I hope you’ve come to the point in your journey where you’ve already learned how to set emotional and behavioral boundaries, and learned to detach yourself from the situation as a whole. By this time, you should have already seen the reality of your own self, done quite a bit of the mirror work that’s needed for you to start healing yourself, and have dealt with most of your own past emotional baggage.
You should also have already seen the reality of this man you have married for what he has been in the past, and has become at this point. In addition, there is also to consider, the past marital dynamics for what they were, what didn’t work then, and what is not going to work for the future.
If you’ve got all that down by now, you’re more than prepared for the future aspects-if not, I would gently advise that you get to it-this is a needed aspect, I can tell you from direct experience.
The counseling should also help you with further self-growth for yourself. He is not the only one who needs his growth throughout, you do too, and this time you have been given was designed to also help you to begin and continue your own self-growth throughout this experience.
At any rate, he still has a long road to walk before he will reach the next stage.
It looks like he is on the right track for himself at this point in time, in regards to meds, and IC. In addition, it also looks like you are requiring him to do his part in order for him to be able help you build a new connection within your current relationship. These things are good to see.
However, he has not left the tunnel. He is still there, as his Mid-Life Crisis will continue until it is completely finished. If he tries to skip ahead, and some of the cases I have seen have tried this, they will only find themselves cycling right back to where they are supposed be.
The slower they come through, the more likely, they will face everything they are required to face for and within themselves. You don’t want to go through this again, nor do you want to face recurring bouts of Crisis, so don’t worry about what’s ahead, just learn to deal with the here and now, and pay strict attention to what your gut feeling(Intuition) is telling you to do.
The Mid-Life Crisis is such as it is all, or nothing-and you’ll need to stay the course until it’s all past. How much more time, I cannot say, as that depends on your husband-he is the one facing his issues for himself. As long as he has issues to face, he will continue going through bouts of the Mid-Life Crisis.
He is still a long way from the actual stage of Withdrawal, and even further away from Acceptance. It looks like he has many issues to work through for himself, from what you are describing about him, and this will take time for him to complete.
Now, you will need to continue watching, but not watching, waiting, but not waiting. I would also suggest that you treat him kindly, be friendly but distant, treat him like you would want to be treated, but don’t expect anything from him,(your expectations should always be zero and below), listen, and validate his feelings(right or wrong, he has a right to how he feels, just like you do).
Most importantly, set boundaries on any disrespectful behavior you may encounter, and just be there, when/if he needs you. You are going to encounter mood swings, irritability at times, he will still act confused sometimes, have some clarity of mind at others, and you know him well, better than anyone.
I usually advise people to go with the flow, unless the Mid-Lifer starts acting out in a disrespectful fashion, then you call them out, and set firm, but loving boundaries, as people will treat you only as you allow them to.
I hope all of this will help. 🙂 Like I always tell people, take what you need, and leave the rest. 🙂 I wish you all the best along this journey. 🙂