Creating drama is something a mid-life spouse will use to feed his or her justification for their actions. This is very similar to a teenager in puberty who is so emotionally “unsettled” within themselves they seek to cause chaos in every situation they encounter. The troubled teen will also overreact (at least in a parent’s estimation) to any setting of limits/boundaries.
In spite of the physical fact that the mid-life spouse is an adult, their total emotional regression is quite obvious. A wayward teen that is causing loads of trouble or “drama” is not much different.
Causing drama is definitely about gaining total control of a situation. During the mid-life crisis, there are always one set of rules for the mid-life spouse, (fueled by their sense of entitlement to everything) and another set of rules for the left-behind spouse (whom the mid-life spouse perceives as being undeserving of anything).
It seems to be “OK” for the mid-life spouse to do what they are doing, take what they are taking, but God forbid if the left-behind spouse does the same. This usually triggers a huge bout of drama where the mid-life spouse will point fingers at the left-behind spouse in a form of angrily twisted judgment, never realizing their thumb (and the remaining other three fingers) is pointing right back at themselves.
The more drama the chaotic, and immature mid-life spouse can cause, the more control they think they have gained within a situation. In other words, it’s all about gaining and keeping the upper hand within any situation. Confrontations turn into exhaustive battles, as the left-behind spouse struggles to make sense of what the mid-life spouse is saying/doing, and why. Regardless of what a left-behind spouse might say or even do they will find their words/deeds twisted by the mid-life spouse into something they never said/did, nor meant to say/do in the first place.
As each bout of drama escalates the mid-life spouse will tell the left-behind spouse they didn’t hear, see, nor experience what the left-behind spouse is trying to hold them in accountability for. This will often leave the left-behind spouse with a sense they are crazy, and/or losing their mind. However, the left-behind spouse is not blind, deaf, stupid, nor crazy.
They know what they have gone through, they know what they are going through, and they eventually come to know they are not losing their minds. It is the mid-life spouse who refuses to see, hear, and admit what they’ve done, and the resulting drama is also created for the purpose of avoidance of accountability.
The most confusing part of being involved in such heavy drama is it seems that no matter what the left-behind spouse says, or does, they will always be wrong, while the mid-life spouse sets themselves up to always be right. Again, one is looking at one of the many ongoing controlling aspects of the crisis.
For some people it does not matter if they do everything the way they know is right, they will often find themselves walking on eggshells, because the least little thing can cause the biggest bout of drama. Worse than this, the left-behind spouse does not always know what will trigger these bouts of drama that will seemingly come from nowhere.
If the situation goes too far, the left-behind spouse can lose control of themselves, saying and doing things they can never take back, nor change. That is another goal of creating drama-to see how far the mid-life spouse can go before seeing the “bad” guy complex neatly flipped back onto the left-behind spouse.
Never mind the fact the mid-life spouse started all of this in the first place. Every time said drama begins the left-behind spouse always gets the blame because they will inadvertently say something that can never be taken back. Whatever is said will be filed away within the memory bank of the mid-life spouse to be brought back as ammunition for another time. In this way they are able to continue “playing” on the guilt of the left-behind spouse for having lost control of themselves.
Total detachment is a helpful tool in dealing with the various bouts of drama that will surely come because the mid-life spouse does not know, and (at this point deep within the mid-life crisis) has not learned, how to live in relative peace.
When one learns to detach from a given situation/bout of drama, one has the understanding of how they should react, but they choose not to react.
Detachment is deployed with the knowledge that no reaction (and sometimes no response), is usually the best way to avoid feeding a mid-life spouse’s various justifications for bad behavior.
Also, detachment helps a person “stand outside” of a given situation, giving them a more objective view of the immature mid-life spouse.
If a situation becomes peaceful for any length of time, you can be certain the mid-life spouse will find something wrong somewhere, and they have been known to create drama out of practically nothing. So, it’s best to detach, and learn to emotionally distance oneself from the out of control mid-life spouse to prevent being drawn into whatever current drama they are trying to create.
If a left-behind spouse says something that manages to hit the emotional “mark” in such a way that shuts the mid-life spouse down, you can be certain the mid-life spouse will find something else to start trying to cause drama in another area.
The refusal to engage the mid-life spouse is a type of behavioral boundary, set within the mid-life crisis, that can help to slow down, or even stop drama before it gets started.
When a left-behind spouse refuses to engage, this takes away the emotional ammunition the mid-life spouse desires so they can continue “feeding” their personal justification for their actions against their marriage. This is part of their “blame-shifting” tactics, because the mid-life spouse simply cannot look at themselves as the one who is at fault.
Within their skewed thinking/altered state of mind, who best to continue “baiting” into taking the blame for what is clearly the mid-life spouse’s internal problems than the left-behind spouse? When they cannot get any kind of reaction from the left-behind spouse, they can become even angrier, act out even worse, dig even harder for something, anything to keep the blame deflected away from them.
As time goes on, and the refusal on the part of the left-behind spouse to engage becomes more firm, this transforms into more of a “limit” or a “behavioral boundary” that is set upon the mid-life spouse. This can force them to accept that their behavior no longer affects the left-behind spouse, and they are left with two choices: Find another way to relate, or choose to walk away. This is much like that same out of control and wayward teenager who is testing the limits.
However, it takes a great amount of emotional strength to stop engaging. It is all too easy to start arguing back, and see a situation quickly spin totally out of control to the point the mid-life spouse is more or less satisfied that the left-behind spouse is as “weak” as he/she thought they were. The mid-life spouse sees this as regaining control of the whole situation again.
On a final note: Even with the strongest of “non-engagers”, the anger will still come out of the mid-life spouse anyway. However, this show of anger is necessary as the unreleased anger from the past must spew forth out of the mid-life spouse one way or the other. The emotional “fires” of the crisis, that continue raging within them, will continue to burn high for a time before burning out to embers.
How long this releasing of past anger (that so often leads to the usage of drama) will take is up to the person going through their emotional crisis.
Handling mid-life spouses who are prone to drama is not an easy task, but it is doable with the help of the Lord who teaches us who to stand firmly upon what we know is right. Look to Him for help in this area plus many others as you continue reading and learning about the mid-life crisis.
Angry Spewing, Arrogant Justification, and Deep Confusion