The Left-Behind Spouse’s Emotional Journey

This is another explanation of The Journey to Wholeness and Healing drawn from a forum post that I wrote back in 2010 under the former title of “The LBS Journey.” I have edited this writing for flow, content, and readability.

Now, each newbie needs to read this, whether you think you need to change or not. Every marriage has had its problems; and IF lives and marriages were perfect, there would be NO reason or need for the mid-life crisis.

However, since NO ONE’S life OR marriage is perfect, and every last one of us has our faults and foibles…the journey needs to be walked to wholeness and healing by each and every one.

If you think you don’t need to grow and change, I will tell you now, you are not being totally honest with yourself and are within deep DENIAL, and it is NOT the river in Egypt.

If you don’t grow and change, you are hurting no one but yourself. IF you don’t recognize flaws within you, taking the necessary steps to repair these, you will take these same emotional problems into another relationship, and get to do it ALL over again; even if it’s within the SAME relationship.

You will recycle your lessons until they are learned, or until you die; your choice.

The unwanted Emotional Bomb Drop you received, regardless of what form you received it in, represents a ‘wake up’ call to action. When your mid-life spouse put you upon a path that was NOT of your own making; he/she made it all about YOU, the left-behind spouse just as the crisis is all about THEM.

The two of you are on separate paths, whether you like it or not.

Even after you finish learning the lessons of a lifetime, your spouse’s mid-life crisis is the trigger for ongoing growth and change that will last the rest of your life.

I have been out of this for a long time. At this time, I’m still growing and changing, looking deep within myself from time to time to see how I’m coming along. This process will continue until I die.

I began by recognizing the need to walk this journey around three months after the bomb got dropped on me, so long ago. I wasn’t perfect, it was time for me to grow up and become what God meant for me to be. I had damage from my childhood AND my marriage to face and heal- you will need to do this, also. Whatever you don’t understand, just ask about it, you can always find someone who is at one place or the other in their journey.

Some are far ahead, and some are just getting started. We are all here (or should be here) to help you however you need help in understanding what you must do to grow up within your spouse’s mid-life crisis.

With that said, here we go.

Each person takes this journey as an individual. There are no right or wrong ways to take this journey.
What’s important is that it’s taken, in its entirety. The only place you cannot start, is at the end, as you will not know what the ending is, until you reach it.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember any kind of roadmap to start you out. I’ve suggested the “Mirror of Self-Honesty”-it is as good a place to start as any, it will help you to begin seeing yourselves as you really are within.
Being honest with yourself is VERY important; it is the only way to changing whichever areas that need change within you.

Remember, it’s no one’s place to judge you for what you see and reveal to whomever you choose to use as a sounding board(this is someone you can trust and talk to that can help you put these things into perspective).

Also remember that the answers are contained within you, no one can “give” them to you. If you think you can’t find them, well, you just haven’t “tapped” them yet.

Above all, don’t be afraid. This is not a test where you score for how well you do. You can take as much time as you need to complete this path.

But it must be done.

Attitude is important. Don’t take this journey in the hopes you’ll get your spouse back.
This is for you, not them…they should NOT be in the picture you’re looking at of yourself. This is an individual journey; just as your mid-life spouse/wayward spouse is on a journey that is all about them, this is all about YOU.

One of the best things in this life, is to come through the journey the LBS spouse takes, learns the lessons of life, fixes the things within that are wrong with THEMSELVES, and come out on the other side, whole, and healed.

They know within themselves in the end, without the shadow of a doubt that they are and will be all right regardless of what their mid-life spouse does, the marriage comes back together or not, or even the twists and turns that life may take in the future.

Life, when it comes down to it, is nothing BUT one big problem to be solved, and solve it you will, as you live each day of your life. You will, when you come through, carry the tools needed to do this once your journey is completed.

How to get there? That’s NOT a one size fits all answer. Each person’s journey is different, tailored to the individual themselves. No one can “tell” you what to do; or how to do it.

You just do it, and it starts by looking deep within yourself…..

You’ve just been bombed, you’re lost and afraid. The person you’ve given your life to, has betrayed you, abandoned you, says they don’t love you anymore, or give you the speech of “I Love you, but am not in love with you”. When you ask them why, they tell you they don’t know, or blame you with every bad thing they are feeling…and it is hard NOT take them seriously.

You’re uncertain what the future will hold, and that is a normal feeling..but you don’t think it’s normal. These things should not be happening, you think to yourself.

You want strength, but can’t seem to find it. You can’t eat, sleep, nor seem to get away from depression.
The fallout is everywhere, there is thick dust you can’t seem to see through.

Eventually, you reach out for help as things do not seem to be coming back together as you’d hoped they would.

What you meet is a group of individuals going through the SAME thing; they tell you it’s a “mid-life crisis”, it’s not your fault, and furthermore, begin to try and get you to see that you must go through what you perceive is more pain and suffering; and you don’t want that.

You want a “quick fix”, you want your life back, you want your spouse to look at you like they used to.

I’ve got a newsflash for you:

You’re NOT going to get that; when your spouse went into the tunnel; your marriage and your life, as you knew and saw it, DIED.
Get it? It’s dead, as in not coming back ever again, burned to the ashes, GONE.

All the crying, begging, pleading, clinging, demanding…all destructive behaviors will NOT help to fix anything.
They will only cause MORE damage, as disrespect from the mid-life spouse will ONLY increase.

One thing you need to worry about as the dust from the fallout settles, is protecting yourself from the mid-life spouse if he/she is financially irresponsible. You may think this doesn’t have anything to do with this journey, but you’re wrong.

This is the first thing you do need to learn: Protect yourself from those who would hurt you.

A firmly set boundary in the financial area alone for now, is very important; if you do NOT have money to support yourself and your family, you will go bankrupt, and lose everything material that is necessary.

The mid-life spouse is NOT going to be responsible, so YOU have to be..formulate a plan, and stick with it; ESPECIALLY if there is another woman/another man involved. Neither needs your money, YOU DO.

The next thing I suggest, if you need to, see a doctor, and get a physical. Why? Because the mid-life crisis takes its toll on you, and you are important. If need be, get some anti-depressants or something of that nature, to calm you down so you can begin to cope with what’s happened. Your mind will need to be clear, as when you “get it” you will begin the journey within yourself.

Looking within yourself is one of the hardest things anyone can do or ever will do. I can’t tell you where to start, as everyone is different, but you can start by looking in the mirror of self-honesty. Uncover that mirror and look hard. Anyone who says they have never made any mistakes in their lives is lying to themselves and to everyone else who knows and loves them.

Be prepared to “sort” out what you see with someone you trust who understands what you are doing. A Sounding Board is really important, someone who will be honest, and straightforward; helping you to begin see the areas of change that are needed within you; also they can help you effect those changes, making them permanent.
This is important work on yourself; DON’T NEGLECT IT, don’t skip over it, thinking it’s not important.

In time, as you progress, you will see yourself as you really are, seeing some very hurtful things, things you will NOT like.

Are you still fighting the fact, that you will need to take this necessary introspection after reading this far?
I can tell you something from experience: You’re only hurting YOURSELF, not anyone else; this is where the “Control lesson” one of the MOST important lessons in this life, comes into play.

The only person we can control in this life is OURSELVES, not anyone else. The mid-life spouse did his/her damage, sure, BUT, you cannot help him/her; accept that you can only help yourself.
That means taking the focus, such as it is, OFF the mid-life spouse, and putting it on YOU as the important person.

As time passes on, and you learn about YOU, beginning to fix the areas within you that need to be fixed, you will CHANGE. And for the better, NOT worse. You’ll gain strength, understanding, confidence, and patience from this walk down the path toward a better YOU.

Read self-help books, do more things for yourself. Get a life that’s separate from the mid-life spouse; get on with it. Time won’t stand still because this has happened; it marches on just like it always has. Don’t waste it in “pity parties” or wishing for the mid-life spouse to come back, nor spend any more time grieving than you’ll need to in order to accept this major “death” in your life. Things have CHANGED, and you’ll need to change right along with it.

You’ll find, given time, that happiness is NOT found in another person, it is found WITHIN ourselves.

This is a PROCESS, not only a journey; and as you effect the changes within, people WILL see these changes, even the mid-life spouse that left you behind. Most importantly, they will affect the reactions of others toward you.

Taken properly, in time, it will no longer matter to you if your marriage makes it or doesn’t, you’ll find that YOU have grown stronger, see more clearly; most of all you’ll know within your heart, that you WILL make it, regardless of what happens. If your marriage rebuilds itself, AND the mid-life spouse makes all the necessary changes he/she must make as well, it will be a bonus.

You’ll find you don’t really need another to “complete” you; you’ll be complete within yourself, regardless.

And you’ll begin to deal on your own terms, as a more mature individual for what you’ve done within YOU.

This is NOT a “magic pill” designed to solve ALL your problems, but it will help you cope with ongoing problems, not just in the mid-life spouse.

This process will take, TIME, you’ll suffer PAIN, sometimes you will feel GUILT. Other times you will feel SHAME. Don’t run from these feelings, EMBRACE them, as your attitude will be most important. You are not alone, others have gone this same route, walked this same road toward healing, and wholeness.

It is most important that when you accept all the mistakes you’ve made, make all the necessary changes, that really NEED to be permanent, that you FORGIVE, not only the mid-life spouse and anyone else who has hurt you, but YOURSELF. Only when you accept and forgive, will you be able to begin to heal.

Take each day as it comes, one day at a time, one step at a time, be kind to yourself, you’re human, and not immune to making mistakes.

Again, this journey is for YOU, and ONLY YOU.

This is the journey of a lifetime, an opportunity for YOU, take it, and make the most of it.

Hearts Blessing 2010

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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