I am actually surprised I had not already covered the Death of the Marriage before now. It was a major part of the knowledge I have had since the fall of 2001, when my own marriage faced this same “death.” I recently located this writing that I had completed while working in the underground forum I used to have. 🙂 Hopefully, it will explain a lot more about this major life’s event.
When the midlife spouse emotionally “bombs” the left behind spouse, they destroy the marriage, causing a relational “death” to occur. A major life’s change sweeps through the life that the couple once shared…and it causes an emotional separation to occur.
In some ways losing someone to death is better and at least they knew they were loved by that person. Along with loss, the LBS feels the added grief of betrayal and loss of that person’s love. In other ways it’s worse, you know you will never see them again in this lifetime. There is no doubt that it’s over.
The day the midlife spouse said their feelings had changed, they gave the “speech” of ‘I love you, but are not in love with you,’ and discovery was made that they were not happy, or, there is someone else in their lives; at that point in time, the relationship as it was is OVER, GONE, DEAD. Death of relationship has then occurred, triggered by the one who says they want out.
The problem then lies with the left behind spouse, or significant other who is choosing NOT to ACCEPT this ending of relationship.
ANY loss is hard to accept and navigate through, because death doesn’t just show in physical form. Regardless of HOW a death of relationship occurs, there is always a grieving period that requires an emotional, mental, and even spiritual journey to go through.
At the very beginning of a loss, DENIAL is always experienced. I can’t even begin to describe the people I know that do not choose to accept the physical loss of their loved ones. They prefer to become stuck in their grieving process. This isn’t any different than what’s suffered during the midlife crisis process, where the left behind spouse absolutely refuses to let go of a life that no longer exists.
There are five stages of grief:
In an ideal end to the grieving process, one is called upon to ACCEPT the ending, and become willing to navigate into a new beginning that comes after the process of grief is complete.
Unfortunately, there are people who stay in denial for the rest of their lives, they never make it out of that phase, and they hurt themselves in that process. No matter what anyone might say, continuing the experience of life is a CHOICE, and each person holds that choice in their hands. They can either choose to live or die, it’s up to them–and death comes in MORE than one form.
We can physically live, but be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually dead–and I’m NOT talking about a vegetative coma. There are people on this Earth who suffer needlessly, and they do it to themselves, because they won’t accept CHANGE….and because they don’t accept change, their lives aren’t lived as fully as they could be.
I’ve been there—I stayed in that particular emotional rut for three months after I was bombed. I have emotionally cycled with the best of them over time. I learned that a positive attitude, and refusing to get stuck in a situation that wasn’t going to serve ME, was the best way of emotionally surviving this trial–whether it would be with a marriage, or without a marriage.
Now, pay attention, because I said “marriage” not “spouse.” I have learned a lot of different things over time, some things that have happened to me that I have never spoken about, but each one contributed to all that I learned. My marriage nearly ended several times during my life. I didn’t do so well with facing this possibility earlier in our marriage, but after his midlife crisis finished, I realized that my marital status was NOT an emotional definition of ME as a person.
Because of all that I allowed that twelve year experience to teach me, I learned to create my own security, my own confidence, my own self esteem, my own self worth, and happiness is found in ME–not in a man who can and will fail me at any time. He is a free agent, just like I am, and regardless of any vows that were spoken, he and I are both free to walk away, subject to the consequences that will certainly be suffered in return for our individual actions.
As long as we, as individuals, understand that each person is free to do as they think they need to, want to, that for each action, there is a reaction, and for every action there IS a consequence, one should then learn to understand you cannot make someone do what you either think or know is right, you can only let them go in peace to choose their own way.
The only emotional power I give away is what *I* choose to give, not what someone else expects me to give. I do give and receive love, therefore, I can be hurt, but even that’s not a giving away of my personal power, unless I CHOOSE it to be.
My spouse has the power to leave me as he chooses to. I have that same power. The key is in ACCEPTANCE of any change that’s made within a relationship, therefore, one change can affect both people. However, it’s not the choice made to make a change that’s right or wrong, it’s the kind of change that’s chosen that can make a choice right or wrong.
In physical death it’s the same thing–unwanted change has come that the other person doesn’t get a choice, nor any input–the only difference is that person who has passed away is no longer there, and will not return again. I disagree that it would be easier, and you’ll know why as this writing continues. It’s not what you face in this life, but the attitude you choose to face it with is what matters the most in the eyes of God.
We have all faced our share of life’s trials that were intended to lead into the learning of life’s lessons. However what we don’t face, will return back in a consistent emotional cycle that becomes harder each time it returns back. Everything comes full circle given time, and life is lived in this way. This is not all about philosophy, life is what you make it, and everything is a process.
If you think about it, a spouse walking out of a marriage can cause the one who is left behind to suffer a death, although this is a different kind of circumstance. You’ve had no choice, nor input into this decision. But, you are still called upon to accept this decision on their part, and learn to stop holding on to someone who doesn’t choose to be there with you anymore, and one who may never return.
Life goes on in spite of all that happens, time marches down the road, and regardless of what kind of death you’re facing, a process that involves full resolution of your past life, and then closing the door so you can move forward into the future, must be completed.
It’s up to YOU to seek your own closure to this kind of death, and it involves an emotional, mental, and often spiritual journey to get there on your own. I can give all of the advice in the World, and it’s still YOUR decision…not MINE. I made my own peace with this same kind of situation long ago, after fighting it for myself, because I’d been there before. ((HUGS))
Death is death is death is death–THE END of a life you once knew is final–there is NO going back, no turning back of the clock, once done, nothing can be redone..nothing to do but let go. Your dreams, your ideals, your hopes that you once placed in this person are now gone, and even IF they were to return, life has still undergone a major change, and you’re still tasked with emotionally adjusting to this change.
The same denial, anger, etc..holding on, refusing to move forward–all of this occurs, regardless of what KIND of death is faced.
In the context of physical death, there are widows, and widowers alike who don’t choose to move forward, preferring instead to pretend that nothing has changed in their lives, when everything has changed. I watched my mother go through something like this, and though she passed away five years after my dad did, she never really accepted he was gone. She often pretended that he was still there–and that was a clear denial of the fact that he was gone, and never coming back. She didn’t accept that life as she once knew it, had ended, and nothing would ever be the same.
She fought change tooth and nail—now, you might say, oh, it’s different, because her husband passed away. However, her actual reaction, emotional behavior, refusing to emotionally adjust to this irreversible change in her life, was no different than the many left behind spouses I have encountered over time who refuse to accept, and embrace the fact their lives have changed, the midlife spouse has caused this change, that led to the death of their relationship, and nothing will ever return to what it used to be.
I realize you can’t put a time on grieving a loss. I’m NOT an insensitive person, but as far as any death is concerned, the ones who become stuck in a deep emotional rut, are hurting themselves, wasting their time wishing for a reversal of circumstance that is not going to happen, and actually wasting their lives pining away for someone who isn’t concerned about whether they live or die—and in the context of physical death, the one left behind and heavily grieving is angry, because in their minds, they blame that loved one for passing away and leaving them all alone.
Is the dead person going to show any concern for their grieving loved one? Of course not, they’re DEAD, therefore there is NO feeling at all for the one who is left behind. Those who cry, cry for themselves–they say it’s for the one who has passed, but they’re not being honest with themselves…their tears are for THEMSELVES, NOT for the one who has left them behind.
Within the context of the midlife crisis, there is a death of emotional feeling, a burial under layers of justification, is effected to justify wrong actions. The death of the marriage soon follows, as the midlife spouse emotionally destroys the bond that once held them to their spouse, and they leave that person behind to figure out who they are without them. It’s what midlife spouses are driven to do–it’s not what they want to do, it’s what they feel they have to do.
Everything in life has to suffer a death of what once was–but the grief that follows on the part of the one who is left behind, isn’t for the one who has walked away. It’s for the one who is being forced to face unwanted change that has resulted from that death of connection. The grief that begins is not even for the marriage–not at first. This grief is initially for Self that has been forced to accept this break, and does not understand why it happened.
The passage of time will bring forth more changes, but in the beginning, there is only emotional pain that brings forth a time of self victimization, issues of abandonment, and a very real fear of what the future may hold.
When the emotional rug was jerked out from under my own feet, whom I was crying for? Not the man who had sinned against me, and not even for our marriage, because I did not know in the beginning that our marriage had ended. No, my tears were for ME, whose life was facing unwanted change, and an unknown future. *I* felt like a victim, and for a time I wallowed in this pit of self-victimization, because it seemed that he was moving on, leaving me behind, and I had “lost” my place in this world.
All I had ever known was this man–I’d been married to him for my whole life. When he changed his life, which affected my life, all I had invested in him, went bankrupt. I suffered a loss that forced me to make an emotional adjustment to the circumstances.
However, this loss of my hopes and dreams, and love’s investment turned out to be the best thing that ever happened for me, as death, of my life and marriage, was transformed into a new life. One that *I* chose to create, not one my husband created.
Over time, one learns there are many positives in learning to accept the death of a life you once knew. Once change is embraced, this will open an emotional door into a new life–but it’s up to you to choose to accept the closing of one door, in favor of the opening of a new door. ((HUGS))
Food for thought.