The Midlife Crisis: A Two-Sided Equation

Dear HB,
I truly don’t know what to do with the situation.
Husband wants to move out, I accept it, I don’t know when he is moving out of the house.
Only know that I’m in pain.

Do you think divorce be a choice ?
Since he asked for freedom and see marriage as garbage…
It is true or false ?

Thank you so much !
God be with you and me

In spite of what you’re saying, you’re still not fully accepting the situation as it stands. You’re still wallowing in a lot of pain and suffering that is complicating the grief you’re feeling over the loss of connection that your husband has destroyed with his words and actions. It’s hard, I know it is, and it’s going to take time for you to accept that he is projecting all of his pain, all of his anger, all of his problem, and all of his emotional crisis onto you, blaming his marriage for everything he perceives that is wrong within himself, and his life. This is not about you at all…and it never was.

All midlife spouses view the marriage as disposable, expendable and the left behind spouse interprets this as being discarded, thrown away, and left behind. The left behind spouse has not learned to discern that there is a great deal of innermost pain present within the midlife spouse. Each person–midlife spouse, and left behind spouse–are truly consumed with themselves, and how they each feel.

There are failed expectations present on both sides of this equation that have led into a lot of anger being felt on both sides. There is no empathy shown, or shared, on either side, because all both people can see is how the other is “making” them feel. Each person’s journey is all about them, but both people are truly blind to this truth. They are too busy blaming each other, to understand this opportunity to take the time to achieve personal growth–all they can see is their wants, their desires, and that neither person is getting what they want, when they want it.

Quite honestly, both people are acting selfishly, because they both want sole control of the situation–the midlife spouse wants space, and time to pursue what think they want, and they aren’t respecting or honoring the commitment they made to their marriage, and the spouse they’re seeking to abandon. The left behind spouse doesn’t wish to let go and learn to respect a decision their spouse has made that doesn’t include them, and learn they have no control over anything but themselves. Both people are suffering a serious wake-up call to deep-seated problems within their marriage that are rooted in codependency, and a very deep disrespect for each other.

This very real problem surfaces when the unwanted emotional bomb is dropped, and it only takes one person to create total emotional chaos. The midlife crisis is not caused by the marriage, but it creates a very real marital problem, because it becomes a threat to a way of life, and directly challenges a relational dynamic that no longer works. No matter what you might think or even say, change has arrived, and nothing will ever be the same again.

I totally understand that the midlife spouse is being disrespectful toward their spouse, but respect is earned, not given, and both people need to emotionally distance away from each other, so that hopefully, both people will eventually grow and mature into a place of regaining respect for themselves, their spouse, and their marriage. In order for this to happen, the left behind spouse needs to back off, let go, and give that space, and time necessary to the rebellious midlife spouse, while taking this same time to do the inner Self work that will create a better, stronger, and mature person. It’s hopeful that in time, the midlife spouse will realize what they’ve lost, feel the missing presence of the one who stood by them for so long, and in time, begin to turn back toward the spouse, from whom they so cruelly ripped themselves away, through their rebellious actions.

Even when/if the midlife spouse chooses to hopefully turn back, it doesn’t mean things will automatically be “OK.” Major emotional, and relational changes have been wrought within both lives, and it must be addressed, and in time, it should be, as both people grow into a state of acceptance, forgiveness and healing. This takes time and the development of emotional maturity within both people. However, long before then, there is this matter of this major midlife crisis to emotionally survive. Learning to navigate during this time, takes a lot of emotional strength, the acceptance of events that are happening, or maybe have happened, but one must learn to overcome the emotional damage that has occurred. It doesn’t happen all at once, but it’s doable with the help of the Lord from whom your strength must come.

You can do this, armed with the knowledge that the actions of the midlife spouse was the cause, that brought about an effect. There is a matter of an emotional journey that the left behind spouse must make, that teaches certain life’s lessons that beg to be learned through this experience This journey is not for those who are faint of heart, it’s for the strong, the able, and the ones who have a good understanding of what it means to make a Stand for what you believe. This was the kind of Stand I once made when I faced this total disintegration, and destruction of my own marriage when it occurred years ago. If I can do it, I know you can. ((HUGS))

I was not special, nor privileged, nor entitled to anything. I worked, walked, and struggled for everything I received during my journey, and I used the time that my husband had taken for his own journey to emotionally tear myself down, and rebuild myself back up into a better Self than I had been before his midlife crisis came forth. I had times of pain, shame, anger, and exhaustion. I was often cold, hungry, and thirsty–and this was not literal, this was figurative, as I was abandoned, left to emotionally fend for myself, and it was up to me to learn to supply my own emotional needs during that time. I had to learn that everything I needed was found in God first, and then myself, as He taught me to Stand firmly on my own two emotional feet. He taught me many things I could not have learned from my husband, or my marriage, because these lessons were internally learned, rather than externally learned.

I learned that peace always involves a battle of Wills, as the higher nature of peace is pitted against the baser nature of the chaos that is existent within our Self. One cannot rid themselves of their baser natures, but one can overcome this emotional battle waged against negativity, and win peace for their Self. I learned that everything I chose to feel toward other people, was and is based on what I first feel within myself. To love others is not possible, for example, unless love for Self has been born, and developed within. It’s the same with all other feelings, and even actions one chooses to do for, or even against other people. Everything you say, and do, begins within your Self.

This is just a small drop in the bucket of what I learned during this time of discovering that all feelings, and events are a two-way street, or a “two-sided equation” containing many aspects of learning. What this means is that no person is unique in how they act or feel, or even what they might think to want for themselves. Every person has a choice of how they will think, act, feel, and the other person has the right to this same aspect. The left behind spouse may set a boundary against the midlife spouse for self-protection, but don’t think for one minute that the midlife spouse doesn’t have that same right–they do, and they will, often in a mirroring-type environment, turn it back on the left behind spouse, but not in the same way. It’s all part of growth within this “two-sided equation” that involves two people who are causing each other to change, grow, and become.

The road of emotional pain, that eventually leads into solid change that triggers growth in both people, is often a hard one, but it can be walked forward in strength, and in a solid emotional Stand that accepts the current situation, but has hope for a future that leads into an improved situation. In the meantime, the left behind spouse should not allow themselves to be swayed, or deterred from what they know they need to do for themselves during this time.

There is hope as long as there is love, and expectations don’t have a place within a major midlife crisis. To make a Stand requires a huge leap of Faith, and a deep trust and belief in God, who knows all things.

You’re having so much trouble understanding and accepting that within the state of mind this man is currently in, nothing you say, or do, will make any difference in his midlife crisis. You’re repeating questions to me in the hope that you’ll get different answers, ones that that let you know that you have some control of this situation within the area of your marriage and control over your husband’s decisions. The only control you have, and will ever have is over yourself, not your husband, and not this situation he has created through his decisions that have not included/involved, and will not include, you.

This is all about him—and sometimes you have to allow people to walk away, choose what they think they want, and discover for themselves, on their own, that what they’re doing is not the best thing. You cannot make him see that he’s wrong, he has to come into a place of seeing this for himself. I can promise you I’m not being mean, nor contrary—however, no human being has any control over another human being, and because of this, we are forced to let go of rebellious husbands, give them space and time to figure what they want for themselves. He has asked for freedom–give it to him, because you have NO other choice than to let him go.

For just a second, put yourself in his shoes–how would you feel if you felt you wanted out, and he refused to let go of you? Wouldn’t you would become resentful, angry, and then, because you think what you’re doing is right, find a way to get yourself free of what you would perceive as his controlling ways and influence? Be honest with yourself in this, because regardless of how you might seek to deny this aspect, it’s the truth. Human nature often dictates that we want what we want, and because we want it, we’ll often do what we think is necessary to get what we think we want.

Unfortunately, human beings are not always choosing to think their actions through to the consequences that will surely come as a result. Because of that failure, people often find themselves in more trouble than they would have had, had they just sat down and thought it all through, before they stepped forward into a life-changing event that once executed, cannot be be taken back, nor reversed. Every decision has a direct effect on the person who makes it, and an indirect effect on the person who wasn’t given any input, or choice in the matter.

The bottom line is that any decision made for or against a person, is all about the person making it–they’re not thinking of anyone but themselves. That’s why any sin committed is not personal, except TO the person who is making a destructive decision that will, in time, completely destroy them. Each person has complete power, and control over themselves, personal responsibility for their decisions, and they will suffer harsh and painful consequences when wrong steps are made in a wrong direction.

The love of a left behind spouse makes NO difference to someone whose feelings, for this time, are buried deep under layers and layers of justification. These feelings are missing, no longer exist, no longer felt, and the midlife spouse is desperately struggling to get away from the person they feel nothing for. If the left behind spouse seeks to hold on, the midlife spouse struggles that much harder against this “hold” and they feel smothered, and controlled.

Emotional neediness is not attractive at all, is a part of crying, begging, and pleading, and it’s all rightly seen as controlling and manipulating behaviors that no midlife spouse wants to have any part of. Your crippling emotional pain means nothing to him at this point in time. He is so self-consumed, he cannot see you, hear you, nor feel you—all he can see is himself, his wants, his needs. Nothing else, and no one else, matters right now.

You say that you’re not “holding” him physically, but it’s quite obvious that you’re clinging to him emotionally, and this is making matters worse. You don’t have to say one word for him to sense you’re not letting go of him. You can also sense in him that he’s wanting to run away. He may say a lot of things, but it’s his actions that will tell the tale. Back off from him completely, distance yourself from his drama, live your life, stop making yourself so available to him. Learn to respect his decisions, even though I know you don’t agree with it, you’re not being given a choice–this is HIS choice, and you need to accept, and respect, his right to make a personal decision.

The above statement may cause you to become angry and it might make you think that I don’t understand, but I’ve been there before, and it wasn’t easy for me to accept, and learn to respect the decision my husband once made that led to a total emotional break, either. I remember eventually realizing that I really don’t want someone who doesn’t want me, and so, I backed off, without filing for a divorce, giving him his space, and let him have what he thought he wanted. Though it was a long time before he talked to me, he figured out that what he was chasing in the way of freedom was NOT what he wanted.

However, by that time, I was already walking my journey, and leaving him behind to catch up to me. The whole dynamic had shifted, and instead of me being afraid, it was him that was now afraid. However, unlike him, I didn’t do anything wrong, nor did I sin against my husband. I didn’t even say one word to him–I let my actions speak loud and clear….and it took time for me to lose the fear of losing something that had already been lost…this is where you want to come to in yourself.

People must come to realize in time, that the midlife spouse is not the “be-all” and “end-all” of your existence. That spouse is not the most important aspect of your life, and your spouse is not going to give you the happiness that you must learn to find within yourself……YOU ARE THAT MOST IMPORTANT PERSON, and you need to learn to make yourself a priority after God, who should always be the top priority within a believer’s life.

LET GO, LET GOD work on this midlife spouse. Get your feet on your own journey, and start walking forward for yourself—you can do nothing for him, but everything for you. This repeat of advice might make you angry, upset, and even miserable, but you didn’t break him, so you can’t fix him—he has broken himself, and must learn to fix himself, and you are not equipped to fix him….you’re not him, and he is not you.

As far as divorce goes–he might choose a divorce, and he might not….just like you might choose a divorce, or you might not. I don’t advise people to file for a divorce as a general rule, because it’s all about taking responsibility for one’s wants and desires. He wants out, you don’t, so you wait on him to choose to file, and then you choose to answer, making sure you’re protected financially..but in the meantime make sure you’re well informed on your rights should divorce come to light.

Otherwise, get moving, because time is marching right now down the road. The more time you spend dwelling on this man, whom you cannot control, the more time you lose that could be spent focused on yourself, whom you can control.

Keep in mind that the midlife crisis is truly a two-sided equation, there are two sides to every story, two sides to every perception, that involve two very different people who are struggling with this very real time of emotional development that should lead into maturity….and it all takes time. Don’t waste this very real gift of time you’ve been given for yourself through your spouse’s midlife crisis. Walk the emotional road, learn the lessons, internalize these into your life, use them wisely, and take these into future relationships that you hold in addition to your marriage.

I hope this helps.

Food for thought.

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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