|Where to Find It at Best Years|
Forum: The Midlife Crisis
So what are your thoughts on issues pertaining to the midlife crisis? Talk to me; talk to each other, or just talk. I look forward to hearing from you.
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|August 12, 1998
First of all, I want to thank you for your column. And separately -- for its split format: very convenient. After searching the Internet for days looking for the right place, I could not believe I found the right one, but here it is: affairs & mid-life.
I have the whole basket: midlife crisis (x2), two affairs on both sides, separation, career change, and never-ending love and willingness to get US back.
I read what you wrote in response to some questions, and I completely agree that affairs in mid-life are a way to find the new self-fulfillment and merely a way of escaping other problems. Our situation was either the beginning or the indication of the ongoing mid-life crisis on both sides.
Four months of my affair, his "waking up" with taking responsibility for driving me to this and willingness on both sides to get through this and to work on our relationship and ourselves, even the "honeymoon"; immediately after that -- his affair, developing slowly but steadily, from spiritual attraction and wish to help a person in need to the climax when I went through hearing that she is the one who is loved.
After reading your column I understood one more thing: during his affair I constantly had a feeling that something completely, absolutely WRONG is happening: he was a totally different person, the one who would never lose a face and remain calm in most complicated situations, was lying, looking unsure, making promises and not keeping them, and so on the Prince charmED. And this was the only person I was sure of.
I gave up my lover very soon after believing that I am still loved and wanted by my husband and that he is willing to build our future; he stopped his after I went through the very serious depression with even suicidal attempts, saying that it was difficult for him, but remembering that I did the same for him, he also made this sacrifice. He demanded, though, that we spend some time -- months -- apart to forget stereotypes, and I agreed, saying that in that state neither of us needed another one, that each of us had to work on himself and to undergo a change. I was out of my job at that time and I could not stand him supporting me in such a situation, so I left and stayed with my parents, working part-time, making a career change.
We are away from each other for a year. We meet only once for a drink, and exchanged some phone calls and e-mails. However, for the last couple of months we were spending on the phone more and more time, talking very friendly. Each of us works with a psychologist. I don't know if he restored his relationship, I don't feel I can question him.
Luckily, after all this horror, I love him no less than I always did. And respect him the same -- I believe that when you LOVE, even the forgiveness doesn't matter -- it is simply irrelevant, because Love includes everything. I do love him and understand everything what had happened to us, to him, to me. What I don't know is what to do. As simple as that.
There is a chance I'll see him soon -- for a few hours, maybe, twice. I don't know how to behave -- I understand that we should cut off that ugly past, at least, for a while -- we can get to it later, when we regain ourselves to acknowledge our mistakes, sins, and to learn lessons. I feel the strong tension every time when I want to suggest any step forward because the memories of how it used to be rejected are very much alive. I don't know how to present myself -- with my achievements in personal development -- to avoid old stereotypes in his seeing me; how to show up as a new and interesting person. Why I want to act this way? Because I understand that any slightest expression of my NEED in him, of my desire to get him back, any hint of that kind will be a drawback. I am myself made this way -- I can't stand being "hunted". I decided that all I can do is offer -- but my difficulty is that I feel I cannot do it absolutely free, without the fear of rejection.
I am very much not sure that we can continue the family life -- I don't think even I want it. We were very happy as lovers-friends without marriage for many years, and the older we get, the more space each of us requires. Living separately is not a problem, even might be a blessing. Each of us is a very free and independent person.
What can I do? Or what else can be done? He frequently offers me some friendly favors which I accept with gratitude: passing my resume, paying the taxes or sending payments to credit cards, etc. What I question is the nature of those actions: is he doing this because he wants to do it for me -- or this is an attempt to break even, to unload his burden of guilt, to kind of offer me those favors in exchange to his freedom from me.
Thank you. Sorry for a long letter.
Hi Striving--I decided the best way to answer your letter was to put it on the forum and let others who have had similar experiences have a go at it. Thanks for writing, and good luck.
Dear Kicked (Mike's letter on the Q & A page for August 7, 1998)
First let me emphasize and agree with Mike in advising you to meet with a counselor. Also like Mike says, you are the victim of a very cruel and inconsiderate act...(notification by e-mail), and now need to not give it more credibility by staying immobilized. It does get better. I know that you are sitting there reliving all the things that you should have done, could have done and what was done to you. You need to stop that kind of thinking and recognize that now YOU are adding to the pain inflicted on you by your wife!! You need to become your own support system. Go meet with a counselor to help you sort out your feelings, and then hire yourself a good lawyer. I wish you the best. I really does get better.
August 22, 1998
Thanks for answering my question about my husband in depression -- you were right on the money, and several of the things you mentioned have now come true. I have finally reached the point of being angry enough over his behavior to stop feeling sorry for him -- and unfortunately, will have to file for separation or divorce this week because he has stopped giving me money to support the kids and has acted so scary I had to call the police to get him out of the house last week.
I just keep wondering, how do you know someone is ill enough to be a danger to themselves, their children and others around them -- so far I seem to be the focus of his anger, but I worry about his irrational behavior on extended visits with the children.
No need to answer. Just wanted to thank you for your insights.
Hanging in There
Hi again, Mike--
It's the "oldest rookie" again. Thank you very much for your reply to my August 17 letter. I didn't mean to sound so whiny and full of self-pity, and as you say, I do indeed need to "open my eyes to the successes I do have." But I should have asked you a more specific question. May I try again?
My wife and I are both in our forties, and our baby is due in December. I've been working at the post office for the past eight years, even though it was supposed to be a stopgap. Now I find that my position will be eliminated, and I'll be reassigned to something worse. That's not as bad as getting laid off, but given the post office's status as a sunset industry, I expect layoffs will increase thick and fast as the years go by.
I want to get out anyway. I need to give our child financial stability and security, and I need to bring in more money--which I can do if I do what I'm good at.
My question: How can I make a total career change and be a good (new) father at the same time, when all I've done for eight years is drive a mail truck, I can't afford to quit and go back to school--and I want to be a good and dedicated dad? Ideally, life should have stages--you find your livelihood, get established, get married, then start a family. Not so in my case. Everything is happening at once. How can I handle it all? Any ideas? Thanks again for your help, and your web site.
Mike the "oldest rookie", from Canada
Hi Mike--I'm not sure how to answer your question except to suggest much research on your part, and a waiting to get some clear guidance from that before just launching out into something new. Also, I'm putting this reply on the Midlife Crisis Forum with the hope that others may have more specific advice for you.
September 11, '98
I agree with Mike that it is quite possible to "rekindle" the romance in a marriage. In fact, it can even be better than before, but you should see a counselor to help put things into perspective and to help you see the reasons that you two are still staying together. It can be a fun exploratory process with lots of "homework" assignments....beginning with non-sexual ones. That is, just learning how to spend time together and to hold each other. You are also expressing what many other parents of young children feel. That there is NO time for each other. Unfortunately, after some time that also becomes a convenient excuse not to deal with each other...and thus, the chasm develops. Go get a babysitter, set up an appointment with a good marriage counselor, as Mike say, and find each other again.
I'm empathic to your midlife predicament, but do not dwell in self pity as many so often do. Having been on the same path recently, look at what you are experiencing as a process to a deeper understand of your self. Having a young family, it is always wise to be practical and seek out a similar occupation, for now. This will than allow you the space to ponder and understand what you want to do with the remainder of your life. At times, the confusion can be overwhelming. But remain true to your self and guidance sometimes will occur so subtly, and sometime snowballs into reality. My best advice to you is to be sensitive to your dreams and everyday thoughts.
Duke, your Canadian kin from Mississauga.
Sept. 28, '98
Oldest Rookie, the arrival of a new child can unleash your imagination and capabilities. I was a stay and home mom until finances and the youngest went to school. My husbands multiple 'lay-offs' and our families survival of such were based on FAITH. OK maybe the non religious could relate to "The Little Engine That Could" but the attitude is what worked. A support group and networking with positive thinking people helped when I faltered. By the way, I went into construction as a laminate flooring installer. I have other Mid-Life considerations and appreciate the level of maturity and professionalism at this site.
October 5, '98
To "Oldest Rookie" Oh it would be so nice if life would give us our challenges in nice neat tidy packages and at times when we feel that we can deal with it. Unfortunately this is not so, as you are finding out. Going back to school is always a possibility. You can try part-time. There is financial aid if you need it. Thus, there really are no good excuses IF you really want to do something. You need to sit yourself down and to identify some goals for yourself, professional as well as personal. Where do you see yourself five years from now? What are your interests? How do your interest tie in with careers that people with your interests are doing? Go to the library, there are some great books on changing careers in midlife. Did you know that in our lifetime ,statisticians say, people make three career changes. I'm not talking about jobs, I'm talking about actual career changes. So you see, you are only catching up to the rest of us. Don't let your fear of change immobilize you. Face it and make it work for you! Look at it this way, people live to be in their 80's nowadays. How many years of work does that leave you? I bet enough for you to start a whole new career, huh? susanne PS. You and your wife should get lots of rest now...once they baby is here...you won't see rest for quite a while. But like the rest of us, you will love the experience.
To Joe in NC
Hi Joe, I agree with Mike that the majority of your depression stems from the debt load that you refer to in your letter. I believe as a result of it you are questioning how you lived your life, how did you get to this point, etc. Mike, suggest a credit counselor, which is a great idea, I would like to also suggest your meeting with a therapeutic counselor to see what caused you to let things get so much out of control. Do you at some subconscious level think that you don't "deserve" all the good things that you got in your life? I also agree with Mike that you should begin to live out your dream of writing. Why don't you begin by writing about how you felt about this whole debt debacle? In other words, how did you feel when creditors started hounding you, etc. You may, as a result of your own pain, end up helping someone else experiencing the same thing much easier to bear.
Dear "DM", Again I agree with Mike. You and your wife need to see a counselor. Why does it bother you so much to think that she's only doing this to "appease" you? Maybe you are wrong on that account, huh? She may in fact be looking for answers to help her deal with her own feelings of confusion and pain. Give her the chance to do so, and give yourself the chance to not become bitter and closed off about such chances. You really have nothing to loose, don't you think? Finally, go for yourself if your wife doesn't go with you. It will help you to restore some sense of stability in your life and self-esteem. In the end that is what you will need to help you to decide how to go on to the next stage.
October 19, 1998
How about asking your husband out on a "date?" Just something simple, dinner and a movie. Show him a good time. Be sweet but not sappy. Show him he can have a good time with you. And that you are willing to take it slow and easy and won't try to push him into anything. That you are willing to wait for you BOTH to be ready to resume intimacy. I bet your feeling a little unsure about it yourself? When you first met, did you jump into bed immediately? I bet you dated awhile and then slowly began to want more. And probably waited until the wedding night....maybe not, but you worked up to it, didn't you?
Maybe you can work up to it again. It is definitely worth a shot, isn't it? If he is still unresponsive, at least you got to see a good movie (I hope)!
Signed, Wish for it myself.
October 23, 1998
I am an undergraduate student in the Directed Interdisciplinary Studies program at Carleton University in Ottawa. I recently discovered your web page while looking for sites related to Gail Sheehy and her books Passages and New Passages. I am in the middle of a research project concerning the psychological significance of the stories which people create and tell about their own lives. Specifically, I am looking at how people might use self-help books to help them to interpret the events of their lives and potentially "revise" their life stories. I am especially interested in Sheehy's books because they provide readers with an explicit framework for such interpretation and revision. What I would like to do is talk to people who have actually read these books and ask them about the ways in which the book was helpful or unhelpful. For instance: does the idea of a "progress narrative" make sense to them and is it something that they feel they can instigate in their own lives? However, as you can imagine, I am having trouble finding these people. I know they are out there but I have as yet failed to contact anyone who might be interested in participating in some kind of interview. I was wondering whether I might be able to reach people somehow through your web page. Is there anywhere I might be able to post my request? I hope that you will be able to help me out. Not only is this project personally important to me, I think it is also very relevant to the discipline of psychology and the practice of psychotherapy: it happens too often that psychological theories gain influence within academia because they make sense to psychologists - not because they reflect people's actual experience of themselves and the world. By talking (or somehow communicating) with actual readers, I hope to make suggestions about both the utility of the self-help reading experience and the relevance of narrative as a psychological metaphor. Also, I believe that most people gain something from taking the time to articulate their beliefs and their experiences - especially when they are going through a period of change or growth. I hope that the questions that I ask will help them to do this. This project has been approved by the ethics committee here at Carleton and if I am able to contact people through your web page, I will take every step to ensure confidentiality, avoidance of discomfort etc. Thank you very much for considering this request. I think what your doing is very positive and genuinely helpful to people. Sincerely, Erin Despard firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin, I am posting your message on this forum in hopes that you'll get some response. Good luck with the project.--Mike
How does a man 50, over weight get a job? when the employers hire younger men that they say give them less problems, DO YOU GIVE UP AND LIVE ON THE STREET?
|Where to Find It at Best Years|