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Midlife Crisis Forum

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May-July 1997 August-October 1997 November-December 1997 Jaunuary-March 1998 April-June 1998 July-September 1998 October-December 1998 After January 1999

with

Mike Bellah

Questions

And

Answers

(May--July, 1997)

Please feel free to ask any question you want on this page. If I don't have an answer, I'll try to find someone who does. So click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

Notice: The answers on these pages are offered as a free and supplemental service to readers. They are not intended to substitute for individual and professional counseling. The opinions of guest responders do not necessarily reflect my own thoughts. And, speaking of my own thoughts, they are not the advice of an expert but a sympathetic fellow-struggler in this experience we call midlife. I hope they help.

July 27, 1997

Q Hello Mike,
After eight years of marriage my husband told me that he's not sure if he is in love with me any longer. He says that he does not have these feelings. He questions whether he ever loved me, can he love?? He doesn't know what to do to find these feelings again. He said that he thinks separating would help him find these feelings. I think separating only puts a bigger wall between us and wouldn't help us learn to communicate. He doesn't know if he wants the relationship, the marriage. He is confused. He claims right know he doesn't have the desire, the willingness to work on the marriage. He needs to "feel in love" to have that. How can you bring back the "feeling of love?"

What are some things we can do to get him out of this "stuck" ness??

He still lives at home. We have two children 5 and 7. We have been to counseling individually and one time together. We do plan on going again. He claims this is his problem and only he can figure it out. He doesn't seem to be doing anything to try to figure it out.

He is cold and distant. There is no longer any affection - he said he is not compelled to. He claims he did things for years out of obligation and wants to find "doing them because he wants to". He was in the past a wonderful loving, caring, sensitive man and one night changed.

He claims he has faked it for years out of obligation.

The counselor has asked us to come up with some ways that he can soul search and find this "love". Any suggestions. What are means of soul searching, of determining what you want, what's important - of stirring feelings again.

He says he cares about me and the children.

Can you help??

Marcy

A Hi Marcy,
The first thing I want you to know is that you are worth loving. So don't get desperate and do desperate things (like pleading with your husband to stay, which will most likely only push him farther away). Just because your husband doesn't value you right now doesn't mean you aren't valuable. You are, and you will get through this.

Secondly, I hope you will use this crisis to find out who Marcy is. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of having kids and starting careers, we lose our bearings; we forget the person we were, we are, and we hope to become.

So my advice to you is to give Marcy some attention right now (which may include professional counseling). Take time to rediscover and embrace your needs, values, interests, and goals in life.

Be there for your children, but release your husband to sort out his own feelings. Be caring but firm with him. There may be someone else (almost sounds like it to me), and he needs to know that he can't just leave and expect you to always be waiting. On the other hand, I wouldn't be in a hurry to close any doors. He may wake up and realize the value of what he stands to lose.

Good luck. We're pulling for you.

Mike

P. S. There are a number of ways to recover lost feelings. I didn't address that here because someone has to want those feelings before they will come and I don't think your husband is ready to make that effort.

For another reader's response to Marcy, see the Midlife Crisis Forum Page (August 2 from Perplexed).

For another question from Marcy, click here.

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

July 18, 1997

Q Hello Mike,
My 38 year old soon to be 39 year old wife. Doesn't know if she loves me anymore. The whole problem started out of the blue, as far as I'm concerned, about 2 months ago. She has completly rejected me and is very angry about every problem we ever had in our life. She calls her anger delayed reaction. I have to agree with everything she says and I have been trying to show her that I understand and will do everything that I can to make sure there will be no more problems for her.

The problems range from very small to very large, but most all are very far in the past. I always thought that we were very much in love and that we would always be together with our three children no matter what. I know that I have taken her for granted and after 18 wonderful years I'm alittle sick of myself. She has said that she doesn't want to make things better right now and she needs time. I have tryed to give her time but I'm not having much luck.

We have been together almost everyday for over 21 years. She has been my best friend and companion. She is much younger looking than she really is and she is very pretty, and jeolousy has been a factor over the years. I'm really not that way much anymore mainly because I have realized that I can't stop her from doing anything so why try. She never did anyway. I'm worried how bad the situation really is. Sometimes I think that she is just mad at me and will get over it. She acts and treats everyone else, including my family the same as before, but she can hardly look at me and if I try to talk to her after only a few moments she has to get up and leave the house.

She has been going through alot of changes the last few years, going to school to be a LCSW, full time, and working full time as a caseworker. I haven't always given her the support she needed in the past but I have tryed some and of course now I'm driving her nuts trying. She says she is just existing and doesn't know what she wants and has no plans. She has always told me the truth and I beleive her now. I am very wooried about the heath of our whole family. She is a very loved and important part of it.

Of course she won't go to counciling. I went a couple of times but without her it doesn't seem like it helps. I'm not saying she is wrong and I am willing to do what need to be done to make her happy. I'd gladly go again if she would or if they could tell me something to help. Could this be a midlife crisis of some kind? She hasn't said a kind word to me in 2 months. How do you deal with this?

Will

A Hi Will,
I admire your honesty about past failures on your part and your willingness to go the extra mile for your wife.

Now for the hard part--It sounds like your wife feels somewhat controlled and suffocated by you right now. And she may have a point. What do you mean by saying you're not having luck giving her time? And why will counseling not help if only you go?

It sounds like you're trying too hard to change the one you can't (your wife) instead of changing the one you can (you).

So my advice is to go to counseling by yourself. And start working on your own growth as an individual. Don't do it just to get your wife back (she'll see this as more manipulation on your part). Do it for what it will do for you and because it's the right thing to do.

Finally, try to develop more interests and friendships away from home. Even best friends need space to be apart at times. Be there if your wife asks, but don't push yourself on her.

Good luck.

Mike

P.S. The reason I have an opinion on this is that I tend to be controlling and "clingy" myself. It's something I work on daily.

For more answers to will, see the Q & A II Page.

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

July 11, 1997

This week's question is answered by Peggy Vaughan, an author and consultant, who with her husband James conducts seminars and writes books concerning a number of life issues, including extramarital affairs.

Q Hi.
I have been married for 14 years to a wonderful man. He is a perfect father to my 8 and 10 year old sons, and provides for our family financially. He is everything I ever wanted in a husband, and what he lacks "romantically" has always been made up with his strong value system, his intellect and his level headedness. I have a perfect life, and always thought I could never ask for more.

Now for the big "but". My husband has had a very attractive coworker (his nurse--he is a doctor). She has been in his employ for almost 10 years. I know (and this was recently confirmed by my husband) that others in his professional circle have accused him of having an affair with her. I honestly never suspected it the first 6 to 7 years of her employ. However, the past couple of years a few things have happened that have made me question their relationship. I certainly have no proof, but the suspicion is eating me up! I have even confronted my husband, and he says that although they are very good friends, there is nothing else. He loves me and says that he would not stay with me if he didn't. I feel that he would (stay with me) because of our children. They are everything to both of us. I fear that he has an emotional attachment to this women, if not a sexual one. I fear that our marriage may be a lie. I have always had full faith in his honesty, and feel that if I could depend on nothing else, I could depend on that. But still I question it I feel that our children may be the only thing that is keeping us together, and I wonder if that is ok.

I just don't know what to do. Should I just trust him blindly, realizing that this is better than the alternative? Or should I try to find the truth?

Suspicious

A Dear Suspicious,
Your situation is one that many women can identify with--including myself. My husband was my childhood sweetheart. I had known him all my life and trusted him completely. But after 11 years of marriage (with two young children), I became suspicious that he was having affairs. At that point, I didn't want to believe it was true and couldn't face the prospects of dealing with it if it were true--so I suffered silently for 7 years without even confronting him with my suspicions. Finally, he voluntarily told me that I was right to be suspicious--that he had been having affairs for that 7-year period. (I should add that we worked through this whole experience and have now been married 42 years.)

My experience is not meant to imply that you are right in your suspicions about your husband, but it does mean that you're right to pay attention to them. So in response to your questions: "Should I just trust him blindly?" Or should I try to find the truth?"--while "blind trust" is not reasonable, neither is immediately jumping to "trying to find the truth." First, it's necessary to determine whether or not you're actually ready to confront this issue. This involves asking yourself two questions: Do you really want to know? and Do you feel open to either staying or leaving? (I might also add that resorting to using a detective to "try to find the truth" makes it more likely to lead to divorce, so this is not a reasonable way to proceed if you want to keep all options open for the future.)

Once a person decides they're ready to confront, the next issue is how to do it. There is no way to guarantee the reaction to a confrontation, but there are some ways to improve the chances that it will lead to resolving the suspicions about an affair. Asking a partner if they're having an affair is a question that should not be blurted out without proper preparation; it will almost certainly prompt a knee-jerk denial. (The general unwritten "rules" of people having affairs are: "Never tell. If questioned, deny it. If caught, say as little as possible.") It's also important to choose a time and a place where there will be no intrusions or distractions. It's also essential to establish real contact with the person; look them in the eye and tell them that you want an honest answer to the question you're about to ask. Make it clear that you want to know the truth. When a partner thinks you're only looking for reassurance, you'll almost certainly get it--but it may be "false" reassurance.

Finally, each person must make their own decision about what is best to do in their own particular situation--because you are the one who has to live with the consequences of your actions. So I hope you will use this information as perspective in making your own choices.

Peggy

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

July 4, 1997

This week's question is answered by Susanne Beier, a professional counselor and a regular contributor to the Best Years' pages.

Q Hi.
In your opinion, what is the length of time of a midlife crisis? My husband's behavior has been very extreme for 2 and 1/2 years. First, grumpiness, then extreme anger and irrational behavior, then a desire to go back to the place where he grew up. He spent several weeks there taking photos of graves, the church and school he attended, farms that belonged to relatives, etc. For the past four months he has been in a deep depression; recently the depression seems to have partially lifted, but he is withdrawn and hardly speaks to anyone in the family. He still gets angry if confronted or questioned about his bad behavior. He blames me or others and is very negative.

When we are with friends, he puts on a show, pretending that everything is normal. It is very forced and often he makes ridiculous remarks. He's very arrogant and egotistical. Everyone is aware of the irrational behavior and they're all rolling their eyes at his comments, but he thinks he's making sense.

When I read books about mid-life crisis, it seems that he should be farther along than this. Can you comment? Does anyone ever get stuck in mid-life crisis and remain there indefinitely? HELP!

Tired

A Dear Tired,
There really is no set or specific time that one goes through midlife crisis. I've heard from 35 to 57. That certainly does not mean that the person is in crisis during those years, only that those are the years when it can occur. AND not everyone experiences it the same way. All of us do experience a wonderment at how "old" we've become while we still feel like we're about 30+. It is a time when we realize that we are not immortal and more than once will tell ourselves that we've turned into our mother/father. Right?

From your description of your husband's behavior, it certainly sounds like he's going through some sort of midlife crisis. From the behavior that you've described it sounds like he has a lot of unresolved issues in his live. Are his parents still alive? He is trying to, at some level, get back in touch with his "roots," in the hopes that he can find what it is that is making him feel so "lost." I suggest strongy that he go to counseling. I know that is easier said than done, but it will help him. If he doesn't go, then you at the very least should go, if nothing else for you to learn how to deal with his irrational behaviors. This period must have been hellacious on your self-esteem. It needs to be shored up, I'm sure. You do not say whether there are children involved and you do not give your husband's age. There is much information that I would need to have before I can make an accurate diagnosis, so I hope that this "answer" helps you a little to deal with the pain that you are in.

Susanne

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June 27, 1997
The following question is answered by Brad Johnson, the coordinator of Student Services at Amarillo College who works extensively with midlife career-changers and women entering the workforce for the first time (displaced homemakers).

Q Hi,
I need to know about career opportunities at age 50 in community counseling, drug/alcohol rehab and gerontology teaching at 2 year or tech colleges. I need to make a major decision for further training this Fall. I don't want to enter a career with an age bias.

Bonnie--Student, Mankato State University

A Bonnie,

In general, career opportunities for Counseling/Advising positions at community colleges should be stable or grow slightly over the next ten years. This is because of two reasons: one, continued growth of college student populations at community colleges, and, two, anticipated retirements of present staff who entered this field in '50s-'60s.

Opportunities for Drug/Alcohol Rehab Instructors at community colleges nationwide is projected to increase for the same reasons as above. However, this area is closely tied to the politics of governmental funding and health care funding. Changes in these areas can quickly change the current local job opportunities, as we have seen in Texas over the last three years. (Due to some problems at the state level, all funding for drug/alcohol treatment was frozen and then cut quite suddenly, resulting in tremendous loss of employment in our area and a serious drop in student enrollment in these courses. An instructor position at the local college was cut...)

Hint: Check with people already working in the area(s) you are interested and discuss with them the future opportunities. The "national" outlook for an area is sometimes very different than the "local or regional" outlook. (for the rest of Brad Johnson's reply, including his thoughts about age bias, see Response to Bonnie)

Brad

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

June 21, 1997

Q OK Mike,

Have been feeling this way for sometime now (is it months or years?)I'm a 45 year old divorced male (married when I was 30 divorced when I was 35 - no kids)...had the almost cliche start all over again scenario- had worked my way up the career ladder [more money,more responsibility, more hours] and down the relationship one [less time together, less energy, more routine]...and due to lawyers fees, divorce court settlements, and losing that rung on the ladder...got tired of seeing myself slide down and grabbed a foothold to climb again...

Well ten years later...and several relationships later....I feel I have learned some important relationship issues...but am back at working too much and enjoying it less...So, asking myself...questions that every guy must ask himself at this point (at least any guy who watched "Make room for daddy", Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, etc. you get the idea) I don't have a family that I'm supporting, not sending a kid off to college . . . and the women I see on a fairly regular basis are really of a different take on the marriage thing (we can get together friday night for dinner,movie, and spend the night together for a little playfulness and hold each other long enough to remind us that we aren't in this business we call "life" alone - but come morning these delightful creatures that are enticing to look at and even more fun to touch - don't want those "man things" around their house ...These are not young somethings who think that the Beatles are Paul McCartneys old group..but women my own age...

So, since it is unlikely for the traditional role to fall upon me(and not that I have ever searched it out)...do I want to continue in a stressful, tiring, commute for an hour each way, see my sex life dwindle away (stress,tiredness), see my attractiveness quotient slide (lost hair,added poundage), no fathers day (someone call hallmark - isn't there a "single guy trying to make it in the world and turning the corner day - just as there should be a single woman day [very pc of me])

Feel like I need a new planet...tired of the same old issues that never get resolved, poverty,homelessnes,disease,racism while the same old ones get all the money and coverage which woman did what with what political person and how much money will she get for the book/movie rights,...

Read your "city slicker" piece...and will give that a go...putting down things thankful for (need to see it in front of me)things I would like to accomplish (if you build it they will come) but persons,websites,ideas, planets,places you can point me to would be welcome...

Oh (hopefully you have read this tirade) thanks for letting me go on ...now HELLLLLLLLLPPP!!!

john

A Hi John,
My experience is different than yours (I am married (29 years) and have the kids in college (at one point, all five at one time), but honestly I have struggled with some of the same feelings you mention.

At midlife, it's very normal for us to wonder why those "same old issues" (global and personal) are still unresolved and why we haven't somehow make it yet. Most of my columns are about these things. You've already read "The Midlife Getaway," where I suggest we find a time and place for some concentrated alone-time to sort through these issues.

You might also want to look at "The Myth of Normalcy" and "The Myth of Making It" where I question whether the Beaver Cleaver life ever did exist and I suggest finding happiness where it has been all along (right under our noses in those simple, daily pleasures).

By the way, you are quite articulate. Maybe your future includes some writing.

Mike

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

June 12, 1997

Q Hello,
I am writing to tell you about a coworker. First of all, I guess I should tell you that I am 27 and just started working here about 9 months ago. I am very outgoing and I like to talk to people, plus being new to this shop, I needed to learn everyone's names (170 people in this plant). Sometimes I do have trouble with guys misinterpreting my friendliness.

Well, there is one person who I have bumped into more frequently and we've become "friends." What I thought was harmless flirting has turned into something more.

We are both married. I have been having problems in my marriage and really like the attention this person gives me at work. He told me about the rut that he is in and that he doesn't care about his work and there was nothing to look forward to, until now.

I do admit that I should not have led him on, but because of my situation, I didn't want to stop the flirting.

I got to thinking, and was wondering if he might be going through a mid-life crisis. I don't know him all that well, but he is 49. I'm not sure how long he has been unhappy.

Could this be a mid-life crisis for him, and is there something I can do to help him as a friend? He's a wonderful person, and I don't want to hurt him, or my husband, for that matter.

Signed, Just wondering

A Dear Just Wondering,
You're right; this man is probably in midlife crisis, and an affair (even one that is mostly emotional rather than physical) seems like the answer to all his problems (problems such as a dead-end job, a struggling marriage, and, most of all, a sagging self-esteem). If you continue your romantic relationship, some day the euphoria will wear off, and he will be left with the same problems (now magnified), and you will be left with him (including his anger and depression).

Unfortunately, the only way you can help this man is to hurt him by putting an abrupt end to the "harmless" flirting. I've put "harmless" in quotes because flirting in junior high is harmless; flirting with a midlifer in crisis is disastrous to all involved.

Also it sounds like you and your husband could use some counseling. I'll bet, with a little work, you can recover passion for and intimacy with each other, a much safer and fulfilling scenario than flirting with someone else's spouse.

Mike

____________
Update: Check out Just Wondering's e-mail dated July 15, 1997.

click here to view my policies on writing questions, and then here to ask your question.

June 6, 1997
Tammy's question is answered by Susanne Beier, M.Ed., who is a professional counselor in Pennsylvania and who is especially adept at working with those in midlife crisis.

Q Hi.

Was reviewing your web site, because something wierd is going on with my husband of 15 years. For the last 1-11/2 years he has become more and more angry, and difficult to be around. Whenever we talk about it, it ends up in a fight, and he says I have changed, and I am the one with a big problem (I "am the problem") I am so confused as to what is going on. He even has a different look on his face. I know we should go to see someone, but the usual, it is not his problem, and the guy does not even believe in reading books to get new insights. Any suggestions? Is he in mid-life crisis, or depressed? (age 41)

Tammy

A Dear Tammy,
Mike forwarded your e-mail to me. It very much sounds like your husband is approaching the mid-life crisis. It is very typical when men are at this stage that they question everything about their life, and all the things that they've not yet accomplished. The usual target then becomes the wife, you.

According to your e-mail you've discussed going to counseling and he has refused, right? You cannot MAKE him seek counseling, especially since he sees no problems from his side. I DO recommend that you go for counseling sessions. It will help you in regaining, or finding again(?), your self-esteem, which by now must be devastated.

Are there any children involved? Do you work? What type of work does he do? Is there a female in his life (not an affair) who he either works with or sees regularly that is building up his ego? Write me back if I can be of any further help. I wish you well in the meantime.

Susanne

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Q Dear Mike,

I am married to a man who has been in an extreme mid-life crisis for over two years. He left home and became a "monster" after being married to me for over 25 years. Previous to the crisis he was a model husband and very proud father to our three sons. He came home in February when I was diagnosed with and operated on for breast cancer. I have gone through chemotherapy and now radiation and he is very nonchalant about it all. He works 14+ hours a day and is still very irritable and blames me for all the problems. Although I am sure that there has been no other woman, he comes and goes without letting me know where he is because he is "in control of his own life." Our sons are to the point where they say they don't care what he does or what happens to him. (Recently he didn't show up at one of their birthday celebrations and these kind of hurtful things happen often.) I do see some progress but it is very slow. He is in a deep depression and is very withdrawn. Sometimes he will go for days without uttering a word.

Please tell me as best you can, how much longer I should be prepared to live with this. Also, when a man finally gets through the crisis, does he usually understand what has happened? Is he sorry for what he has put his family through? My family and friends are appalled at the way he treats the people he loves but he says he hasn't done anything wrong. It's everyone else who has a problem. Does he really believe this?

I'd appreciate an answer to these questions if you have the time to respond. Thanks so much for your help. I so appreciate your info on the net. You are doing a great service. Keep it up!

Peggy

A Dear Peggy,
You don't mention whether you are getting any kind of professional help. I hope you are. You need to concentrate on your own health (physical, emotional, and spiritual) so you will be able to make those big decisions like how much longer you "live with" the present circumstances.

You asked does your husband really believe he hasn't done anything wrong. Probably. The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves, for it's hard to escape a lie when the liar is always present to defend it.

Will your husband ever wake up? Will he know what he has done and be sorry for it? I can only say that, as one who hurt his family during a midlife crisis, I woke up; I did and do feel sorry for my insensitivity, and I'm going to spend the rest of my life making it up to my wife and kids.

I wish you the best, and hang in there.

Mike

June 2, 1997

Q Hi.
I can really sympathize with Alice. My husband went off the deep end on April 11. His life had no meaning, he couldn't handle the stress, he felt guilty about the lack of sex, and he had to find himself. He stated that he still loved me and that I was his number one priority, but he had to make some decisions for himself. He has started individual counseling, as have I. However, my counselor told me that if we didn't get marriage counseling, eventually the marriage would come to an end. My husband won't hear of it because he feels that it is his problem and I am perfect. He has moved out with only one suitcase full of clothes. All of his toys, tapes, tools, etc. are still here. He still phones me every day and comes over for breakfast on Saturdays.

I'm trying to hold down the fort.. I now have all the responsibilities. My worry is that he will talk himself into ending the marriage without any input from me. Fat chance!! I will fight him tooth and nail until I have a rational explanation for his unexpected, totally-out-of-the-blue behavior. My steadfast, responsible husband who gave me flowers and did all sorts of romantic things has run away from home and I want to know why!!!

Perplexed

A Dear Perplexed,
I admire your spunk. It's a great quality to have when facing these midlife marital crises. It may help you in either of two scenarios.

First of all, if your marriage is going to survive, it will take a fight to save it. And you will need all the spunk you can muster for that. If your husband does consent to counseling, (and I hope he does; sounds like you two have a relationship worth saving) the struggle will not be over. Even with two willing partners, counseling is hard work. It takes great courage and patience to see it through.

And secondly, it may be that your husband will never agree to work on the marriage; he may have already made up his mind to leave permanently. If so, there is nothing you can do about it, and you'll need that fighting spirit not to lash out in revenge (doesn't help) but to attack the new challenges and opportunities ahead (I know promises of future happiness may sound hollow now, but I've seen too many midlifers overcome incredible obstacles and losses not to believe that such is possible).

Mike

P.S. And don't expect logical, good explanations if your husband leaves you. There are no logical, good reasons why a person walks away from a good marriage.

Click here to ask your question.

May 23, 1997

Q mike,
Do you know titles of books on midlife or midlife issues?
Thanks--John (46-years-old)
A John,
In my opinion, these books are some of the best:

Conway, Jim. Men in Mid-life Crisis. Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook Publishing Company, 1978.
Men in Midlife Crisis, was the first book I read on midlife, but by far not the last one I have enjoyed by Jim and Sally Conway. Jim Conway offers insightful commentary on everything from the inevitability of a midlife crisis to the reasons for one--unfilled expectations. I quote from Men is Mid-life Crisis in "The Myth of Making It."

Raines, Howell. Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis. New York: William Marrow and Company, Inc., 1993.
Howell Raines, the Editorial Page Editor for The New York Times, uses fly fishing as an analogy for life. Contrasting the "red neck way" (catch all the fish you can anyway you can) with "Blalock's Way" (the philosophy of Raines' mentor) Raines lays out an approach to midlife that rejects competitiveness for a cooperation with nature and an enjoyment of the process of living. I quote this book in "It's How You Play the Game."

Sheehy, Gail. New Passages. New York: Random House, 1995.
Gail Sheehy is without doubt the most popular writer on midlife issues. In New Passages she updates her landmark work, Passages, to show how today's adults experience the many phases of life. I quote Sheehy often in my columns, including a line in "Reinventing Yourself" and several others in "Identifying Your Midlife Passion."

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May 12, 1997

Q hello mike,
so thankful to find this web site. my husband of 20 years is going through what i consider to be a midlife crisis. he turned 40 in november and we "celebrated" our 20th wedding anniversary in january. shortly before his birthday he unloaded a lot of information on me. first, that he has been pursued by another woman and he did not have an affair, secondly, that he has been unhappy in the marriage for some time because of sexual incompatibility and his desire to live elsewhere in the country. this is a man who has worshipped and made me feel so loved for many years. i am reeling from the shock of all this and obviously in a great deal of pain. we have a 16 yr old son and a 14 year old daughter. he is seeking individual therapy as i am as well, but he will not consider marriage counseling because he has determined that he does not want the marriage any longer. He will not agree to work on our issues, although i have told him i am willing to work on our issues and attempt to meet him halfway. i'd move tomorrow if it would save us and the sexual issues can be overcome. we're just at opposite ends of the spectrums but i'm willing to work on this.

my question to you is, should i hold out any hope? how can i survive this temporary insanity? is this case typical?? any information you can provide would help. i have ordered dr. dobsons' love must be tough tape and am seeking as much information and help as possible.

thank you in advance for your help and god bless.

Alice

A Alice,
I'm so sorry to hear of your predicament, but, yes, what you are experiencing does seem to be pretty typical for many midlifers.

First, you do have plenty of reason to hope. I have interviewed many women (and some men) in your position, and I've seen them build new and rewarding lives. Some have been able to save a dead or dying marriage and others have discovered some incredible gifts lying in the rubble of their broken dreams.

I wish I could say all this is easy or painless; obviously it's not, but you will make it. You are doing so many things right--the personal counseling, the Dobson tapes, the courage that allows you to ask others for help--all these things will see you to the other side of your crisis.

I wish your husband would give your marriage a chance, but I'm glad he is at least willing to seek individual help. As to surviving the temporary insanity--one day at a time.

 I'm pulling for you. Let me know how you're progressing.

Mike

P.S. Perhaps, some of you reading this have advice for Alice. Let us hear from you.

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May 5, 1997

Q My husband had an affair about a year ago. He was so involved that he even moved in with her for a month. I gave him all the rope he wanted, and then he returned crying for forgiveness. The woman was nothing to look at, but he says she was extremely nice and understanding at a time when he felt he needed it.

I've tried very hard to restore our marriage, but about 3 weeks ago I caught him with her again. He said she was only giving him a ride. I believe this to be true, but why after a year is there still a need to return to where he knows she hangs out? How can I forgive and forget if he hasn't completely let go? And how can he expect me not to continue to feel jealous and insecure about his infidelity? I hope you have some suggestions. Thank you.

Sleepless in Amarillo

 A Sleepless, In the first place, my heart really goes out to you. You seem to genuinely love your spouse and sincerely want to do all you can to keep your marriage alive. The problem, however, is you may be doing exactly the opposite of what your marriage really needs.

Your husband's on-again, off-again commitment shows that he is not ready to let go of the affair. And yet, he doesn't seem to want to let go of you either. And now he has the best of both worlds: a lover who's there when he's ready and a wife who will accept him back.

Tell your spouse he needs to move out until both you and he are sure he is ready for a committed marriage. Then, you need to find a counselor for yourself (you have been hurt deeply and you need personal healing before you can even begin to think about healing your marriage). If you can't afford one, check the phone book for free clinics. Better yet, ask a rabbi, priest or minister for help.

Mike

P.S. Let me also recommend James Dobson's Love Must Be Tough. He deals with others in situations similar to your own.

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