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Mid-life Crisis In Men
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Mid-life Crisis In Men

My husband of 26 years moved out 2 months ago.  He said he couldn't be here anymore.  It turns out he was having an affair with an employee.  He lost his position in the company and was demoted and had to move to another city or lose his job.  A week after he moved out, he tells me I'm his best friend and probably always will be.  It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride ever since he told me about the other woman.  It seemed like he was changing his mind every couple of days.  At the point he moved out, he couldn't stand being here and could see no good in me or the marriage, but within just a few days, that seemed to change, and he admitted he had to think all those bad things in order to do what he did.  We attempted counseling, but his heart wasn't really in it.  In the therapist's office he'd say he was going to end it, but when he'd go back to work, she undid all the progress that was made in therapy (at this point, I didn't know it was a co-worker...he had said it was a customer).  A week ago, he called and said he loves me and wanted to make things work.  He sent her a text telling her he loves his wife and was going back to me.  That lasted about 4 days...until he read a few texts from her.  Then he got depressed and said he should never have called me and said he wanted to work things out.  The next day he said we should work on a "marriage contract".  He came to town that weekend and when I saw his list, I was disgusted and hurt.  It included things like "must have sex when I want, how I want, whether you want to or not", "you have to accept that I look at and lust other women", "I am free to come and go as I want, without being questioned", "I am the decision maker", "do as I ask", etc.  There were some okay things on the list, but I felt so disrespected by the others.  I told him I felt his contract was completely one-sided and no one would agree to those things unless they had no self respect or were just lying to get him.  I also told him it sounded more like the description of a single man, not a marriage contract.  After going over our lists and negotiating, our son came over for a visit.  It was awkward because we couldn't discuss anything, so I told our son we were going to go talk for a while and we'd be back.  We drove over to the lake to talk and almost immediately after I pulled out the lists so we could talk, he told me he doesn't want to be married anymore and that he wants to be free to go to the bar and if he sees someone, be free to be with them if he wants.  I was crushed.  We came back to the house and he told our son he was going ahead with the divorce.  I didn't talk to him much for a couple of days, only a couple of texts which were brief but necessary.  He ended up calling me and asking what was wrong.  I told him how his list made me feel and how it made me lose what little respect I had left for him.  He tried softening it all up by saying it's not how he meant it and he was sorry.  He called me yesterday and said he got the list back out and read it again and was sorry for how it made me feel...said I was a good person and didn't deserve that.  He has my head spinning with all this.  I know he loves me, but I also know he's developed feelings for the other woman, despite how it was supposed to be just sex.  My counselor says I need to end things and make sure he knows they're ended.  It's just so hard when I still love him and I know he loves me too, and I know one day he will regret all he's lost.  I feel like I understand why he's doing what he's doing...he's depressed and just wants to feel good, so he's going for the quick fix instead of doing the work to feel better.  I want to save him from himself, but I know I can't.  How do I just give up on our marriage?  I know it wasn't perfect, but it wasn't as bad as he's convinced himself either.  I can't remember how many times we've both said to each other that we didn't know what we would do without the other and how we were each other's best friend and the only person we could count on.  Where the problem came was, putting our relationship on hold to deal with crisis after crisis, either with our son, or losing my Mom and then 2 1/2 months later losing his Dad.  Should I give up?  Should I hang on and fight?  Any suggestions?
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You sound like you think that if you look the other way and grit your teeth and wait, he will sooner or later miraculously turn back into the man you feel he once was.  

Think that one over.  If that happened, you would be a woman whose husband cheated on her.  Even if you could forgive, it is very, very hard to trust again, and very hard not to be angry for a long time.  It doesn't sound like he is particularly apologetic, (why should he be?  He has developed the perfect excuse to never apologize -- it wasn't him, it was that dang ole midlife crisis --not his fault!!!  It's not his character and life choices that are flawed, it is her, his dad, and his midlife thang.)  Come on.  Unless he was a weak-kneed piece of tissue paper who blew whatever way the wind blew all his life, he made those choices.  They were not inflicted upon him.

Many men have complicated relationships with their dads, and many men lose their dads at mid-life.  This does not inexorably translate into demands to act like a teenager with no rules, affairs, and leaving their marriages.  In fact, at that time in a man's life, sometimes he draws closer than ever before to his wife, as existential things change for him outside of the relationship and she represents home, love and safety to him.

Please don't let your fear of change cause you to put on blinders about how wrong what he did was.  This is too big of a wrong to have just happened out of the blue.  He probably had stuff going on under the surface for a long time.  That is why I don't think your wishful thinking that he will somehow regain consciousness and find out that this was all a fluke is really going to happen for you.

If the miracle occurs and time goes by and he changes back to the man (you thought) he was, well, divorce is not a never-reconcile card.  But don't bank on this.  After all the insults he has offered you and the bad behavior, I certainly would be thinking of how much more interesting and fun life can be without that particular emotional anchor dragging you here and there.

Stick with the counseling.  It doesn't make your life of grungy things suddenly a life of good things, but it sure can help you keep from going in illogical loops that do nothing but make you cry.  Talk it out, make some plans.

Good luck, honey.  (((HUGS)))   -- Annie
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I'm sorry for all you're going through but I side with your therapist on this.  If your marriage can't survive crisis after crisis then it wasn't a strong marriage to begin with.  It's all the crisis in our lives that bring us together and make a marriage stronger. Your husband wants to to have his cake and eat it too....have more respect for yourself because he has none for you!  For him to have the nerve to write down how he wants things will be in the marriage is absurd.  Cheating on the person you're supposed to love for any reason is not acceptable.  Had he cheated and been remorseful and worked very hard to right his wrong then I would say he deserves the opportunity to make this work.  But he keeps waffling, and you can bet when the "right" woman comes along...he'll be gone!  Often we have to walk away from the one we love...you won't be the first or the last.  You need to think of YOU and what YOU want and deserve out of life.  Things are only going to get worse with your husband, and you need to stop making excuses for his actions and accept what is.  He's calling all the shots in the marriage and still cheating on you, don't allow him to do this.  Tell him you're done and you start calling the shots!  Nobody deserves this kind of emotional abuse from someone who is supposed to love them.  There comes a time when you have to say "enough is enough"....cut your losses and move on from this toxic relationship.  He making a fool out of you, stand up for yourself and put an end to his game.
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Ditto Mammo's comments.

He's said in every way possible that he wants out.  Let go.  All this dithering and changeability is undermining you.

If my husband came at me with the list you named, I would know he was just a self-centered jerk.  Who needs to be married to a self-centered jerk?
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I agree mammo, he does want his cake and eat it too.  I guess I wanted to make it work if it could and didn't want to walk away too soon and regret it later, especially when most of our marriage was so good, and he seemed so confused and torn about what he wants.  Every time I'd give up, he'd pull me back, but his list just disgusted me and I lost what little respect I had left for him.  I've just been going by what the counselor advised me to do and not do.  He was telling me he doesn't believe that's really who my husband is.  He feels that when his Dad died, he started questioning how he's lived his life and has taken on his Dad's characteristics...which he didn't respect when his Dad was alive, but somehow seems to now be glorifying how he "lived life the way he wanted".  I still love the man he was, but not the man he's become.  I guess the struggle I have is, I still see glimpses of the man I fell in love with and keep hoping he'll snap out of whatever it is he's going through.  We're both allowing him to have his cake and eat it too, and I know what I have to do...it's just easier said than done, especially when I know that when I do, I'll have made his decision for him and he'll be with her by default.  But I also know I can't stay on this roller coaster ride, letting him have his cake and eat it too.
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"My counselor says I need to end things and make sure he knows they're ended."  Yes, totally agree.....that's EXACTLY what you should do dear.      

"I want to save him from himself, but I know I can't."  You're correct.....you can't save him from himself, but you can save yourself from further heartbreak and despair and leave.    
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Avatar_f_tn
You move on with your life because it flies by way too quickly to wait around hoping your husband will change.  If it's meant  for you two to be together then a divorce won't keep you apart should he change.  I know it's easier said than done, but he's disrespected, embarrassed and humiliated you.....you don't deserve this. He's with her anyway, and could bring home a disease to you.  I know you can rise above this and I do wish you all the very best!
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks Annie.  As I said to mammo, I know what I need to do, it's just easier said than done.  Yes, he has said he wants out, but he also has said he's depressed, confused and doesn't know what he wants.  When we're around each other, I still feel the love from him, which confuses me.  As for him being a selfish jerk, yes, that is what he's become, but it's not who I've been married to all these years...this change has been out of the blue.  Everyone in our lives  have just been as shocked as I have been by his behavior.  I find myself questioning who he is...which one is real.  The counselor has compared this other woman as being like a drug to him...he feels bad, but he wants to feel better, so she's his instant fix to feel better, but then afterwards he feels guilty and bad, so he repeats the cycle.  Somewhere in the process, he's developed feelings for her and now he's got himself in a pickle.  As for the list, I did tell him what I thought of him and his list.  He called the next day and said he had re-read the list and apologized and said it did come off as demeaning and hurtful and said I didn't deserve that.  He said it's not him.  Well, despite what the counselor said about it not being him too, I feel it has to be him on some level, or why write it?  Besides, it was a lose lose list.  If I didn't agree to it, he'd have gone away and said he tried but I wouldn't agree to his conditions, but if I did agree, he wouldn't respect me.  Which brings me to another question.  Why would he want to be with her when she has no self respect?...she agrees with the terms of that paper  At least I had the self respect to tell him there's no way I would agree to that stuff and I was disgusted that he would objectify and demean women that way, especially me.  Maybe being with her has brought out these things in him.  She is obedient and submissive and willing to obey.  Not me...I'm rebellious.  I'd do most anything for him if he asked, but the minute I feel like I'm being told, I rebel, even if it was something I was going to do anyhow.  I just don't like being told what to do by anyone.  Anyhow, as I said, I know what I have to do, it just doesn't make it easy, especially at my age to have to start over, it just doesn't seem fair.  After devoting half my life to him, now I have to find myself and what my purpose is...I thought I knew what my purpose was.  Now I'm asking myself, who am I and what do I want now?  Thanks for your advice and opinion.  :)
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Thanks for the advice mammo...you seem very wise.  As for bringing home a disease to me, that's not happening...I haven't slept with him or even kissed him since he started the affair with her, and I've told him in no uncertain terms that I wouldn't unless or until the affair stopped and I saw something from a doctor saying he had no diseases.  I know I have to get off the roller coaster ride, and I plan to, because I can't keep doing this...it's too emotionally draining and I do deserve better than this.  Thanks again  :)
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I know Londres70, and I am...I can't do this anymore.  Thanks  :)
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134578_tn?1404951303
You sound like you think that if you look the other way and grit your teeth and wait, he will sooner or later miraculously turn back into the man you feel he once was.  

Think that one over.  If that happened, you would be a woman whose husband cheated on her.  Even if you could forgive, it is very, very hard to trust again, and very hard not to be angry for a long time.  It doesn't sound like he is particularly apologetic, (why should he be?  He has developed the perfect excuse to never apologize -- it wasn't him, it was that dang ole midlife crisis --not his fault!!!  It's not his character and life choices that are flawed, it is her, his dad, and his midlife thang.)  Come on.  Unless he was a weak-kneed piece of tissue paper who blew whatever way the wind blew all his life, he made those choices.  They were not inflicted upon him.

Many men have complicated relationships with their dads, and many men lose their dads at mid-life.  This does not inexorably translate into demands to act like a teenager with no rules, affairs, and leaving their marriages.  In fact, at that time in a man's life, sometimes he draws closer than ever before to his wife, as existential things change for him outside of the relationship and she represents home, love and safety to him.

Please don't let your fear of change cause you to put on blinders about how wrong what he did was.  This is too big of a wrong to have just happened out of the blue.  He probably had stuff going on under the surface for a long time.  That is why I don't think your wishful thinking that he will somehow regain consciousness and find out that this was all a fluke is really going to happen for you.

If the miracle occurs and time goes by and he changes back to the man (you thought) he was, well, divorce is not a never-reconcile card.  But don't bank on this.  After all the insults he has offered you and the bad behavior, I certainly would be thinking of how much more interesting and fun life can be without that particular emotional anchor dragging you here and there.

Stick with the counseling.  It doesn't make your life of grungy things suddenly a life of good things, but it sure can help you keep from going in illogical loops that do nothing but make you cry.  Talk it out, make some plans.

Good luck, honey.  (((HUGS)))   -- Annie
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your comments Annie.  I think perhaps I wasn't very clear with my post.  The mid-life crisis and issues with his Dad weren't my husband's excuses, those were the counselor's diagnoses.  The counselor said his Dad planted the seed when he left my husband when he was a little boy...he said it taught him that's what husband's do when things get tough or boring or whatever, but that it didn't have to be the legacy he leaves for our son.

My husband's reason was "we put our relationship on the back burner during one crisis after another and we've grown apart".  He had a host of other "reasons" as well, but within the first week after he moved out, he admitted those things either weren't true or weren't as bad as he had convinced himself they were.  I think he still believes it's because we've grown apart, but having an affair with someone else tends to do that to a couple.  Every time they slept together, she got another piece of him and I lost another piece of him.

I would say prior to the affair, our marriage was pretty good, except for the intimacy.  I admit, we were busy with one crisis after another and neglected that part of our marriage.  First it was our son's attempted suicide, then my Mom's death, finding out one of my brother's had been stealing money from her during the last 6 months of her life, handling the details of her funeral as well as handling her estate.  Then, dealing with the same brother setting fire to the home a few months after her death, trying to collect insurance, destroying most anything that he hadn't already sold, including photos and other keepsakes.  Then, 2 1/2 months after my Mom's death, there was his Dad's death.  Then some more issues with our son, who finally went to rehab and was 6 months sober when this came out.  He fell off his wagon from the news and was a passenger in a near fatal accident.  So, it's not like we didn't have reason for neglecting that portion of the relationship, but it still doesn't excuse his behavior.  I felt neglected too, but I didn't cheat!

I felt something was going on within him and I asked him, but he told me he was stressed out from work, which made sense considering the company he managed had their biggest year ever last year.  So, I tried to be the understanding and supportive wife, which he ended up perceiving as me not caring that we weren't being intimate very often.

As for me thinking if I turn my head and grit my teeth that he'll miraculously return to the man he was, I'm not that delusional.  Part of my "terms of marriage contract" included him going to individual counseling to deal with the issues that caused him to have the affair, so as to hopefully not repeat it.  I know life has no guarantees, but it was my desire to have all the tools possible to help prevent it from happening again.  However, it didn't get that far, because I saw his list and was hurt and offended at the way he objectified women, specifically me.  I told him it sounded more like the life of a single man and no woman with any self respect would agree to it.  Well, apparently at that point he decided I was right and that he wanted to be single and free to do what he wanted.

He did call me a couple days later and said he re-read his list and apologized for how harsh and demeaning it sounded.  He said it's not him and that I didn't deserve to be treated that way.

I've had a lot of time to think about when I really noticed things change with him, and it really was when his Dad died that I noticed him changing.  He said "Dad lived life the way he wanted", but prior to his death, he was angry with his Dad for cheating and leaving his Mom and the kids.  The other odd thing he said the day he died, I cried, and he said to me, "I don't know why you're crying, you never liked him anyhow", which wasn't true.  I didn't dislike his Dad, I just didn't respect him as a man, because he was a serial cheater.  

At that point, he started resenting me because he didn't go watch his Dad perform more...his Dad was a musician and mostly played in dumpy, smoke-filled bars, so no, I didn't really care to go sit in a dump and watch the drinkers, or worse yet, babysit one.  Still, he could have gone without me, but it's easier to blame me than it is to look in the mirror.

The next resentments started shortly after his Dad's death.  He wanted to quit his job...said he hated his job.  Having watched him go through that a couple of times before and knowing it was just him being stressed and/or depressed and would pass as it had before, I tried to encourage him to stick with it and helped him as much as I could with his work.  I went in and entered invoices and helped him count shingles and anything else I could do to lighten his load.  
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(continued)

When he left, he told me he felt I didn't care about him, only the money, because I wouldn't let him quit his job.  I told him that couldn't be further from the truth.  I told him I know how much he loves his job and I was trying to be encouraging so he wouldn't do something impulsive and regret it later.  As proof, I told him if he really wants to quit, then quit and we'll be fine.  As it turns out, I was right, he didn't hate his job, because when his affair was exposed, he nearly lost his job.  He did lose his position as manager and was told he could either move to another city and work in sales or be out of a job.  Now, he's depressed because he loved his job and he lost it.

His other resentment came because he had to go back to work a couple weeks after his Dad died, but being a homemaker, I didn't have to go back to work.  I could see both sides of that one.  There were times I was envious because he had a job to distract him and I was home alone with my thoughts and feelings...other times I was grateful I didn't have to face people if I didn't feel up to it.  Unfortunately, he could only see his side of things and that became my fault as well because I "wouldn't let him quit".  He still had 2 weeks vacation he could have taken, but he didn't, so I thought he was ready to go back to work...his work had told him to take all the time he needed, so it's not that he couldn't.

Anyhow, as I said, he had a host of "reasons", most of which weren't really my fault, but he convinced himself they were, which helped him to rationalize his affair.

Since he's been gone, there are things I miss and things I don't.  I do love him, but I wouldn't want him moving back in tomorrow or anything remotely close to that.  If I could have things the way I wanted, he'd stay in the city he's in and I'd stay here during the week and we'd take turns going where the other is on the weekend.  But first and foremost, things would have to stop with the other woman and he'd need to be in individual counseling to deal with his issues, as well as couples counseling so we could get the tools to prevent this from happening again.  Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen, so I have to get off the roller coaster ride and take care of myself for a change instead of taking care of everyone but myself.

The hardest part comes with being 51 years old and having to start over, and not really knowing who I am or what my purpose is anymore.  I hadn't worked outside the home for 15 years, but I've found myself a job with benefits, so that's a start.  Still, I thought I knew who I was and what my purpose was.  Unfortunately, along with losing my husband, best friend, lover, etc., I've lost the hopes and dreams we had for our future, so I'm starting over with those as well.  I guess I'm not really sure where to go from here.  I've got a job and that's something.  I must admit it does feel good to go to work and be appreciated for what I do.  

I find myself lonely and unsure about my future.  It's very scary and lonely.  I am sticking with counseling and I've even joined a divorce support group.  The workbook and videos are helpful in the group; however the group consists of 2 other people who have been divorced 6 years and are bitter.  I don't want to be that person.

Sorry, I've gone on and on, but I wasn't as clear as I thought I had been in my original post and wanted to clear some things up.

Thanks again for your advice Annie.

(((hugs)))

Mary  :)
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Job with benefits is a great start, congratulations, that is quite an accomplishment in this economic climate.  Having that to back you up emotionally will put you into a standing-on-own-feet position when the wind blows.  51 is not old to start over ... a few of my friends can only wish for the chance to start again without their ********* husband.  (One, for example, has a son who is in a very costly school due to learning disabilities, something like $20,000 a year that she can't afford on her own, and her husband is having an affair with his secretary and basically she just has to take it.  Another is married to a horrible bully, but she hasn't worked outside the home for years and feels obliged to stay at least until the kids are out of high school.)  

You're talking about feeling like you used to know your purpose and now you don't -- I can see that your dreams for the future might have to change, but really, your purpose?  Maybe raising children could be said to be a life purpose, but taking care of another adult (unless he is disabled or unable) is not a purpose in life.  A man should be a life partner, not a cause or a cross to bear, certainly not something to build life around to the exclusion of one's interests and identity.  You must have things you love to do that have sort of dropped by the wayside because he didn't care for them -- dust them off!  Clues to your life purpose might be in some of those sidelined interests.

Please don't think I'm being unsympathetic, and I certainly believe you when you say it's lonely.  (Even a moping, problematic roommate is a human presence in your life, negative though it might be.)  All I'm saying is that a cheating husband is the poisonous version of the 'gift that keeps on giving.'  No matter how much one wants to forgive, the hurt can go on and on if the relationship goes on and on, and it is very hard to trust again ever.  The people who write on this site about spousal infidelity have such trouble forgiving (if that is what they are trying to do) that it just seems like it almost never can happen.

I think someone who is as aware as you will be able to create new dreams for the future, and a good new life.
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