Little Magpie: Bill - Thanks! Adjustment is difficult. Having a hard time with sleep and staying focused. I end up crying at the weirdest things. H is doing his hobby in your area and due to the financials is unable to bring anyone with him. We got a puppy so have those to adjust around too.
Bill: Little Magpie: Adjustment is difficult - that may be the understatement of the day. I know change is good for us but most of us would prefer not to change very much. We like knowing what to expect and how to handle the situations that come our way. Life does not seem content to do that, however. Even good things (like puppies) require maturity, decision-making, patience and humility!
KIKIG: All: I guess prayer and time is really the only hope? I am in a prayer group and bible study groups. I often wonder if I am the one who changed b/c I began refusing to put up with his mean, insensitive, hurtful behaviors. He was just plain cruel to me. Is it wise for me to just stay away from him, at all costs? He wanted to meet me to sign income tax pages and I just made excuses and asked him to fax them to me. It is just too hurtful to see him!
Bill: KIKIG: To your question about having contact with your H, here is my opinion. You are attached for life to your H because you had kids together and will be grandparents to the same grandkids. At minimum, you have a friendship so you should treat your H the way you would treat any other friend in your life. It could be more if he chooses but your lives are connected enough you should pursue whatever level of friendship he will allow. The other benefit of this is that you live out the person you want to be rather than living in reaction to him.
Bill: dumbfounded2 and Little Magpie: Okay, now I am curious. One of the most common struggles of couples is verbal interaction. Men, on average, get overwhelmed by too big a volume of words. Women, on average, are unsatisfied by too small a volume of words. Finding a plan that works is very elusive for couples in love and it gets intense. Men get angry and women feel neglected. So . . . any thoughts you are willing to share on how you have grown in this area or how you think others can grow is very welcomed.
dumbfounded2: Bill - Oh Boy Yes, for so long, I just thought my H "didn't care" because he wouldn't respond in what I thought was a timely manner. What I learned is that he simply does not process information as quickly as I do. (I assume this is the same for most men and women). The woman truly has the key to solving this communication problem stuff, but she has to slow down and give him TIME. Sometimes, my H will come back a day or two later and bring up a subject after he has analyzed it and feels confident in his position. It is hard, but patience from the women is imperative. He wants to please, but is not going to shoot back an answer quickly.
Little Magpie: Swan - it seems that as time goes on I get more guarded and withdrawn
Bill: Little Magpie: I appreciate your honest response. I believe that becoming guarded and withdrawn is the "expected" result of life on this earth. Apart from the love and power of God at work in our lives, this place can be a scary, overwhelming place. The Bible is quite upfront about the condition of this world and the battle we all have raging in our souls. It is no surprise that many elderly people end up disillusioned, discouraged, angry and sullen. In the midst of all this, Jesus offers hope and strength through the Holy Spirit which reaches to the depth of our hearts and gives us the courage to keep "putting ourselves out there" to see what God can do with the little we have to offer.
Little Magpie: Bill - I am not quite sure I get it but I do get - realizing disappointments and things beyond our control happen and that we have personal tendencies like being a planner that we adapt into our daily lives
Bill: Little Magpie: God orchestrates the moments. We don't have to go looking for them or create them. God leads us through them at the right time, in the right circumstances. Our job is to respond to them and let them have their impact on us.
tos: Bill, I think part of what I see her struggle with is unforgiveness/bitterness and a great amount of fear. I've admitted I was wrong so often, worked to improve (and have, though I'm not perfect), but the pain she is experiencing is overwhelming I think.
Bill: tos: I am sure there is bitterness involved and a strong sense of disappointment in herself she doesn't want to admit to. These lead to irrational conclusions that become self-fulfilling. This is why you can do "all the right things" and still not see the changes you thought were sure to happen. I am glad you have taken your own inventory and made changes that made sense but you now see the situation is bigger than your mistakes and shortcomings. Families are collections of very imperfect people who need grace, acceptance and courage to figure out life together. They are strongly connected but can be fragile at the same time.
Swan: Bill - That sounds awesome. Everyone seems to think that families suddenly become aware of everything they need to know and that is so far from the truth. My husband and I didn't really have good examples of a family, so when we entered into marriage, sadly we were very unequipped. Sadly we didn't provide a very good example either for our children, at least as adults they have been willing to listen to things I have learned from my own failings.
Bill: Swan: I also don't know anywhere else, except churches and camps, where you can get the truth about families. The world definitely has a lot to say but so much of it is unattainable and inconsistent with the way God made life. I feel very fortunate to have learned from very faithful people since neither Pam nor I had great role models to follow. Our experience gives us confidence that anyone who wants to figure it out can if they are willing to learn and humbly accept God's direction.
tos: Well, last time you warned against getting bitter and I have to say, that was helpful. There are days when I am really angry at my spouse for putting "us" (meaning me and our children) through this. But, after talking to God about my feelings, I go back to forgiving. I also just had a friend from church write me and ask for prayer because his 47 year old wife is doing the same things.
Bill: tos: Well done tos. The primary battle for those who are affected by the actions of an MLCer is at the level of the heart. It is unfair, disappointing and painful. If it turns to bitterness, it can be worse on us than the one causing the pain. I also think you are going to find this is a big club. Statistically, ML is the most prevalent time of life when divorce takes place. The hurt, pain and poor decisions cause so much turmoil that people just give up or react. In a strange way, I am glad to hear others reaching out to you because it means you are growing forward in the midst of your disappointment.
Swan: Little Magpie - What happens if you don't step in and take responsibility for others? Just wondering, sometimes others will actually step in and take care of their responsibilities if no one else with jump in and do it for them.
Bill: Swan: Great question to consider. I am a big believer in fully taking on our responsibility while not taking on the responsibility that legitimately belongs to others. It is easier to think about than to do but I think it is a theme we should all keep in front of us on a daily basis.
Swan: Bill - How are Jim and Jan, when I see anything on facebook or email, they seem to be doing great. They are a sweet couple, I am so glad they found each other.
Bill: Swan: We need to be praying for him. He had a minor stroke earlier this year and had a fall from the roof/ladder. He is doing ok but he has moments when he is not quite himself.
tos: How long does the MLC usually last? And are there predictable stages?
Bill: tos: Predictable stages: I will discuss this but I don't want you to think it is a "linear" process. It is a highly emotional stage of life so it defies logic and different people will have different experiences. Having said that, predictable stages include: (a) Preoccupation with self. It could be "I deserve better" or "I am a mess" but the focus becomes very much on self to the exclusion of other people's needs. (b) Discouragement over his/her body. Since ML is accompanied by significant physical changes which are no fun, there is generally a negative emotional reaction to the body. It could manifest in an attempt to be young again or it may express itself in consistent complaining. It is common for people in midlife to be as preoccupied with their bodies as teenagers are. (c) Decision-making turmoil. The typical MLCer knows what is right but is restless and seeking "something better." They don't know what this "something better" is and they are aware that God probably won't approve but they entertain the thought anyway. (d) Irrational decision-making. This can include finances, family relationships, affairs, spontaneous vacations "alone," hairstyle changes, clothing changes, new cars, etc. (e) foggy thinking. Often the MLCer cannot see the consequences of their actions. They don't see the long-term effects or how their behavior is affecting the people they love. They rationalize that everyone will be okay if they are happier so their filters get overrun. (f) Turmoil. They are fighting against the influential life God wants them to have based on their life experience and the wisdom they have gained. As they resist it, there is spiritual and personal stress swirling around them.