Dear Midlife Dimensions and Chat Room Guests,
I have been visiting the chat room archives for over a year and I feel that I know everyone. I've read Jim's book, “Men In Midlife Crisis” and have a good grasp of what a midlife crisis is. I’m writing to share a bit of my story, and how I’ve made it through this rocky time. Although, I don’t attend the chat room sessions, I want to offer some encouragement for those who do, and are willing to open up and share their lives. Everyone’s questions and replies (in the chat rooms) have meant so much to me, and have taught me many important lessons.
My journey began shortly after my husband’s dad passed away. My husband told me, "I can't do this anymore" and he left. He had nowhere to go, so it wasn't planned, it was a knee jerk reaction to how he was feeling. I never got the “I don't love you anymore speech”. I was served with divorce papers nearly a year later. I was never told to expect them or that we were headed in that direction. When I asked him why he didn't tell me the divorce papers were coming, he said, “I couldn't”. It took a very long time for the divorce to go through. With no help from me, it was finalized about 2 and half years from the time he left.
I've seen changes in him and at times he acts downright looney. We have been in contact since the day he left. I have never wanted for anything financially, he saw to that. After taxes are paid, I get just about all of his pay check. That's where the other person comes in ... she is supporting him. He doesn't have the funds to have a place of his own. It is so uncharacteristic for him to let a woman support him.
After three plus years, and his living with another woman, I still get emails that say “we, us and ours”. I see his confusion and I know he is the one that has to bring himself out of this midlife fog. It is his battle, not mine. His family treats me as family and is my greatest support system. My husband has even said that he's glad they are taking care of me.
I'm finding that people don't understand my position (except my mother in law and sister in laws) regarding my marriage. So called friends, don't understand how I could possibly take John back. Well - the fact is I love him and we were married for better or worse. I had cancer years ago and he stood by me. My husband is having a spiritual battle, and it is my time to stand by him, even if it is from a distance.
Note, the reason my husband’s family is standing by me is because his dad left his mom (after 40 years of marriage, a large family, and being an elder in their church) Fortunately after 7 years and much difficulties, they reconciled. So, for my husband, this seems to be learned behavior, as he is his father's son.
My advice to any left-behind spouse (and especially to chat room guests):
No matter how bad it is, or how hard it gets, don't fight them, beg, or show that they've got you down. Show patience, growth, and unconditional respect and love. That is what I've done with my husband. While the circumstances aren't what I would like them to be, the door is still open and he knows it.
I want to be honest here and let you know that I cringe, and even talk out loud to the computer, when I read chat room posts from the left-behind spouses that just keep repeating their questions and don’t seem to “get it”. These people have to learn what this journey -- on both sides -- is all about. I guess we all make mistakes along the way, but the secret is to get ourselves under control as soon as we can and stop making the same mistakes over and over again. I know the areas I need to work on and I'm doing so every day. I know that my husband WILL NEVER return to the same circumstances he left. He also will never return to the house he left, the place the marriage failed, which is why I am selling the house. So yes, change no matter how hard, has to be done by the left-behind spouse. I know my husband well enough to know that we will need to come back together on neutral even ground.
You also have to BELIEVE in the power of prayer -- not just say you do, not just read the books because they are recommended, but really believe in the power of prayer. Three very good books that I recommend are by Charles Spurgeon, “The Power of Prayer in a Believers Life”, “The Power in Prayer”, and “Spurgeon on the Holy Spirit”. These books calmed me down, gave a boost to my prayer life, and helped my attitude towards prayers being answered God’s way.
In closing, I thank you for this site and chat room. They help to keep me steady and calm.
I expect one day this all will end and my husband will be back home. His use of pronouns, unknown to him, still show that he is connected and hasn't fully detached from “us”. My hope and trust will remain strong in Jesus. I can honestly say that I'm thankful to be going through this journey and for the chance to grow stronger and closer to Christ during this time.
Sincerely in Christ,
Your Midlife Friend