Listen to one man’s story as I excerpt parts of his letter and my comments on what’s happening in his life.
First notice that his life and marriage seemed to be normal:
I’m a man in my early 40’s, married for 20 years, with children. I’ve always been a conservative Christian, since my teens. My wife is also a strong, dedicated Christian. We have two wonderful kids . . . the kind any Dad would be proud of. I’ve always been steadily employed. We’re your typical middle class family with one house, two cars, one dog, one cat and 2.5 televisions! With all I have going for me I’m amazed I find myself in the circumstances I’m now in.
Often by midlife people have internal stress which is unseen by others:
I read "Men In Midlife Crisis" about 12 months ago and was really shocked to find so much of what I’d been feeling captured in the pages of your book. I couldn’t hold back the tears or the overwhelming emotions that wracked me as I realized someone understood what I was feeling.
Notice the pivotal role a mate can have in helping to resolve or not resolve the midlife stress:
I was so disappointed when my wife "shrugged" my midlife feelings as an "excuse" to justify my behavior. I tried to show her that at least in part, it might help to explain what I’d been going through, and why I’d been so screwed up inside. She preferred to believe that I was just being selfish and didn’t want to face the real reason for my treatment of her and the kidsâ€”my sinful heart.
Now a crucial sentenceâ€”he is choosing to ignore his internal conflicts, hoping they will go away. If a person does not stop and get helpâ€”he will keep spiraling deeper:
So, I finished the book, set it aside and continued to let myself go down paths that have gradually destroyed most of my relationships. We buried all our problems and hoped they would go away. Emotional problems, sexual problems, and personality conflicts all took their toll. My wife let herself go physically, and walled herself off emotionally. I focused my energies on anything but building our relationship.
So the slide continues into deep marriage problemsâ€”it’s not just his problem now it’s also hers.
I had gradually lost all desire to be married to my wife anymore. She, on the other hand, had hardened herself to the point that even if I wanted to communicate with her, she wouldn’t let it happen.
There is always a spiritual loss in this downward spiral:
The struggle over our marriage problem was so great that it began to have an adverse affect upon my walk with God. I just couldn’t get past the feeling of hypocrisy and failure.
All of the above failures lead him into a dangerous positionâ€”isolation and loneliness:
Then, the unthinkable happened. I know you’ve heard this a thousand times from men just like me, but I was so lonely. I had a wife and family, but I felt like a stranger in my own home. All I had dreamed of, hoped for, or desired for my life was just an empty shell.
Ultimately the accumulation of the losses lead to despair:
Now all of my life seemed so pointless. Nothing will ever change I thought.
Finally in his pointless vacuum he reaches out for helpâ€”but to the wrong place:
I began to talk to people on an internet chat line. I don’t know why. I just needed a change. Needed to know I wasn’t so alone. Needed to believe I still had something to offer people. Needed to find out if I could risk my security on new relationships.
Notice how he is sucked further away from Godâ€”and his wife:
It didn’t seem like much of a risk at first. I enjoyed the anonymity and felt free to explore the dark things which had lain dormant in my heart. I experienced shame for allowing these things, but I couldn’t shake them. I began to turn away from the church. I turned my back on God and began to question Him. I never felt more alone. I would argue with my wife, refuse to go to church, and say I had to go in to work. I couldn’t face myself, let alone my God. I just felt dead inside.
When we feel most alone, guilty and empty, then Satan plays his trump card:
Then I met a woman who brought a spark of life. The trap was laid early on, and I walked right into it. She was a married woman. She was as unhappy as I was. We both clung to each other for emotional support.
This man must now change the way he sees realityâ€”wrong must become right, and it’s always someone else’s fault.
I knew it was wrong. Though she’s a Christian, her views were a little more liberal than mine. She seems to be able to reconcile her faith in God with a change in her marital status. She believes that God wants us to be happy.
Then the seduction of the affairâ€”and the guilt:
For six months, we developed our relationship long distance. I tried to end it 3 times, hoping I could spark some desire for my wife and escape this trap, but I always wound up going back to my girlfriend. Finally, we made plans to meet. I was excited and horrified at the prospect. What was I doing? How could I let this happen? What had I become? All these thoughts racked my mind for weeks before she flew into town. I felt trapped. I felt exhilarated. I felt emotions I had never experienced. I let it happen. We both violated our pledge of fidelity to our spouses that week.
The lying to himself now becomes lying to his wife to cover the bigger lie:
I made excuses for my absence from home. I often lied to my wife about the money I was spending to maintain this double lifestyle.
The Bible says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1). He thinks, "If I stay I will loseâ€”if I go I will lose". He is in a "no win" situation.
My lover has filed for divorce, and now she’s waiting for me to do the same. Should I step off the edge of this cliff? I told her I don’t want to do this if I’m going to regret it later. I feel responsible for her divorce, and I don’t want her to be alone because I backed out of my promise to love her forever. I want her, but I just can’t seem to lay down the last 20 years to have her.
But God keeps asking this man if he is really happy doing wrong:
Now I’ll be the first to admit that sin pleases for a season, but eventually it loses it’s attraction. How could I be so happy with my girlfriendâ€”while I’m grieving over what I’m throwing away? I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell my lover the truth. I know it’s sinful. I know it’s wrong. I know it will destroy my wife and family. I know how it hurts God’s heart.
This place I'm in is so empty. I'm starving for the communion I enjoyed when I was walking in a right relationship with God. I can see it, but I can't change it!
Now he’s in trouble with two womenâ€”as well as God:
Every time I try to reason with my girlfriend, she is devastated. She acknowledges that I still care for my wife. I thought I could harden my heart to my wife so that I wouldn’t feel anything when I left. I’m finding my heart to be uncooperative.
If only his wife had changed soonerâ€”but often we need pain, to be ready for God’s change.
I am amazed at what God is doing in my wife in spite of me. I would have never thought is possible that she could change so much. Before she had a cold, uncaring heart. Now she is warm and compassionate. She has been renewed inside and has been given the ability to love me again. I’m grieving the loss of her as I never thought I would.
People often feel hopeâ€”and despairâ€”as ocean waves crashing on the shore and then receding:
I still don’t feel a desire to be with my wife, but I’m beginning to wonder if God could change me the way He has changed her. I told her I would hold off on my decisionâ€”but at the same time I told my girlfriend I was going through with leaving my wife!! Lord, this is ripping me apart!!
The Bible describes people living in sin as the sea restlessly tossing and turning. (Isa. 57:20,21)
This place I’m in is so empty. I’m starving for the communion I enjoyed when I was walking in a right relationship with God. I can see it, but I can’t change it! Do I sacrifice my relationship with my Lord to divorce my wife? I can’t reconcile the two!! My heart feels like it’s on a roller coaster. I know I can’t truly repent of my sinâ€”if I still want to hang onto it. I’m scared to death to move forward, or backward.
Satan always fills our minds with questionsâ€”but this man needs to trust God and work on his marriage:
If I end this relationship with my girlfriend, will I ever find fulfillment with my wife? And what will happen to my girlfriend if I step out of her life? If I divorce my wife, will I ever be at peace with my God? Will I have a relationship with my children?
His confusion and despair will only be resolved as he allows God to heal all these livesâ€”his own, his wife, the children, and the girlfriend and her family.
I just want to run away and hide from the condemnation that faces me everyday. I know I will have to face the consequences of my decisions. I’m afraid of living, and horrified of dying. What should I do? Will God provide a way of escape? No matter what choice I make, I will destroy lives. I hate what I’ve become. Is there someone I can talk to? I don’t expect miracles, but that seems to be what’s required to resolve my crisis.
Wow, the pain in all of these lives. This letter is a picture of the hundreds of couples who read our books, look at our website, or who write or call our office.
But let me ask you, "How is your marriage doing? Are you vulnerable to an affair?" Now is the time to make the corrections you need to help your marriage be all it should be.
Perhaps the resources found here can help you.
Conway / Farrel Articles ~ Reprint by permission only, ©2011 Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors. Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.
Conway / Farrel Articles ~ Reprint by permission only, ©2011
Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com
The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.
Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.