Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s a mid-life crisis or just men behaving badly. It is in my nature to find the positive in just about anything. So, it pains me when the evidence is to the contrary and I have to deliver the not so good news…he’s just not that into you.
This happened when a woman around my age came to me at the encouragement of the couples therapist she was seeing with her estranged husband.
After twenty years of marriage, and after their youngest kid off to college, he decided to let her know that he hasn’t been “in love” with her for years. She’s a home body, he’s a motorcycling hell raiser. She’s a Volvo, he’s a Harley. She’s predictable and boring, he’s an exciting adventurer. (Actually he’s a dentist in the suburbs.) Oh, and he’s leaving her to live in a loft in the city.
Mid-life Crisis or Men Behaving Badly?
Is this a mid-life crisis? Maybe, or maybe he’s just a narcissistic jerk. Either way, her life was traumatically torn apart at the point where she was most vulnerable. While this scenario may sound like a cliche, it’s anything but to the women, and men, living through it. In this particular case, more and more evidence piled up that the husband had been acting selfishly throughout the marriage, while she voluntarily set aside her ego to feed his.
My advice to her? Get mad. And, this is important, use the mad, not to rant at him, but to take responsibility for herself and, even more productively, to find her lost self-esteem. It took some time, but she managed it. After the divorce, she discovered her inner travel bug and now thinks nothing of trekking around the Patagonian glaciers with her close (divorced) friends. Who’s the adventurer now?
Video Viewing: The First Wives Club
[Disclaimer: The characters described above are fictionalized composites of people I have worked with over the past twenty-something years of my career. Any similarity to real people is coincidence.]