Now remember, each MLC is different and won't be navigated in the SAME way as others-the time-frames, stages gone through/not gone through everything could be a totally DIFFERENT story.
Some will come through faster than others, some will be slower-some might exhibit one stage at a time, some might exhibit MORE than one.
This gives you an IDEA of what to expect, but don't take it as whole truth-each person is DIFFERENT, and the differences WILL show up.
By popular demand, here are the six stages once again, written by HB-drawn from personal experience, as well as the experiences of others:
1st Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
The word Denial should speak for itself, as the person in this stages denies their feelings pretty strongly. In a Mid Life Crisis, however there are several things that are denied; one is the fact he/she is getting older, and their bodies either don't work as well as they used to or don't look as good as it used to, and they feel "used up", but are even trying to fight that feeling. They don't want to face the fact they are "wearing out" and they can't do the things they used to do anymore. They had always, up to this point, felt they were still in their prime or youthful, and was ignoring the aging that was sneaking upon them.
When it finally hits home, they panic and some consider using plastic surgery to enhance the illusion-or going on a buying spree for new clothes that don't exactly fit someone their age-and usually end up spending a great deal of money on other things. All in a effort to "buy-off" the aging process-it only leads to the next stage-Anger.
They look at their children, and in their mind's eye, they are STILL small, never mind they are now teen-agers that are on the verge of growing into adulthood, and so therefore they attempt to treat the young man or young woman as they did when they were three or four years old--only the teen is probably about 13-18, and starts to rebel against being treated like a small child, which increases the confusion of the Mid Lifer-they go on to try and make up for lost time, only to find rejection at the hands of their teen-agers, and though they are hurt, they react in the only way they know how-Anger
Then there's the spouse of the Mid Lifer-he/she doesn't look the same as she did-as the Mid Lifer ages, so does the spouse, and we cannot help what heredity does to our looks; but their spouses are also a REFLECTION of them, how they have treated them, what they have given or with-held, and they begin to deny what they are seeing, thinking if they had it to go all over again they might have married someone else and been happier than they are now-never mind it's not true- and that leads to the next stage--Anger
This stage is mostly quiet storming inside their heads, no one knows what they are thinking, only that they have become withdrawn somewhat because of their minds being so active, and they are not talking, so no one has any clue what's happening until the Anger stage begins. If asked, they will tell you they are fine, and if you listen closely, their answers are a little short-tempered; because they just want to be left alone to think it all out.
It could be as short as a month or as long as six months to play out this stage.
I have not included being unhappy within their jobs in the stage of Denial, because I don't think dissatisfaction with the job begins until the Anger stage-To be totally honest, I didn't see my husband's dissatisfaction really come to the surface until the tail-end of Replay, although it showed while he was IN Replay-in small spurts
2nd Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
While the Mid Lifer is in the stage of Denial, it is actually preparing him/her for this next stage, it seems be a "set up" or the seeds of Anger are actually planted by being in that first stage.
Regardless, the anger begins to set in, reality hits somewhat and the Mid Lifer begins to be really angry at the "lot" he/she has been cast in this life. And they have a tendency to forget that others have the same problems-they begin to be selfish, lashing out at others, not caring how much they hurt the people that are closest to them, even lashing out at their bosses, not caring if they are fired or not-it does NOT matter to them, and they really don't even know WHY they are angry. The irritability alone wears on them and they react with MORE anger-not really understanding it, but just going on with it, thinking they are saying what they really feel for the first time in their lives; walking all over anyone who stands in their way.
They begin to think "run-away" thoughts, angry at their perception that they are "stuck" in the same dead-end job, year after year, after year; angry their children have grown up without them, angry their spouses aren't what they think they ought to be, angry that life has dealt them such a cruel blow, angry because they feel "stuck" and "trapped" in the life THEY chose in their youth. Angry because it dawns on them, that they ARE growing older, and there's not stopping the aging process.
They begin to think if they could just CHANGE their life, they would be happy, but even the thought of change, makes them angrier. They look for outside sources to blame for this unhappiness they feel inside, and guess who gets the "brunt" of that anger-their husband/wife-the one who has seen them through many things during the marriage.
Their anger takes the form of small criticisms to begin with and gradually gets bigger and bigger, and the fights escalate into possibly throwing things against the walls, making impossible demands-their spouse begins to walk on "eggshells"--the withdrawal gets worse, they can barely speak to one another without a fight breaking out from the "sane" spouse saying or doing the wrong thing.
It begins to feed their justification and reasoning, and most will find a "friend" and develop that friendship, never dreaming it will escalate into something out of control-the Replay affair. Others will begin to take drugs, drink, continue with their quest for youth, and search of self....etc.
So the next stage-Replay and the Anger Stage OVERLAPS, just as Denial and Anger did-each one has the seeds of the next and the one before.
And all of the angry outbursts gradually sets things up for the next stage---Replay
The anger stage can last from 3 to 9 months.
3rd Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
Now, Replay can take many forms, from Affairs, to a search for youth, catching up on "lost" time-although you can never "catch up" what you have lost in that time-but they don't know that.
They are still searching for outside sources to blame for their misery, and Replay is a perfect time for a totally stable man to go crazy and start an affair-although the SEEDS for this affair were probably planted while in the Anger stage. They will still try to reconnect with children, or if they were close to their children, distance from them-it is also during this time they become the total "opposite" of what they were, before they entered the tunnel, back in Denial. They undergo a gradual change in the first two stages, going from what they were to the direct opposite during this time. They will do things their husbands/wives never thought they would do.
Besides the affair, they will feel "entitled" to what they take, regardless of who they hurt, or how much of a financial bind they put their families in. Their reasoning becomes "Well, I have taken care of people my whole life, now it's time for ME to have fun."
The emotions, during this time, are in play, in a way they never have been, and they don't understand what's going on, and so they panic and "run"; but the running they do will rock the very foundation of a marriage.
They may drink, take drugs, curse God for what He "has done" to them-have multiple affairs, failing to see what they are doing that's so wrong-still with the attitude of it being "my" time now.
The "bomb" can and will be dropped during this time, shocking the sane spouse who probably has NO idea that anything was wrong, and the problems begin to escalate, as "crying and begging" ensues, and the Mid Lifer turns away, secure in his "reasoning" for his behavior and /or the affair/drinking/drugs/money spent.
Their behavior can disrupt the most settled of families, most especially the affair-the Mid Lifer's reasoning is that he/she thinks they have "missed out" when really, they haven't, and the OW/OM, they can/will get involved with will NOT be what they wanted all along, but they won't see that until they experience an "awakening" that gives them a direction, and starts them along the path to facing their issues; opening the door for the stage of Depression.
As long as the Mid Lifer continues "replay" behaviors they are nowhere near to being ready to start their way out of the tunnel; the "awakening" they have IF they come to it, is a "turning point" to beginning their journey out of the tunnel.
When the "awakening" occurs, they begin to suffer the next stage-Depression, and it is a low point of the Mid Lifer's journey.
The Replay stage is the LONGEST of the stages, and can last up to two years or even longer, depending upon the "replay" behaviors used during this time.
4th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
Now, we have traveled through the first three stages, and during those stages, the issues that are inside the Mid Lifer have STILL not been looked at.
This is the stage where the Mid Lifer is faced with the issues he/she are beginning to face, and quite frankly, they feel like failures.
Nothing has helped the first three stages-everything they have tried has NOT turned to gold, on the contrary everything has turned to stone, for lack of a better word to describe their running-and now comes the time to begin to face their damage, and this is done inside-because that is what Depression is-anger turned inward.
Their hormones are out of whack, due to physical changes, and that makes them feel worse. Their self-esteem is shot all to pieces, and they feel like failures. They wonder if they will ever be worth anything to anyone. Some are in so much pain, they commit suicide, some get smart and get anti-depressants to help them begin to clear their thinking processes, some suffer in silence, thinking nobody understands them or will understand what they are going through-and so it goes on.
They will be on the verge of tears, most of the time, pacing the floor, losing sleep, afraid of the dark-or maybe what's in it; unable to escape negative thoughts, cutting themselves down in word and action. Extreme guilt may compound this stage, and there is so much pressure, they become forgetful, irritable, want to be left alone, somewhat argumentative, sometimes unresponsive-want to take long drives, sit looking out the window-their silences are long and painful, as they don't want to talk about it preferring instead to think and brood.
You must understand they will come through this or they won't-no one can "make" them come out until they are ready-pestering them only makes them draw inside further, and they need the space to work within themselves, trying to understand some of what has happened; the parts they can face, anyway, besides resolving issues that are inside them, from childhood and/or otherwise. Understand, also, this journey must continue to made alone, no one can "fix" it or "do it for them."
Pieces of the next stage are contained within, and Withdrawal begins to come to the fore as each individual issue is faced-it is a gradual slide from Depression to Withdrawal or both stages can occur together.
The Depression stage can last from around two and a half months to possibly six months, depending upon the severity of the depression they are suffering.
5th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
Now, the Mid Lifer has been beginning to face his/her issues while in Depression, and what they've seen has NOT been pretty. They've done so MUCH damage, and don't really know how to "fix" it, and that has made them even MORE depressed.
So, for a time, they conclude that life is not worth much, and so they "drop out" of life or WITHDRAW, hence the stage of Withdrawal.
It is also during this time, they will navigate obstacles and question themselves, somewhat, working their way toward what is called the "final fears" Not much is known about what the final fears contain-I think it is beginning to accept the death of everything they have ever known, including the death of their "old" lives; AND beginning to accept their own mortality without being afraid of it-Depression sets them up for this journey across an open field toward an archway to face these fears. During this time, they will NOT communicate with ANYONE, not even their spouse, as they are drawn so far within, no one can reach them. They MUST be allowed to continue, with NO interruptions, just like before-they will NOT come out until they are READY to come out.
Just like in Depression, they want to left alone, still processing their issues and the damage they have done to their spouse and their lives, and they make several decisions during this time concerning their lives, job, and marriage. But those WON'T be known UNTIL they break Withdrawal and talk to their spouse the first time
They are still secretive, somewhat asserting their privacy, much like a teen-ager, but during this time, they must be gently but firmly led along, and only when the time is right-a wrong word at the wrong time will cause them to "stick" within the tunnel.
You will see some Depression and Anger within them, they are mostly angry at themselves, but will take it out on you, and there are times you will have to be quiet and just leave them alone; letting them work things out, and they usually will, as the answers, such as they are STILL come from within them, not outside sources.
As they begin to come forward, they will begin the journey out of the tunnel-entering the first stage of Acceptance.
Withdrawal can last from three months to one year.
6th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis
The Mid Lifer has navigated through five stages of his/her Mid Life crisis by now, and begins into the final stage--Acceptance.
Now, Acceptance is entered in "Stages" Three, to be exact.
Stage ONE involves the disintegration of his/her personality, the "veil" is lifted showing the Mid Lifer EVERYTHING, no holds barred, and he/she realizes for the first time just how much damage has been done to their marriage, lives and spouse. The spouse will be surprised to see "children" surface, as well as "flashes" of the "old" personality, "new" personality, good AND bad personalities. I have described it as similar to schizophrenia, Three faces of Eve, etc.
But, I promise they are NOT crazy, this is what is MEANT to happen, for the Mid Life Crisis extracts a CHANGE, and the disintegration is a part of it, as they are FORCED to look at every facet of their personalities and make some permanent changes. The key to helping them through is to ACCEPT what you see as it comes forth, and don't ridicule or shame them-you will see little kids picking their nose for example--I saw this happen. They will apologize for everything under the sun, and try really hard to make up for the damage; for a little while.
Now during stage TWO of Acceptance, will come the temptations to want to go back to what they came out of. The silence of the spouse is most important during this time-all you can do is be understanding and patient with them as this MUST happen and they MUST come through alone.
They will SEEM to be going backward, but aren't, this is necessary for them to move forward.
It is during this time they will "revisit" ALL stages of the Mid Life Crisis except Denial and shuts the "doors" to each stage PERMANENTLY one by one, never to return.
If they give in to temptation OR get spooked by their final fears, they WILL run BACK into the tunnel a little ways. But they can only run back as far as the doors have NOT been closed permanently; most of the time they just run back as far as WITHDRAWAL, but will continue the process to come out once they feel "safe" to continue. So, they must be allowed to come through WITHOUT interruption, no matter what happens.
Stage THREE involves the "archway" I spoke of in the Stage of Withdrawal-all this time the Mid Lifer has been coming across this open field toward this Archway, where his "final fears" are located and he finally begins to face these fears in full-he may come out of the tunnel and face them BEFORE he/she shuts the door to Depression/Withdrawal or afterwards. But he will have to face them, nevertheless, before he exits to begin his complete healing process.
It takes awhile for the Mid Lifer to get settled down, even after he/she comes out of stage three of the Acceptance stage-they will experience a final "rebelling" before they settle down for good.
It is much like a teen-ager who has passed into manhood/womanhood-there are still final changes that must be made, especially for the one who has done so much damage during the crisis itself.
But if he/she can settle everything within themselves, their lives should be marked with a sense of peace, instead of the anguish they have known for as long as they were within the crisis. And they will have learned many things concerning life, and will be changed permanently as they will NEVER be the same, ever again.
I read what you posted about projection but I can't find it anymore. Do you know where it went?
My W actually e-mailed me regarding our conversation then called and apologized today. She said she felt that she had taken a step back and was very upset about it. She said it kicked her back into depression again.
I did talk to my sister and told my W that I had. It did serve as some damage control but my W still hates my sister.
It hurts when my W says she doesn't love me any more. It hurts when she says that our relationship was unhealthy for a long time. I never saw it that way and neither did anyone else. And it hurts that this is what she tells her freinds. Should I believe that she does not love me anymore and tells me I need to move on and let her go? Or is this the fog talking? That is why she is getting a divorce.
I copied your answer to notepad for the previous question, but I think you read it while I was modifying my post to reflect the six stages, but you will find it below, I edited AFTER I saw your question about it.
It didn't surprise me that your wife called and apologized for what she said to you, and she has suffered a set-back.
Quote: Should I believe that she does not love me anymore and tells me I need to move on and let her go? Or is this the fog talking? That is why she is getting a divorce.
That is MLC Fog talking, Jsiena-what do YOU want to do? It IS up to you whether to wait, dragging your feet on this divorce or let her go entirely.
You must follow what is in your heart, and do what is best for YOUR situation.
No one can make your decisions for you or tell you what to do, those answers lay within YOU, not anyone else, as we don't have to live your life, you do.
I know it's confusing, and you're scared and you're tired of things going as they are.
And I also know the waiting to see what is going to happen IS SO HARD.
But I won't tell you what to believe or not to believe, and I won't tell you to move on with your life, either.
These things are up to YOU, alone, and you know your wife better than any one of us do, and you CAN trust yourself more than you think.
You have already "let her go" to do what SHE thinks she needs to do, but remember, with wanting a divorce she is making a decision FOR you, because this DOES affect YOUR life, like it or not.
And she cannot be allowed to do that.
By making it hard on her so it is difficult to get a divorce, you are holding her accountable for her actions toward you and your marriage-she cannot be allowed to just "get rid" of her responsibilities just because SHE is not happy-she must see the consequences for her actions, and through your making it hard on her, she gets to see first-hand what she is doing, not only to you, but to your children.
You MUST protect yourself financially, that much is true, but don't "let her off the hook" that quickly by just giving in and letting her have an easy divorce.
That is NOT control, that is ACCOUNTABILITY.
Nobody said this was easy; and things get pretty rough before they get better, if indeed they ever do.
If she pays through the nose and gets the divorce anyway, she really wanted it badly enough.
But if she drags her feet, waiting on you to do it for her, she doesn't really want it, although she may say she does.
You've got to let HER do the work necessary to obtain what SHE has said she wants-so keep it on HER shoulders.
If you give in, she will BLAME you, as if she's not blaming you enough already for everything.
Hang tough, Jsiena, keep me posted.
Here is the post you were looking for, Jsiena:
Well, darn. While I was typing a response to Jsiena, my thread got locked, so I brought the response here:
What I'm seeing here is PROJECTION-this is how SHE is, but she cannot face it, so it is easier to PROJECT her feelings onto YOU, as in her mind you are STILL to blame for this.
This is what she is thinking:
She can't blame herself-oh, how could she? It must be someone else's fault-so she shifts it on you the LBS, the one she actually DOES love most of all. And people have a tendency to hurt the ones they are closest to.
The best way to defuse a projection is to agree and go on-she WANTED you to get upset with her, to further feed HER JUSTIFICATION, see what I mean?
I'm not saying it's right, but this is how it is.
You distancing at this point is the RIGHT thing to do-she cannot be allowed to keep bringing you down all the time.
And, too, another thing you can do is when she starts up, is to calmly tell her that you are not going to listen to her spewing, that if she cannot speak to you in a respectful manner that you will get off the phone, and do it.
Otherwise, if you can stand it, validate her feelings, be understanding, and get off the phone as quickly as you can-because she will do what you allow her to get away with, Jsiena.
I KNOW it's hard to validate when she's projecting what she is onto YOU, but that is all you can do, not taking what she says personally, because you KNOW she is in MLC fog, and it is mostly talking to you.
You do need to distance yourself from this for a time, though, and don't take her calls for awhile so you can heal, somewhat from this latest onslaught.
I hate to say this, but your sister was totally OUT OF LINE, by talking to your wife's friend-and may have hurt your progress with your wife.
It will do NO good to talk to your sister about it, the damage has now been done, and I don't know if any damage control can be done.
Keep praying for your wife, Jsiena, while you maintain your distance from her at this time.
Dear Hearts Blessing, This morning went very, very well. I was afraid he would hit the door running, wanting the titles to the boat, trailer and motor and then run out the door. So I decided to peek his interest a little by being a little interesting myself. Just to see what he would do. Tousled hair. Minimal makeup. Slinky black nightie with red roses on it and a matching wrap robe. He noticed right away and was interested.
I first complimented on how nice he looked and how I liked his new coat. He modeled it for me and seemed pleased that I liked it. I asked if he wanted a hug. Yes. So I gave him a hug. He said "it feels nice." Meaning the fabric of the robe I suppose from something he said a minute or two later. I offered him a cold drink. He said no. I said even if it is diet. Diet, well yes, diet was okay. I could tell his mind was not on a soft drink. He could not decide to sit, to stand or to head to the bedroom! Two to three sips of the cold drink, the cold drink was history for a while. Suffice it to say, the man is still interested, at least sexually. I am just praying that is not the only way he is interested in me.
Later we sat down to look over the titles and to decide where to sign them. I sure hope he is not lying to me about the bank needing the titles for the loan to fix the engine on the boat. If he is, it is too late now.
Anyway, we had a pleasureable visit. Very cordial. In fact, it was like old times! He seemed impressed that I had done what he asked me while on the phone last night. That was to not go out in the dark and cold to look in the file cabinet for the titles. So I did good there.
He refused the money I offered him for the electrical switches he purchased and installed for me a couple of weeks ago. He said it was no "biggy" and they "didn't cost that much."
He was looking outside to see how large the waves were and it reminded me of something. So I told him he should have been here the other day when the winds were in the process of changing from southerly to northerly and the effect it had had on OUR seagulls. I told him about one that was hit by a wave coming from an unexpected direction and how it had knocked her backward. Told him if he could imagine a bird with her feet sticking out and a goofy, surprised look on her face, then he knew what she looked like. He died laughing. We discussed our crazy seagulls that we have fed every winter and how they have people personalities and such. We talked about a big fire that occurred, insurance, possible pension problems, a new residential development and about the people he had contacted to work on the boat. I practiced a lot of "active listening." He told me all about the bids on the boat repair. We talked about our previous boat, that sank, and the boat we now have. I slipped and said something about if we ever replaced this boat, I would like to have another bay boat. He did not comment. Not on that or when I referred to the seagulls as OURS. Just habit on my part. But I found it interesting that he did not make a comment. Maybe the "our" and the "we" went right over his head. Who knows?
He did say he wasn't interested in the free life insurance that we have carried for several years. I don't know if that was because he hates insurance and insurance salesmen so badly - and he really does - or if it is because he doesn't want me to be his beneficiary on a piddly little insurance policy. He told me to do what I wanted on mine, that he didn't care.
There was no mention of divorce. Thank you Lord!!!!!
Before he left, I asked him if he wanted another hug. Yes. Then he told me thank you for being intimate with him. That's a little wierd. I'm not sure how to take that. He said it in an upbeat and friendly tone. I told him to try to stay warm today because it is so cold here. We don't normally get cold like this here where we are. He reminded me to keep the faucets dripping tonight and the cabinet doors open and the heat up a little higher than normal. He told me to stay warm too. I told him to call or come by sometime and he said he would. I left it at that. Trying to show that unconditional love without too much pressure.
When he left, I looked out the back windows which overlook the lake and noted that he turned to the east toward home. And when he came over, he did not drive across the bridge indicating to me that he came here from home. I really expected him to turn and go to the cafe where the OW works, as it was close to 11 am when he left here.
The visit was almost two hours long. Not a record, time wise, but not bad, I suppose for our situation. He gave no indication of being in a fog or of being confused today.
Dear Hearts Blessing, I forgot something. I told him I had not yet gotten the light fixture to replace the existing one in the bath. Then I asked if I should call him when I get it. He said yes so he has not changed his mind on that in the last two weeks.
Thanks. She is still my girl. I married her for better or worse and we are in the worse or even the sickness part. If so, I have to wait. She says that I killed her love for me over the years and it is too late to get it back. I never sensed that and it seems retrospective. She says my changes are too late. Isn't love in a marriage a choice? She seems to think it is a feeling and she says that she doesn't have that feeling anymore. I didn't ask what I should do because I understand that is my choice. I only asked how much credence I should put in such hurtful statements? Especially if she recognizes my changes.
I meant to add that other hurtful things that my W has said are that she was miserable for so long that she was extremely depressed. To the point of doing something drastic. I do notice that the timeline on this statement changes a lot. She also asks why I never noticed. I don't know only to say, either she hid it well, we never talked about it or it did not exist. She now says that she never wants to get in a situation like that again. Of course I agree with her when she says it but know that our relationship, including intimate, was pretty good before she started up with the OM and even during that time. Her retrospective look is beginning to scare me and it is extremely hurtful. It is almost delusional. Is this normal??
Since New Year's my H has been acting worse and different. The Sat after New Year's he left around 12 pm to ride off a while. We got a call around 8:45 pm that night and he said he was in another state getting a tatoo and then he would be coming home. He did not come home that night and he did not call. He called at 7 am Sun morning. A while after he got home I said "You went to another state and didn't even bother to tell us?" He replied with I'm 47 years old and I should be able to do what I want to do, when I want to. I told him I knew he had planned this and it wasn't a spur of the moment thing. I was taken aback at his reaction to me. I told him I didn't care what he did or where he went, that was it for me. He said just because of that. I said yes. The next day I felt I had to apologize. He said it didn't matter to him, but I know it did. Just from hearing him talk, he is going to be going on some other little trips like that. He said he was alone and I believe him, but I don't think these trips are the best thing for our marriage right now. He also is gone most of the time. Coming in from work around 6-9 pm when he gets off at 3. He also takes jeans and a shirt to change in after he goes to the gym. He is acting a lot like he did when all of this first started 4 years ago. Could he be going back through each stage now? As far as the OW goes, I found out she works where he works now. A lot of things fell into place that I had seen during the summer when I found that out. I am trying very hard to stay quiet, but I also feel I need to make a stand. He has never left our house while doing the things he has done. It's been very hard on me and my kids. He is still very much in the ME mode. We have nothing in our marriage - no physical contact, affection, etc. I am a Christain, he is not. I also know a lot of prayers have gone up on his behalf.
He says I have nothing to worry about as far as she is concerned. He is at work to work and nothing else. He also says he is still unhappy, depressed and feels the same way (which I guess means about me).
#109249 - 01/23/0306:43 PMRe: Thread locked, picking up Q's here
Thought I would drop by to the "new thread". Well life has been very strange for me lately. My family has been trying desperately to push on all of my old buttons that no longer can be pushed. I am not the same person that I was 6 months ago it is sooooo weird. Did you go thru this with others as you changed???????????????
The old games and drama don't work for me anymore. Useless won't go there. Let's just say my mom got so out of whack at me she called me 12 times to yell at my answering machine. This morning I got 2 very hatelful messages from my brother. I needed an extra therapy session to process all their"stuff" but after that I felt very calm and serene.
Now for my H. He is being kind and cooperative. When I return calls or answer the phone his voice is different Like "HI" all nicey nicey OK HB What is the deal...His business still stinks so he can't be happy about that. Why the nice stuff???It is frightening to me.........
I need to stay focused on me. My family is putting me under extra pressure because they want me to be clingy and need them now that H is gone. Not happening..So many tests....so little time.....