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Can you make a man in the grip of a MidLife Crisis see sense?

(97 Posts)
SisterAct Wed 03-Oct-12 23:02:08

Namechanger but regular FWIW.

My DB is in the grip of what would appear to be a classic MLC. Has left his wife of many years, and is now shacked up with OW. He claims his marriage had ended in his mind before he had his affair. Well he would say that wouldn't he, but I know that SIL did her utmost to be what he wanted her to be and to try to save the marriage but I suppose he had no reason to really engage with that process as the OW became apparent very soon...He has children, mid and late teens, all in turmoil.

He and OW share what sounds like an addiction to their chosen hobby, something which takes up a lot of time in the evenings away from respective families. They live in lalaland. She has left her DH and children now but didn't until SIL told DB to leave. I think she (OW) sees DB as her escape and rescuer.

Is there anything we can do or say to make him see that destroying his family over a fantasy is not a great idea? Can anyone get him to open his eyes? Or do we just have to wait until he realises that the grass on the other side is still just grass, by which time the damage will be irreversible? SIL says she stil loves him and is devastated by his affair.

He thinks this is all unknowable to anyone else as we weren't there in his marriage, but from reading midlife crisis boards and stuff on here, he is just following the same old script but can't see it/doesn't realise it's all tediously common. If I tell him this he won't get it will he?

When do they wake up?

skyebluesapphire Sun 07-Oct-12 21:41:39

My twunt walked out rather than talk to me.

His version of events? "oh we split up, things hadn't been good for a while"

My version? " he just walked out on me, I had no idea he was unhappy, until the night he walked out"

Where we in the same marriage?!!

Punkatheart Sun 07-Oct-12 21:06:23

I agree with abit. WHATEVER the problems, you talk, you put some depth and understanding into things. Your knickers do not have to fall to the ground - man or woman.

Abitwobblynow Sun 07-Oct-12 20:33:01

Feckbox, you aren't responding to my point, though. I own I was critical and [wifely faults] - but that his behaviour provoked it? If I was angry, then he was the good guy?

It isn't that simple you know and it really doesn't explain/justify cheating. I had a hollow laugh when he told me his OW complained 'you never talk to me'.

You don't say!!! Was it me????

Feckbox Sun 07-Oct-12 20:08:11

Well of course there would not be a difference and i am glad you can see that , but half of MN seems to always think the man is at fault and if a woman is cold , critical etc its because the man deserves it but if a man is cold and critical he's an abusing bastard.

Viviennemary Sun 07-Oct-12 20:00:57

It's not just men who have this type of crisis. But there really isn't very much you can do if he's already left. And nobody can say whether this will just be a flash in the pan and he will go back to his wife or whether he has left for good. It all depends on the circumstances. If he was unhappy in his marriage maybe he won't want to go back even if it doesn't work out with this OW.

Charbon Sun 07-Oct-12 19:56:55

If I said I knew MEN who were critical , demanding, cold , not valuing their wife's contribution would you have such trouble understanding ?

Yes. Why would there be a difference?

Feckbox Sun 07-Oct-12 19:53:48

If I said I knew MEN who were critical , demanding, cold , not valuing their wife's contribution would you have such trouble understanding ?

Abitwobblynow Sun 07-Oct-12 19:53:39

Charbon: out of interest, I emailed my estranged H, because I really did want to know.

He said he was a mix of 2. and 3.

So he was happy in his marriage and went for the ego boost, AND he was unhappy in his marriage and showed it...

That is why I was completely blindsided of course smile. But then, I WAS being rather blind too.

So, I can't totally dismiss what Feckbox is saying. Our marriage was not good and I WAS a contributor. But you know? It comes back down to those pesky coping skills.... I still think I would and could have responded, I would have met him half way and owned stuff - had he been anything more than an emotional cripple!

Charbon Sun 07-Oct-12 19:35:12

Critical, demanding, not valuing their husband's contribution, cold.

Thanks feckbox but how do you know this? Is this something their partners have told you about, or are these behaviours you've witnessed yourself personally?

Can you flesh out 'demanding' a bit more? Demanding of what?

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 07-Oct-12 19:25:52

I too was "crappy and unappreciative" - but I was reacting to the fact that my DH has become distant and critical (as he was having an affair) and this made for a vicious circle.

skyebluesapphire Sun 07-Oct-12 18:52:49

OW knew about our relationship "problems" when I dudn't even know he was unhappy. So he vilified me and turned to her before walking out right out of the blue.....

You can't fix it if you don't know it's broken...

skyebluesapphire Sun 07-Oct-12 18:50:29

My STBXH said that I never appreciated him, that I was lazy and that I walked all over him.

In reality? He never listened to anything I said, so I had to repeat stuff several times and in the end I got sick of it so refused to repeat it again then got told I was being stupid. He never once told me that I looked nice or that the tea I cooked was nice yet I was supposed to show appreciation if he picked the Hoover up? I was working part time also self employed, looking after DD, making packed lunches every day, tea on the table every night, ...

He agreed to everything I ever asked or suggested so how the hell could I walk over him? His own brother told him to grow a pair as it wasn't fair to me if he said yes then complained behind my back.

He couldn't make a decision to save his life. He couldn't support me emotionally "I'm no good when girls cry" he could not communicate.

But guess what? He had no problem texting and emailing OW all day every day to comfort her and moan about our relationship?!

Abitwobblynow Sun 07-Oct-12 18:39:04

Feck, I understand what you are saying.

But what you are missing out, is that they are PART OF THE CRAP. You know, you (as a poor hard done by spouse) can only be unappreciated if you don't set boundaries. Your wife might be being a bitch, because she isn't being heard/has had to raise the tempo because you won't listen...

I don't think anyone deserves being betrayed and run off on. I am not with you on this one. I was unhappy and not being appreciated, but I still loved and I was still loyal, and I had NO tools in my box to solve things (because he was part of the crap). I didn't run off and fuck anyone, you know? It's a shit way of a marriage ending. Really shit.

Feckbox Sun 07-Oct-12 18:35:48

Critical, demanding, not valuing their husband's contribution, cold.

Charbon Sun 07-Oct-12 18:11:27

What do you mean by 'crappy and unappreciate wives' Feckbox?

I'm just trying to identify the sort of behaviour of several women you seem to know personally, that wouldn't be obvious and relationship-ending to the men they are partnered with - until they'd met someone else?

LouP19 Sun 07-Oct-12 16:53:15

Lurking, not much to say that hasn't already been said, but SisterAct I just want to say I think there's been some great advice/discussion on this thread.

Currently going through a marriage break up myself - Twunt left suddenly one day, I had no idea, and I fully expect him to start re-writing history too. He has already done that with his parents, telling them he was 'unhappy' for some time. He never ever discussed this with me or gave me any chance to fight for our marriage. I thought Abitwobbly's comment about affairs not being about the marriage but about poor coping/resolution skills spot on.

Anyway, there's some great posts on here. Good luck. smile

Feckbox Sun 07-Oct-12 16:10:47

Abitwobbly, I do get it.

1) SOME men rewrite history when they leave a partner for another. They look back on a perfectly good marriage and make out it was bad to justify jumping ship.

2) SOME men live with crappy unappreciative Wives. i know several. They don't realise just how crappy and unappreciative until they meet someone else and realise that life does not have to be that way. Good on them for leaving

I object to the MN tendency to insist all men fall into category 1)
They don't .

Punkatheart Sat 06-Oct-12 22:54:24

Yes, that sounds familiar too. My ex thought that he would be regularly giving me my chemo shots and spending time with his daughter. Reality? I taught myself to do my shots as I couldn't bear the intimacy of him doing it and his daughter has disowned him. Yes, I think they work out a neat little scenario that only involves them and their shrinking world. Your brother will learn and sadly, he will pay the price. Hope too that the children are OK - it is never easy...

SisterAct Sat 06-Oct-12 22:11:07

I wouldn't say he was egotistical but I think he does have a problem with the tedium of things in RL like bills, paperwork...and he escapes into the all-consuming hobby, in which ow is a local leading light. He did seem to think that he could just carry on as normal, helping SIL out, carrying on as normal with DNs, with just the little difference that he no longer lived with them. Seems genuinely surprised that this is not happening. As I say - lives in a different version of reality. Not sure if that will ever change.
Punk I hope that you will realise one day that calmness and content are yours again, and all the more so for coming through these storms.

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 06-Oct-12 19:39:50

It is there for you Punk - that happiness in the distance...sometimes if you stop chasing it, it finds you...x

Punkatheart Sat 06-Oct-12 18:43:35

So lovely to be in the wise company of other women who have been through the same thing. Yes I think it is often largely about ego. My OH works in a very glam high-pressurised job in a creative industry. He is often called a 'genius' and people rely on him for work. At home he had a sick partner and a difficult teenager. Too much hassle and the real world. But the real world, the depth and the difficult times, are what makes us. And yes, I think women are often happier. I have sighted happiness in the distance but alas, I am still chasing it.......

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 06-Oct-12 17:34:51

Is your brother extremely egotistical SisterAct? I ask this because my ex was/is. He really thought that his kids would be delighted that he 'had the happiness he deserved' and would still love him unconditionally.

Well, they don't. Because they live in the real world (unlike him) they have seen my pain, and of course experienced their own.

He has lost his sons, and his daughters have no illusions about him, and are fine on the surface, but I know they really need answers and honesty. But of course, as you've hinted at, he can't do honesty, because that would mean him admitting that he caused all the pain in their lives.

All you can do is support them, and hope that his sons learn that no man should treat their kids like he treated them. That is what my sons know, and its a painful, but valuable lesson.

You sound lovely and caring - they are lucky to have you at this time - lots of family stick together, and loyally support the guilty party because bloods thicker than water, yet you can see the clear picture - that's so good for your SIL and her kids.

SisterAct Sat 06-Oct-12 17:06:04

Catsrus, absolutely everything you say is happening/being said in this case as well. I also think SIL will be fine in the end. But as for the relationship between DB and his children - dunno. a lot of water has got to pass under many bridges I expect. You are right that in many ways a bereavement is cleaner - it's not a chosen rejection. SIL says that too.

catsrus Sat 06-Oct-12 15:29:03

I hope this isn't going to sound trite - but I know very few women who don't emerge from this happier and stronger. I know there are some who don't - but I have been very struck with how many women on here end up saying "well, it wasn't my choice, but you know what, life is better now in many ways". I think it is hardest for older children - particularly if there were no obvious signs of cracks in the marriage. for them the whole of their reality gets called into question - they wonder if it was all an illusion of family happiness and nothing was true. One of mine won't have any photos of her df on display she is so angry with him for lying. Not for leaving, for lying about OW.

SisterAct I think you can help your dns realise that there were happy times - no matter how much your bro. rewrites history he was happy too in those family holiday snaps. I talk to mine about good times a lot, in my head I try to think of exH as dead, and talk about him as casually as I would if he were.

It would have been easier, in many ways, if he had gone under a bus - because then the mourning would be cleaner and the memories untainted unless the OW had emerged at the funeral in black widows weeds wailing and renting her garments. I don't want him to become a taboo topic so I make the effort to still talk about him kindly through gritted teeth sometimes which has really helped in maintaining the family relationships too. If you are close enough to your SIL to talk about things like this it might help to do so over a bottle of wine.

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 06-Oct-12 15:06:13

I know Punk, I know....it's so bloody hard, I'll never forget the look of shock, pain and bewilderment on my parents faces when I told them. They still come round and shake their heads in disbelief - 18 months on. But they've rallied round me and the kids, and we have good fun times too - it just didn't make sense to them at all, I don't think it ever will.

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