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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?

Agnesinroom25 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:04:18

Ime no you just have to wait for it to al come crashing down around them then pick up the pieces < bitter>.

geegee888 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:05:40

Maybe he's fallen out of love, and in love with the OW? It does happen. I don't think you can "force" someone to love someone else, I suppose sometimes you can force them to stay with someone else, but do you think thats healthy? These things do happen, people do change, and some people can't live with that.

Am curious as to what the chosen hobby can be. Maybe he and your SIL don't actually have that much in common?

SisterAct Wed 03-Oct-12 23:08:28

The hobby is one that SIL would have loved to do as well but owing to shift work has never been able to indulge over the years.

skyebluesapphire Wed 03-Oct-12 23:08:58

Have you read this one? Im going to send it to STBXH once the divorce is final....

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/1527705-Midlife-crisis-this-is-the-script

MorrisZapp Wed 03-Oct-12 23:10:22

Nothing you can do about this one, sorry. You must be up to ninety with all this crap, but there's nothing anybody can say to him that will change his mind, I wouldn't have thought.

Stay out of it if you can.

SisterAct Wed 03-Oct-12 23:11:28

Yes I have read it loads of times on here! And he ticks so many the boxes in it. Which is why it's so bloody depressing - he thinks its all new-minted and that we can have no understanding of him.
Have toyed with sending it to him but a) I don't think he'd bother to work out all the abbreviations in it and b) wouldnt think it applied to him.
I did send it to SIL though and she recognised it all mightily...

Dryjuice25 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:12:46

My bet is he will have to learn the hard way unfortunately....

Nothing you can do will get him to peel the scales off his eyes and he will probably behave in the manner similar to that of a love struck teenager

SisterAct Wed 03-Oct-12 23:12:49

I suppose I am just hoping that I could head him off at the pass with some well placed explanation of how scripted he is being. But also realise that this is likely a misplaced hope.

izzyizin Thu 04-Oct-12 01:23:11

Short of living his life for him, there's nothing you can do to save him from himself and, given that he's away with the fairies living in lalaland and getting his legover with an ow who boosts shares his ego hobby, he's not going to be saving himself any time soon.

Concentrate your energy on your sil and dns; hopefully, they will recover from the shock of being abandoned in his quest for fool's gold without incurring any lasting harm and will go from strength to strength.

One practical thing you can do for your sil is to encourage her to post here where she can vent, sob, offload, despair, and be given support and advice that will enable her, in time, to see him leaving as a blessing rather than a curse.

gingerpig Thu 04-Oct-12 02:31:45

I don't think it will work tbh. my sister is currently the OW of a married man, and when she tells me what he says, any comments I make about it all sounding a bit cliched evokes a very defensive response and her withdrawing. they dont want you to burst their fantasy soul-mate bubble

MadAboutHotChoc Thu 04-Oct-12 08:25:34

The only way is for him to experience LOSS.

Loss of his home comforts, his family life, the respect from his friends and family.

This means your SIL getting tough and kicking him out.

MadAboutHotChoc Thu 04-Oct-12 08:26:39

And then he may realise what he has lost, motivating him to fight for his marriage.

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 08:27:39

So if there is no hope of seeing sense any time soon how do we go on in the meantime? He is lazy about communicating with his family even at the best of times and certainly won't want to open himself up to conflict.

I can see that eventually SIL may very well he fine without him but what do his mother and siblings do? We want nothing to do with the OW. They all live a long way away and so do we just never see him again? DM is worried to death that he is sleepwalking away from his life and children and indeed us all, but has no idea how to proceed.

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 08:29:49

Sorry Mad missed you while posting. SIL has kicked him out and he has shacked up with ow. His children are very angry with him but he is just "hurt" by this he says as he thinks they should understand he deserves happiness and we should all be accepting of OW. It's so cruel.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 08:33:22

He's a grown-up and he's decided to move on. It's sad but it happens and it doesn't have to be attributed to a mid-life crisis. Neither is it 'all going to come crashing down' necessarily. You're entitled to feel angry with his decision but this is a private matter, nothing to do with you.

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 08:34:04

It is to do with me. I am part of his rejected family. As is his poor mother.

adrastea Thu 04-Oct-12 08:35:31

Is there anything we can do or say to make him see that destroying his family over a fantasy is not a great idea?
But you don't know that's the case. He may be acting like a selfish twat, and may have gone about it all in the wrong way, but that doesn't mean that nothing he thinks or feels is valid. You can't force someone to fix a marriage if it's really over for them, and it's perfectly possible it was over for him before OW.

He is still your DB and you and your mum might find it easier to preserve your relationship, and get him to behave better, if you don't judge and make your minds up he doesn't have anything valid to say.

MadAboutHotChoc Thu 04-Oct-12 08:39:04

Sorry but all you can do is nothing except to support SIL and the family. Hopefully he will come to his senses one day.

Asrastea - if his marriage was really over before the affair then he should have ended the marriage before moving on. What he did was very selfish.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 08:40:03

He hasn't rejected you or his mother, he has rejected his wife. You have no idea how their relationship really was up to this point or what his motives for moving on may be. You're assuming it's some silly infatuation and it could be anything but. Reject him by all means if it makes you feel morally superior but don't kid yourself that he has rejected you...

adrastea Thu 04-Oct-12 08:46:12

Asrastea - if his marriage was really over before the affair then he should have ended the marriage before moving on. What he did was very selfish.
Of course. That is what people should do. Everyone knows that.

I acknowledged he could be/is acting like a selfish twat. But someone behaving badly/being selfish etc does not mean that there were no valid reasons for them to leave or that the marriage should've been saved or had a chance. You can't judge the latter from the former.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 08:53:14

How many times do we read on this board some poor woman, trapped in a miserable marriage and desperate to get out who tells us that they are only staying because their family & friends would never understand or would never forgive them if they left? Routinely the advice is that they are not married to their family or friends and shouldn't let others pressurise them into putting up with something that isn't working. How would your SIL feel, for example, if you succeeded in returning your DB to her and he was only there under suffrance, doing you and your mother a favour? She's better off without him...

fluffyraggies Thu 04-Oct-12 09:09:34

There is a right way to do things, yes. But as has been said, going about things the wrong way doesn't mean what you're doing is wrong necessarily.

The knock on effect when someone leaves a long standing well established relationship is a wide spread thing. Apart from the spouse and any children it will of course adversely effect parents, grand parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and anyone else close to the person/s involved. In many cases it will be unexpected and people will feel angry and hurt.

That in itself isn't a reason to for a person to stay in a marriage though. A marriage is a very personal thing.

As an aside - what age is 'mid-life' anyway? I left my DH in my 30s. If i'd left it another 7 or 8 years would i have simply been having a 'mid life crisis'? Or is it 50s?

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 09:10:32

The difference here is that SIL still loves him and wants him back.
Please stop trying to imply I am enjoying being outraged.

adrastea Thu 04-Oct-12 09:17:53

The difference here is that SIL still loves him and wants him back.
That is often what the situation is when a relationship ends though. We've probably all been broken up with when we didn't want to be. Only one person needs to end the relationship for it to be over - it's an often traumatic part of life unfortunately. Not sure why this makes it 'different'. Different to what?

That SIL still loves him and wants him back does not mean:
a) that he was wrong to end the relationship (even if he did it in the wrong way)
b) that continuing the relationship would be the best thing for her

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 09:19:24

So what if SIL loves him and wants him back? Read a few threads on MN where women have been in similar situations and many of them react to the initial shock by being prepared to forgive anything to get the family back together. She's clutching at straws by talking to you, thinking you have some influence over his behaviour. In a few weeks' time, when she's had chance to think about this more clearly, she may decide that he's a total arse and she wants nothing more to do with him. This is not the time to take sides.

fluffyraggies Thu 04-Oct-12 09:23:40

No one thinks you're enjoying it sister sad

Of course you're upset and angry. Support your SIL. But remain open to your DB. People were angry with me when i left my DH. They thought i was being selfish, stupid, hot headed etc. My ex wanted me back. But I had to go.

I deeply regretted and regret still the hurt i caused, but none of it would have stopped me and wild horses wouldn't have dragged me back. None of these people were in my marriage with me. They didn't know how i felt. I don't regret leaving for one moment.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 09:25:11

I think she's enjoying it. hmm

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 09:26:11

Ok so let's cut to the chase and assume he is a total arse and SIL may be better off without him. Which I accept she may well be in the end.

How do I go on with him? What do his children, mother, in laws, siblings do? Are we all supposed to just accept OW? And just be accepting of the fact they have both jettisoned children (hers are v young) so they can concentrate on each other and their all-consuming hobby?

I have no idea what to say to him and he would rather fade out of his family than talk. He is already doing it.

fluffyraggies Thu 04-Oct-12 09:28:15

He's already fading because he knows how you feel.

This is all very recent i take it. Everyone needs time, first off.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 09:30:25

You say you're disappointed in his behaviour, may never get used to the OW, and then you make damn sure he treats his ex wife and children decently in terms of money, time and so on. Of course he's going to drop from sight if all he thinks he'll get is angry finger-pointing.

fluffyraggies Thu 04-Oct-12 09:32:06

Try to step back and stop 'handling' the situation. Be supportive of your SIL, but don't make any promises to take sides or 'sort him out'.

Talk to him. Tell him you think he's being a twat but he's your brother and you still love him. Tell him you'll need a bit of time to settle down - but you want to stay being his sister and his friend.

Let everyone else deal with it as they see fit. Don't be 'in the middle', or one side or the other.

I'm sure you wont be expected to meet or speak to the OW for a good long while.

MardyArsedMidlander Thu 04-Oct-12 10:04:17

Be careful of getting involved. I was in a similar situation with a close family member- I sided with his wife. A month later- he 'came to his senses', reconciled with his wife and then they BOTH sided against me! I think she felt embarassed that I knew the ins and outs of their break up and didn't want any more remainders of it.

WaitingForMe Thu 04-Oct-12 13:30:50

And I thought my inlaws were bad shock

janelikesjam Thu 04-Oct-12 13:38:20

The pearl of knowledge and wisdom is not obtained often without great sacrifice and loss and giving up our treasured illusions and certainties. Perhaps this is part of what your DB will go through and part of what he is going through now? It is such difficult terrain that it is hard to know what support to give, especially if it seems to be "reckless" emotionally in relation to others, esp children. Whether your DB will learn from it is really down to him ultimately. If the emotional fall out comes later, I am not sure if/how you feel you can support your brother through that, but it sounds like he is somewhere else right now anyway. I wish I could be more helpful....

Feckbox Thu 04-Oct-12 13:42:12

No, you can't make him "see sense" because maybe, just maybe , it will all work out happily ever after for him.

Feckbox Thu 04-Oct-12 13:47:38

a very lovely man I know did exactly this about 5 years ago.
Completely devastated his family .

Today he is blissfully happily married to the OW ( yes , it does happen ) and his wife is very happily remarried too.

FiercePanda Thu 04-Oct-12 13:53:11

What is the hobby? Is it something sporty? Endless hours spent at the gym? Or is it geeky, are they secret World of Warcraft obsessives?

Abitwobblynow Thu 04-Oct-12 13:57:45

There is absolutely nothing you can do, not do, say or not say to stop this.

You see, this is not a crisis of the marriage, it is a crisis of SELF. He is now focussed on what is going to 'make him happy', and his wife is now a part of the scenery. Like the television aerial on the roof, or the dustball under the bed.

So sadly, what will make him happy is to focus on the emptiness within him that he is currently USING OW to fill (and get into counselling to look at their past where the emptiness came from), but men typically focus outside and put the blame on the nearest person - their spouse and family. It is desperately sad.

There are some good midlife forums out there.

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 14:07:20

Yes thanks all. I have to accept there is nothing I can say. But the very fact that there are entire forums dedicated to this sort of thing shows how common it is. To those who say maybe this is true love well perhaps. Amazed that so many people think the affair must be the Real Thing. Great for them if it is. Not so great for those who didn't see it coming and whose family life is now in pieces. Am thinking particularly of DNs.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 14:32:58

Has no-one in your family ever got divorced before?

cestlavielife Thu 04-Oct-12 15:45:49

you canntot "make" anyone do anything.

practical things: make sure he supports financially his ex and children.
suggest that he arranges set times to see the children, on his own, without OW for the time being. that he makes it clear to children he still loves them and has time for them.

(if he cant do that then support the children and SIL, make them welcome at your house etc. you can meet with Brother separately. )

what do you actually want? for him to go back to SIL and say "it is all a mistake"? nothing can be the same again after this.... poeople split up, it is life. help your SIL and nephews to deal with it and move on with their lives .

he fact you say "SIL did her utmost to be what he wanted her to be" is interesting - surely she should be herself? not what he wants? what did he want her to be? presumably someone who enjoyed the hobby and wa spreapred to put thmselves and hobby above all else?

adrastea Thu 04-Oct-12 17:06:37

But the very fact that there are entire forums dedicated to this sort of thing shows how common it is.
All it shows is that there are entire forums dedicated to ascribing an objective phenomena (people leaving marriages) to another phenomena (midlife crisis). Of course there are entire forums dedicated to it because it makes people feel better to blame mid life crisis and to think that the person has 'taken leave of their senses'. Marriages end. Lots of marriages end when people are in their 40s and 50s - that's just statistically likely that that's when it will happy. A break-up of a marriage is sad, especially when it comes as a shock and other people are involved.

I am in my 30s so when my H and I separated (no other people involved) so we didn't get people blaming MLC, but we had my parents and a friend throwing around that we 'just didn't understand that marriage wasn't all a bed of roses and required work and was sometimes hard etc etc' when they didn't know the first thing about our marriage or why we were splitting up. They all wanted us to 'come to our senses' too. If were 10 years older, no doubt people would be saying MLC ... By the way, I cut off all contact with my parents for 4 months because of their attitude. If you love and care about someone, you support them and are concerned for them, even if you point out specific behaviours you think are wrong.

fluffyraggies Thu 04-Oct-12 17:22:27

I am in my 30s so when my H and I separated (no other people involved) so we didn't get people blaming MLC, but we had my parents and a friend throwing around that we 'just didn't understand that marriage wasn't all a bed of roses and required work and was sometimes hard etc etc' when they didn't know the first thing about our marriage or why we were splitting up. They all wanted us to 'come to our senses' too. If were 10 years older, no doubt people would be saying MLC ...

Yes! Yes exactly adrastea.

It stands to reason also that 'mid life' is going to be the time when allot of people maybe start to realise their own mortality and that perhaps the life they have carved out for them self in their teens or 20s is no longer the one they want. Or take stock of their life/love and find that with the children in their teens they have reached a natural end of a chapter in their lives. Perhaps it's a case of taking that long to screw up the courage to admit to themselves they married too young and are incompatable with their spouse having given it a good shot.

Staying with one person your whole entire life from teens to your 80s is a big big ask.

Separating is never a happy thing. But it's not an evil thing. It's better to leave you DH or DP than string them along and be unfaithful to them.

Charbon Thu 04-Oct-12 17:46:05

I don't think you're enjoying being outraged SisterAct. I get the sense from you that if your brother had been desperately unhappy and had made efforts over the years to resolve that unhappiness with his wife, but then still ended the marriage, you would be sad but would still offer support and friendship to both parties and their children.

Whereas from your posts it sounds as though this unhappiness has come as a surprise to everyone including his wife. Now that isn't necessarily surprising in people who don't like sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, but when combined with an affair it leads to a suspicion that this 'unhappiness' is revisionist and not actual. If his wife knew nothing about the unhappiness of her partner and therefore had no opportunity to work with him in resolution, then she is entitled to feel aggrieved - and the deception and lies of an affair will clearly add to that sense of grievance.

I think in terms of her and your DNs, it would be good to offer your SIL support and if she's having difficulty with her memories being distorted and trashed by your brother's post-affair accounts of misery, reassure her that this is a common piece of self-delusion when someone is having a second relationship. Encourage her to look at her marriage realistically, but remind her that your brother owed her the right to resolve any problems - and had the responsibility not to lie and deceive.

For your DNs, one of the problems with infidelity and children is when the adults in their lives fail to communicate that their mum or dad didn't reject them personally. Children often reach the opposite conclusion and believe that the departing parent has chosen another person over them. As an aunt, you can really help with this. Hopefully someone will be doing the same with the OW's children, who might be thinking that their mum has rejected them and not their father.

For your brother, it might be that all you can say is that you disagree with the way he has exited his marriage and all you can do is to urge him to fulfil his parental responsibilities. You're entitled not to meet the OW while feelings are running this high. Indeed it would probably be better if you did not.

No-one can project whether your DB's relationship will last. As sacrifices have been made on both sides, affair couples who are unhappy sometimes stay together longer than they should, to prove others wrong and to prove that those sacrifices were meaningful and worthwhile. No-one can see on the outside whether they are happy or unhappy, which is true of any relationship. Statistically, fewer second co-habiting relationships survive and even fewer when the beginning of it was an affair.

However, your SIL needs to get to a place where their relationship doesn't matter - and where her own future and present relationships do. Her best strategy throughout should be to tell him that she won't take him back if this other relationship falters - and to work towards that being the absolute truth.

SisterAct Thu 04-Oct-12 18:08:29

Thank you charbon. You put it all well and better than me.

Feckbox Thu 04-Oct-12 18:21:45

Adrastea, I had exactly that experience too, family and friends being incredibly unsupportive when I left my husband.

And for the much touted "rewriting of history " theory , I can assure you I was SILENTLY miserable for years before getting the courage to leave. I am sure this is true for many.

My husband claimed to have thought we were happy too, despite the fact I had told him otherwise and tried to work things out for years.

I guess it was more comforting for shocked friends and family to decide I had "rewritten history"

Abitwobblynow Thu 04-Oct-12 19:12:27

Cogito, why are you on this mission to tell Sister she isn't feeling what she is feeling, it isn't what she says it is and none of this is a big deal?

Have some buttons been pushed, or something?

Charbon Thu 04-Oct-12 19:17:59

I can't really see why anyone outside a couple would need to think you'd re-written history Feckbox, unless you left for someone else that is. Like I said in my earlier post, lots of people don't communicate their unhappiness to friends and family, but if they are being fair they will do so to their partners, which is what you said you did.

I've known several marriages break up with no-one else apparently involved and I've always taken the view that no-one apart from the people involved know what goes on in a marriage. Having said that, I've also known several marriages break up when there was someone else involved and unlike the ones I've mentioned that dissolved because of irreconcilable differences, I've been more surprised at the unfaithful parties' confessions of longstanding unhappiness, because only months earlier they'd been eulogising about how happy their marriages were. Presumably you didn't do that yourself or leave for an affair, so I can't see why people would be so judgemental.

Some people do re-write history when they are having an affair. It seems curious to infer that they do not.

adrastea Thu 04-Oct-12 19:44:54

I've been more surprised at the unfaithful parties' confessions of longstanding unhappiness, because only months earlier they'd been eulogising about how happy their marriages were.
Did you read the recent thread about 'Facebook I love yous'? Someone on there was saying the only time her and partner were making a big show of how great everything was and how much they loved each other was when they were having serious difficulties and on the verge of splitting. And of course we know that when celebrities eulogise about how happy their relationship is, it's only a matter of months before the announcement comes that they've split. So I'd take people eulogising about how great their relationship is with a huge bucket of salt.

My FIL was patently miserable for a very very long time, but probably didn't communicate it well and effectively at all. He stayed for so long for the children and because that's just what you did. I think people who are 'sticking it out' to show commitment and because they made their bed etc get so used to being stoic and suppressing communication, so it's not surprising sometimes they're useless at being constructive when it all gets too much. His and MIL's marriage, to the outside, appeared cold and really dysfunctional, and MIL had spent years depressed and on anti-depressants. She is the kind of person who just puts a smile on everything and if she can make out everything's fine, then it is. I think she was really unhappy, but in deep denial about it all so when he left (and there was an OW) it was a massive shock to her (and she'd blamed it all on a mental breakdown on his part), but it also shouldn't have been as it wasn't to anyone else IYSWIM. I don't think it's always as straightforward or simple as rewriting history.

Charbon Thu 04-Oct-12 20:07:36

adreasta I'd agree with you, if these were fairly superficial friendships I was describing - and if some of the people themselves hadn't admitted later down the line that they'd been inventing marital unhappiness in order to justify their affairs. Your in-laws' marriage is also an example of when others outside the marriage weren't shocked, if as you say it was patently obvious to outsiders that the relationship was unhappy. Consequently I'm not saying at all that everyone re-writes history, but that some do, especially (but not always) when an affair is involved.

Feckbox Thu 04-Oct-12 21:23:42

Carbon I think it's curious to INSIST people ARE rewriting history

Charbon Thu 04-Oct-12 22:41:10

Well yes Feckbox, so do I confused

At least in the literal sense, because we can never know what is in another person's head if they don't communicate it to us. When that happens, all we have to go on is their observable behaviour and the messages they do convey. However I can understand how one party in a marriage who has been told by a spouse that all is well and there is observable behaviour to support those words, being shocked on the discovery of an affair, being left and told that unhappiness was longstanding. I wouldn't be too curious if they had suspicions of their history having been re-written, especially as many people having affairs admit to that very behaviour.

This however is somewhat besides the point in terms of marriages that break up because of affairs. I don't think anyone believes that all marriages are unbridled joy all of the time for all partners, but the mature and kinder response is either to work through it or call time on the marriage. Unfortunately, some people wait for an alternative partner to turn up before voting with their feet (and there is an overlap involving lying and deception) - and others ditch a marriage that was basically sound because they convince themselves that the new person is their One True Love.

There is nearly always sadness at the end of a marriage, but the additional factors of deception, lies and infidelity often make that far more painful for everyone involved, including extended families caught up in the trauma. Like I said, I don't think the OP would feel as conflicted if her brother's marriage had ended without the involvement of someone else. It seems most peculiar to pretend that infidelity doesn't make a difference to how people might feel about the end of a marriage.

Its because the cheater is so insecure and worried about being alone, they're like a monkey.. won't let go of one branch wife and kids until they have hold of another OW

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 10:09:52

Feckbox I am not too sure of your point? You seem to be mixing up two separate (but connected) things.

Whatever the circumstances, intimate betrayal is a serious violation of marriage. Nobody thinks it is OK.
So when a person finds themselves attracted to another and making the decisions to act on that attraction, they never say to themselves 'actually I am a selfish deceitful person who is running away from my issues and doing something to make myself feel better, with someone whom I don't actually know. This is really really going to hurt my spouse children and family BUT I DONT CARE ABOUT THEM'.

That is too honest. So they 'split' so they they can be the 'good guy', the person who was 'forced' by the hideous awful qualities of the spouse who was so bad they simply HAD to take this course of action [which feels sooooo good].

Also, [this new history] is necessarily further distorted as a comparison because the moany old familiar disenchanted spouse who knows all the problems, can NEVER compare against the shiny new admiring Alienator.

That is the rewriting of history. Not that the marriage relationship was flawed, because that is irrelevant. No marriage is perfect, and sticking your dick in someone else is a SEPARATE UNILATERAL act, taken in privacy and secrecy, with a lot of self-justification and absolving oneself from responsibility for the problems in the M, thrown in.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 05-Oct-12 10:17:15

Either way, whatever the justification for leaving, whatever the rationale real or imagined, what is really not going to happen is that your sister says to you 'you're being a fool, go back to your wife'.... and you leap to obey. hmm

When my marriage broke up it was extremely distressing but I would have been seriously embarrassed if any of his family had taken it on themselves to try and get him to come back. If he returned, tail between his legs saying 'I'm only here because my sister told me to come home' ... I'd have had nothing but contempt for him.

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 10:23:38

So for instance, my H went from being distant and unhappy to being completely psychologically abusive during his affair.

He didn't want to be married anymore, I was a bad wife and there was no use working on anything because he did not love me anymore. He wasn't having an affair at all, he was very depressed and didn't know what he wanted, so lets not talk about divorce [but get the f away from me and shut up].

Because I am stupid and trusted I believed all this, and that gave him the space to work out that OW wasn't filling up that empty hole either, whilst I backed off and worked on what a bad person I am.

It turns out in counselling after discovery, in all the unpacking, that he is and always has been a very deeply selfish person who has ignored and devalued me for years, that I responded during our M in fine borderline pattern to a narcissist by raising the aggressive tone to try and get his attention - (which is also abusive, so he was correct but it is only a part and that he focussed on, to absolve himelf).

The IC said to me: do you realise that his affair is the final unacceptably hurtful part of a greater pattern?

Do you see, Feckbox? He rewrote things to justify what he was doing to make me the bad guy and him the victim, but his behaviour to choose an affair was about HIM, not me? [Even though our marriage unbeknownst to me was not healthy - separate, but connected, issue].

To this day, the A is something that 'happened' to him. He was depressed. She was kind. It meant nothing. So the affair has been and gone, but the marital issues (devalueing, ignoring, distance) are still there? Affairs are separate from the marriage, and are a symptom of poor coping and resolution skills, not the marriage itself. Which is shit BECAUSE of the SAME poor coping and resolution skills.

Abitwobblynow Fri 05-Oct-12 10:25:26

Sorry OP I entered a 3 way discussion w Feckbox and Charbon, didn't mean to hijack your thread...

My DP was also psychologically abusive during his affair/s
Op don't force him back to his 'DW' ... she deserves much much better.
Just support her. Take her out, get her to have her hair done, give her lots of loving support, babysit the kids now and again.
Remind her she is of value and worth more than that twat.

^^ By get her to have her hair done i'm in no way minimising what she's going through.. i know.. sad
Just saying she needs support and love to get back on track, don't let her slip into the dark hole that is still loving someone who is treating her like shit.
She has to be strong for her DC's and to do that she also needs support.

Punkatheart Fri 05-Oct-12 17:55:10

Cognito - you do seem to lack empathy but also fail to understand that different families operate in different ways, on different levels of closeness. I have a very close family and yes, when my OH left my brother-in-law spoke to him, my mother spoke to him. They deserved some answers after 20 years of him being loved and supported by my family.

You sound like a lovely source of support OP, simply go on doing what you are doing. Sadly, he has made his choices. She must concentrate on her now and her smaller family.

catsrus Fri 05-Oct-12 18:22:52

OP you are going to have to tread a delicate balance I'm afraid between maintaining a relationship with your SIL and with your brother and the OW.

My ex in-laws have been wonderful (including siblings, cousins and extended family) they have made it clear that I am still someone they want to see and I am included in events which don't involve ex and his new wife (OW). He moved away to live with her while I still live in his old home town so my day to day dealings with them have not changed much and my dcs see as much of my ex MIL as they ever did. She has warmly accepted ex's new wife into her family and said to me "well if we're not in laws we'll just have to be friends".

You and the rest of the family, if you like and value your SIL, will have to find some way of maintaining a relationship with her. It does not have to be a question of taking sides, you can acknowledge that he's done something very wrong by being deceptive while also acknowledging that he probably has made the decision which he truly believes is right for him.

I know how upsetting it is, for many of us "family" is much more than husband and wife and 2.4 children. If we've been lucky enough to find in laws we like and love then it really is a huge sense of bereavement if a relationship breaks down - but the friendships formed can survive smile. Last week I went out for a meal with my ex-SIL's ex-dh and his new dp - because we like each other and try to stay in touch. I love his new dp, she's brilliant - I also quite like the man ex-SIL left him for but tbh he's a bit boring and have socialised with them too.

I haven't actually met my ex's wife yet, and have resisted the temptation to send her a "thank you" card - one of the many positives to come out of him leaving was my finding out that all these relationships were real and not just because I happened to be married to dh. The thing you can do for your SIL now is to show her that too.

have resisted the temptation to send her a "thank you" card -

Tea covered keyboard yet again lol

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 06-Oct-12 10:59:22

I agree with so much that has been written here. I kicked twunt out after 22 years of marriage, and it was a total shock to my parents, family and friends. Only our kids knew how unhappy things were, because they lived in an unhappy house. And yes, Twunt did the whole script thing too, denied an affair (he's now living with her), distanced himself from me and the kids, re-wrote history to make me out to be totally to blame. I didn't tell my parents, we were going through an awfully sad time as a family, they were suffering terribly, and I didn't want to add to their pain and burden. It is possible for people to think that you are happily married, when you're not. After the event, so many people said that things now added up, made sense...but at the time we gave an allusion of happiness, and people took it on board.

Two things that still upset me: firstly, that twunt, never, ever, told me how deeply unhappy he was before things got to the stage where an affair (because he didn't want to be alone, so I totally get the monkey analogy upthread) and leaving was the only way out. I'm not saying the outcome would have been different, but I felt that after being with him for 24 years, and having 4 kids, our marriage had the right to be attempted to be fixed. He really did convince me that everything was ok, and would not discuss any thing that would help us - relate, changing our lifestyles, making time for each other, were all dismissed by him, because he said "everything's ok". I knew it wasn't, but his point blank refusal to co-operate still rankles. Then he said he was off, and there was no discussion, he simply ignored and walked away from all my attempts to discuss things. I still, to this day, don't really know why and I need to know, but am learning to accept that I won't.

The second thing is that my family, in particular my parents, took him into their huge arms and welcomed and loved him from the first day they met him. My parents treated him like the son they never had. I told them I'd kicked him out, and they haven't seen him, talked to him, or discussed anything with him since then. They are deeply hurt, not only by the pain he caused all of us, but the pain he caused them.

Ronan Keating said on Piers Morgan last night that he deeply regretted the hurt he had caused so many people. The devastation, he called it. And it is devasting, the aftermath of a marriage break-up, and the ripples hurt more than the immediate family.

So I feel for you OP, but all you can do is be there for all concerned, and try not to take sides. Their marriage was theirs, and theirs alone; no one can tell them what to do. But he's your brother, so you have to decide how far you can support him. You don't have to do more than you want too. As an aunt, you can be strong and supportive and a rock to their kids and their mum - that would be wonderful.

Saffysmum x

Charbon Sat 06-Oct-12 13:14:10

50shades I think that is a truly helpful post. WRT your own situation and the confusion you still have about it, it could be that your husband was happy before he started his affair and it was the affair that created the dissatisfaction with your marriage, not the other way around. I doubt you'll ever know when the affair first started, but it would be interesting to consider the possibility that when you first sensed that something was wrong, there was nothing you could have done about it even if he'd admitted being unhappy. Because it's possible he already had one foot out of the door and the other elsewhere, so to speak. Happens a lot.

SisterAct Sat 06-Oct-12 14:00:39

50Shades, Pink, Wobbly, Catsrus, Charbon and others, thank you for posting and for the acknowledgment that the shock waves do ripple out a long way.

50Shades what you say sounds pretty much exactly what SIL is saying. DB was telling her that he wanted the marriage to work and that he would do anything to keep his family together (which is why it came as a shock when he had obviously had no intention of bothering) but she now thinks the OW had actually been on the scene for a long time.

He is also interpreting events very differntly from her, which he has to do, in order to justify his actions. (People who want to tell me that he tells the truth and not SIL, well if that's the case I wish he could have been more open and honest about it, and not done the lying and cheating and generally sticking his head in the sand because it has caused a lot of pain.)

So anyway, with regard to my OP, no there's nothing that can be said to him. This is nothing to do with it "not being my business" as some seem at pains to point out. If I can't talk to a brother who can I talk to? But the problem is he currently lives in a different version of reality to the rest of us. (Can't be bothered to keep qualifying what I write in the hope of not offending Cogito...)

SIL will not fade from our wider family as she has been in it for a long time. I hope I can be of help to her and the DNs, if only as someone to listen, and that is already happening. As for him, well - I suppose its a waiting game now. He seems as happy as Larry with his new life, with zero responsibilities.

We have all got to get used to the new status quo, but I feel like I have lost the brother I thought I had, married to SIL or not married to SIL.

expatinscotland Sat 06-Oct-12 14:06:54

They sound like a pair of immature gits who deserve each other. Their families are already dessimated by their selfishness so leve them to it.

SisterAct Sat 06-Oct-12 14:11:16

There is that expat!

Charbon Sat 06-Oct-12 14:29:29

Glad the posts helped SisterAct.

If it's as you and your SIL suspect and the OW pre-dated the problems in the marriage, then the only defence your brother can use is that he bottled up his 'unhappiness' for a long time and the OW gave him the confidence to leave. The fact that he's not even admitting that this course of action was unwise and unkind to your SIL, is a clue in itself. What he might not be able to admit even to himself right now is that he never articulated any 'problems' because there weren't any - or at least, not enough to ditch a marriage over.

This can be a long game. For now, focus all your attention on your SIL and DNs and wait it out before trying to rationalise with your brother.

If you were once close, you might find that later down the line your brother is more honest with himself and others. Keep the door open for that to happen, because your involvement then might actually help him to learn some stuff about himself as a man, partner and father. This conversation wouldn't be about getting him to return to his marriage, because with any luck your SIL will decide that boat has sailed long ago. That conversation will be about what he's learnt from this whole experience - but that is, I think a long way off.

50shadesofgreyhair Sat 06-Oct-12 14:47:59

Thank you Charbon; yes, I think the affair was the cause of the marriage break-up and that it possibly caused the unhappiness. But then that opens another box in my head: if you are happy, then surely you can resist an affair? I have met lovely attractive guys over the years, but done no more than indulge in light flirting and the nice feeling you get when you know a nice person finds you attractive - it brightens your shift at work, it makes you feel good for a few hours...then you leave it alone, nip it in the bud, and get back to 'real life'. So, if ex was happy in his marriage, why did he take the leap into an affair - to taking the huge risk of losing it all?

OP - you sound very insightful, and you're right about re-writing history to justify the affair. You are also right about not being able to talk to him, because he's living in fantasy land. Our teenage daughters are frustrated and hurt by their father, because he is so convinced that he is right, and that the reality of the situation is us 'blowing everything out of proportion' that he refuses/can't see their pain or point of view at all. This has of course made the wedge between him and them bigger. Our sons, have simply walked away from him, and are disgusted for the way he behaved, not only at the time, but now ... by his persistence in refusing to apologise, to take any responsibility, to 'man up' if you like, to the pain he's caused. It really is, all about him.

I wish you luck - I hope that you are able to get on with your own life, and be happy too - because if you can 'compartmentalise' this and go to it fresh and strong in a way to support your sil and her kids, you will do so much good for them. Your sil will get through this, and so will her kids. It won't be easy, but if I can get through it and come out the other side a stronger, happier person, she will.

Saffysmum x

Punkatheart Sat 06-Oct-12 14:59:51

The second thing is that my family, in particular my parents, took him into their huge arms and welcomed and loved him from the first day they met him. My parents treated him like the son they never had. I told them I'd kicked him out, and they haven't seen him, talked to him, or discussed anything with him since then. They are deeply hurt, not only by the pain he caused all of us, but the pain he caused them.

Oh 50 - I could have written that word for word. Worse than my pain was my mother - lovely and innocent woman that she is - constantly asking 'why'?

Oh dear what messes we make and yes, why do men wait until crisis point rather than being brave and talking?

Charbon Sat 06-Oct-12 15:01:12

Why? First because he's a different person to you and secondly, probably because when it actually became an affair, it wasn't a huge leap. Unless he was a philanderer, affairs are very rarely about 'huge leaps'. They are about hundreds of small steps that start off innocently and evolve into something more addictive. You can be happy in your marriage and start a very innocent friendship with someone else. Similarly, you can be happy in your marriage, but plagued with insecurities about other life stuff - and an ego boost from someone else helps with that. Of course it's also possible that he was unhappy for years and showed it. It doesn't sound like it though, from what you're saying.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 19:39:50

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

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.

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...

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 .

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

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?

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

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

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.

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?!

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...

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.

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?

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!

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 ?

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?

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.

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.

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????

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.

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?!!

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