I was at an event recently and when my date stepped away to talk with someone, I realized that I had a moment to enjoy my wine and some people watching. Just as I started to do so, a woman sat down next to me and we began to chat. This is her story (I can relate – can you?):
Her relationship was “normal” — each busy with life, careers and kids. She thought all was ok (well, she knew things weren’t ok but she ignored that feeling!). Then, one day a bomb went off: He was having an affair. He claimed it was a midlife crisis. He was sorry. He wanted to stay together. How could this happen to her? Other people cheat but she never thought it could be her partner.
They tried to work on the relationship. But her heart wasn’t in it and eventually, she ended up having her own midlife crisis with a younger man. She said that it was a mess with a lot of anger and hurt feelings.
Let’s be honest, no matter where or when you started your journey, most couples end up in unknown territory in midlife. Sometimes our partner’s midlife crisis will become ours. Most of us feel victim to another person’s changes. But, we fail to see what changes we’re also making at the same time. Unfortunately, some partnerships don’t make it through midlife. And, while this makes me sad, I also see that with the considerable pain, often comes an unexpected passage to a newly defined self.
My new “friend” told me that she got married thinking that she and her partner were so well matched – liked the same foods, hobbies, intellectual interests, etc. She thought they would just complete one another. But the truth was that the marriage was just the beginning of story, with chapters that would be written by them. They had to add the love, the passion, the trust, the giving and putting the other one first. They never did that. They just thought it would come along in time. Her big regret was not knowing all this before the midlife crisis. And, she wished they had understood how important their individual efforts were in making it work.
As we were talking, a man walked up to us and asked her if she was ready to go. She stood up and kissed him (I could feel the passion). I felt good knowing that after divorce, you can find that kind of connection again. He went to get their coats and she told me he was her husband (the husband!). Turns out they’d stayed together, worked on forgiveness and changing, and were stronger than ever.
So, I guess the lesson is that in any relationship, a midlife crisis has to be faced together. And, it obviously provides the challenge and transition that each needs to arrive at a new place together – a little older and maybe a little wiser.
Add to your relationship today. It’s worth it!