TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR OWN HAPPINESS
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR: I have been feeling so frustrated lately, like my husband will NEVER return. He hasn't moved any closer to returning to us at all in the 3+ years he has been gone. I have seen some tiny glimpses of the man I married, but not really. And that could just be part of his diabolical plan to be nice so that I won't be the "evil ex-wife."
A little about me: my husband and I have been separated since early 2005. He is 47 and I am 45. We have two children - a teen and a pre-teen. . We have been together almost 20 years. He has been with the other woman since the end of 2004. She roughly 20 years younger than him. Can you say "typical midlife crisis?" They work together and she totally chased him.
He has never introduced "her" to our kids (he says it's because I won't let him). But I think that if she REALLY were "all that" he would want to introduce her to our kids. He spends his days off with our son, so he can't be spending a whole lot of time with her. Perhaps that is part of the reason this has lasted so long.
He brings our son to church and sits with our daughter and me (although he typically turns his eyes away from me). He waivers between making me laugh, and ignoring me (he has the disconnect-thing down). Our daughter will not have much to do with him (although I continue to encourage her to spend some time with him). She found out about his affair shortly after he left because the girlfriend called my husband constantly.
I am at the point where I think maybe I should file for divorce (I mean change the papers from a legal separation to a divorce). He filed for a legal separation shortly after moving out.
Our marriage was vulnerable. Our son has had two major surgeries; the first when he was barely newborn. Between, work and taking care of our kids (my husband and I had been working different hours to care for our children), we, I hate to tell you, ended up going several years without sex. I know how terrible that is, and I'll never let that happen again.
Do I keep waiting, hoping and praying? I wish I knew what God wanted me to do. How much longer will this last? I've heard it takes two to seven years for a man to work through his midlife crisis. Ms. G in mid-life limbo
MLB RESPONSE: I can definitely feel the pain and hurt in your words. Honestly since it has been more than three years since your husband left, I think it is definitely time for you to put the past behind you, and to start focusing on you moving forward with your life. I think this means that you should put him in your rearview mirror, and go out and have yourself some well-deserved fun. You have spent over three years wondering if he is ever going to come back … waiting … hoping … and in the mean time he has moved on with his life (midlife crisis or not). I think it is your turn to move forward now. I’d say yes to filing for divorce – as what purpose would waiting serve except to prolong your mental anguish?
I don’t personally think you can infer too much about how seriously he takes his young girlfriend by some of the actions you have described. He might just be trying to be as good a father as he can – and “not introducing her to the kids” might in his mind be a better political move with respect to both of your children. As far as church goes – it sounds to me like he feels guilty for leaving you, and that is why he turns away from you. The fact that he does go to church and sits with you and the kids – that is nice, but again I would not necessarily read too much into that.
Ms. G – take control of your own happiness, and move forward. If at some point in the future he begs for forgiveness, then you can reassess the situation at that time. But for now I recommend that you file for divorce, possibly start to date (when you are ready, of course), and just generally focus on doing some things that make YOU happy. Life is too short to wait around! Oh – I also suggest that you abandon your current email address (which has both yours and your husband's names in it). You need your own solo email handle … and I’m guessing you might have to change other items in your life (personalized car license plates, checks, names on the mailbox, etc.). Forgive me if this sounds harsh – I just think it is time for you to focus on yourself!
Much of the Dating Advice section of this site focuses on the male perspective of midlife dating, but some of it equally applies to women … you can adapt, not adopt. Maybe check out the Develop a Strategy for Midlife Bachelor Success and also the section on Reaching Midlife Bachelor Equilibrium (because you do have much to be thankful for). Frankly I saw your photo, and you are a very good-looking woman … so I don’t think you’ll have any appearance-related challenges. But you will definitely have to be careful with your emotional baggage – maybe read the section called Attitude Adjustment/Mental Makeover Rev 2.0 just to keep things in their proper perspective. Good luck - let us know what happens!