Men and midlife crisis...?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2010
Men and midlife crisis...?
46
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 3:07pm

I'm not sure how or where to start this....without leaving out too many details.

I've been married to a wonderful, confident, secure man for the past 21 years (no children - our decision). We've always shared the same thoughts and ideas in life. We've had our ups and downs (like any couple) but made it through and came out stronger together because of it. There were many years (more than 1/2 our marriage) when I supported us (money-wise) but due to the recent economy it is the other way around right now. But things changed around the beginning of this year and I don't know how to handle it.

My husband is 48 and I'll be 45 before year end. VERY long story short - he recently got back together with his old high school group of friends (pub crawl in January). Since then, he has made a big effort to keep in touch with the old gang (one ex-gf in particular - but that's part of the problem). He constantly checks Facebook for updates on who is doing what and is trying to reconnect with old friends. His ex-gf / friend (who he saw again for the 1st time in 25+ yrs) has now become a BIG part of his life and they text each other constantly (daily). This emotional attachment to her is a big part of our problem (he doesn't think there is any problem with it no matter how much I try to discuss it with him). He / we have gotten together with his HS friends a few times over the past few months. He did admit to me (just the other day - after I had to coax it out of him) he is feeling very very upset because he has learned that the majority of their group has remained friends over the years (just not necessarily with him) - but it seems they have welcomed him back into it again quite easily (especially the ex). He said he doesn't have any close friends - shouldn't he be allowed to have some? Yet he is the one that has told me over the years he really didn't care if he saw these people again (nothing in common anymore) and he'd much rather have 1-2 close friends than a bunch of acquaintances.

Now - since January - he is suddenly unsure of himself (constantly makes remarks like "I don't know anything any more"). We have started bickering over silly things and snapping at each other - some days I'm afraid to say something because he takes it as a personal attack against him (I'm "accusing" him of something). Just this past year he has noticed his "staying power" in bed has decreased and has had the occasional time where he had problems maintaining (ahem). Yet we have had more fun and frequent sex over the past year than ever (physical problems aside). He has made comments lately about how he feels he hasn't gone anywhere with his life in the past 5 years (he is self-employed, working with his brother in the repair / remodeling business). The market has hurt my business drastically (I'm a realtor for the past 9 yrs - nothing more need be said about THAT - work just SUCKS). We have no savings put aside (what we did have was spent a few years ago trying to keep us afloat at the time) and no health insurance (can't afford it right now). We are able to pay our bills (barely). We've been through this before and can do it again - just more difficult (and scary) at this age.

My husband's connection to his ex-gf has become an emotional attachment (and vice versa). She is married (to a controlling man from what we hear) and is not happy but won't leave him (she's afraid he'll fall apart if she leaves and she feels bad). They text constantly because she can't talk on the phone at work or at home (he checks her phone bill) so according to him this is the only way they can talk. He tells me it is just normal, every day stuff they go back and forth with, but to me it is extreme. I have met her and have tried to be warm and friendly. She is not comfortable around me but has finally started to loosen up (after 6 months). If I ask my husband about their texts, sometimes he is willing to relay a conversation but sometimes he gets very defensive and asks why I have to know everything all the time - don't I trust him? Why do I have to know every little detail?

He has never had anything that private that he couldn't share it with me before, yet now it is like pulling teeth to get him to open up to me. He is insulted that I even ask sometimes. My defense mechanism (when I'm scared to tell something) is to cry - his is to get defensive and angry - so I know when there is something he doesn't want to tell me or share with me. He says it is because I'm constantly asking him what he's doing or who he's calling or who he's texting. But I ask because he DOESN'T share things with me anymore. He says why shouldn't he be allowed to have private conversations with people - I say what is so private that you can't share with your wife? And it all revolves around the connection to this ex of his.

He has changed - I don't know what he's thinking anymore or what he's feeling. Every time I try to get him to try and talk about things he either clams up, raises his voice and argues that I'm accusing him of things and he's ALWAYS wrong or just doesn't want to talk about it at all. He doesn't see where we have a problem either between us or with his involvement with the ex (that's a whole 'nother story there).

I'm starting to think this is his mid-life crisis. It is killing me that we can't connect anymore. I find myself getting that horrible anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever his phone beeps because it is a text from her. If he is on FB at night, they will chat for over an hour. I'm not ashamed to say I have sat next to him on occasion and watched their conversation, but he is very guarded with his words by the way he types and keeps it short.

Why does he have to suddenly have a "private" friendship with this woman? He doesn't see where she is becoming emotionally attached (and quite possibly vice versa). I have asked him to lessen his contact with her but was glared at and asked why he's not allowed to have any friends. Most of his HS friends (and some current ones) are female. I will also admit most of my friends are male (I can't take all the catty women stuff - drives me nuts).

Is this a mid-life crisis? How do i get through this without crying every day and wondering what is going on with him?? HELP!!! Any advice on how to deal with this will be wonderful. But don't suggest counseling - I can't get him to talk to me, let alone someone else.

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2005
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 3:48pm

So sorry to read this. Your husband is kind of treating you like you're an idiot and not honoring your feelings of discomfort over his relationship with his ex-gf. Let me just say that I think your feelings are reasonable in this situation. You've been married for a long time so you'd notice changes in him. As for the ex-gf, your husband may not have physically cheated and he might not ever, but what he's doing is a violation in the sense that marriage is also a vow of emotional intimacy and loyalty. I strongly believe that if he's going to be a confidante to his ex, then you are entitled to be in on it. As his wife, you're entitled to know what's going on and what he's talking about with her. That he doesn't get it and is making you feel bad for just expecting him to act like your husband is his failing, not yours. A marriage should not have these kinds of boundaries.

You stated pretty strongly that he is not open to counseling or talking about it. I guess that puts the ball in your court to decide what you're willing to put up with and for how long.

Another question about your relationship. You said most of your friends are male. How close are these friends and do you have very personal conversations with them, the contents of which you keep from your husband? Just want to make sure you're not holding him to a double standard regarding his private friendship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 4:34pm

I have always made a point of keeping him in the loop with any conversations I have with my friends (male or female) and make sure he is comfortable with them (meeting them, discussing them, etc). I don't hide anything from him when it comes to this - it wouldn't be right if I did and I feel as my husband he has the right to know (not EVERY detail of every conversation but i do share). I recently told him when one of them told me how he felt about me after all these years of being friends. He is OK with all of it - he knows no-one better overstep things or ELSE. And my male friends fully respect the "husband boundaries" though I don't feel his ex respects the "wife boundaries" or he doesn't feel the need for her to (which I think is more like it). I've even had a few send me "personal" pictures (bragging?? lol) but I've also shown them to him so he doesn't think there is anything going on.

I know he loves me and don't have any indication or thought that he'll leave but this need for external attention is frightening me. He has begrudgingly agreed to lessen contact with his ex but it was under duress and still wants to talk to her about it. I feel the need to be there when he does because it is also my decision but he doesn't want me to. I think he wants to keep his friend to himself and not share...and I believe friends of married folks need to be shared. All part of this mid-life crisis I assume...but this gut-wrenching anxiety is difficult to deal with.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2005
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 5:14pm

I guess what's troubling about your situation is that in some ways your husband appears to be taking her side over yours and is showing more regard for her feelings than yours. Maybe it is something temporary and he feels the need to expand his circle, experience emotional attachments to other people, and will go back to his old self once he gets it out of his system. If you're okay with riding it out, then that's your choice.

I had another thought. Is what bothers you the fact that he's going to someone else to fulfill certain emotional needs he may have or that he's cagey about what their conversations consist of? In other words, could you ever be okay with him having a separate friendship with this woman? And if so, under what circumstances?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 5:57pm

I think that your husband is having an affair, the only question is if it's emotional or physical. It is time to step up and put a stop to it.






Edited 10/2/2010 10:09 pm ET by darling.carly
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 6:57pm
He is definitely choosing her side over me - so I feel like I have to fight for attention. There is a BIT more to this story, but I didn't want to add it to the original post because it would take too long to go into and I don't know if everyone would understand it. I have thought about it and have worked it down to what specifically bothers me - 1) the attention she is asking from him and that he is giving it back easily (i.e. texting all day because this is the only way they can communicate) 2) her lack of understanding of the "wife boundaries" (i.e. texting at night occasionally and on the weekends AND chatting on FB) and 3) the need for his privacy of their conversations. He has other female friends that he is close with and I have absolutely no problem with and actually enjoy their company - but because of the prior history here and the way she was brought into the picture plus the present issues I have become unusually jealous. This topped with his lack of wanting to discuss this or not wanting to see there is any problem is annoying at the very least.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 6:59pm
I wish it was that easy - but I'm not willing to hand him over to her quite that easily. I spent the first 2 months moping around and feeling sorry for myself - now I am mad and am not going to give up 21 yrs without a fight. :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 7:05pm
But that's just what I'm saying here, Bailey.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2005
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 7:41pm

There's a time and place for ultimatums, it sounds like Bailey is not ready to start issuing them. The question is, what else can she do to get to a better place?

It's a shame that your husband fails to realize how unbecoming his behavior is and, intentional or not, how hurtful it is. And even if your husband isn't having an affair, the fact that he fails to understand why it might not look right to you is a sign that he is clueless, selfish, or guilty of something (or all of the above). Does this mean your marriage is over and you have to threaten to walk out on him? I don't think so, but it is a sign that something very important to a marriage's strength, trust, is in danger of being compromised and must be addressed.

I'm not suggesting you resort to playing games, but I wonder how your husband would feel if you had a friendship like this with a man. If there was someone you spent a lot of time talking to and kept to yourself. Have you tried posing this hypothetical to him? That could be one way to get him to understand why this is so upsetting to you, regardless of what is actually going on or what his intentions are.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2010
Tue, 09-14-2010 - 8:08pm

An in-between step? Marriage counseling by herself and a consultation with a divorce attorney as I mentioned earlier. Much better to follow professional advice than stumble along in the dark on her own.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 12:22am
I think based on all you said, dissatisfaction with his career, new close contact with his ex. etc., that he is going thru a midlife crisis, and if this frequent contact keeps up with his ex, that he is going to end up in a physical affair with her (and I'm hoping here that he already isn't) He is for sure at the least having an emotional affair with her right now. And the fact that he gets very defensive about his so called friendship with her is very telling. The thing is that he sees how much this is hurting you and doesn't want to compromise, or begrudgingly says he will lessen contact. The fact is he does not want to give up the attention and BIG ego boost he is getting from her, and resents you for wanting him to do so. He is probably pretty confused right now about his feelings. He is putting too much time and energy into this other woman, that he should be putting into you. This will either eventually pass, or end up with him in an affair if you don't do something. And the fact that her H is abusive and your H is being kind and attentive to her emotional needs is probably drawing her to him like a magnet. I think what I would do (and I'm not suggesting you should do this at all) is find a way to anon. tell her H what is going on. That might be the thing to put a stop to all this stuff, cause talking to him sure ain't doing anything. I don't think continually bugging him to stop will do anything but have him tell you that you are being controlling of who he can have as a friend... blah blah blah. Also I would suggest you post this on the betrayed spouses support board (lots of intelligent women there) as well as the problem solving for couples and ask the relationship savers board. Those boards, esp. the BSSB are much more active then this one. GOOD LUCK

Pages