How long is midlife crisis? Though there is has an average range; that does not mean a shorter or longer MLC is impossible. The range we use is 2-7 years. Two is short and 7 is long, but of course every situation is unique and it could be less than 2 or longer than 7. If longer, is it still a midlife crisis or does it become something else? If shorter, was it really a midlife crisis? For this post I would like to focus on the shorter end of the range.

Stop focusing on a midlifecrisis timeline!

Stop focusing on a midlifecrisis timeline!

I myself have noticed and others have let me know that they are concerned about some people who are fixed on the timeline and advising or warning newcomers that midlife crisis takes a long time. Warning is okay, it’s good to know, but some of these warnings are crossing to expectations. Please do not approach this situation expecting it will take 7 years! Just reading that is enough to scare people off.

I did not approach Chuck’s MLC with a 7 year expectation. What I did was set aside timeline expectations. That doesn’t mean I did not sometimes focus too heavily on where he was on some metaphorical map; I did my share of over-focusing, but I did not for a moment think that his midlife crisis would take 7 years; rather I accepted that it could. That may seem like a subtle difference, but it’s quite big. It changes the attitude—how a person approaches the situation and how a person approaches possible returns. From Bomb Drop to when Chuck ended the affair was 3.5 years—not 7. And when he came home all those times in between, I did not approach the situation Acting As If it was premature, I set that aside and focused on my hope that it would be real and working to make it real.

Things that Appear the Same May be Different

But I don’t even want you expecting it to be as long as 2 years. Why? Because that would still be an expectation. Accept 2 years as a possibility and even a high probability, but some who come here may not be MLC situations and if we tell them to expect these long timelines, we could tip a situation teetering on midlife crisis over the edge and then it will appear that we were correct when really we helped to manifest the outcome. Bomb Drop for an MLC situation may look and feel like Bomb Drop for a situation that is more of a midlife transition or marital uncertainty and dissatisfactions or discovery of an affair and the typical confusions that come with infidelity. Basically Bomb Drop may look the same for a variety of situations and so we do a disservice when someone posts in our community and we automatically default them to the MLC file. Sure, being a forum for midlife crisis situations, that will probably always be something we need to keep watch over. Men and women who are dissatisfied in their marriage or more internally dissatisfied may or may not be MLCers, but in the beginning they may all sound similar.

Not Midlife Crisis? Recovery May be Faster

There are plenty of couples who go through a rough patch and recover in a time that feels rapid to those who come from an MLC situation. We need to understand that in the beginning that couple may have looked like us and their rapid success does not mean they did something better and you messed up or that their marriage is now a ticking time bomb because their recovery was premature. Am I skeptical when a situation appears to recover quickly? No, but I am hesitant or a bit wary; those early days in recovery are the days of walking on egg filled balloons and I know that a return might be premature or that it might not or that a return that is not premature can still fail—expect anything and nothing (since those are really the same thing), but do not expect something specific.

No Expectations!

It is important that we give people the information about midlife crisis and that includes the general time range, but it’s just as important that we do not focus on that timeline after providing the information. Instead guide toward Mirror-Work and even couples work. For situations that are (or become) MLC, the couples work will either not take off or it will fade away as the MLC progresses, but for those other situations, it is an important step toward recovering that can happen now and for any situation is part of Paving the Way.


Comments

Midlife Crisis Isn’t Forever, Time Yield Expectations18 Comments

  1. my mlcer started his affair 5yrs ago it is 4yr and 4mntis that i found out about it and that he left hope he is not going 2 take 2 more years

    • Hi.it has been a long time. Still with alienator, but has had many crushes on other females. She phoned my no from his phone to check up who he has spoken to. She apparently post on fb that her children are only ones who do not judge her. She also used our surname, and when he found out about it, she was back on her surname. He is definitely near or out of his crisis, but he is too proud, and too much binding them. Both his cars are in her name, she is a line manager. At his.work. Even though he spends most of his time with his new friends and she her time with her friends. And family, he claims that it works well for them, as they have time away and together time. He is very unhappy, keeping up a facade. Only.God can move the mountain

      • My husband left me the day before thanksgiving and it’s been 4 months now and he said he doesn’t want to work on our marriage he doesn’t want to be ever married again. He has all the complaints and symptoms of MLC but he doesn’t know it! I told him I think he’s going through it, well he didn’t disagree but he didn’t say okay this is what it is let me work it out! He isn’t having an affair but I did catch him on a double date with this guy I dont know at a concert. I kicked his ass and he apologized saying he knows he messed up and it won’t happen again. Thank God the woman was old ugly and wearing a wig so that let me know it wasn’t serious but he has pushed me away to the point where im having feelings for someone else!

  2. But we say 2-7 years in average for MLC, if the situation is not MLC, well, then MLC averages don’t apply. And Hero Spouse is for people dealing with spouses having a MLC. There is our primary default and that is the situation for wish we primarily offer advice. Of course some midlife transition are very rough and they can be pretty similar to MLC, especially to milder forms of MLC but if I’m in a MLC forum I expect, and will give, default advice for MLC. One can, after the initial posts, adjust the advice to each specific situation but by default I go with advice for MLC.

    And now I would like to know what do you think of people who remain in Replay for more than 5 or 6 years. Or 7. or more. Are they still in MLC? Does it mean the MLC will never end for them and they are stuck or it has become their new lifestyle and self? There is very little about the longer crisis or MLCers that spend many, many years in Replay.

    Most of what we have if for the average crisis, and those tend to be over within 3.5 to 5 years after BD. 5, from BD, obviously meaning the whole crisis was longer.

    • This is a site for troubled marriages–in particular those where abandonment has happened or is feared–often due to threats regarding it. It is geared toward MLC because that's what I have studied and because it was the background of my situation–and of course the main site name ranks well since it includes midlifecrisis in its url.
      But we don't require people to take a test before arriving or participating to prove their situation is MLC and even if they did, those in the beginning may describe MLC and yet maybe it's more like Laura Munson–and her husband never left, did not have an affair and came through in about 4 or maybe 6 months. But in the beginning it looked like the rest of us.
      I too will default to MLC and then make a more specific determination upon reading the details of a story. I too believe in giving the timeline for knowledge and as a bit if a warning. The problem is that I have recently read a few threads where a newbie was told to expect 7 years. I specifically recall that the figure was 7 and I'm pretty sure the word expect was used.

    • Now regarding the long end of MLC, I think I may have talked about that a bit somewhere–but where? But I had no answers, merely questions like you have.
      What do we call it when the MLCer stays with the alienator–and they are together 25 years later? Does that mean it must be MLC still since they are still with the affair partner? I don't think that would be fair, though it could be a possibility that they did not complete their way through the MLC tunnel and just found a nice bend in it where they can live out their days not really regressing, but not progressing either.
      I have written about those who become stuck–it's unfortunately one of the chapters I removed from my manuscript to get it down to a lower word count, but I did include it in my 'Midlife Crisis & Personality Types' article which is at the Store.

  3. This is just what I needed to read today. I am fairly convinced that my H is MLC because BD followed a fairly traumatic start to the year and he has been very low for a couple of years before. But there are times when he is very lucid and clear and focussed such as his business that make me wonder if he is borderline between transition and full MLC.

    As a newcomer to the site which is brilliant BTW I had become obssessed with the timeline and TBH actually had a panic attack on reading that recovery/reconciliation could also take further several years. It made me actually wonder if it was worth serving upto ten years of my life standing for the man I used to adore. For those standers who have endured a long time and reconciled – I applaud you. Who knows but I think that this blog is an important statement to make as MLC may have a sort of timeline but it is dealing with the human factor and each of us is very different. So I will now stop obssessing with the figures and just deal with the condition/illness.

    What I will say though is that irrespective of whether this site is primarily for MLCers only – it has proved an incredibly suppportive lifeline to all who are facing marital challenges such as infidelity/betrayal/behavioural issues and personal experiences are excellent teachers. If the site were to require actual confirmation that MLC boxes had been ticked before being allowed to join the site then many of us would have made mistakes in handling the situations and probably exacerbated the agony of it all. Those whose spouses are not MLC will realise and probably leave the site in their own time. For me This blog gives me hope and a reality check. Thanks

    • "As a newcomer to the site… I had become obssessed with the timeline and TBH actually had a panic attack on reading that recovery/reconciliation could also take further several years."
      With cases of non-MLC infidelity healing can take a long time and many are shocked at how long it takes. Some say a month for every year of marriage when discussing healing and I am not sure whether they are referring to MLC or all situation or infidelity in general.
      BUT for me the recovery phase was short if you count it from the time I moved home. Sweetheart ended his affair and I left to take care of Gram and returned about 8 months later–it was a full year from the time he had moved out for the last time, though I was home every few weeks and we went to counseling when I was home.
      Once I moved home, things felt solid. Why? Because as a Clinging Boomerang he had been home a lot throughout his MLC and we'd been chipping away at the recovery phase then. Whereas with non-MLC infidelity where there is no gap between discovery and recovery the couple is trying to recover while the betrayed spouse is still in the midst of the stress response and the betraying partner may still be delivering Trickle Truths.

  4. my husbands affair is almost 5yr and when i discovered and he moved out 4yrs and 4months. Even though he is more friendly and spending time with me, he stil seems very contented with his lifestyle, he has always been a very neat person, so am i but ow is obsessive with neatness and he rates this very highly. I think this is no mlc mayb he just fell out of love with me like he says and in love with this woman. Today him and i went shopping for him and it was like old times. I chose his clothes for him. He came here rather early and was upset that my son and girlfriend throw their things around and place is untidy as i did not have time yet to pick up behind them. Thats when he told me how neat she is and that notihng may ever lie around. Even if he folds his clothes she wil cum and refold it to perfection. I am sorry but i cannot meet those standards. I fold and pack away neatly , but everything need not be boxshaped and that is what my husband admires coz he says he is even neaterthan he used to be, but he also show obsessive traits. If it has not worn off in almost 5yrs will it ever

    • There are no guarantees. But what has been the motivation for it to wear off? He was with you today, so clearly he is having contact with you and with her. Is he cake-eating and getting all his needs met by dividing his life between two worlds? What is there for him to miss?
      When an MLCer begins to realize that something is missing in their life with the alienator this can create conflict because the alienator becomes worried about losing the MLCer. This may lead to an increase in possessiveness and emotional blackmail. But if the MLCer is content with the half lives and the alienator doesn't mind, what's the motivation for change?

  5. This seems to be my problem. Ex has been with alienator for 14 yrs. They live together, were engaged for several years and then called off engagement 8 yrs ago, but they still live together, with no plans for any wedding at this time.. He and I have 4 grown children, one of who is mentally ill, so we do have to have communication, and he is always friendly, like we are good friends. I think he would be classified a cake eater-has meet to meet the "mothering" role and the OW to be the girlfriend, party girl.
    I wish I could figure out "motivation for change?" What could I do at this point, after this many years?

  6. this is very confusing. Whether he stays away and hardly contact us, or whether he tries to be friend again there just arent anything positive coming out of this crisis. She manipulates him and this strongwilled man is like putty in the hands of a sub serviant person. She is ruling him and he is ok just to have the odd conversation with his family and visit now and then. He can never respect this woman or her lifestile yet he is drawn to her like a magnet and no crisis can rip them apart. Other men packed and ran after being with her for a year or 3 but he simply sticks like glue. God sees all the injustice and allows it to continue. How much more can i take? This is very hard as i believe and trust God on His Word where He promises. When will it be fulfilled

  7. My situation with my husband is we where toger for 18 years never gave me a sight of nothing one night he got up at 12 at night and told me he don't want to live like this anymore and hug me he start picking up his close and paper and me and my kids was asking where he was going and he said I don't know any way I didn't now he went to the bank and took all our saving almost 75 thousand dollars and left with another woman and then 2 days later he calls and beg me not to live the house and to please not to heat him and that he know he was wrong but a month later he calls me and tell I have to live my house because he was going to sell it then two days later he call me back and told me that he's sorry and that I was a perfect wife for 18 years but there is something wrong with him but I'm so hurt that I don't want to know nothing about him any more

  8. I have never understood when you start counting the years if the MLC. Is it when they first shows signs or after BD? Mine moved 5 1/2 hours away and has bought a house yet all his things are still here in town on some land he got in the divorce that we had owned. He also pays for Internet here to keep our emails which I find odd. He is a vanisher and I don’t hear anything from him. I can l look back a see that from the time he up and quite his job is when I know he was going thru MLC. After retirement he just sat in front if the computer and TV all day and evening. After I discovered porn on his computer I asked him to leave. One day when he came over and got on the computer I yelled at him for the first time in our marriage. He filed for divorce shortly after that. So it’s been close to 8 years of him going thru this. Should it end soon?

    • The MLC Time Clock begins at Bomb Drop. There are MLC stages before Bomb Drop, but nothing is really progressing and those stages may be indefinite time-wise.
      Distant Contacters are different than the Close Contacter who often show us more of their MLC experience and so it is easier to give information about Close Contacters. So should he be over it soon? I don't know, and perhaps a more valid question (for which sadly my only answer is sadly 'I don't know') is will it end soon. Shoulds aren't about reality.
      One of the things I have been wondering recently is if it is possible for an LBS to have some level of influence on the Contact Type–Distant vs. Close–of their MLCer. I think most of us are neutral since we don't know how to do that and so the MLCer falls more naturally into one type or the other, but if (big IF) type can be influenced, then I recommend influencing MLCers toward Close Contact. How, I'm still thinking through that.

      • I read in one if Sally Conways books where if the husband has dropped all communication to not chase after them. Make sure he is safe but don’t bother him or he will run elsewhere. Depending on the personality type and the reason for leaving to let them know we still care and they are welcome to come home. Once you tell them you leave them alone. They recover faster if we aren’t aggervating them.

        • But there are some gaps in there.
          Don't chase, [GAP] but make sure he is safe, [GAP] but don't bother him. [GAP] Let them know you still care…
          Those gaps are places where maybe you could contact, though the first try would be for the information to leek through the grapewine.
          Sally Conway described Contact types also: DropIn, Droplet and Dropout correspond to Boomerangs (which I split into regualr and Clinging), In-n-Out and Vanishers. Vanishers vanish and if you are Standing with a goal of reconciliation No Contact is not meant to be permanent. So someone, someday must make a move. Close Contacters–especially Clinging Boomerangs–need a lot of reassurance rather than an LBS who keeps a distance. Yes, let them initiate (and Close Contacters will), but respond.
          Aggravating them is not about contact of any kind, it's about relationship discussions and pressure and guilting or shaming them for the not being home or for leaving.

  9. Hi. I read a couple of the comments on here and I have a question… I strongly believe my husband is going through a midlife crisis. To make the long story short he says he wants to be with me but doesn’t at the same time because he doesn’t know if I’ll be able to accept the new him. He no longer lives with my daughter and I but he still comes around… I feel like he does so mainly for sex, we have always had an amazing sex life. My question is: Should I cut him off completely or should I accept being on the back burner? I obviously still love him very much but I don’t want him to think that I’m always going to be ok with him visiting only for sex. He has his first therapy session this week and says he hopes it helps him figure things out. Please help, I hate being in this limbo.

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