My wife says she wants to divorce me because we are no longer on the same path. She is on a spiritual journey for self-actualization and I can’t join her since I will have to follow my own path to fulfill my own calling.
…I’ve read many articles which explain midlife reassessment as a soul’s attempt to align one’s life with his true nature/gift so he can thrive as someone he is meant to become. Drastic changes are inevitable and some aspects of the old life will be discarded for the new birth.
Has anyone heard this kind of argument from your MLC spouse?
The arguments themselves are valid. Life is a journey and part of the midlife journey is to bring the soul into alignment. Of course it could be argued that that is the purpose of every phase of life or thus of life in general. But the alignment at 20 is not going to be the same as alignment at 40 or 60.
I think for a fulfilled and purposeful life it is essential that we follow our bliss as Joseph Campbell recommends. But so many misunderstand Campbell’s directive. Following bliss does not mean we relinquish our life’s responsibilities. It does not mean that we bring harm to others. Admittedly some people will choose to be harmed by a person’s actions.

So ask yourself that first.
Are your MLCer’s actions sound? Are they valid and are you choosing to be a victim? Or is your MLCer being selfish in this quest?
I’m a Stander. I believe in marriage and I hate divorce. But I do not think all marriages that end during the midlife years are due to midlife crisis. Some marriage will end as a part of a midlife transition that is not at crisis levels. Right or wrong, agree or disagree; it happens. So ask yourself, whose crisis is this? Is it hers or is it mine? Is she embracing her journey and leaving me out because I am resistant? Or is she avoiding her journey and calling her avoidance her search for authenticity?
I don’t have that answer for you. But instead of dismissing an MLCers claims for the journey, each and every one of you needs to ask yourself those questions. Often when a person thinks there is a problem, the first place they should look is the mirror.

Self Centered Vs. Self-ish
Following your bliss is how a person becomes balanced or centered within their Self. Becoming self-centered is an important part of life. Yes, I said that. Self-centered is not synonymous with selfish. The suffix –ish forms adjectives from nouns; it indicates having characteristics of something (such as purplish), approximation, or similarity—that something is not exactly the same as the adjective, but rather mimics or impersonates, implying a partial something.
There is a difference between Self-Centered and Selfish. Though the word Self is a noun, consider the addition of the –ish ending in likeness with its use with adjectives. With that in mind, Self-ish then means having qualities similar to or in approximation of Self. It is an impersonation. Selfishness clings to perceptions of Self received from projecting personal shames onto others. In trying to reject by projecting, a person loses parts of Self. Selfishness is a quality of the Ego and the Ego is a doppelganger of the Self. This seems analogous to wearing a persona mask; there is a quality of imitation.
To be centered in one’s Self is to be balanced, a state of health, whereas to be selfish goes beyond concern for one’s Self. It is concern for one’s Self at the expense of others—opposing sacrifice.
What an irony that many MLCers are Selfish and yet also have a martyr complex. Perhaps this is a compensation for their realization and shame—whether conscious or not—that they are being selfish.
Self-Focus is an important aspect of Standing—as well as of importance in life regardless of circumstances; it is Self-Centering. For MLCers, perhaps the process of self-centering involves first becoming Selfish; after years of Accommodation there is a backswing.
The inner quest for meaning changes a person. What is perhaps most frightening to a Standing spouse is that the changes are necessarily both internal and external. The former persona is discarded, but so are many trappings of the former life. You may think it is these external changes that we should fight against as Standers. No. Some may be harmful and unnecessary but many are unavoidable and necessary. Change within yields change without; change without yields change within.

Tomorrow I will continue by reviewing an interview with Dr. James Hollis, author of The Middle Passage.

In the meantime, think about your journey versus your MLCers’ journey. Which of you is embracing and which is avoiding? Perhaps you are both avoiding or embracing.
What can you do about it—about your journey, not your MLCers’?


The Middle Passage: Embracing Versus Avoiding Part 1No Comments

  1. In my case I'm sure that my spouse is at least transitioning. There were too many life factors spoken about early on – terrible stories from their youth that I hadn't been told. Sad secrets. I'm confident that they have to be a factor.

    But I know that I am a factor too. I know that I have fears in my life that I haven't faced. I know that I wasn't coping well with some stresses in my own life – but were my coping mechanisms the cause of my broken family? I don't think they were in themselves. I know that I actually needed/wanted some space to transition too, but not at the expense of my family.

    I think I might have been resistent to some things – I was just adjusting to some of my own life changes – BUT – I also think that there wasn't a dialog for me to resist to, that my spouse had already identified that the solution would be a new partner ( and she has already an ideal candidate, or someone like that candidate ), and a long largely unspoken set of reasons why I'm not right.

    My spouse told me that if I'd been a half decent person, that this wouldn't be happening.

    My biggest fear at the moment is that I'm not a good person – and worse: that I don't even have the ability to see how bad a person I am, because I think I am a decent person – but I'm so far gone that I can't see it!

    My psychotherapist seemed to think that I seem 'well adjusted' but he helped with some of my anxieties. My friends and my family think I'm a nice person – my work colleagues like to talk to me.

    And you know what? Somedays I do think this is my midlife crisis. I'm in midlife and me and my family are in crisis. My spouse is happy with their decision – I'm the only one that needs to adjust. I'm the one that needs to turn off the noise of this in my head and the sadness in my heart. I'm the one that needs to truly understand myself and regain confidence.

    But here's the thing. Even if this is a path to self actualization ( and I'm sure that it is, and I actually yearned for that in my spouse – I could see the amazing talents that they had were not being used as best they could be and yet they couldn't believe in those talents ) – do they have to be so spiteful, hurtful, damaging and inappropriate in the quest for self actualization?

    I also wonder if it is possible for someone that was so damaged early in life, to find self actualization without destroying their marriage when they realize how those problems must have affected them? I wonder if there is even a scenario when a spouse can exit a marriage with kindness where the lbs understands the need and drive for self actualization – because it is so hard to give it all up.

    It's a very heavy subject – and I wonder at times do we all need to be psychotherapists just to make a relationship work these days? Shouldn't it be ok to expect that when things feel 'normal' in a relationship, that they actually are 'normal' – because it turns out that in my case, they were far, far from normal – and I was blind to it … and I do regret that for my spouse – that if they were so deeply troubled and so sad, then I did let them down by not seeing it.

    Just thoughts – the same ones that go around in circles on my own journey.

    Thanks RcR.

  2. I just want to discuss that there is a difference between self-actualization and moving up than running from fear. I hate divorce too but had my wife approached me and said she wanted to end the marriage so she could pursue her own happiness and a new life, I would have let her go.

    Instead, she states she was falling and some other person in a different country caught her. That he is her new love and soul mate. That does not create a sense of "self-actualization" but a portrait of confusion and someone who is still falling. Even a year later, she is still falling. Clinging to a fantasy that masks her pain and confusion. Self-actualization is not found in the emotional support of an outsider, but rather the power within.

    Yes, it is the LBSer who moves towards self-centeredness because the power to stand forces one to bring discover the power of internal peace that one can obtain within the peace of self and prayer.

    I have come a long way in my stand. I now can give love freely with nothing in return. I have come to the realization that in order to finish my own journey and to truly let my spouse go, I have to focus my energy and "fix" it skills on myself.

    You state your wife has projected you as evil and that she has a new "ideal" in a mate. Does that sound like self-actualization? It does not sound life a focus on self but being selfish.

    I also agree with you that self-actualization does not involve being rude, angry, and projecting towards another person. That is denial and running. It is avoiding self-examination. It is rooted in depression and loss of self-worth. That is the crisis our spouses are facing and it has nothing to do with self-examination. It has everything to do with loss of rationalization and more about emotional impulse and hedonistic behavior than improving one's self.

    Just my thoughts as I go through the same journey with the exception is that I am moving ahead not in circles. ((((Hugs)))

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