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’?