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I‘m curious on your thoughts on Midlife Crisis vs Walk-Away Wife – do you think these are two separate things and if so how to categorize one vs the other.
Yes, they are separate, but I’m sure there are situations where both are at play—so if the woman were not having an MLC she would still be walking away.
Consider the differences.
- She starts out with pursuit-complaints because she does not feel her husband is attentive enough. Result: he withdraws.
- Eventually she switches to nagging or insulting-complaints rather than complaints about emotional distance or inattentiveness. Of course this causes him to withdraw even more.
- She gives up and begins to plan her escape.
What is confusing to her husband is that the plan may be contingent on a future event that could be years away such as the kids leaving home, so she does nothing.
Giving up means she no longer nags since it didn’t work. To her husband this appears as though she is happy again and he thinks things are better. When she finally announces she is leaving, he is shocked.
Just as it often is with an MLC Bomb Drop, this announcement works and the husband finally gets it and begins to make changes—too late for his wife.
Midlife Crisis (The Hero’s Spouse Definition)
A normal life event—midlife transition—that has escalated to crisis levels of emotional and mental turmoil. Denial and attempts to avoid the transition yield crisis which manifests through avoidance, regression and depression and in the context of a marriage often includes infidelity and separation. MLCers react overtly with outward destruction; whether intentional or not, an MLCer hurts other people in significant ways.
A Walk-Away Wife may not be doing anything destructive other than ending the marriage—which is, of course, terribly destructive for children and others.
Key Components of a Midlife Crisis Vs. Walk-Away Wife
- Depression—covert & overt
This could be at play with a Walk-Away Wife, but it is not a requirement
- Avoidance of Self-Reflection
With a Walk-Away Wife she may be open to self-reflection and perhaps has been doing a lot of it.
- The urge to escape & abandon
Does a Walk-Away Wife have an urge to escape or is it more that she felt so helpless in her efforts (complaining and nagging which don’t work) that she just got fed-up. An MLCer feels cooped up rather than fed-up.
Sure, this could be an issue for either an MLCer or a Walk-Away Wife, but look for some differences. Though a Walk-Away Wife could have an MLC sort of emotionally-bonded affair, it is also likely that her affair would be an Exit Affair which is merely an affair of convenience.
Watch out for affairs though; physical intimacy releases bonding hormones which can result in feelings that lead to emotional attachment and in-fatuation and an emotionally-bonded affair—a situation which may appear like MLC or it could tip a person who is close to MLC into it.
- Blaming or projecting (denial of responsibility)
A Walk-Away Wife may blame and since she may have given up on trying to change her husband (by nagging and complaining) years ago, her claims may go back several years, but if she is not also in MLC she will be more willing and able to self-reflect and accept how her actions or inactions also resulted in the present situation.
- Cycling mood, personality and life decisions
Though MLCers may at times appear to be able to rationalize their actions and sound convincing, often their irrationality is obvious. They may have volatile mood swings and go after their spouse with a blood thirsty vengeance. Walk-Away Wife’s, on the other hand, have well-thought-out reasons for their actions, they may be calmer and more clear-headed—though if their husband reacts with anger and retaliation, this could trigger her to become reactive and defensive as well.
Women are often more decisive than men, they plan their escape and once they put it into action, they are more resolute. This may be true for both MLCers and Walk-Away Wives, but given the confusion and cycling an MLCer is experiencing, she may be more susceptible to changing her mind later—when she is further along or through her midlife crisis. Or perhaps a Walk-Away Wife with a Standing spouse who responds to Bomb Drop with self-reflection and quick and genuine changes may be skeptical and yet curious; if we have not seen this to be the case in our divorce-happy culture, maybe there are not enough Standers to show what can be possible!