For many, infidelity is worse than other losses such as death or violations such as robbery. This is because in cases of infidelity the violation is from the most trusted person in your life. Though infidelity is painful and shocking, adding abandonment to the mix can make it exponentially worse. Discovery that a partner has been unfaithful can be world wrenching, but in many cases discovery is not only the moment of pain and shock, but also initiates recovery as the affair ends and the partners work together to rebuild. Recovery is a difficult process, but consider the pain when there is a gap between discovery and recovery—when the affair continues and the unfaithful spouse leaves. The Hero’s Spouse website is about the gap. Infidelity is overwhelming on its own, abandonment leaves a person without a partner for support, making it even more traumatizing. But a midlife crisis intensifies the trauma as the MLCer steals reality, rewriting marital history—it’s been bad for years, or it’s always been bad—has volatile mood swings and personality changes, throwing tantrums like a two-year-old and rebelling like a teenager. And you, the faithful spouse are at the center of the MLCer’s blame and hatred. If you are uncertain whether your spouse is in MLC, it is important to note that
if the infidelity is high on the emotional spectrum, where the affair partners feel that they are soul mates, the infidel will have behaviours in common with MLC due to the addictive nature of the affair;
such a relationship may even be enough of an emotional trigger to push a person in midlife transition into a midlife crisis. “Most affairs last less than six months after they are exposed to the light of day. A very few may survive two years of sunlight but that is rare…”1 MLC affairs are usually those rare cases lasting a few years, but not all emotionally-bonded affairs are MLC affairs and those may die sooner than an affair with an MLCer.
Infidelity has a wide spectrum of levels from the just sex of one night stands and serial cheaters (philanderers) who either feel entitled or may be sex addicts, to the high-level emotional bonding where the affair couple feels they are soul mates and that they cannot survive apart. Since most MLC affairs are of this latter type, The Hero’s Spouse focuses on this type of infidelity.
The Balloon Walk
Recovery is a landscape of fragile eggs; the gap between recovery and discovery is a landscape of inflated balloons with eggs inside. Walking on eggshells guarantees you will crush them and cut your feet, but the ground beneath is solid. Walking on balloons lacks the same consistency. Though some balloons will not break, you will have no balance and breaking balloons will lead to breaking the eggs which may then insert into a variety of unpleasant areas on your body as you fall. Like the tightrope act, the balloon walk is a blind-folded journey. There are gaps where the eggs are not enclosed in balloons—where it may seem your MLCer is returning or merely acting normal; these are welcome periods where though shells cut your feet; it seems that there is a solid foundation beneath you. As you walk through these areas you rejoice in the solidity beneath your bleeding feet. But such gaps are often brief and you quickly lose your balance amidst balloons again.
Harley, Willard and Jennifer Chalmers Harley. Surviving the Affair, Grand Rapids MI: Revell, 1998. page 82.
What are some of the things you do (or can do) to regain and then maintain your balance during this crisis?