Sep 2, 2013

Surviving a "Mid-Wife" Crisis #1: Three warning signs

 Introducing a new week-long series:

Why "Mid-Wife" Crisis?
This is not a problem with your mid-wife.  I started using this term to describe a phase in my marriage, which ended recently, and almost ended badly.  As I started having more open conversations with women my same age, I discovered that many (not all) of my friends were struggling in the same way.   These seemingly happy, content mamas were struggling with resentment and loneliness in their marriages (as I was).  Some were even considering divorce. 

The average age for divorce (for women) is 30 years old. That's where I got the "mid" from.  The conversations I've had were with women between the ages of 30 and 36.  This is no 24 year old who got married and a whim and suddenly realized she made a mistake.  These are women who had been with their husband for 4, 9, 12, 14 years.  All have children.

A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger.  While there are aspects of the mid-wife crisis that really are absurd, it can be very confusing and make you question much in your life.  It is dangerous because it can set your feet on a path that slowly destroys the foundation of your marriage.

The divorce rate may not be on the rise, but the number of separated and divorced women are, according to research released earlier this summer.  Most of us would agree that we don't want divorce to be a part of our kid's stories, and we don't want it to be a part of our own story.  Yet, divorce keeps happening, and in many situations it doesn't have to.  

I believe that marriage is a gift from God, and is beneficial to individuals and society at large, and that the destruction of families because of divorce is hurting our kids more than we know.  I also know that not too long ago, I was standing on the edge, and was ready to leap, ready to let go of everything we built because I couldn't find my hope.

I read article after article online and many of them agreed with me, told me that being divorced is better than being in an unhappy, loveless marriage.  I am writing this because I believe that some of you out there feel the same way.  I want to be one voice telling you that it doesn't have to be the end of your fairy tale, that there is always hope that can be found.

What it Looks and Feels Like:

1. You've lost that loving feeling
Maybe you fear you've fallen "out of love", and you are worried he doesn't love you any more either (he certainly isn't showing it). Your heart feels hard, empty, with nothing more to give.  You may feel apathetic, a sense that it's not worth fighting about anymore... you feel hopeless, "he's never going to change."

One friend said that she stopped dating her spouse, the romance was gone, and they have slid from "teammates" into "roommates".  In the midst of that she lost any desire for a physically intimate relationship. 

Or, maybe you've started treating your husband with contempt, tearing him down, micro-managing his parenting, and verbally destroying him all while making demands on his time and energy.  Your marriage feels like two boats that are being held together by a fraying rope that is strained by how far you have drifted apart.

2. You are more concerned with your needs than his.
For many women between the ages of 30-35 an awakening of sorts happens inside of them.  Suddenly they begin to see themselves as having value.  Where they struggled for years with feelings of being unlovable and unworthy, suddenly they begin to see themselves as strong, beautiful and empowered women.

While it can be healthy and beautiful to realize that you have value, it can sometimes become toxic when you allow this new self-awareness to cause you to become more concerned with your needs than his, while mistakenly blaming HIM for "making" you feel like you don't have value.

Some ways I did this: I started to look to other relationships to get my emotional needs met.  I spent more time hanging out with friends than I did with my husband. 

Or maybe you stop asking his advice and taking his opinion into consideration when making decisions. Rather than the relaxed give and take in a healthy relationship, you begin to keep track of how much you are contributing versus how much your partner isn't. 

3. You've checked out:
Maybe you start to wonder if you really want to spend 12 more years living this way, and maybe the more you think about it you begin to think that your husband is a jerk who doesn't care about you.  You begin to imagine a life away from him.

One friend had decided to "wait it out for the kids" and then leave her husband when the kids were grown.  She had lost hope that it could be better, so she put her head down and just kept the status-quo until she could be free.

Your partner who was your refuge, your best friend, your comfort and your joy has become a stranger.  As tension sets in, you blindly interact with him without giving him your presence of mind.  Your mindfulness has been replaced with fantasies of how your life would be better without him.

Is this you?  Do you see yourself on this path?  It was me.  I was on that path not too long ago. One thing I've learned through this process that is helping to heal my marriage: Unhappiness in your marriage is not just about your husband and what he does or doesn't do.  It's about YOU too.

Is your husband neglecting you? Perhaps, or it feels like he is neglecting you, he may not realize you feel neglected. Does he take you for granted and make demands of you? Maybe, and maybe he is feeling just as ignored and unappreciated as you are.

Maybe you feel like you have a roommate {with benefits} but you want a husband, a partner, a best friend, a person to fulfill all of those unfulfilled expectations you came into this marriage with.  Maybe he wants all of those things too, but feels distant and disrespected by you and doesn't know where to start.

Maybe you've never said a word about the resentment and anger building inside you, maybe you've done the best you can to be a good mom and a good wife, and you still don't feel like you are doing enough to make him love you, cherish you, or accept you. 

Maybe you are barely hanging on with your fingernails to your marriage and any hope that it can be the way you dreamed it would be.

Today I want you to know that your marriage isn't over.  Those vows you said, the years you've shared, the home you've built... it doesn't have to come crumbling down.

I have some hope for you, but you have to be willing to hang around... I will post these 5 days in a row, come back every day, take part in the conversation, offer encouragement and support. 

Would you do one other thing?  Would you pray?

Even if you aren't a "religious" person.  Send out these thoughts to the Universe or however you see the higher-power in your life.

{I believe that the creator God, the creator of the universe, this earth and everyone in it, created YOU for a relationship with Him, and He thinks you are valuable and lovely, and HE cherishes you.  He loves you enough to die for you.  Even if you don't believe in Him, or find the whole "organized religion" thing a little overwhelming.}

Pray this prayer: 
I believe you created marriage for more than what we've made it.  I believe you know the desires of my heart.  I want to love my husband and be loved by him.  I know that there may be things I have to change, so begin to change my heart.  Help my husband to hear my desires, protect his mind and heart from discouragement and defeat. Soften my heart toward my husband, help me to remember what I love about him. If my husband's heart is hardened toward me, soften his heart toward me.  Refresh our relationship and our love for one another.  Help us both to seek true intimacy with one another.  Protect our marriage from outside forces, and keep us watchful as we guard our hearts.  Amen.

The whole series:
#1 - Three warning signs your marriage could be in trouble {Monday}
#2 - Four ways to STOP it in it's Tracks {Tuesday}
#3 - Five Ways to Make it WORSE {Wednesday}
#4 - Six Thoughts on Leaving {Thursday}
#5 - Seven ways to turn your marriage around {Friday}

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  1. The transparency of this post is so helpful. Thank you for the help you are giving this newlywed!

  2. You are most welcome! I hope that my struggles can be a help to those struggling in the same way!! Thanks for being willing to comment... lots of page views and only one comment today... makes me wonder.

  3. Great post, AJ! I'm excited to read the rest of the series! I could relate to your feelings and also see it in many of my friends who are in the 30's age group and similar stage of life with marriages and kids.

  4. Thank you for your kind words! I have been feeling led to share this for awhile, it does seem to be a common occurrence!


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