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Thursday, 29 March 2001

Is This My Wife's Midlife Crisis?

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

My marriage of fifteen years is in serious jeopardy and I feel helpless. My wife recently went back to work after 12 years of motherhood. There she met a man and started a flirtatious exchange. At first it didn't bother me and I felt so confident in our relationship I let it go on. Then started the touching and kissing. I felt she was going through a phase and allowed it to go on and didn't discourage it. Well, of course it went a lot farther. After this episode she told me it was over,(she got it out of her system) and our life and family was too important to jeopardize. She promised me that was that. One week later she was very late from work and I found out things went over the top. She says how sorry she was but most of the blame seemed to be on me. We both vowed to work this out and improve our marriage.

One of my problems is that everything reminds me of the infidelity, from music on the radio to TV shows and movies. Its consuming my soul. I love this woman more than my life and would give up my eternal soul for her but I now doubt her feelings for me. It's been about a month since this happened and now she tells me it was because of her low self-esteem and her feeling of no respect from others that caused this. She now wants to go back to college, and get breast implants.(She is small breasted but I have no problem with this.) My wife is changing into someone I don't know but I'll do anything to keep her.

These changes may seem like selfishness but I feel she thinks this will actually help her get more self-esteem. If this works and she'll stay with me she can do whatever she likes. One of my biggest fears is that once she makes all of the drastic changes she will leave me. She has also lost a lot of weight during this whole episode (I feel it was due to her lover and the stress of the situation) and is looking more beautiful than ever.

These are my questions: Do you think she'll leave me after all these changes? Is this a mid-life crisis? She's 39. How can I get back the 100% trust I used to have? Can this kind of thing ever help a marriage? Should I let her make whatever changes she feels she needs to do however drastic? I can only be happy with her. She is my love and my life. I know you probably can't answer all these questions and you may never get a chance to read this but this is the most important thing in my life. If you could please give me a little direction or advice I would be eternally grateful for I have no one else I could ever discuss this with.

Thank you

ADear Mid-Life Crisis,

There are so many sides to this situation and your hurt is so fresh. Please understand that you are still in shock from your wife's infidelity. It's only natural that everything seems to remind you of this right now. This will fade in time if you address the underlying issues in this situation. You need to step back and take care of yourself first. You also need to consider how this tension between you and your wife is affecting your children.

There's one truism about affairs. You can't break up a happy marriage. If one person is having an affair it is because he/she is unhappy and is acting out. Your wife sounds desperately unhappy at this time. If she has just taken 12 years out to be a stay-at-home mom then she's probably feeling very insecure about her appearance, her ability to compete in the work world, and her lack of a college degree. And in her low self-esteem she is not hearing you when you say that you love her and that she means everything to you.

If it is financially possible for her to further her education then she should pursue this. As for plastic surgery, a reputable surgeon will be honest with her that an operation will increase her breast size but it won't improve her self-esteem. Surgery won't be a quick fix for what's really going on with her. She needs to explore where these feelings of worthlessness are coming from.

It is possible for a marriage to recover after an affair but it takes both parties being totally honest with each other. Building trust again will take time. The only way that I know for this to really happen is for the two of you to see a therapist. Asking your minister or family doctor for referrals is a good place to start. Call mental health clinics to see if any marriage workshops or weekend retreats for couples are going to be held. There may also be sessions of group therapy that are available for couples who are dealing with these issues. Your therapist will be able to guide you in this process.

You do sound as if you still want this marriage to work out. You say that she is also committed to this so let's not worry about either one of you leaving at the moment. At this time you both need to commit to getting professional help and working through this. The work will be hard but has the potential to create a strong marriage again for both of you.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Sunday, 22 January 2012 20:12
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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