To challenge him or refuse to give him what he wants--such as by removing contact--is to risk inciting his anger. You may plan a discussion ahead, or your frustration may suddenly thrust you into Bitch-Mode. What do you do if you fall off the tightrope? There are multiple reasons for frustrations. Perhaps your MLCer is playing the charmer and enjoying the game, pushing buttons, stealing cake, and offering you worms.
He may be complacently comfortable in his limbo world where two women feed him cake. Or he is throwing a pity party in the depths of Liminality where he feels life isn't going to get better because he is getting what he deserves.
You try to act happy, faking until you make it, or you have detached, found your strength, peace, power etc. Whether acting or being strong and happy, the MLCer may interpret this as things are fine or she's moved on or she doesn't want me back, and thus continue his present behaviors. It is at times necessary or helpful to let the MLCer know that the present behaviors or state of conditions are not acceptable--that what he is doing does bother you, and you are not happy with how things are.
A calm statement is rarely effective; a show of strong emotions is required for your own release of the emotions and for him to get the message.
You have a choice. You cannot prevent his anger and resentment. Do you want him to be angry and resent you now because he feels you are trying to control him, or later when he wants to come home and you become his doormat, failing to stand up for your own beliefs or respect your own Self? Stand up for your principles and tell him directly that what he is doing is wrong.
Yes, he will get angry. Drop the agenda of being nice until later. There is a double standard: assertive women are Bitches, assertive men are respected. His brain is screwed up right now; he would call a nun Bitchy. Better a Bitch showing Tough Love than an enabling doormat.
Sometimes an inciting incident can serve to bring a sudden Bitch-Mode, at other times you can plan a discussion--by requesting a time to talk or without a request. The calm discussion often becomes the inciting incident--as the MLCer becomes angered and you leave Calm behind for Bitch-Mode.
Push: You are upset, frustrated, angry--express it. Tell him what you don't like; show your emotions--thus releasing them. Get mad, it is okay, you need this.
Pull: Reassure. The nature of reassurance depends on his reactions to the Push. But basically, given all of those things you are frustrated about, you still believe in him and love him. The types of reassurances depend on the MLCer's attitudes and beliefs about himself, you and your marriage.
Your confidence is how you speak. Your MLCer may accuse you of being in denial, expect this as a possibility and maintain your confidence. Let him believe you are in denial--it's not your job to convince him otherwise. Your confidence will plant seeds of doubt--but accept that the growth rate for these seeds varies. Tell him your frustrations--that is what it is he is doing that has you frustrated, and between those rants, pull back with positive reinforcements, showing strength in yourself and faith in him.
What are you unhappy about--your core unhappiness, not the minor issues that arise from that core?
This is not validating, rather that is what you will do between the gaps--on the Pull phase. He may blow-up at you or make threats.
Yes, this will make him mad, or possibly defensive and hurt. You are treating him like a child. Would you like it if he treated you that way? But the point you have made is that he is acting like a child. He will be mad at you, and eventually at himself as he realizes you are right--just remember those seeds may grow slowly.
Show him that you are not a stone; you have feelings. You may seem so strong that he may assume you no longer care or that you are unable to express appropriate emotions and thus something is wrong with you. Suddenly you are screaming at him--he's shocked.
His response will vary; if you start the screaming process, he may remain outwardly calm. He feels and will argue that he is the rational one and your present behavior is evidence that you are insane, vindictive, emotionally unstable.
This proves you are too angry for reconciliation to be possible.
No, it shows that I am comfortable with my emotions. I do not fear what I feel and my responses. I can express my emotions and release them. Denial and suppression of emotions is indicative of emotional instability.
He may already feel and accept guilt, and thus he may listen and validate, relieved at your outpouring of emotions--while still cycling toward defensiveness. He feels he deserves your anger, and recognizes your need to vent.
MLCer anger is normal; expect rather than fear it. Right or wrong, true or false, it is normal to become upset and defensive when accused. This is why he may assume something is wrong with you when you do not react to the crisis with normal emotions and reactions. Do not allow his reaction to upset you--it is often a natural and immediate rather than preordained response.
What the hell do you want?
He called or stopped by unannounced; you were upset and he reacted. Had your initial reaction been different, his response would have also been different. At times, the MLCer feels forced to respond with anger or meanness. Shrug it off.
Notice what Bitch-Mode does not include. It is not about hearing Why? from your MLCer. This is not about receiving answers. Often the answers he will give--especially when faced with you in Bitch-Mode--will be angry reactions. Even if they are not, he is not ready to answer. He does not know why, and the reasons he thinks why are MLC-fogged. Asking him why he is doing something or if he still wants a divorce is asking for an answer you do not want to hear. Bitch-Mode is for releasing and making your emotions and feelings known. Bitch-Mode is also not meant as a guilt trip. Your MLCer may feel guilty--but it is not your job to create or encourage his guilt. Tell him how you feel, rather than how you think he should feel.
You know you’ve gotta stop crying, panicking or asking your spouse ANYTHING. And you know you should let-go and give space so that you can learn to respond and communicate with your spouse from a place of calm rather than emotional hurt.
Understanding Midlife Crisis
The foundational course to give you answers and clarity into "What the he!! Is going on with my spouse!"