Pursuit & Distance

MLCers Run, Even When the Alienator is Gone

My MLCer broke up with the alienator, but she said that she doesn't want to be with me. Why is she still running?
She is still running from you because she is still in her midlife crisis. The infidelity is a symptom of the crisis and may seem to make it worse, but it is not the cause and it may not be the driving force. Some MLCers--male and female--move home following a break-up; they also leave again, often because the affair was not really over. Some look for another alienator.

Her crisis is not going to be over because the alienator is for the present time going back to his wife. The break-up itself causes extreme withdrawal and depression and often they resume the affair when one of them makes contact with the other. She is still hoping for that. But she also feels this break-up is irrelevant to your marriage because in her mind the infidelity is not the reason she wants a divorce. She is right, but she does not understand that the reasons are integrated. Feeling in-fatuated only makes her feel more alienated in your marriage since the in-fatuation releases so many addictive hormones that she does not feel with you anymore. Since she believes your marriage break down is separate from her infidelity, she sees no reason to return since the problems in your relationship still exist.

So where does that leave you? What can you do as a Stander?
Validate her feelings about the problems in your marriage. That does not mean you are agreeing. Feelings are real and she needs to feel that you will not dismiss her concerns. She needs to feel that you love her, forgive her and can support her emotionally. Given her infidelity, she is understandably wary since many people--men more than women--refuse to forgive infidelity.

During this time, refrain from discussing your Stand, your relationship or reconciliation. It is acceptable for you to let her know that you do not want a divorce and you do not feel it is appropriate or the best option. But do this once, do it with a soft voice and a polite manner. She needs to feel safe confiding in you and right now she does not--that is not only normal but understandable. Tell her that your feelings and opinions are not meant personally and are not meant to control her, but they are about your beliefs. This lets her know that you do not want a divorce, but also that you are not resisting divorce in anger.

Even so, she may react with anger and accuse you of being vindictive--or she may not. Such a reaction is common and many Standers then falter because they are afraid they have made the situation worse. No, such reactions are tests. That is not to say your MLCer is deliberately testing you to find your weak point or to get you to break. She may be angry that she is not getting her way easily and is throwing a tantrum, or she is ashamed and is projecting her shame onto you.

What do you do when someone tosses you a tantrum or projects? Remain calm and in your head. Becoming emotional will put you in reactive rather than responsive mode. Remain consistent. This is not a reason to change your mind, actions, opinions, beliefs... If you do react by changing those things, you are allowing your MLCer to control you and now she will know how to get her way when this happens in the future. Validate her with an I'm sorry you feel that way or something specific to the situation.

What you are doing is building her trust. Yes, I know, she cheated and should be the one building trust. But she doesn't want you and thus doesn't care whether you trust her as a spouse. She needs to trust that you will love her in all her moods--just as you will love your children regardless of their behaviors.

Do not expect your calm actions to change her mind, crisis or actions. She is still in a midlife crisis and she must proceed through to the end. But MLCers notice your actions and will file that notice away for future reference and processing. If your MLCer does respond to your calm actions by wanting to reconnect or return home, do not expect this to be permanent or temporary; it may be either. Returns and reconnections require emotional and mental preparation, conditions and boundaries.

Do you feel like a deer about two seconds after seeing the headlights?

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!"