MLCers seek control. They feel presently controlled and that they have lead a passive existence, of external control. Ironically Midlife Crisis is a loss of personal power; an MLCer gives up power over his emotions, and reacts. He will yield power, though unknowingly, to the person of strength. Do not abuse this; do not accept power. But, understand that he needs guidance. Use his trust to gently guide him toward internal Faith and Self-worth through your positive actions and responses--be an example. Reassure him of your feelings and presence.
He has no answers, only questions; he is lost and confused, and ironically he will cycle at times being unaware of his confusion and at other times frustrated and angry in those moments where he realizes the problems lie within himself. Since he is confused and yet denying it to himself and others, when you ask questions he will feel cornered and forced to answer. If you are strong and self-confident, he will look to you for answers.
Instead of questions, make statements affirming his and your knowledge in a positive outcome, and his worthiness. He doubts himself and trusts in the person who seems internally strong and confident. If the person of strengths belittles and insults him, he will believe the insults. If the person of strength praises and shows confidence in him, the MLCer can learn to believe those positives. What you are doing is a form of hypnosis. Make positive statements in factual language. He will come to believe those things about him and these will be his personal beliefs--he will come to believe in himself, in reconciliation, in you and your love--in whatever you are praising with firm confidence.
Remember that Midlife Crisis Takes TIME
The purpose of Standing Actions is not immediate progress or results toward reconciliation. You are building a foundation of strength within yourself; the immediate MLCer reactions to this early structure may have been positive. You began acting and responding in a manner different than expected and he began responding and questioning his actions. But MLC doesn't work that easily. If you do not accept that MLC is a long process, you have created a cycle for yourself wherein you interpret actions as positive and thus believe he is progressing quickly--skipping ahead to the end of the MLC tunnel. Sorry, but that is not how it works. He is in MLC because he missed crucial developmental stages at an earlier age, he cannot continue to skip these stages and come through this crisis stronger and spiritually awakened.
Whenever I had doubts about my decision I would email or call my wife and as she was either crying or being a bitch it was easy to tell myself I made the right choice. When she stopped reacting I starting thinking.
When his wife stopped reacting, he started thinking. Thinking takes time. The MLCer is uncertain. Some express feelings openly and may try to return home prematurely--even multiple times. Others become quiet for their thoughts. He may seem complacent, satisfied with a life filled with cake. Or he may be privately reconsidering, but he wanted out before and turned your life upside down, he doesn't want to do that again. For some, the comfort stage is part of the process and may lead to thinking. There are many reasons for the appearance of a lack of progression.
This is another dangerous time for the Stander; many drop out at this point, which is at times only a few months in to a years-long process. He will watch you and respond. He is confused and doesn't want to let you go. In his extremes, he believes that you had a horrible marriage and you were a terrible spouse and thus wants nothing to do with you. He reveals the extremes and keeps his more common fears hidden. Some recognize they have messed up and feel you will be better without him.
Early Replayers cycle constantly, wanting out but fearing the change. The Replayer moves out and the alienator relationship becomes more serious--they may immediately move in together. This is the euphoric stage of freedom co-mixed with In-Fatuation--misleadingly called In-Love.
This initial post-bomb-drop stage is the time for foundation building. The foundation is meant to support a long-term process. There are no quick fixes. As you have gained strength, things may seem to get better and your MLCer may seems to progress. Then things get worse. The alienator relationship becomes more serious. You find even more strength and again your MLCer rethinks his actions; he may return prematurely only to leave again.
Will he crash or has he? He was very angry, behaved strangely and withdrew for several weeks. Now he is visiting regularly with kids again and seems like he did 6 months or a year ago.
This is part of cycling. Just because he seems depressed and then seems better does not mean he is better and that he was at Rock bottom. Who wants to go to rock bottom? Not me, not you, not your MLCer...so he will avoid it. Moods cycle. It takes a lot of cycles to get to rock bottom. Sometimes they are an inch above and they cycle back. Sometimes they may even hit the bottom and bounce, only to hit it again--perhaps harder and go lower as they put a dent in.
He seems like he was down and now he is coming back up, never to realize how much pain he has caused me.
Don't be so sure, many keep their pain private. Emotional highs and lows are part of the cycle and do not mean an MLCer is climbing out of the Liminal chasm; he may be climbing backwards up to where he has already been. How long was he down and how depressed did he seem? During this MLC, has he seemed this depressed before? There may be many points in the journey where he will seem depressed and you feel he can go no further down or that this level of depression will surely help him snap out of it. Eventually he should reach rock bottom and begin to journey up the other side of Liminality. He has caused you pain, but he has also caused pain for himself and before he can truly acknowledge and make amends for the damage he has caused you, he must acknowledge and begin the self-healing process.
He seems to have come to terms with the end of our marriage. He's done so much damage and shows no signs of regret or wanting to return.
How long has he been in MLC? If he is in the early phases of MLC, he may not have come to terms with anything. The early phases can last a few months to a few years. Coming to terms requires having progressed and recognized his responsibility in the destruction. A person cannot show regret for something he does not yet acknowledge. Are you trying to foresee and predict his behavior based on your standing strategies and then becoming discouraged when what you want doesn't happen? How much stock do you put in your MLCer's moods and behaviors? Does he seem different this week or month than last? Do you think he is different because he's changing his mind or progressing? Analyzing every detail of his moods and motives can send you into analysis paralysis and lead to diagnosing moments taken out of the context of cycling. You are drawing conclusions based on partial evidence. Let this MLC play out. It is not going to happen on your timeline or how you want or even expect.