What Happens to Marriage in Midlife?
Those who are in midlife and have been married for decades know that the middle years can be awful tough on relationships.
Many might say to their partner at this point, “You’re not the person I married.” And they would be right, but that is because… they never were.
Human beings have an amazing ability to make-up in our heads what we want and need in a relationship, and then project that image onto our love object. We can even convince ourselves quite nicely that this person we just met is exactly what we want and need right now.
On our wedding day, few are conscious of the enormous expectations we have placed upon our love partner. Expectations such as: “I’m counting on you to make my life meaningful.” “I’m counting on you to anticipate my every need.” “I’m counting on you to complete me and make me a whole person.”
Over the years we come to realize how disappointed we are in this mere human being, who did not live up to our expectations, but then who could have? In early love relationships, we actually fell in love with the missing parts of ourselves.
What do we do now? We can blame our spouses, and then move on to other relationships, as so many do. Or we can find those missing parts and take ownership over our projections, realizing that we are the ones who will have to make our lives meaningful, anticipate our own needs, and make ourselves complete.
This is the true challenge of midlife, the challenge to mature into your second adulthood where you are in charge of all aspects of your life. We need to let go of all wishful thinking and rescue fantasies, and do our own work on ourselves.
Whether your midlife marriage survives is completely up to you and your spouse. The true challenge comes from within.
Spend the time to ask yourself: Can you become an individual who does not blame others for your own unhappiness?
Self-responsibility is tough, but can lead to such a beautiful feeling of liberation!
Laura Lee Carter, MA Counseling Psychology, is the founder of MidlifeCrisisQueen, where this post originally appeared. The blog is dedicated to helping others turn their own midlife crises into important opportunities for personal change. Besides working as a psychotherapist specializing in Midlife Psychology, Laura Lee writes for national magazines and has also authored books on love and midlife change. Follow her on Twitter: @midlifequeen. Please also visit http://www.howtobelieveinloveagain.com/