I noticed some men leave a long-term relationship for a younger woman. It seems so wrong. What do you think?
Imagine you have devoted the last twenty years to raising your family and you are looking forward to finally spending some quality time with your husband. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, he leaves you for a much younger woman.
How easy would it be to descend into animosity and bitterness? Such betrayal is so unfair!
We can understand those who are tempted to follow the example of the three jaded women in the blockbuster film, The First Wives Club. The wives, played by Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, seek revenge. One by one they outwit and then financially and emotionally “cripple” their cheating ex-husbands.
Ivana Trump, also appearing as herself in the movie, sums up many women’s actions with her phrase: “Don’t get mad, get everything!”
Ivana certainly did in real life, suing her immensely wealthy husband, Donald, for a fortune. Most of us don’t have such an avenue; our husbands are not so rich.
Of course, men are not the only ones who do the deserting, but anecdotal evidence suggests fewer women than men run off with someone many years their junior.
It does seem unfair when a husband deserts a loyal wife for a younger model. For years, the wife has usually put her needs last, after those of the children and her husband. She will have most likely stalled her career in favour of his, and her money-earning capacity, as a consequence, will be less. She is probably approaching middle age if not already there and beginning to lose her youthful looks. If she’s been spending most of her time helping at the school tuckshop and mixing with children, her confidence levels, in terms of the wider world, are likely to be fairly low as well. At one of the most vulnerable times in her life, she is left to cope alone, both financially and emotionally.
How could the person who vowed to love her through good times and bad, until death do them part, treat her so poorly? How could he leave?
The quick answer is he has panicked.
One day he looked in the mirror and saw one grey hair too many, or he found himself panting while climbing a set of stairs, or his father died. Maybe his business went broke or he lost a lot of money in poor investments.
He suddenly realised he was weak and mortal and, instead of facing his mortality and feelings of failure and coming to terms with it all, he got frightened. He ran, hoping to escape until he ran into the arms of the first young female that looked his way.
Don’t begrudge him his new life. He is not going to enjoy it, not for long. His new partner will want to get married and have children. Although he might enjoy some of the interaction with his second family, he is going to get tired, very tired. It will be years before he can retire – by that time the retirement age will be seventy.
His new wife will give him a hard time if he harbours any affection for you. Although such affection may be tainted with guilt, it is likely to increase proportionally to the increase in difficulties he faces new life, especially if you have been emotionally tolerant and understanding during the breakup.
He has left because he has had the typical mid-life crises. Unfortunately, he has let his emotions dictate his actions. He will probably live to regret it.
So is the “get even” approach appropriate?
Getting even keeps you hooked into him. Revenge never satisfies in the longer term. Sooner or later you have to let go and get on with your life.
Leave him to reap what he has sown. In the meantime, make the most of the opportunity he has given you. You can grow, you can learn, you can create and you can have fun.
- Decide to turn adversity into opportunity. Decide you are going to become strong and powerful.
- Join a gym, do weight-bearing exercises and aerobics. Being physically strong and healthy is a precursor to building your emotional strength.
- Seek help from a psychologist to work through your emotional baggage; you don’t need it any more.
- Pursue the interests you sacrificed in the past no matter how adventurous they seem now.
- Follow your bliss. Who or what makes you feel energised and joyful? Keep increasing into your life, contact with these people and activities.
Terri’s husband of 26 years has left her for his 27-year-old assistant. Terri feels confused and hurt. She decides she never really knew him at all. They were both so busy raising their three children that they never uncovered the real issues and differences between them.
After many months of grief, Terri decides this set back will not undo her. The children are grown up and she realises she can do what ever she likes. She can read a book after dinner instead of watching the news. She can have a bath, undisturbed on a Saturday morning. She can drop into friends for a cuppa and stay for lunch. No one is waiting for her. She is free.
There are two things Terri has always wanted to do. Paint nudes and ride a motor bike. Just thinking about the possibility of doing either, brings an adrenaline rush to her head and makes her draw in a sharp breath.
Soon, she musters up the courage to take bike-riding lessons. She loves them and is saving for a bike of her own.
With such success, she takes a life drawing class. Her technique needs some work, however, her teacher is kind and so she looks forward to the class each week.
Terri is determined to keep learning, experiencing and growing. She doesn’t know if her life would have been as full if her husband were still around. And now she doesn’t care.
No one expands or grows by feeling completely safe and secure. Adversity is necessary. At first, it feels awful dealing with the loss, the grief and the hurt of rejection. But make the decision to move on. If you accept the challenge to grow your personal power, you will be surprised how happy you can become.
Struggling in your relationships? North Brisbane Psychologists can help. Book an appointment today!