Depression Mid-life Crisis Relationship

What just happened to us?

March 15th 2016

Dear Wendi,

My wife and I have been in marrage counseling for the last six monrths.  Due to holidays and such I think we had maybe ten sessions. In out last one,a week ago,  my wife told me that it was over. She says she loves me but can’t stay married to me anymore. I got the “It’s not you- its me thing.” She can’t tell me why she feels this way or what started it.  I have no answers and I don’t think I will ever get them.

I was devastated, and screamed myself hoarse on the drive home, in separate cars.  I am bouncing between being on the verge of sobbing and wanting to see the world burn. Some of that raged burned out after I shouted all my pain at her the morning after.  She says she wants to be friends and help me.  Its like she wants it both ways.  I don’t want the kids to hate her because she is a very good mother to them.  I turn 50 this summer and am going to be looking for work. I don’t like my prospect.  How do I move forward from this?  My wife has been seeing a therapist since the Summer. We had a couples therapist, I had just started seeing one for me because duh, about a month ago I realized I was depressed. How do you move on from rejection after you have been deeply in love with someone for 25 years? My wife says we can try a trial seperation, to see if absence make the heart grow fonder.  I don’t see it working because I don’t see anything I have to offer.



2nd email written July 29th 2016.

Dear Wendi,

My wife is divorcing me after being married for 23 years. She said that she felt we were drifting apart for the last ten years. I only felt like she had been drifting from me the last year and a half.

We are going through the process of divorce now.  She has already worked everything out so she (I think) is looking at things logically.  I am still trying to deal with things emotionally.  She has said that I am still the same person but she is not and no longer wants to be married to me, even though I am a great guy.

My question is how do I move on?  How do I let go?  I asked a friend of mine how do I stop loving her.  My friend replied, “Why do you have to stop loving her?”  I know my wife is gone and over me.  She had detached from me long before she said it was over.  While we were in a counseling session she said she was still trying to make it work but that love and that intimacy had been gone at least 6 months.

I miss her.  I miss being with her. I miss what we had, even if it wasn’t what I thought it was.  I wanted to work together to make it something it could be, but it is not to be.

How do I let go and move on?



Hey J –

First, I’m so sorry you’re going through this difficult challenge.   Unfortunately, you and your wife are experiencing one of the most common problems in marriage during mid-life.   Sadly, the core of these challenges start small when people are newly married and then grow into a bit of a beast during mid-life.  “It” happened along the way.  Growing apart and losing those essential connections required to stay together over the long haul happens to the best of us.   It’s also not uncommon for one partner to feel something is wrong for “10 years” and the other sees it as a recent thing.   How is this possible?  Because that is the definition of disconnected.  Disconnection plus time usually equals love lost.

I don’t know enough about your situation to say what the “core problem” is in the relationship, but all couples have them.  The therapeutic term is “perpetual problem.”  Often a marriage can have the perpetual problem of poor communication or role, duty and responsibility confusion, disconnections with sex, in-laws, children, or finances.  Often these core problems go undiscovered or ignored for years.   Without skills, knowledge, work and sometimes professional help,  attempts to stay connected fade and people grow apart instead of course correcting every day to stay together.   Couples get used to a fuzzy or unsatisfying connection…kids come, bills pile up, roles and dreams diverge and disconnections don’t get repaired.  Then of course, time flies.

I know this seems so unfair and like being blindsided.  It really sucks and I’m sorry.    So I’ll do my best to answer your question – “how do I move on?”   This is overly simplified of course, but I believe there are 3 ingredients you’ll need.   Help, time and change.

  1. Do not do this alone.  Get support from loved ones, friends, a therapist, a group, anyone but your kids and soon to be ex-wife.  This is not easy I know – but will make a huge difference down the road.
  2. You’ll need to grieve the death of your marriage, the death of your wife as your wife and it will not be easy and will take time.  I don’t know how long, but longer than you’ll want it to take.   Get good at grieving.  Read some books, join a group, let yourself cry, be angry, whatever you need and get support with this process.
  3. Embrace the changes that are coming.  Let yourself change too.  Let go of pride and pain, work on yourself and your personal baggage, then you can emerge on the other side a person that you are proud of and like to be around.  So often people are stuck in wanting the things that used to be a given but are no longer theirs –like love or affection or loyalty or trust.  The longer you hold on to hoping things won’t change, the harder this will be and the longer it will take for you to find happiness again.

Warmest regards,