Midlife Relationships – Searching for Meaning Within the Chaos
Chaos. Confusion. Turmoil. Sleepless nights. Loss of meaning.
These are some of the key elements of midlife relationship breakdown.
You are left wondering — what has happened to my life?
What do I do now?
At midlife, we may experience a breakdown in the way that we’ve managed our life. We begin to understand that we may not know who we truly are and what is in control of our lives.
This can be a big surprise to most of us and causes us great upset and turmoil. If we take time to understand what’s happening for us, we can feel less anxious and fearful.
Much of the first half of life consists of us creating a persona – which is a socially acceptable way of engaging with the world – and in the process of doing so, we can neglect our truth or inner reality.
At midlife, parts of ourselves that we have repressed or not recognized within ourselves, begin to bubble up from within us.
All of this is happening outside of our conscious awareness, so until something difficult or uncomfortable happens to us, we are unaware.
Many of us begin to realize that we may have repressed much of our personality. Anger and sexuality may show up in ways that are troubling for us, and we may not know why this is happening, because we’ve always believed that we could control our feelings and beliefs.
Now, we must go back and pick up the parts of ourselves that we left behind. In the process, our primary relationships may change because we are changing – even if we don’t want to.
At this time, we may say to our partner, you are not the person I married or met, and that is true, because they never really were. We usually fall in love with missing parts of ourselves – then we project that ideal on to our partner. They never actually were that ideal, it was your projection.
When our relationship changes or ends in divorce, we feel completely lost. We thought we had found the ‘magical’ other – the person that we believed would save us and heal our inner wounds.
The truth about our intimate relationships is that they can’t really save us, we must save ourselves. Our relationships with our partners can never be any better than the relationship we have with ourselves.
You may be like many people who haven’t ever taken time to know and understand yourself until a painful or difficult time in your life – like when an important relationship breaks down.
At this time, you take time to know yourself more deeply. To integrate all aspects of yourself and live from your inner reality or truth – something that you may not have ever truly known.
Relationships are important to us and we ask a lot of them.
We ask them to help us attain a feeling of greater meaning and connection in our lives. We want to fuse together with our partner, in an effort to experience connection and wholeness with them. This hope comes from a place within us that feels partially inadequate in the face of the immensity of the world.
In the process of fusing with our partner, we actually impede the growth and development of both partners.
At midlife, we must replace the fusion model of relationship because it does not work over the long term – and replace it with a model where each person in the relationship takes responsibility for their own well-being. Each person can receive support and encouragement from each other – but they do not perform the tasks of development for each other.
Relationships at midlife exist to support each person to become more fully themselves and allow them to take personal responsibility for themselves.
To have a mature relationship, one must be able to say – no one can give me what I most want and need – only I can.
What is possible now, is that you can celebrate and invest in the relationship for what it does offer – love, companionship, mutual respect and support – and the opportunity to share your life with someone who is different from you, and can help you grow.
When the landscape of your life and your relationships changes at midlife, you may want to take some time to understand yourself more fully and deeply.
Let’s make sense of it together.
Contact me to learn more about how I can support you.
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