Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Has your partner gone crazy?

If your partner seems to have gone 'crazy' at midlife - suddenly voicing a wide range of extreme discontents that you have not heard before - this is also a crisis for you. Life as you knew it has suddenly been disrupted and it is not even your choice. What do you do? There are two coping strategies at the extreme ends that you want to avoid. On one end is feeling over responsible for where your partner has landed, and assuming it is up to you to 'fix' things. Recognize that if you are pulling your own hair out in a frustrated attempt to get things back to where they were - it is your own anxiety that is working on you. You are certainly entitled to that anxiety under the circumstances, but in the short run it will be more effective to work on managing the anxiety directly and taking care of yourself. It might help to not take everything you hear from your partner as a literal truth at this point. The other end of the coping strategy continuum is a little more subtle to describe. On this end, you discount anything your partner has to say as a symptom of his or her midlife craziness. Here is the temptation to adopt more of the stance of a victim. No matter what the circumstances when we start down the victim path we feel our life is just circumstances that are happening to us. If only those circumstances would line for us for once, then all will be OK. There is not much sense of personal power and self-direction down this path. You are not the cause of your partner's apparent temporary insanity, even if they directly or indirectly insinuate that you are. But we do not want leave you as an innocent victim is this drama. There may well be something here for you to look at in your own life. The most effective strategies for coping with your partner's crisis are found in the middle ground between these two extremes.

© Copyright David Aspenson

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