I have started and deleted this post several times. I’m not certain I’m getting my message across in an understandable way, but I’m going to finish this and post anyways…
I sometimes think women see us men in a similar light I look at my black Labrador. I see something that is content with life if he gets to sleep 16 hours per day, gets fed regularly, can earn kibbles for simple tricks and is constantly trying to hump the next dog. Surprise! We men can be more complex than that!
Mr. W is of a similar age as I am. In fact, when he started posting I saw several similarities in our lives. I think I might be 2-3 years older, but otherwise we are family-men, career oriented, ambitious and find comfort in our achievements. We might even (not so humbly) think we are intelligent and capable.
Then we reach a certain point in life… That point can vary but we all reach it. The catalyst for that point can be some life-altering event. My first such point was simply turning 40. Last time I reached that point was the passing of my mom 2 years ago. For Mr. W that point was your affair, and probably again his illness.
Now what does turn 40 and then years later the death of my mom have in common? Not much, only it caused ME to pause and contemplate. Turning 40 had NO factor in my mom dying of old-age related issues. Just like Mr. W first possible point (your affair) had little if any impact on his second point (the illness).
What happens at that point? Well… we start contemplating… We realize we will never become CEO’s. Have little resemblance to George Clooney. Are a bit slower in racket-ball and no longer do 200-pound press-ups for 3 reps of 20. That dad-bod is there to stay. We will never get a Ferrari. We look around and worry about our careers: Our colleagues are younger, and we worry what might happen if we are fired. We realize that chances are next Friday our highlight will be watching some show on the TV and maybe doing the home-finances…
Yes – we also contemplate family. Are we happy? Could it be better? Are the kids doing fine? Heck… we might even be trying to accept that our kid will never be the professional football player or go to Harvard on a full scholarship. We realize that the passion in our marriage is not the passion of the dating period, the spontaneity and all that. We realize that the sex isn’t always new physically near-impossible intense over the moon variety.
Whatever… We are adjusting our ambitions and dreams to reality.
So how does this end?
IMHO probably in one of two ways…
I say probably because as I already modestly stated:
We might even (not so humbly) think we are intelligent and capable.
I like to think I managed to react in the better way so I can only imagine the worse way. But I have seen it in some way or form in many of my friends…
The worse way is to become full of resentment and self-doubt. Go lease a Ferrari, get a tummy-tuck and some chemical enhancements and seek validation in external factors… like having an affair.
The better way? Evaluate your achievements and appreciate them. Find your weaknesses and changes and change them. Realize that you are mortal, that death is inevitable. Our role is to a) make the most of the time we have here and AS MEN b) ensure we take care of those we might leave behind.
I tend to focus on the former – the appreciate life and make the most of it. But I started by figuring out that if I were to drop down dead at this keyboard in the next 10 minutes my wife is taken care off for life.
The former is the issue. Mr. W might simply need time to appreciate what he’s achieved and how best to move on to reach his goals. He might need new goals, new interests, to refocus. What I did is irrelevant because that was for ME. But I can share that I worked hard at finding and getting a hobby (tried golf – didn’t work… ended with fly-fishing), increased my reading-time and actively sought out social interaction outside work and my normal groups (am on the board of a HOA and an Angling Association).
One thing that might help Mr. W.:
PART of his issue (and probably not a significant part) might be doubts about the marriage. The affair will never be positive. NEVER. But he can find great pride in how he handled the situation. The pain he took on his shoulders to save his family, the sacrifices he made to his pride and perceived masculinity, the control he showed regarding you, himself and others… The payback for those sacrifices are a lot like accumulated interest: It take a long time to see the payback and I can understand doubts about it. But there is payback. Even IF you and Mr. W eventually divorce for some reason whatsoever then you can BOTH IMHO find some pride in how you handled a terrible situation.