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Of Mid-Life Crisis Affairs

Posted Dec 10 2008 12:18am

As John Edwards demonstrated, there is no timeline for a midlife affair. Was it precipitated by a crisis? Were there any indications that he wanted to leave his wife and end the marriage? Only he knows for certain, although it seemed important that the voyeur-watching public know that his wife’s cancer was in remission.

Affairs are never about sex, IMHO. I knew a colleague who, while never having had sex with her coworker, was having an affair nonetheless. Their relationship involved sharing intimate details that neither wanted to share with his/her spouse.

Affairs are really about violating a trust. And any committed relationship, regardless of marital status, can succumb to a midlife affair.

While midlife seems to be the time when men and women tend to stray, it’s not necessarily a cookie-cutter midlife crisis affair, e.g. "My wife/husband never touches me."

For example, a woman asked a UK newspaper columnist, “ Is my partner having a mid-life crisis? ” when her husband’s behavior changed dramatically after learning that his step-daughter was pregnant. Apparently, when she called him “Grandpa” jokingly, he snapped.

The columnist’s advice was to hang tough; give him time and space to sort things through.

I met a 54-year-old Englishman at a party last weekend who told me of divorcing his wife after 20 years because she wouldn’t (or couldn’t) stop coddling their 20-something. He, too, snapped. He didn’t volunteer whether he was having an affair or not.

While clearly he was a man in crisis, a sexual affair might have been the better choice. His story sounded like a classic case of midlife neglect.

Who knows anymore? There are as many midlife crisis affairs as there are reasons to have one.

But it’s when you’re being dishonest with yourself that you really land in the soup, regardless of age, gender or country of origin.

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