Hanging On to Love at Midlife
by Pam and Bill Farrel
I unwrapped the gift the leadership team had given me for speaking and out came three angels. Their names were Faith, Hope, and Love. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). We all want our marriages to be a light of love; however, at midlife, love can feel hard to grasp. As I write this, two pastors’ wives I know have left their godly husbands due to her affair. Even those of us in ministry need to come to grips with the statistics that midlife is the point at which the majority of marriages crumble. So, what can those three little angels named Faith, Hope, and Love teach us about how to protect it?
Faith: Look at the potential, the positive, and the promise in your mate.
Jeff was a very conservative pastor. That is, until he hit midlife. He grew his hair out, got his ear pierced, and talked about selling the family van to get a Harley motorcycle. His wife asked me, “Who stole my husband and when will they bring him back?”
Karen’s mentor advised her to “Appreciate him through the eyes of an 18-or 19-year-old. Your spouse doesn’t need another mother right now. He needs you to be his girlfriend.”
It will take time to be your husband’s girlfriend. Karen became her husband’s confidant and lover and encouraged him to get that Harley. Karen said, “It’s cheaper than a divorce, and he needs a new adventure!”
The result: Jeff decided to keep the family van along with the Harley, cut his hair, and returned to finish his doctorate. They then took a second honeymoon.
Karen saved her marriage, got a teammate for the second half of life, and saved their eight children a lot of pain—just by choosing to realign her priorities to be her husband’s girlfriend.
Hope: Look to God expectantly for Him to answer your prayers.
Carmen arrived home and heard noises coming from the bedroom. She found her husband and best friend in bed together. For days, she walked around shell-shocked, trying to hear from God. Her husband was saying abusive things like, “I never loved you. You give the kids all the attention. You have gained weight so I don’t find you attractive.” The words stung so intensely she, again, took her pain to God and prayed: I believe You can rescue me from this pain and save this marriage, but I don’t know what to say or not say. Show me.
God answered with some radical advice, “Keep your focus on his positive traits. Most importantly, keep your focus on Me. Carmen, only listen to the truth and only speak My truth.”
So, when her husband said, “I never loved you,” Carmen replied, “I don’t believe that. I know you meant it when you said ‘I do’ on our wedding day. I said ‘for better or for worse,’ and right now it is worse, but I believe it can get better again. So, no matter what, I’m going to tell you the truth: I choose to love you.”
Carmen began to prayer-walk with a mentor. Months went by. Then one day, her husband walked into the living room and got down on his knees. He was shaking and crying as he collapsed into Carmen’s lap and sobbed, “I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I know I don’t deserve it, but can we please start again?”
Love: Look for ways to keep extending all that is good, kind, and true, not because a person deserves it, but because it is right to be loving.
To hang on to love at midlife, you might need to learn as much as you can about men and midlife. Jim Conway, in his book, Men in Midlife Crisis, said he felt at midlife like a vending machine because people always wanted something from him. Learn more about midlife men at Jim’s website: midlife.com.
Finally, seek to be a wife who pours back love into your midlife mate. When you extend faith, hope, and love, the rest of love can be the best of love!
Adapted from Fantastic After 40 by Pam Farrel.