“Women marry men hoping that the man will change. Men marry women hoping the woman will not change. Inevitably, they both end up disappointed.” Albert Einstein
My client, who I’ll refer to as Rachel worshiped the ground he walked upon when she met her husband (those are her words). They met in church at the age of 17 and 19. She was a beautiful young woman. She became a good wife and mother. But she was also dynamic, energetic and happy, gaining energy from being around other people.
But believe it or not, she didn’t have a strong sense of self and didn’t trust her own instincts…since those instincts felt rebellious and a little dangerous. Rachel knew – even twenty years ago – that if she married the man who is now her husband, he would prevent her from getting into too much trouble. He was a good man, a handsome man, a Christian man and also a controlling man.
And she was willing to be controlled…so it worked for them.
Until that little rebellious and free spirit inside of her began to bubble to the surface again in her late-30s.
Now, when she expresses her desires, her husband gets angry and says: “I don’t even know who you are anymore!”His wife is changing and he just wants the woman he married back.
After doing this work with women for years (and experiencing it myself first-hand), I have some observations about how a woman changes over time*:
In our 20s – mid-30s, we get busy creating the perfect life: completing our education, reaching for a career, finding a long-term relationship, maybe even getting married, creating a home and starting a family. We have big plans for our lives and enough energy to pursue all of them.
Between our mid-30s – mid-40s, we begin to let the quiet whispers of our heart rise to the surface, getting more in touch with our needs, dreams, desires and preferences. We begin to question the expectations of other people for our lives and anything that feels inauthentic. We’re in a state of becoming, but it can be a bit confusing once you start mixing in the judgments of good and bad, right and wrong, the shoulds and shouldn’ts. All of our needs and desires seems to fly in the face of everything we’ve been taught about being the selfless, nurturing wife and mother we are expected to be.
Between our mid-40s – mid-50s, we are fully shedding the thoughts about what others think of us and wanting to fully embrace all the parts of ourselves. It can look a little rebellious because it is changing the rules of engagement for how you engage with others, which can be confusing for the people around you.
And by our mid-50s, well…if we haven’t yet embraced the changes within ourselves along the way, this is when all hell breaks loose. People around you will call it a mid-life crisis. I like to call it a mid-life awakening. Our souls have woken up and they’re not going back to sleep. We step into ourselves fully and learn to love the woman we find (even when others do not).
Although Rachel’s husband is not my client, I have some good news and bad news for him:
Your wife is changing…The bad news: This new version of your wife you’re experiencing isn’t going to become quieter and get back into that nice, tidy, good Christian wife and mother box. It’s only going to be expressed in different ways more forcefully through time.
Your wife is changing…The good news (and it really is good news because it gives him control about how he feels): As his wife is changing, he can choose to embrace the change, to discover and re-discover each new woman she becomes. Or he can push against reality and anytime you argue with reality, you will suffer. He has the option to get curious about who Rachel is today and not hold onto his expectations of who he wants her to be, maybe even creating a new and better relationship together that more represents who each of them is today. Or he could choose to suffer. And it really is a choice.
Maybe you or someone you know needed to hear this…..If so, please share it with them.