Dating at Midlife/At the end of my rope



Thanks for taking the time to answer this. I have been reading your other letters and feel you have a unique perspective and wisdom that is sometimes lacking in other therapists.

Dr. Belove, I need help. I am so sad and walking around like a zombie on the verge of tears.

I am in a live-in relationship with a man who has grown children. I also have grown children. He and I are both divorced people. His wife left him after 25 years of marriage. It took them years to divorce and to this day I think he is not over it. I found out just yesterday that he left his new life insurance to his ex-wife and kids with no provision for me. I asked him why the ex-wife and he told me that his ex-wife knew that he was leaving it to her and she told him to leave her out and to give it to me instead but he did not do this.

I asked him why? Why would you do this? Don't you care what happens to me after you die. He has never wanted to get married by the way, always saying he is happy with the way things are. I have made it very clear that I want marriage to him. I love him and would like to be happily married once. Why would he leave it to her? He is not legally obligated to do it as part of his divorce. He said he does not see us together for the long haul! I was devastated. I thought we were moving into the ends of our lives together. Now I am so upset I can barely stand to talk to him.

Our relationship is not perfect but I now feel like I am a complete fool. I cook, clean and take care of him and our house. Our sex life is great. I guess I am just his whore. That is how I feel. I feel tricked. I feel like he is not the man I knew.

I had to leave for a while as I was so upset. When I came back he says he is going to change it but there was no acknowledgement of my feelings. No words of love or tenderness. he said it was none of my business who he left it to and it was just a token one percent. I said where is my token? He hit the nail on the head. If he is going to leave her money as a token, a woman who left him, then why not leave me a "token" amount? I don't believe he will change it either because he could have gone on and done it on line yesterday and he did not.

But obviously the life insurance is just symbolic of a greater problem. He is not committed to me. It was a shock. I am still in shock. I don't know what to do. I would be grateful for any wisdom you can spare. Thanks.

Hi Hope..

Let's not start with comments about the sub-text of your name and it's implications in this story. DIfficult to resist those associations.
I feel entitled to make the comment because "belove" actually is my real name, so I've heard it all.

Now, your situation.  

First, my sympathies to you. It's a hard one.

You might be able actually get through to him and make a change but it won't be easy and I don't want to give you a bunch pre-packaged homilies about what you should do.  If you really want to work with this, let's arrange for a conversation and let me hear the story in greater detail and get a more nuanced sense of what's going on with him and between you two.

My best guess for now has something to do with the patterns described in the article on my web site called "the road to hell and (sometimes) back. You might want to check it out and see where you guys fit in that scheme. It's not bad as rules of thumb go.

Essentially I'm suspecting that he is a guy who has always kept a certain piece of himself hidden. Always.  You never get to see it and neither did his wife.  He could go to his grave with that piece hidden. Yet it is important to him, that particular sensibility.

Reminds of a comment a woman once made to me. She said, "I tried to get my eye contact in when he wasn't looking."  Wanting connection, afraid to be vulnerable, that ends up making others feel exploited. Sad pattern and lose/lose on both sides.

You'll need to confront him and all this, but you'll have to find a way to do it that it's going to scare the hell out of him and isn't going to
get him to go all reactive on you and just argue back for the sake of arguing back. That's the tricky challenge.

As to feeling like a whore, you'll have to calm down a bit.  That's your sensitivity and you over state. Yes, there something fundamentally unfair in what's going on. Yes, you really do need to get back a lot more than you are currently getting. Yes, the emotional economy needs to change. There is a deep flaw in it.

Maybe it's a fatal flaw, or maybe it's just a change to break through to a new layer of intimacy that neither of you have experienced.  I'd need to know more.  I think you would need to know more, too.

Sorry to be so limited in what I'm saying now but your situation is complex and it's a mistake to over simply it, I think.

Do follow up, okay?

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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