Midlife Marriage Meltdown: Torn between Two Men

January 2, 2014

Last year, Judy says her husband of 30 years, Danny, suffered a midlife crisis, asked her for a divorce, moved out and started an affair — but now he wants her back. Judy has a new boyfriend, Lawrence, and says she's torn — and wants Dr. Phil to help her make a decision. Can this marriage be saved — or is it time to walk away?







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JudyDannyJudy and Lawrence, her new boyfriend

Danny's Midlife Crisis

Judy says that she had a “picture perfect” marriage for 30 years to her husband, Danny, who she says was her soul mate and best friend. She says her marriage started to unravel when Danny’s father passed away three years ago — and then, last year, it fell apart completely. "I didn’t know what was going on with my husband. He started not coming home from work until later in the evening," Judy recalls. “I said, ‘You’re like an ice man, you’re so cold and distant. Are you in there?'" She remembers that one day, Danny brought her donuts in the morning, and then came home that night and asked for a divorce. "And then he laughed at me," she says. "I said, 'What's wrong with you?'"

Danny explains that last year, at the age of 53, he suffered a midlife crisis. "I felt like I was at the end of my life, and you just want to live every day like it's your last," he says, adding, "Just breaking the normal routine was a sense of freedom for me." Danny admits that he would get angry when Judy questioned him about where he was going or what he was doing. "I would always have a lot of questions swirling in my head like a tornado," he recalls. Danny says he remembers telling Judy that he wanted a divorce but claims that the details of the day are a blur.

Five months later, Danny finally moved out and into his own place. Judy says that he became very secretive, so she hired a private investigator, who told her that a woman had stayed the night at Danny's house. Judy admits that when she found out about the other woman, she raged in a way she never thought was possible. She recalls going to Danny's house and finding his cell phone in his truck — which had text messages from the woman on it. She says that when Danny came outside, she snapped. "I just took my fist and beat my husband in the head," she confesses. Judy says she got back in her car and drove away, then parked somewhere and cried. "I called three people to let them know that if I went to jail, please come bail me out."

Dr. Phil asks Judy and Danny what they hope to see happen, and Danny insists that he wants to fix his marriage, no matter what it takes.

Judy says that she still loves her husband but admits that she's also very angry and hurt. "I don't know if this can be fixed," she says. "How can the love of my life just throw me away like a piece of trash and not look back? He had no emotion. He was not sincere. He didn't love me. He was just so angry."

Judy says she gave Danny a Valentine's Day card — and he left her a note telling her to move on.

“You don’t stay married 31 years, and live the beautiful life we've had and then, all of a sudden, he's just ready to walk away from everything," Judy insists. "This man worshiped the ground that I walked on. He held my hand ... A night never went by that this man didn't kiss me when we went to bed."

“We had a connection that few couples have,” Danny agrees. "I don't understand how it happened either — this mindset."

Judy's New Boyfriend

Judy says that after 10 agonizing months, she was determined to start living again, so she joined a dating website and met a man, Lawrence, whom she says she can't stop thinking about. She recalls her first meeting with Lawrence, gushing, “It was a total, instant attraction. My knees buckled when he grabbed me.” Right after their first date, Judy says Lawrence took her away for a weekend vacation.

Danny remembers going to Judy’s house and finding a note from her, explaining that she had gone out of town, along with Lawrence's contact information. He says that he suddenly realized that he had made a huge mistake by letting his wife go. “I did call her, crying to her on the phone, asking her to come back home — to forgive me — and telling her that I wanted her back in my life,” Danny confides.

Judy talks about meeting Lawrence. "Immediately, this man grabbed a hold of my heart."

"There's an old country song that says, 'How can I miss you if you won’t leave?'" Dr. Phil says to Danny. "She left. She took up with another man. And then, instantly, your midlife crisis was over," he says. He reads from a note that Danny wrote to Judy, trying to win her back, which says, in part, "My tornado has stopped. I think the trigger was knowing that you might be with someone else, and that made me realize how much I love you."

Danny explains that a few months ago, he moved back in with Judy to try to work on their marriage. He says it was "like a honeymoon" for the first few days, but then Judy told him she wasn't ready to be with him again and that she still had feelings for Lawrence — whom she continues to see.

“She has to be thinking, 'He instantly wanted me back when somebody else showed an interest. But he sure didn’t for months before that.'”

“Danny dissolved my marriage vows. I have a marriage certificate; I don't have a marriage."

A Tough Choice

Judy confides that she is having a hard time choosing between Danny and Lawrence. "When I'm with Lawrence on the weekends, I'm in my happy place," she says. "And then, as time goes by, and I have to get ready to go back home, I have to go back to reality, and I have to fight again with my emotions." Judy confesses that if she could just stay with Lawrence, she would. "But the reality of it is, Danny and I have our assets," she says. "We have our family. There's a lot to be worked out, and I don't know if I'm strong enough to go through all of that."

Dr. Phil has a word of caution for Judy. "The odds are against you here — you and Lawrence."

"You have unfinished emotional business with him," Dr. Phil tells Judy, indicating Danny. "I always tell people that there's a time to get a divorce, and the time is when you can walk out the door and say, 'I have turned over every stone. I have investigated every avenue of rehabilitation. I have no unfinished emotional business with this person.'" Dr. Phil asks Judy to commit to 90 days of professional counseling with Danny before making a decision. "If you go with Lawrence now, you will spend the rest of your life wondering what it is that caused you to walk away from a 30-year family," he insists. Dr. Phil adds that during the 90 days, Judy can't have any contact with Lawrence. "You never solve problems in a marriage by turning away from your partner, and you never solve them by bringing in a third party," he says.

Judy and Danny both agree to participate in the counseling.

Update

How did counseling go? Dr. Phil checks back in during his 2000th show.

Web Extra: Doctor on Demand

Heather suffers from hypochondria and says that her constant fears about being sick — and countless trips to doctors’ offices — are taking an emotional and financial toll on her relationship with her husband, Jason. At 28, she says that she has had more MRIs, CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds than she's had birthdays — to the tune of nearly $70,000 over the last seven years. Heather says she knows that her thoughts are irrational, but she can't seem to shake them, even with therapy.

Dr. Phil explains to Heather that she is locked in a neurological pattern about being sick. He adds that when she goes to the doctor and is reassured that she's OK, her anxiety lessens temporarily, but then it starts to build back up again. "It’s kind of like race track with no exit ramp," he comments. He offers to set Heather up with a hypochondria specialist, who can address her condition from both a psychological and a neurological perspective, and she accepts.

Dr. Phil also demonstrates the new Doctor on Demand app, which he points out could have been a time and money-saving resource for the couple. The free app, created by Jay McGraw, allows you to video chat with a board-certified physician, who can evaluate your condition and offer treatment options, all within minutes. It's currently available to residents of California and Ohio via iTunes and the Google Play Store.

See how the Doctor on Demand app works!


Doctor On Demand was created by Doctor On Demand, Inc. which is owned in part by Dr. Philip McGraw.