Looking for the One Foot Out the Door: Musings on Abandonment

abandonment

One of the things that betrayed spouses face on a daily basis are feelings of abandonment. Sometimes these feelings are barely lurking in the background as fleeting shadows as you go about your day. Other times these feelings are at the forefront of your mind and enter your mind with a ferocity that leaves you a mere puddle on the floor, crying your day away.

By Sarah P.

You have been abandoned and as a result, you have been changed.

An author from Gaiam, an online blog, describes abandonment accurately and succinctly:

“Being abandoned can be one of the most difficult situations any of us will ever have to face. Abandonment issues can trigger depression, mistrust, and irrational amounts of fear. These issues affect daily life, careers, friendships and romantic relationships. But if you’ve been abandoned, you’re not alone — even though you might feel that way…

Abandonment is a complex issue. Similar to dealing with the death of a loved one, abandonment involves a deep sense of loss.

But unlike grieving over a departed friend or relative, there is little or no closure with abandonment. In some cases, there are no goodbyes and no last words; just loss. The finality of death is certain, but abandonment issues deal with the uncertainty of whether the loved one will ever return, why they left in the first place, and whether or not the one abandoned will ever be able to trust the one who abandoned them again. And like being rejected, being abandoned may usher in an extreme loss of self-worth.” (1)

 

What is some of the fallout of being abandoned?  Well, aside from leveling your self-esteem and sense of self, one of the major things that abandonment does is it can subconsciously lead you to participate in behaviors that ensure future abandonment. Or, it could lead you to building a wall so high, no one gets in, not even trustworthy people such as your children or other beloved relatives. Or, it could cause you to participate in many different self-sabotaging behaviors that include self-medicating with addictive substances.

Relationship coach Jordan Gray further describes abandonment:

“Abandonment differs from a general grieving in that it commonly takes a massive hit on your self-esteem.

You take the abandonment as a reflection on your value as a person and you internalize their decision as your fault. When someone unexpectedly abandons you, a part of your mind quickly gravitates towards “I must have made this happen. How can I blame myself for them leaving me? In what ways am I unlovable?”

If left unchecked, the emotional residue from abandonment can wreak havoc on your personal life and overall sense of self.

This internalization of the abandonment often leads to more toxic emotions like shame, and deeply rooted insecurities, and toxic behaviours like addictions, compulsions, and self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. This is by no means a compressive list and addictive or self-medicating behaviours can take many forms…

Abandonment often leads to resistance towards letting yourself love anyone. You don’t feel like you’re worthy of letting someone close and so you keep everyone away with a hardened exterior.

You may also self-sabotage your relationships because you fear letting someone get close to you, and so you ensure that they never can by cheating on them, pushing them away, or leaving them abruptly as the swift and heavy door slams shut between the two of you and you hold yourself back from feeling anything towards them.” (2)

 

If you have been following my blog posts for a while, you will pick out a subtlety in the above. It has something I have written about in the past as a reason why some people cheat. I have said in the past that even though it seems outrageous, some people actually cheat so that they do not have to get close to their partner. Affairs automatically drive enormous wedges between people. For people who fear genuine closeness or feeling emotionally exposed, having an affair with another feels like the perfect solution, even if this form of self-sabotage does not register on a conscious level. If a person has an affair, he or she does not have to give his or her full self to the relationship. They are giving small parts away to their spouse and their lover, thus getting close to neither.

I have noted that when people have been profoundly hurt and abandoned in childhood, they can have one of two reactions: codependence or radical and illogical self-reliance. It is my opinion that women more easily fall into codependent behaviors and men more easily fall into radically self-reliant behavior.

However, you don’t have to have experienced abandonment in childhood to develop issues with severe abandonment as an adult. If a husband or wife abandons you with no warning, it does not matter how emotionally healthy you were before the abandonment.

If you try to talk to others about how profoundly your life has been changed, some may not understand it. One of the main problems with abandonment is that those who have not experienced it confuse it with being left by someone. But, being left by someone and being abandoned are two different things.

Consider the actual definitions of leaving versus abandonment:

“Leave and Abandon are two words in the English language that are often used as interchangeable words. They are not interchangeable in character for there is some difference in their meaning and connotations.

The word ‘leave’ gives the sense of ‘go away from’ as in the sentence ‘I shall leave the park in an hour’. In the sentence the word ‘leave’ is used in the sense of ‘going away from the park in a specified period of time’.

On the other hand the word ‘abandon’ is used in the sense of ‘give up completely’. Look at the two sentences given below:

  1. He abandoned the hope.
  2. He abandoned his home and went to the forest.

In the first sentence you get the idea that the person has given up the hope completely. In the second sentence you get the idea that the individual has given up or left his home for ever and retired to the forest. This is the major difference between the two words.

In other words, it can be said that the word ‘abandon’ gives the additional sense of ‘giving up something forever’ as in the expression ‘abandoned the game’. The expression gives the meaning that the person has given up the game forever.

The word ‘abandon’ gives an extra sense of ‘forsake’ or ‘desert’ as in the sentence ‘he abandoned his children’ in the sense of ‘he deserted his children’.

On the other hand the word ‘leave’ gives the sense of ‘depart without taking’ as in the sentence ‘he left his gloves in his home’. Here it means that the person departed from his home without taking his gloves. The word ‘leave’ is often followed by the preposition ‘for’ as in the sentence ‘he is leaving for Paris tonight’. The two words should be used with precision and care.” (3)

 

What is my definition of abandonment?

Abandonment is something that happens forever and is final. Leaving implies a return; if there is a return, there is hope. Abandonment gives no sense of hope because the victim has no say in the matter – there is no talking it through –  the abandoner has made up her mind and her victim has no choice.

One of the reasons abandonment hurts so much is because the victim simply has no say and usually no warning. It is such a shock to a person. Abandonment feels so terrible because it is a very personal and utter rejection of the victim’s entire self and subsequently it destroys a victim’s sense of self.

Abandonment is as final as death, only the person who abandoned the victim did not die. The person who abandoned his or her victim is alive and well somewhere living his or her life. The person who was abandoned wonders what they did to cause such abandonment and they might wonder for the rest of his or her life.  The person who knows the answer as to why they abandoned their partner, but simply refuses to give it. Even though the perpetrator is alive, he or she prevents their victim from having any kind of closure and having to spend their entire lives guessing what about themselves was so horrid that they were left without warning.

Since a victim’s feelings were so heinously disregarded, the victim might begin to believe he or she was equally heinous. A victim might start to hate himself or herself and to fear everyone around them. A victim might think of even the tiniest flaws and believe the simplest things caused abandonment.

Another affect of abandonment is that the world a person once loved immediately becomes foreboding and untrustworthy. The victim of abandonment realizes that whatever he or she believed was true about their life was not true. Worse, the abandoner will not even give the tiniest hint to his or her victim of whether or not anything in their past relationship was actually genuine.

My story…

In the case of my ex, he emotionally abandoned me and refused to tell me why. He lied, he gaslighted me, and then he became violent so that I had no choice but to leave our mutually owned home. (Yes, you can still be emotionally and physically abandoned if you are forced to move out under extreme duress and force.) I begged him for answers and each time I did it, he only told me more lies and started tearing down my self-esteem.

A couple of days before his violence forced me to leave, I was sitting on the den couch reading. He wanted to talk about a piece of mutually owned furniture and I said to keep it. As he was exiting the room, he looked me square in the face and said out of the blue: “you know, you have a higher chance of dying in an airplane crash than getting married after 30.” Then he chuckled and left. I was 29.5 years old when he said that.

At that point, I thought I was going to lose my sanity.

Not only was he cancelling the engagement and a future wedding, he would not tell me why. I asked several times if there was someone else and each time it was met with yelling and denying. He swore on the Bible there was no one else. (How low can you go?)  I was asking him to try to work it out and he kept saying “no” without giving me a reason.

Worst, he knew it was my dream to be married and to have a family. So, why on earth did he have to pour salt into the wound and then twist a knife around by telling me I would die in a plane crash before getting married or having children. Why?

To this day, I can remember this scene as if it was yesterday. The cruelty involved in telling me this was unfathomable.

The only thing I had done during the period between breaking up and me being forced out was to beg him to give it another try.

I never called him any bad words. I never yelled at him. We slept in separate beds. I cannot even begin to describe how painful it is to need to desperately be comforted and to know the source of both your pain and the one who could give comfort was only a room away. There were nights all I could do was weep, that is, if I was not in a full-blown panic attack and unable to breathe. He knew all of this and pretended it was not happening. Honestly, I would rather die than have to live that horror show ever again.

The other game he played was he refused to take back the engagement ring or any of the jewelry he had given me, which was worth several thousand dollars. He kept saying, “You keep it. I could care less.” But, I kept telling him to take it since I did not want a reminder of this chapter in my life; this is exactly why he wanted me to keep that reminder. How cruel is that?

Once again, what kind of absolute cruelty does it take for someone to do this? Now I know that the other woman probably orchestrated all of it—even the cruelty—because I was dealing with a person I no longer knew. Sure, he looked the same, but his former self had been replaced but a cruel man I didn’t recognize.

The whole break-up was affecting my performance at work. I had to approach my boss and ask for a leave of absence and tell her it was over a break-up. She did not understand why I was so upset, but she was nice enough to give me a short leave of absence.

It took only about a week after I moved out for coworkers to approach me with what they saw. The other woman was bragging about her ‘poach’ and was introducing him as her fiancé at a party where there were mutual friends. One woman who had my back pulled out as much backstory as she could from the OW herself. She knew I needed information because she could see that not knowing was killing me. This woman was also a strong Christian and she and I had prayed together before. So, she had extreme compassion for me and decided to find out as much as she could for me. And the OW was happy to brag to her about how she poached him and the fact that she had moved into my home the day I left.

My coworkers story was corroborated by many others since we worked in the same industry and knew many people in common. Everyone at work sided with me on one level or another and many women came to show solidarity.

Twisted Thinking

Affairs twist people’s minds in the strangest ways and make them see life through a different filter. For example, a woman that I could tell hated me came to show solidarity and apologize to me how she had treated me when we were working on a project together.  Then, she told me why she treated me badly despite my kindness toward her.

She was a very tall, slim, beautiful blond who looked like Olivia Newton John. Physically speaking, I was her opposite. I am only about 5’5,’ have hazel eyes and auburn hair and I was built very differently than her. She told me that the reason she hated me was her first husband left her for a woman who looked almost identical to me. I was shocked and told her that her husband was a fool. Clearly between the two of us, she was more attractive. But, I guess it’s like comparing apples and oranges. We were so different looking in all ways that one cannot really say who is more attractive. I am one type, she is another, but I have always wanted to look like someone like her, if I had a preference. So, I told her she was more attractive than me and that it just goes to show men don’t necessarily choose someone more attractive than their wives.

We became friends and she told me that was healing to her to realize someone can look like the woman who poached her spouse, but I was incredibly moral and also having been victimized by infidelity, like she had. I helped her pick out the right guy for her and they got married and are still going strong, I still think of that to this day. I had always wondered what I had done to offend her. But, I had done nothing—I merely reminded her of the most painful time in her life and so it colored her entire world. 

Back to my ex…

I hired an attorney to talk to him about selling the house because I could not stand to talk to him and be gaslighted me some more. About 10 months after the break-up, he violated an order I had filed with HR that told him not to talk to me or approach me. But, he figured out I would go and work in a particular conference room alone before I ran morning meetings. So, he would come into the conference room and try to intimidate me by putting his hands on my back or shoulders and generally getting into my personal space. I did not acknowledge him and stopped going to the conference room early.

I still look back at this and ask myself why. Why did he have to be so cruel? Why did he have to assert physical control over me months after the break-up and in violation of an HR order? Why was continued intimidation and taunting so important to him?

What kind of person does this?

The more I go over the details of my story, the more I realize I was unfortunately engaged to a very charming sociopath. When someone else came along, he had no problem with throwing me away, but also got pleasure out of taunting me over it.

I had had serious boyfriends before him – all long-term relationships – and each relationship ended due to the usual life events of 20-somethings. Someone was moving to another country, or another was moving to another coast, or things just mutually fizzled out. There was no trauma. I had not known real trauma until my ex did what he did to me.

He ended up marrying the other woman and having a son and a daughter with her. I wonder how his daughter would feel if she knew her dad was a sociopath who could become violent if not getting his way. Worse, I wonder how he will react if his daughter ever encounters a similar situation. Will he make a connection that he did all those things to me years ago or will he see himself as a noble husband and father who will preach loudly about how he would never treat a woman that way.

My guess is that some of the worst perpetrators actually paint themselves as victims. For example, when psychologists interview serial killers, they almost always spin a story of victimhood and believe they should be let out of jail. Very few genuinely come to their senses and realize what they have done. Some will read the Bible and pretend they have changed, but in many cases I do not believe it is so.

Was it my fault?

When my ex abandoned me, I asked everyone around me what I did to hurt him. Was there something that I did that drove him away?

While no one is perfect, I will say the following about myself. I am not a yeller and never have been, I have never touched anyone in anger – not even my ex during my deepest moments of pain.  I am supportive of other people’s goals and try to help them reach their goals. I always had my ex’s back at work. I always made sure there was a fresh cooked three-course meal for dinner (after a 10-12 hour day).

One time, after we first broke up, a therapist asked me directly if perhaps I was frigid towards him in a physical way. When I gave the therapist the actual answer about my intimate life with my ex, she just about dropped her pad of paper. She said she had never encountered a couple that could keep the same passion (as the day they met) going for several years. Yes, that is TMI, but I hate the myth of the frigid woman and I have heard one too may people say about betrayed wives that they obviously did not know how to please their men. And when they say it, they act as if that’s a valid excuse for abandonment of a wife or for a man to have affairs. Even if a woman is so-called “frigid,” she did not cause her abandonment.

Also, I made a very concerted effort towards his family—his parents, aunt’s, uncles, and cousins. In fact, his mom actually made me seem like a problem because of this.

One Thanksgiving, I spent it with his extended family. There were many different tables set up. We happened to sit at a table with his female cousin and her boyfriend. I spent the evening laughing it up with them, getting to know them and genuinely showing them that I was interested in having a good relationship with them.

Afterwards, my ex got a lecture from his mom about my behavior. Can you guess what she was angry about? Was she angry because we did not sit with her and her husband? No. Had I said something offensive? No. Had I done something offensive? No. So what was she so angry about? She was angry that I reached out to my ex’s cousins and invited his female cousin and her boyfriend to stay with us if they wanted to come to our area.

So why was that a problem?

Well, that was a problem because my ex’s mom believed the cousin and her boyfriend were “riff raff nobodies” and that me associating with them was embarrassing. Why were they riff raff? It was because they had not gone to college.  They worked fulltime, but that was still unacceptable to my ex-MIL. (My ex’s mom had not gone to college either—and so it was very ironic that she would criticize her own family members for the very same thing she had not done herself.) Can someone say narcissist?

So why am I rehashing how I was in a relationship with him?

Well, because I tried my best to be the perfect fiancé. I was crazy about him and loved him from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to make him feel like a King, my King. According to books on relationships, I did everything right.

But then, he still had an affair and abandoned me.

I want the narrative that says a woman did something to “force her husband to cheat” to die for good. I want the narrative that a normal woman caused her own abandonment to die for good. I want women who have given their whole selves and lives to their husbands and children to STOP being blamed as the cause of a husband’s affair. It makes the husband seem like a victim, rather than the wife (who is the real victim.) The husband made a choice. He could be married to the most perfect woman on the planet and still make a stupid choice – a choice the wife had nothing to do with. It has to do with his selfishness, or entitlement, or their ego, or just because the wind was blowing toward the west that day. There is no excuse for it.

(To the betrayed men out there, I am not talking about you. And I do have a section for you later in this post.)

What Are Universal Core Emotional Needs?

Everyone, whether male or female, young or old, black or white, has core emotional needs that need to be met. Here is Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs:

People need to have each category met, starting at the very bottom. These categories are inter-twined and not strictly separate.

Physiological needs include very basic needs to survive: food, shelter, clothing, air, and water. Safety needs include: well-being, financial security and an overall sense of being safe in one’s environment. Love/belonging needs include: friendship, intimacy, family, and a sense of being loved. Esteem needs include: getting respect from others, self-esteem, and self-respect. True self-esteem comes from within due to competence, self-mastery, successful experiences, and independence. Finally, self-actualization has to do with achieving one’s full-potential and an implied inherent duty of each of us to reach our full potential. If you look around, it is easy to see that most of us never achieve true self-actualization.

Let’s look at Maslow’s hierarchy and how abandonment can disrupt it…

If someone is truly abandoned, all areas of the hierarchy will be disrupted at least temporarily.

Let’s go back to my story with my ex. The first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy was disrupted because he caused physical harm to me in order me to abandon our mutually owned home. Note, my name was the first on the title and I had put more money into it. So, my inherent need for shelter was removed.

Next, let’s look at how my safety needs were interrupted. Well, I no longer felt safe in my environment because my ex proved to me I was not safe by becoming violent. Thus, my safety needs were not met.

Next, let’s look at my need for love. Obviously, his love was removed without notice along with his friendship. A very important thing to note—he and I were very good friends before we dated and he was a wonderful friend before he abandoned me.

Next on the pyramid is esteem. Obviously, I had failed terribly in terms of having a successful experience with him or mastering our relationship.

Finally, during the time I was grieving the most, self-actualization was very far away. At that time I was suicidal and had I ended my life, any chance of self-actualization would have been obliterated, along with anything else.

We can analyze how abandonment affects us through actual psychological constructs like Maslow’s Hierarchy, but all of us know purely from a common sense perspective how abandonment hurts it when we have experienced it.

Also, infidelity is a type of abandonment even if the wayward husband or wife chooses to stay. Infidelity causes a betrayed spouse to be cast adrift in a sea of uncertainty where there are no guiding lights or anchors. It is the proverbial Dark Night of the soul. The person who normally comforts you after trauma has become the perpetrator of trauma. Abandonment, whether physical or emotional, is truly the most unsettling and soul-destroying thing that can occur in life.

It makes a person feel as if the world is unsafe. It causes distrust everywhere a person looks. Even a smiling face can look sinister because for the person who has been abandoned, they no longer know if such a smile is sincere.

How does it feel to be an abandoned wife?

Vikki Stark says,

Wife Abandonment Syndrome is when a husband leaves his wife out-of-the-blue without ever having told her that he was unhappy in the marriage. Following his sudden departure, he replaces the caring he’d typically shown her with anger and aggression. He often moves directly in with a girlfriend, leaving his bewildered wife totally devastated.  Although recovery is a struggle, many women find that it forces them to reinvent themselves in positive and exciting new ways. I went through it myself when my husband of 21 years left suddenly from our apparently happy marriage. I was devastated! As a psychotherapist, I needed to understand what happened. I conducted the Sudden Wife Abandonment Project in which I heard from women all over the world and was shocked to identify a very specific pattern to how men suddenly leave their wives.”(3)

 

We interviewed Vikki several months ago and I also have an article on runaway husbands. But, there seems to be a difference in how each gender abandons the other.

In Vikki’s case, she had finished her first book tour and her husband was there each day to cheer her on from afar and to support her. She returned from the tour and everything was wonderful. That is, until he told her with no warning something was wrong, he was leaving, and so he left for another woman without warning or explanation. He was a coward just like my ex. Most of the time, men will act like everything is great until the moment they leave. This is very confusing for women and torturous.

When a Wife Leaves Her Husband

It seems women do not “abandon” their marriages out of the blue with no warning. Wives often report they have been expressing disappointments for a long time and these disappointments have not been fixed to a wife’s satisfaction. These disappointments have been festering for many years and most women do not wake up one day and abandon their marriage, never to be seen again.

Even though this section is about why women leave, our male readers need to take this with a grain of salt. Our male readers have done nothing wrong. This section is about what women report (or the excuses they make) when they leave their marriages. Just because they make these excuses, does not make them true. This is a peek into how women reason through these things.

The two most common reasons for a woman to leave a marriage are mental cruelty and neglect. (I wanted to state again, even if a woman says it, it does not mean she is telling the truth.) Here is what Dr. Willard Harley (a man) reports after years of counseling and studying marriages. Dr. Harley says this:

“The most common reason women give for leaving their husbands is “mental cruelty.” When legal grounds for divorce are stated, about half report they have been emotionally abused. But the mental cruelty they describe is rarely the result of their husband’s efforts to drive them crazy. It is usually husbands being indifferent, failing to communicate and demonstrating other forms of neglect.

Another reason for divorce reported almost as much as mental cruelty is “neglect” itself. These include both emotional abandonment and physical abandonment. Husbands that work away from the home, sometimes leaving their wives alone for weeks at a time, fall into this category.

When all forms of spousal neglect are grouped together, we find that it is far ahead of all the other reasons combined that women leave men. Surprisingly few women divorce because of physical abuse, infidelity, alcoholism, criminal behavior, fraud, or other serious grounds. In fact, I find myself bewildered by women in serious physical danger refusing to leave men that threaten their safety.

Simply stated, women leave men when they are neglected. Neglect accounts for almost all of the reasons women leave and divorce men.

I have little trouble convincing most men that verbal and physical abuse are legitimate reasons for their wives to leave. And there has been increasing social pressure on men lately to avoid hurting their wives physically and verbally, which makes my job even easier.

But neglect is a much tougher sell, and it is also much more difficult to overcome than abuse. While it is the most important reason women leave men, it is hard to convince men that it is a legitimate reason, something they should avoid at all costs.

Some of the common complaints I hear from women is, “He ignores me except when he wants sex, he sits and watches television when he could be talking to me, he rarely calls me to see how I’m doing, he hurts my feelings and then never apologizes: Instead, he tells me I’m too sensitive.”

Most husbands are mystified by these complaints. They feel that their wives demand too much, and that most other women would be ecstatic if married to them. Their wives have become spoiled, take their efforts for granted and have unrealistic expectations.

Do women expect too much of their husbands or are men doing less for their wives than they should? I’ve proven to husbands over and over again that their wives usually do not expect too much of them, and when they understand and respond to their wives’ frustration, the complaining ends and a terrific marriage begins.

What’s more, their wives are not expecting more effort from them. Instead, they expect efforts in a different direction. It isn’t more difficult to please women these days, it simply requires a change in the priority of effort.

What are women looking for in men? They want a soul mate, someone they trust who is there for them when they have a problem, who takes their feelings into account when decisions are being made. Someone to whom they feel emotionally connected.” (4)

 

Many women also decide to leave their marriages after their children have grown. The women I know who have done this have not done it because another man is in the picture. Quite the contrary—divorced, middle-aged women have looked me straight in the face and said they are done with men—forever.

I know many women who have divorced and have never dated again, even if asked out on a date. These women are so cynical and so tired of feeling bad when they are in a relationship that they opt out and they stay out.  I know women who have been single for over 20 years, by choice.

Let me make it clear. I am reporting a trend in behavior. I am not accusing men of being bad husbands. I am reporting what is happening in homes all over the United States and I feel terrible that it is happening.

I do not believe most men were taught how to be a ‘good husband’ from a woman’s perspective. But, truthfully, what it means to be a good husband has changed and no one has communicated this well.

In fact, in the past, being a good husband is different than it is today. Someone shifted the goal posts. This is not a man’s fault.

Many men were taught being a good husband meant keeping the family financially secure. That is actually the most essential part of keeping a family together and I respect men who work themselves to the bone to ensure their families are well cared for.

In fact, I think first and foremost that being a good provider is the most important thing. I am married to someone who has to work a lot and I am also very independent. I have always put the role of “good provider” as the first thing on my list because I knew I would eventually leave the professional world after having children.

I have female friends who are there to help meet my emotional needs and be my best friends. So, I figure out how to meet my emotional needs when my husband works.

Some women are not like me and that is okay. Some women need a lot of daily emotional support and there is nothing wrong with it. Some days I need an unusual amount of emotional support if I am really stressed. Some women want to be able to get from their husbands the same kind of support they get from a good female friend.

But, no one has told most men how to give women emotional support and how to listen to a woman without having to ‘fix it’.  Most men have not been raised to do it and men have been raised NOT to deal with emotions. Many men were taught that emotions are things that are supposed to be repressed and men need to keep a stiff upper lip.

Many men believe their primary role is to support a family financially and they are right. But, some women need more and when they don’t get it, they live a life of frustration.

Women need to be heard and seen and need to vent. Many times, they do not want a solution—they just need to vent. Women need a husband to listen to their horrible day and to provide emotional support.

If a husband is at home, many women would like to connect through talking and perhaps snuggling on the couch without it always having to lead to sex. Women want emotional reassurance and emotional engagement from their husbands. Women want their husbands to tell them and to show them that they are special, that they are beautiful, that they are irreplaceable, that they are good mothers and wives, that they are appreciated and loved.

Women thrive on observations like this:

  • “You do such a great job with our children and they are so lucky to have you as their mother and I am the luckiest man in the world to be your husband.”
  • “Is that a new dress? You look more stunning than the day I married you.”
  • “All of my male friends are secretly jealous because when we are out to lunch they always tell me I have the most beautiful wife they have ever seen. I am happy that you are all mine.”
  • “I admire you for doing all that you do to keep the home together and everyday I think about how grateful I am to have you as my wife.”
  • “There is no other woman I would want to spend my life with or could ever hold a candle to you.”
  • “You spoil me with such delicious food.”
  • “I am so happy that you are my best friend and my soulmate.”
  • “I am always here for you and want to help soothe you after a bad day. Would you like for me to run a hot bath for you and make some herbal tea?”

Also, if a husband does this enough, it will likely result in lots of sex!

Additionally, a wife always wants to know that a husband thinks of her even when he is out of the house. Sending a text with a cute or funny meme each day would go a long way. Romantic phrases like “Hi gorgeous, I can’t wait to get home” also go a long way.

The women that I know and have known all want the same thing: to be deeply cherished, to be truly seen and heard, and to experience evidence of their worth to their husbands each day. Even I want this but I am realistic about life and the fact that I will rarely get such compliments. If I am feeling lonely, I snuggle with our rescue dog, a King Charles Spaniel, who is a master snuggler. These dogs have been bred for centuries specifically to be lap dogs. They are beautiful dogs with loving personalities and provide wonderful companionship.

A wife would also like to spend emotionally meaningful time with her husband doing activities that she enjoys. Some women enjoy intimate candlelight dinners, others want to snuggle up and watch a chick-flick, others want to cook together or take a run together, still others might want to see a musical or spend the night at a bed and breakfast. Women have an endless number of meaningful interests and many women want to include their husbands.

But, there are some men who refuse to do an activity of their wife’s choice and it does NOT turn out well for them. For example, there is a woman who has dated a man on and off for several years. She has told him that when she spends time with him, she does NOT want to watch him ride dirt bikes in the desert, she does NOT want to go backcountry camping where there are no toilets or showers, and she does not want to watch him work on his truck. Most of all, she does not want to feel like the only time he makes any true effort toward her or time for her is because he is merely feeling more frisky than usual. Once the itch is scratched, he stops trying and goes back to working on his truck.

On the other hand, she has told him many times, almost daily, what it is she wants and needs. She has spelled it out in great detail over and over again. She has looked for many activities that they can both enjoy together, but he usually will not accompany her to such activities. He wants it his way all the time and for her to enthusiastically come along to things she has made clear she does not enjoy.

They have a pattern of breaking up and getting together. She tells him he cannot make her happy, he says she has never told him how to make her happy, which is untrue, and then they break up. She tells him what she needs emotionally and how he can meet those needs and he doesn’t do it.

What’s going on here?  The fact of the matter is, her boyfriend just does not want to meet her needs. He believes the universe revolves around him and there is no room for her needs. He refuses to make room for them.

Finally, this man has always been left by all of his girlfriends and they all have the same complaint—he will not budge and attempt to meet their needs.

Here is what is worse – when a woman asks something of him, he digs his heels in and he willfully does the opposite of what a woman says she needs. He will do this to punish a woman for stating her needs and putting what he believes are unfair and unreasonable pressure on him.

This woman who dates him on and off knows that if she were to ever marry him, she would be in a deeply unsatisfying and lonely relationship. She already feels emotionally abandoned by him even when a relationship. She feels lonelier with him than without him. I am sure she is close to moving on and never speaking to him again.

Now, I have many stories that are actually like this. I have heard them from friends about their friends and other friends of friends. I have overheard them in coffee shops. I have heard people in my prior profession talk about these things. I have read these stories on blogs and message boards. I have heard women in my extended family complain about such things.

Of course, because I am the person people talk to when things go wrong, I will hear stories about how wrong things are going and how terrible a person feels at any moment.

If I were a wedding photographer (for example) I wouldn’t be writing this blog because I would only be seeing happy couples, full of hope, on their wedding day. There is a built in bias to my blog posts because of the topic I blog about.

I know it is not all dim and grim out there. There is hope. One can find any kind of experience they are looking for in life—both good and bad. It just so happens I write about some of the most horrendous experiences in life and try to provide readers with a map on how to get through these experiences so that they can get back to their happy place in life.

A huge caveat: this is not about man-bashing. I am telling you what thousands if not millions of women need as well as why they might leave. But, if they do leave without warning, it is not fair and it is devastating.

But, I am also saying, don’t be like that guy who works on his truck.

I am not saying any of the betrayed men here have done anything to cause an affair. An affair is a wife’s choice. The betrayed men on this blog are victims and been just as deeply harmed as the betrayed women. My heart goes out to all of the men who read this blog.

I was specifically speaking to a pattern of how each gender abandons. Men do get abandoned by women and it is usually in very cold-hearted ways and it is a terrible experience. Women are not perfect and women are not always the victim. There are many occasions when men are the victim of women.

A Real Story of a Wife Abandoning Her Husband

So, there are patterns in abandonment. Generally, men abandon wives with no warning and without the wife knowing anything was wrong. Generally, women abandon, but do a lot of complaining before they do it. There are generally signs if a woman is ready to give up on a marriage.

But, life does not fit into a neat and tidy mold.

I was looking online for stories from men who have been abandoned out of the blue by women. I could not find any, so I am using a family story. Please excuse me if you have heard this story before. This story is about my husband’s ex-wife.

My own husband was abandoned by his first wife. They had no children and had not been getting along, but there were no serious fights, except for when his mom stirred the pot. He admits he knew in his heart they could divorce one day – maybe well into the future – but he was making every effort for it to work because he believed in standing by his marriage and vows.  He assumed she was making the same effort and was committed as he was. There were no signs she was ready to leave either.

One day, he came back to their apartment, it was completely empty, and the walls were stripped bare. Worse, their bank account, which had just received his student loan money to pay for school, had been emptied by her. Then she disappeared. Once again, he had no warning and was soon served with divorce papers and instructions to speak through attorneys.

What was that about? Was my husband some kind of evil man? NO.

There was a reason for his wife’s abandonment. But, his ex-wife could have handled things very differently and I hold her accountable for abandoning him and stealing money which was not hers.

Here is the backstory:

My husband has a mom who decided sometime before the wedding that she hated the bride to be’s parents. They started feuding over money and the situation degraded. My husband’s parents who were supposed to pay for half of the wedding gave some vague reason about why they would not pay for any of it even though they had the money. They said this when all the bills came due. (Ouch.) That drove the bride-to-be’s family into debt and she had to borrow money from her grandparents to cover the wedding bills. During the ceremony, my husband’s mom fainted and pretended she was dying. It was quickly discovered it was all a ruse and the ceremony continued.

You can only imagine how angry his wife was by that time.

Then, after they were married, my husband’s mom began talking to my husband daily about how terrible and evil his wife was. She would also make up stories about my husband’s first wife. (How do I know this? Because one of my husband’s family members told me my MIL was saying some terribly damaging and UNTRUE things to others.)

After my husband spoke to his mom, he would confront his first wife. Then she would tell him that his mom was lying, and yet he would side with his mom.

Little did he know, she was talking to her parents and they were egging her on as well. They did not like seeing their daughter being treated this way my her MIL. (He found that out later.)

So it was that one day, without warning, he came home to an empty apartment, an empty bank account, and an impending divorce. He was completely blind-sided, without money to pay for school, and without furniture. He had to take out several credit cards and go into debt.

Fortunately, I got to benefit from his pain because just like me, he understood abandonment on a profound level and what it was like to lose money because of abandonment.

He met me five years after his divorce and still could deeply empathize what I was going through as I could empathize what he had been through. It caused both of us to take marriage extremely seriously and to want to work through the hard times because we both know the alternative is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. (Also, I met him after my ex abandoned me and after I left the mutually owned home with my ex.)

Divorce is like walking through fire, even if it was not caused by infidelity. If there are children, it is hell on earth for everyone involved. I tend to favor views about keeping families together as long as the wayward spouse will be held accountable and change his or her ways. But, if a wayward spouse won’t budge and if a wayward spouse’s behavior continues for years, they is not much hope for a betrayed spouse. It takes two to do their part. If the wayward spouse does not actively want to do his or her part, they still must stop seeing the other person.

In Summary

Abandonment is different than leaving and abandonment can be physical or emotional. Adults can develop abandonment issues due to experiences they had as adults and not as children. Of course, if a child has been abandoned in childhood, any adult abandonment will make the pain a 100 times greater.

Do you have a fear of abandonment due to your spouse’s affair? Even if your spouse stayed do you think that he or she might be capable of doing it again? How does abandonment feel to you?

Opt In Image
Survive and Thrive after Infidelity
You deserve to have a marriage that doesn’t just survive - it thrives!

We’re here to show you the right way to survive infidelity so that your marriage doesn’t become some sort of statistic.

We’ve been in your shoes and are in a unique position to put all of our experiences – both good and bad, successes and failures – and use them to help lead you out of the pain and into a better place.

 

Sources:

E.C. LaMeaux. How to Overcome the Feeling of Abandonment.  From https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/how-to-overcome-the-feeling-of-abandonment

Jordan Gray. How Do Your Abandonment Issues Affect Your Love Life? From https://www.jordangrayconsulting.com/2014/03/abandonment-issues/

Difference Between Leave and Abandon   From: http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-leave-and-vs-abandon/

Vikki Stark. Runaway Husbands. From https://www.runawayhusbands.com/

Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr., PhD. Why Women Leave. From http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi8111_leave.html

Photos:

Gauthier DELECROIX

Mitya Ku

Roel van Deursen

 

Be Sociable, Share!

40 Responses to Looking for the One Foot Out the Door: Musings on Abandonment

  1. Puzzled March 13, 2018 at 10:02 am #

    Sarah P: Interesting article but, I know, there’s always a but…

    I can’t help but broaden your scope on abandonment. While you state that abandoning means leaving for good, I can’t agree with this. When our spouses decided to cheat, they truly abandoned their morals, their character, their integrity and their vows. This, for me, wasn’t just my wife checking out of our marriage. This was not her just leaving and hopefully coming to her senses and coming back into our marriage.
    I felt abandoned. We didn’t fight. We had the marriage our friends desired (or so they thought). We had good kids. We had fun together. But…she cheated. She chose, on a daily basis, to continue abandoning what was built over 20+ years.
    While you and your fiance slept in different rooms, I still slept in the same bed as my wife. I know all too well the feeling of despair knowing the one person who could ease your pain and soothe your tears was the same person who was coldly crushing your heart. I was 2 feet away from her but it may as well been an ocean.
    The girl that I married would never have glared at me and asked “why do you keep saying that” when she’d go to bed and I’d say, “good night, babe, I love you”. The woman who birthed our three children would not have ever said to me “I could just pack up and go. And never look back”. There are countless other examples that I won’t bore anyone with but I’m sure it’s a similar picture that others have seen.
    Our spouses didn’t just “check out” on our marriages. They abandoned them. The marriage that I knew, believed in, trusted, valued is gone. It will never be that marriage again. It died the day that my wife cheated. She abandoned “us”.
    We are still together. Thursday is D-day anniversary #3. The day she uttered the ILYBNILWY. I really have no idea if she understands what D-days do to me. March 15 is a day I wish that I could just skip over and get to the 16th. It’s just like June 13, 2015 when I caught her and found out the truth that it was an affair. I’m not sure which day hurts worse. For three months, I simply thought my wife was unhappy and needing space to sort herself out. I was willing to do what she needed to help her. But then reality hit me in the face like a sack of hammers; she was treating me like garbage, pushing me away, ignoring me, acting like I was the enemy not because she was lost but because she had found someone else.

    She had abandoned my heart and left it behind.

    • Shifting Impressions March 13, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

      Puzzled
      I totally relate to what you are saying.

      My husband abandoned his own moral code and our marriage during his two EAs. I too lay in the bed next to him wondering “where are you??”

      The time during the affairs (unbeknownst to me at the time) was extremely painful. He was simply gone. He was no longer the kind caring man I married. There was a stranger in the bed next to me. There was a subtle cruelty that cut me like a knife.

      I went into shock on d-day but suddenly a light went on…..I understood.

      He immediately ended tha EA on d-day but I felt abandoned many times during those first years of recovery. For the first time in my life, I no longer liked being alone. I used to love the quiet days when I was home alone….after raising four kids “alone time” was always precious to me. I couldn’t handle the quiet….I had to play music.

      It has been over four years but still struggle with “feelings of abandonment “ when he is away for long periods of time. I am so much better, but found my self spiraling down last week as we had somewhat of long separation. It caught me by surprise…..

      • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 1:08 am #

        Hi Shifting,
        You bring up a great point about the abandonment of a moral code. And I am sad that you too had to experience the stranger in the bed. It’s just terrible.

        Did your husband go away on a long business trip and did that cause the spiraling?

        Blessings,
        Sarah

        • Shifting Impressions March 14, 2018 at 6:20 pm #

          Sarah
          Just a few weeks apart, some trigger dates and family stress and I find myself in a low place. I can so relate to what Puzzled and Hopeful say.

          Some days are just like that.

          Thanks

          • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm #

            Hi Shifting,
            I hope you feel better soon. I said it to Hopeful and I will say it to you. You are perfect just as you are. You did nothing to deserve what was sent your way. There was nothing you could do to stop what came your way because the problem was never you. I have endless compassion for what you are going through and hope you find yourself in a better place soon.

            Hugs,
            Sarah

    • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 1:05 am #

      Hi Puzzled,

      Your pain is so palpable– I can feel it through the screen and I have to say I feel so sorry. Not in a condescending way– just sorry that one more living, breathing, committed, in-love human being had to join the Pain That Will Never End Club.

      I do agree that you can be abandoned and still be physically with someone. The definition that I used in the very beginning for abandonment was from the dictionary — not from psychology. That definition had to do more with things (such as homes) than about the pain someone feels from emotional abandonment. Emotional abandonment is not a concrete place (such as a house) or a concrete thing (such as a chair). I felt it was good to understand how the dictionary distinguished the two words.

      I should have been more clear about the idea of emotional abandonment. Someone can be in a fully reconciled marriage but still feel they were emotionally abandoned both in the past and even in the present if they cannot feel close to their spouse because the memory of betrayal lingers.

      There does not even need to be an affair to be emotionally abandoned. Some people emotionally abandon their marriages while never speaking of it and trudging on year after year.

      Some people emotionally abandon their children (when their children are young) even though they live in the same house.

      I am so sorry you had the terrible experience of being in the same bed as the person who hurt you profoundly but also the person who could bring relief. It is a pain that cuts like no other. It’s about as close to a hellish experience as anyone can get. There are no words to describe it– just a knowing that comes from having lived through it.

      When D-Day comes, I hope she has the courage to hear you out and just listen to you and try to understand.

      Many blessings,
      Sarah

  2. TheFirstWife March 13, 2018 at 4:03 pm #

    My H walked in the door after being away for a week (work related) and declared ILYBNILWY AND no longer wanted to be married.

    He was leaving me after 10 days of knowing about his A.

    And that repeated itself many more times including DDAY2 when he walked in the door and announced he wanted a D. We got a therapy session in that afternoon and the therapist was stunned. We had just seen the therapist 3 days before and my H committed to me and M.

    Now 3 days later he is D me!

    So I understand abandonment- the trauma of that will never go away.

    Of course he never told me he was leaving me for the OW. It was always “I just don’t want to be married” or “ILYBNILWY”.

    I will always have plan B ready.

    • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 1:09 am #

      TFW,
      And you are wise to have a plan B ready. I think all betrayed spouses should have a plan B.

  3. Hopeful March 14, 2018 at 12:39 am #

    Puzzled, my dday is today March 13th three years. Why is it still so hard. And mine was a Friday the 13th which adds a little extra to it for me. I am not sure if my husband knows the exact day. He knows the general time frame. I swear it is like everything is elevated right now. I keep thinking do i have ptsd, triggers or just these horrible memories.

    I feel what stands out the most is my husband abandoned himself or maybe never knew his true self. That is the worst and most sad part to me. I know for myself I am so similar to who I was at my youngest memories. I have not changed a lot. I am honest, true, genuine etc in how I live my life. Looking at him I wonder if he ever knew who he was. He has told me he grew up on dday. He also told me he knew 100% the day he cheated he was going to take our marriage to the brink and might never get it back. He knew exactly what he was doing. But he told himself he deserved. At times I wonder why I am with someone who is so aware yet does it anyways. Deep down he was very entitled and selfish.

    I feel let down and taken advantage of. It is the lies that get to me. The lies directly to my face about the topic of cheating. I am not sure if I feel abandooned or left alone since we went through times of being connected. But yes the one person who I gave all my trust and thought had my back let me down in the biggest way and took our marriage and me to the brink. Thankfully I am as strong as I am. And he works every day to prove himself to me and make it up to me by living his life in an authentic and transparent way. It is a long road…

    • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 1:37 am #

      Hello Hopeful,
      It must have been a hard day for you and I am very sorry. The Friday the 13th part just adds another layer of gloom. (I guess they call it Friday the 13th for a reason.)

      I know what you are saying about always having a fixed identity. Me too. While my ex blew me away at the core temporarily, the person who I always was came back, just wiser. And of course I will never forget the lesson that the people you believe to love you the most can also destroy you the most. Tough lesson, I must say. There was something that shifted in me because of that lesson, but it was a ‘knowing’ that caused the shift and not a personality change. I always knew who I was, even as a four-year-old and my parents even talk about that. They told me that as soon as I learned how to talk, I was either wanting to help someone in trouble or talk to someone who was crying in order to provide that person relief. My dad said my parents had a rough patch in their marriage when I was 5 and they went to a marriage counselor for several weeks and it made it worse. So, my dad leveled with me about what was going on, I listened, and then (apparently) I gave a very pragmatic and eloquent answer that caused a shift in both of my parent’s attitudes and brought them back together. They are still together. I don’t know what I said and he doesn’t remember the specifics– he just remembers whatever I ended up saying caused such a shift in both of them that they were able to put themselves back together almost immediately. My dad likes to tell the story a lot.

      I don’t know what you believe spirituality-wise, but I do believe there are old souls and young souls. Old souls have set personalities and identities from childhood. They know themselves and they also have an awareness of others and their impact on others.

      A lot of people seem NOT to have set personalities and they can be influenced depending on wherever the wind blows them. And they can know intellectually something is wrong, but they don’t feel it in a way that allows them to stop themselves from doing wrong. They can change on a dime and leave their spouse absolutely bewildered.

      We are left with the feeling that someone stole our spouse/fiance away in the night and replaced them with an evil twin. Our spouse still looks the same, but he or she is completely different. The switch was so thorough and so unexpected, kind of like being ‘hit and run’ on the highway. You feel the blow viscerally before your mind has the time to catch up and figure out what the heck just happened. You have been destroyed before your mind has time to even make sense of what happened. And then you try to talk to that person “who was” and that person no longer exists. It is a new (but same) person who looks at you with contempt and gaslights you.

      You very well could have PTSD from the experience. I have gotten to the point where when people are betrayed and they DON’T have PTSD, I wonder how they avoided it. I believe most of us have PTSD, it’s just a matter of whether it is extremely mild, extremely severe, or somewhere in between.

      I have PTSD because I still have recurring and uncontrollable nightmares of being abandoned. Sometimes I will go for a couple of months without the dream and then something will happen where I have the recurring dream EVERY NIGHT for two weeks straight.

      There is really only one thing I wish for wayward spouses. It’s not karma and it is not revenge. It is simply to have them feel every emotion we have felt during and since the betrayal. That is really all I wish for them. Because only then will they understand the harm they caused to another being.

      Hopeful, I know I don’t have to say it, but I am going to say it anyways. You did nothing to deserve being betrayed. You are a great wife and mother. You are intelligent, wise, insightful, full of integrity and a good person. His affair had nothing to do with you. I know you know that, but I just need to repeat it. It was not about you. You did nothing to deserve it. What he did was illogical, self-destructive, and crazy. I am sorry that such a good and trusting person as yourself put your trust in someone who did not know himself or have enough of strength (at the time) to prevent selfish actions. Like all the betrayed spouses here, men or women, you are a dear and worthy of the very best and worthy of Love.

      I honor the pain of everyone here and just hope this blog provides a safe space where everyone can speak their heart.

      Finally, I promise I am not a heart stomper, just a heart healer, so everyone is safe with me.

      Blessings,
      Sarah

      • Hopeful March 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

        Sarah,

        Thank you for your words. And yes I know it all intellectually it is hard for me emotionally sometimes. I see now more than ever how powerful our own emotions are. I am thankful that I am like you and have been so grounded in who I am since a young age. I have similar stories and memories like yours from my parents.

        In the end I am thankful and I told my husband that today. For how extreme his behaviors were and how far off the deep end he was he has turned everything around. And as I told him I know it is genuine and true since I can see how happy he is every day. He told me today that being given a second chance was the new lease on life he needed. For me not focusing on the past is important. None of us can change it no matter how much we want to. I have to look at what is in front of me and judge him based on that.

        Thank you for your support, advice, honest and kind words you offer us on this journey. It is a gift you have and we are lucky you share it with us.

        • Sarah P. March 16, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

          Hello Hopeful,

          Your story really is a success story and to me it seems your husband has changed and perhaps even now has a set identity where he knows what he wants (you and the children) and knows what to avoid (other women). Perhaps he has found himself amidst the difficult time.

          I agree that none of us can change the past and must find ways to move forward. But, we all must be wise and learn our lessons from the past.

          I have helped heal my past by writing for this blog, but even years out, I still have issues with trust and abandonment. I am always waiting for “the other shoe to drop” and I hate it.

          Here is an interesting side-note and it is off-topic that I came across a long time ago. I just want to remind all the women here that it doesn’t matter how beautiful a woman is — her husband can still cheat. One time I read the auto-biography of a lady named Cindy Jackson who has had 52 different cosmetic surgeries. To me, that is a huge case study. What would ever drive someone to do that? Well, she had low self esteem and an abusive dad. I guess that could explain it. But, the way she lives her life now is what made an impression on me. Her 52 surgeries have made her resemble a young Brigette Bardot (who is arguably one of the most beautiful woman ever.) Cindy’s looks have opened doors for her and she hob-nobs with the world’s wealthiest people and has many suitors. So, in my mind, I thought that she probably dates Princes of such and such and famous people because don’t women have cosmetic surgery to be able to attract a mate with wealth and status? This was what I believed. This is the interesting part: even though Cindy is relentlessly pursued by many men, she has sworn off men– for good. She explained she has sworn off men for good because almost all of her relationships ended with the man cheating on her. And she has dated all kinds of men from varying levels of society– people one would think wouldn’t cheat. But, because Cindy has been cheated on, she acknowledges she will never be able to trust or open up to a man ever again and so she has sworn them off completely. She actually said she would only talk to men within business contexts and said, “The only man I will have in my life is a good plastic surgeon who helps me keep young looking.” (But not to date– just someone whom she pays to help her stay young looking.) I read that story a few years ago and It just stayed with me– here is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she has been cheated on so many times, she has sworn off men. It’s one more lesson that beauty does not keep a man loyal or prevent him from cheating. So, if anyone out there hears from their husbands they are not attractive enough– it’s not true. Note: I am not dissing the betrayed men on this blog because there are women who are serial cheaters. I am specifically discussing the unusual choice Cindy has made due to terrible past experiences.

          Hopeful, thank you for the compliment and I am grateful to be able to have an outlet to support others on a world-wife basis. It is a gift to support you and all the others who have joined us here.

          Many blessings,
          Sarah

  4. TheFirstWife March 14, 2018 at 2:28 am #

    Sarah p

    I think everyone should have a plan B

    My possible D was spring on me with no notice. I had no emergency $ available.

    I had no plan regarding how I would survive if my H decided to leave and not pay the bills.

    I was stupid and at risk. I should have known better since I worked for a D attorney for many years.

    • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 11:19 pm #

      Hi TheFirstWife,

      I agree 100%. This could come off as gender bashing, but it is not intended to. I believe every woman should have a set of funds that are her own and in her name only- especially stay at home moms or women who could not make ends meet without their husbands.

      I am reading Vikki Stark’s book Planet Heartbreak– the story of 62 different women who were abandoned with absolutely no warning and left to fend for themselves. The average age of these women was 53.

      Just wanted to say that reading Vikki’s book is a MASSIVE wake-up call. Agreed. Everyone should have a plan B.

      Sarah

      • Hopeful March 15, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

        I agree! For our marriage and what I see with friends and society typically the wife sacrifices career opportunities, education opportunities and time in the work force which equals higher pay. I know this is not always the case. This was one of the hardest aspects of the betrayal for me to deal with. I thought we were a team and I gave up so much for my husband’s education and career to take a priority. This really hit me hard. Not only was he cheating but it felt like he was also taking me down. If I were to leave him I had not really been in the workforce for a significant time. I moved to a city that is not conducive to my previous career or earning power. However we have kids who are grounded here. His business is founded here and thriving. In a way I felt trapped. It stole so much from me. I am glad I knew where all the money was and actually I knew way more than my husband. However no one can give me that time in the workforce back or make up for those lost years. And also I know the impact divorce has financially.

        This has been a major focal point in our recovery and my husband working to support me more vs it being all about him and his career. We are creating more balance and I appreciate and see his efforts.

        • Sarah P. March 16, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

          Hopeful,
          I understand where you are coming from. I also think of everything women give up to raise children and then they are ‘thanked’ by being cheated on and/or abandoned. NOT COOL.

          Is there a small business you could start in your town?

          • Hopeful March 19, 2018 at 7:19 pm #

            I have gotten creative recently and found a good option. For me I had a lot of anger for what I gave up. I still am not making near what I was before however I am doing it more for the satisfaction and also if I needed to support myself 100% that I would not be out of the workforce for so long. Just like anything it was the loss of feeling like I was part of the team when making these decisions. It always gets back to that.

  5. TryingHard March 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm #

    Puzzled
    Mines March 19 DDay 1. Happy Anniversary ?? 😳

    • Sarah P. March 14, 2018 at 11:13 pm #

      Hi TryingHard,

      So sorry to hear your D-Day is coming up soon. I must ask “what is up with the month of March?”

      I couldn’t help but think of that phrase “the ides of March” because although I have heard it, I never paid attention to it. So here is the meaning from Wikipedia:

      “The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae, Late Latin: Idus Martii) is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to March 15. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar.”

      So, several of you have D-Days on this day or within several days of this day. Seems the ides of March has to do with betrayal (the murder of Julius Caesar) and also settling debts (whatever needs to be settled will be settled.) An affair could be seen as a debt in that the wayward spouse has stolen time, love, and trust (among many other things) from the betrayed spouse. Anyhow, just wanted to pass that little piece of trivia along because it’s one of those things “that makes yah go hmmm…”

      Big hugs,
      Sarah

      • Puzzled March 15, 2018 at 10:36 am #

        Sarah P:
        It’s funny, not ha ha funny, more ironic funny that you mention the Ides of March. I have thought of this same thing the last few years along the lines of betrayal by the one closest to us. Caesar’s final words of “et tu Brute” are so appropriate when you think about a CS. It’s a complete shock and disbelief that this beautiful soul who you’ve entrusted your heart and soul to would fall prey to the destruction of an affair. You would never even imagine that they could do such a thing but, just as Caesar, we look at our spouse with shock and see the truth: et tu CS?

        • Sarah P. March 16, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

          Hi Puzzled,
          You were thinking exactly what I was thinking about Brutus and the comparison to the CS. It’s just so awful and depressing that I did not want to say it so thank you for bringing it up. Cheating is an assassination of the heart, the marriage, the family, the children, and the very life you had before. With one swipe of the affair dagger, everything you know is gone. Your life must be redefined and rebuilt into something else. The shock will never go away that the person we trusted the most “killed” the marriage that we thought we had.

          I have had these recurring dreams for years about my ex that haunted me. It’s always the same dream over where he physically harms me, takes off in his car, and I am left helpless and alone. (That happened in real life but I have dreamt the scene over and over.

          But, for the first time in years, the dream changed. In the dream I physically backed him into a corner (not violently) and asked him “why”? “Why her and not me?” “Why were you so cruel to me?” Then in the dream he said, “she cheated me too. She did not turn out to be the person I thought she would be. We have both been duped.” Then he apologized to me and gave me a hug and told me how deeply sorry he was and how he would have done things so differently.

          That was a VERY STRANGE dream indeed. But, it felt therapeutic. Even though he has never admitted anything or apologized in real life, it created a feeling of freedom. Isn’t that weird? So, I am now wondering if it would be helpful to provide clients with guided visualization where the person who abandoned them (never to return) provided an apology. The purpose would NOT be to reestablish contact. It would just be to validate and quiet the mind so that it can think of something else.

          Anyone else had this experience in the dream world?
          Sarah

      • TryingHard March 15, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

        Sarah

        Even though DDay is coming up curiously I’m not being triggered by it. I have so much else to think about this DDay is just MEH. Which is good.

        I said something today about “Beware the Ides of March” to a younger employee and she had NO idea what I was talking about.

        Yes I always thought my h’s timing of DDay being around the Ides was ironic.

        • Sarah P. March 16, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

          Hi Trying,

          That’s funny the employee had never heard of it. But most of all, I am so glad you are not being triggered by D-Day this year. That’s a little bit of relief.

          Sarah

  6. Sarah P. March 15, 2018 at 1:07 am #

    Hi Shifting,
    I hope you feel better soon. I said it to Hopeful and I will say it to you. You are perfect just as you are. You did nothing to deserve what was sent your way. There was nothing you could do to stop what came your way because the problem was never you. I have endless compassion for what you are going through and hope you find yourself in a better place soon.

    Hugs,
    Sarah

    • Shifting Impressions March 15, 2018 at 3:51 am #

      Thanks, Sarah
      We all need those very words sometimes…..thanks for saying them to me….it helps.

      Take care

      • Sarah P. March 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

        Hi Shifting,
        I hope you are feeling better.

        Big hugs,’Sarah

        • Shifting Impressions March 17, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

          Thanks Sarah, I’m hanging in there. Just trying to figure out what’s really bothering me. Or perhaps it’s just one of the ups and downs we go through during recovery.

  7. Puzzled March 15, 2018 at 10:59 am #

    Hopeful, sorry you’re in the midst of the same struggles as I am. Sounds like you’ve had a long hard three years too. I understand completely your comment about feeling let down. That’s what hurts me still. The lies, the betrayal, the gas lighting, the mistreatment, the ability of our spouse to choose daily to hurt us, and their ability to do it without concern for us. Those last two hurt the most. How could our spouse simply look at us and say “no, you aren’t enough & I deserve what I want, no matter what it does to you”.

    I’m glad you’ve had the inner strength to battle through and that your husband is working daily to rebuild what he tore down. The road is long. The road is bumpy. But, as long as we keep our eyes looking ahead, maybe we both will get to a place of complete trust and contentment in our marriages.

    • Hopeful March 15, 2018 at 5:49 pm #

      Puzzled. I could not agree more. I feel the same. I have my down moments but I also feel so lucky. Maybe it sounds strange but I feel so fortunate that my husband has made such major changes. This road would be a lot harder otherwise. He might not talk about it but he is so understanding when I brought up this week that I am triggered, have anxiety and PTSD he gets it and validates my feelings. As I do every day I am working to focus on the positives and the present. Thanks!!

  8. Puzzled March 15, 2018 at 11:14 am #

    Shifting Impressions:

    I loved your comment about the “subtle cruelty” because it describes it perfectly. People on the outside wouldn’t notice anything different. Our CS would put on the perfect face and everything would seem as usual. But we knew better. What happened to the loving and caring person who we married? What happened to the smile that they gave us? Or the look from across a room at a party just so you knew they were thinking of you?
    It’s just like you commented: there was a stranger in our bed. This stranger had the ability to heal or to destroy us like no one else. They truly are a different person. It still saddens me to remember some of the things my wife said and did during her affair as I’m sure you feel the same about your husband.
    We aren’t far apart in our healing process: 3 years & 4 years. It will be a blessing when D-day doesn’t trigger painful memories for us. I hope you can find peace at some point in your rebuilding. It’s a daily decision to make the most of our day and the most of our marriage. Keep battling to rebuild things.

  9. TheFirstWife March 15, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

    Puzzled and Hopeful.

    That is why I believe your spouse or partner can only help you heal to a certain point. And the rest is on you.

    We the BS have to help us heal and restore our shattered lives and expectations. We the BS have to move forward and create a life of peace and happiness – whether with the CS or not.

    When I first realized “hey I am about to be D” I started preparing. Get my own social life. Do things I enjoyed doing! Lay in my lounge chair and read a good book. Join a new group. Etc etc etc.

    In doing that I restored some self esteem.

    And now I realize this: I used to think he was too good for me. I was so lucky to have found such a great mate. Now? I think he is lucky HE found a great spouse who would stick by him after an A.

  10. Shifting Impressions March 16, 2018 at 3:22 pm #

    TFW
    I totally agree with you. Unfortunately there are parts of the healing and moving forward that are totally up to us.

  11. Alana March 17, 2018 at 11:53 am #

    It still amazes me that my husband doesn’t have a clue (Probably just another act on his part). He can’t understand that i havent “gotten over it yet”, since he is still here and we do have enjoyable times together. But there is more in life than just enjoying doing things together. There are emotional needs, responsibility needs, commitment needs and I need to know that he understands what his affair and the refusal to deal with the fallout just shows me it’s all just a big game to him. I feel like a roommate with benefits, still here to fill his needs, without much concern for mine. I feel discarded but never divorced. Mostly because he does none of the things that I read husbands who truly are remorseful do, transparency, grateful for a second chance, working to change certain aspects that lead to the affair and how to approach situations where one mightslip again, to prevent further affairs. Nope just be nice to one another and it will all go away. We’ll I tried that to forgive and look forward positively. And it just isn’t working because he still behaves pretty much the same, lies, gaslighting, trying to say it’s all in my head and I’m crazy. We’ll news FLASH IM NOT CRAZY- I’m not falling for that crap anymore. So I called his bluff and told him if you mean everything you have been telling me then I need him to read a book (“Out of the doghouse” by Robert Weiss) and participate in my healing rather than just sweep it under the rug. That this will not go away unless we address it. It’s been 3 weeks since I gave him the book and he has yet to open a conversation about it. I doubt he will as I believe he is still carrying on with his affair. Time is almost up for us if he continues to ignore my requests to help me heal. So sad to see a 20 yr marriage die this way. Im not surprised though because once I understood who he really is, I don’t think he was ever committed to this marriage-just the look of a happy family life. We we did look like from the outside looking in.😔

    • Shifting Impressions March 17, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

      Alana
      TFW has given you really good advice. I think the key here is to find out if the affair is still going on. I agree with TFW about holding your cards close……don’t let him know you are suspicious. Get things in order as she suggested.

      Should you discover that he indeed has ended the affair…..then you can work through your issues with him not participating in your healing. I don’t know how long it has been since d-day. My husband did end his EA immediately after d-day, but trust me it was a long and difficult journey towards healing. Not willing to talk I about it, not willing to read books, and not willing to go for counseling etc. are fairly common behaviors in the CS, especially at first.

      I am so sorry you are going through this.

  12. TheFirstWife March 17, 2018 at 12:30 pm #

    Alana. I’m sorry you are the only one fighting for your M.

    My H tried hard at DDay2 because I told him I was leaving him – or actually throwing him out.

    So he knew there were no other options and he had to work fast. Very fast.

    But he at least showed effort – even if not perfect.

    But I can tell you when I thought we reconciled after Dday1 and my made no effort – it was because the A had resumed. He did end it and when she called he went running back to her.

    So I think you may be correct in your assessment. The A may still be going on.

    Perhaps for the next month you say nothing. Get your plan B in place. And keep it ready to go. Divorce attorney. Counselor for you, support tram of friends & family, a place for him to go when you end it, plan to remove his things from the home etc.

    Say nothing but gather evidence.

    Make sure you have your own $ and vehicle in your name. So he cannot leave you stranded. Or have you arrested for theft of auto.

    And when the day comes just execute.

    I always suggest not asking if he is having an A. Then he gets a chance to lie. But inform him you know of the A and that it is clear the M is over. nothing left to talk about.

    His A depends on the home being status quo unfortunately. He is counting on that.

    That may be a reason he does nothing to help you heal or restore the M. He is showing you he does not care or it is not a priority.

    Until you leave him. Then suddenly things can change. But there is always the risk it is too late.

    Cheaters never think of that aspect unfortunately. Keep posting here. You will get great advice.

  13. Fragments of Hope March 18, 2018 at 4:41 pm #

    Emotional abandonment, so true, sudden announcement of someone else and possibility of leaving over four years ago. I started shaking violently at the time and on recall of that and other cruel acts I still shake. Now we are coming up to our 20th wedding anniversary but how do you celebrate when your marriage was tossed in the garbage. All efforts are now being made by my h including IC because last summer 3.5 years after D-day one he was having inappropriate friendships just about crossing the line including one to one lunch with female admirer. Yes he is doing things right now, all these years later but he gets frustrated at me not being all happy and light over our good times. Even though it was only in November his transparency document revealed a dalliance with an old girlfriend. Between emotional affair partner, old girlfriend and inappropriate friendships I feel like there are four women in our marriage photo along with us. I don’t know whether we should celebrate this milestone coming up. I still feel hurt and cynical and not at all truly believing I mean something special to my h after all that.

    • Sarah P. March 19, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi Fragments of Hope,

      You want real talk? Because I am in a mood for real talk.

      You are absolutely right to feel like there are four other women in your marriage besides you. That is a terrible thing to feel and know. But, he is the one who created the situation.

      I know what I would do if this happened to me– but here is the thing, I have been changed by what happened to me with my ex. I would have given different advice prior to meeting my ex.

      But the me now says: If I were you, I would say I don’t feel like celebrating because there is nothing to celebrate. And if my H were to ask why, I would say: “Well, you see, I am living in a harem with four other women and wedding anniversaries are for monogamous situations.”

      And I would imagine the H would pitch a fit if you said that. And if he did, I would point out The Truth. I would point out why it is apparent that the four other women are involved (in an emotional way) and that he has not changed who is since the A. After all, he still feels it is ok to have lunch with a female admirer.

      When I was engaged, my fiance had many female friends and many one-on-one lunches with women. But, I let it go because I told myself only a controlling woman would have a problem with such a thing.

      I have never written my full story– just the last bit. But, one day I should write about what our relationship was like. I was the cool cat who was trusting and didn’t care if he was having lunch with a former beauty queen or a this or a that. (He never had lunch with former beauty queens. I am just saying I would not have cared because I TRUSTED him.)

      One time, this woman from France who was his “friend” came to stay with us for 4 days. I was not threatened because I was too cool to be threatened. I made our home warm and inviting and treated her like an honored guest. One day I said I would go get all the ingredients for a gourmet meal so that the two could catch up. In my mind, you don’t f*** your friend and so that never crossed my mind that they might do such a thing while alone. When I came home, both of them were fresh from the shower in bathrobes and they both looked sheepishly at me.

      And for a split second, I thought to myself that they might have taken a shower together. But, I squashed that thought because he was not “like that” and since she was “nice to me” surely she could never do that. I felt it would be too outrageous to welcome someone into my home who was friendly to me just to have her turn around and have sex with my fiance in the shower. I just could not picture anyone could do something so outrageous because I could never do something that outrageous.

      Now, I do not know If they did anything. I have no ‘real’ evidence except them both standing there in bathrobes together looking awkward. Also, we had two full bathrooms as well next to each other. So, if I would have asked, he would have told me he was in the master bath and he was in the guest bath. They would have had an excuse.

      But, I was not going to ask because in my world, I trusted him.

      Before experiencing an affair, I had many male friends and he had many female friends. I had strict boundaries and imagined everyone did.

      I believe it is time for your H to figure out what it is in him that needs all this external affirmation from women in romantic ways (which is his problem, not yours.)

      Everyone needs affirmation, but you can get it in ways that do not include breaking marriage vows.

      I knew a couple (in real life) and he and his wife were married for 25 years. Since his company would ask him to travel, he would. He was the only breadwinner. He would joke to everyone in the office about things like he was an expert at walking up to the cliff’s edge and not jumping. He felt he could control his lighthearted flirtation. Well, they are divorced now. Too much walking up to the cliff’s edge brought him closer and closer to the edge each time. And one day he fell off. And it was a terrible divorce. She had no clue he was walking up to the cliff’s edge all those years because (like me) she had iron clad moral values and it’s not what you do after you get married. She was busy raising a large family and was blindsided.

      It’s like this: either someone is in a marriage or out of a marriage. And after an affair, the person must stop the behaviors that caused them to have foot out of your marriage.

      Marriage is NOT the hokey-pokey.

      “You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you put your left foot in and you shake it all about. You do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around, that’s what it is all about.”

      If someone takes that approach to marriage, they will fail. You cannot do the hokey-pokey in a marriage because all that being in and out is going to get someone an STD and a broken heart.

      SO…. I think it is absolutely fair to tell your husband that the hokey-pokey needs to STOP. He must stop doing the hokey-pokey because it doesn’t matter if he has a few good laughs with you, he is still doing the hokey-pokey.

      And you cannot celebrate a milestone anniversary when someone is doing the hokey-pokey with another person (besides their spouse) and they are not even on the dance floor and there is no DJ.

      What kind of slap to the face (given by reality itself) does your H need that will serve to knock his brain into place. (I am against physical violence– I am speaking metaphorically.)

      Does your H need to be sorted out by someone named Guido from New Jersey? Does your H need to have you draw up a post-nup agreement and then have Guido and his friends ensure that your H signs it?

      I mean really.

      I have been in your shoes– shaking violently and unable to control it. It is a type of hell on earth. I do not want you to be there again. It is not fair.

      You need to figure out what it is that will get your H’s attention so that he will understand clearly his bad behavior needs to go.

      I have mentioned on the blog before that my husband works in a profession where half or even 3/4 of the nurses have gone to nursing school so that they can be around doctors all day long. In their minds, they could care less if the doctor is married. (After all, they reason, a wedding ring is easily removed with vaseline and then it’s like the wife does not exist at all. Yipee!)

      Back to your H– I would like for you to get a post-nup agreement because maybe then will the whole betrayal thing become real to your husband. Right now, it’s not real to him. Right now he does not see consequences to him if he is still behaving the same way.

      And I know it is hard, but please try to make all decisions based on valuing yourself first. If something he does is not valuing you or the marriage, it needs to stop.

      Big hugs to you, Fragments of Hope, you are always welcome to post and vent. That goes for everyone… don’t keep it inside.

      Sarah

  14. Fragments of Hope March 20, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks Sarah, your fighting talk did me good! Well after I found out about the lunch w admirer he went on the sofa for several weeks and he got into IC and both of us to MC together. He knows this is the last straw and has offered to transfer assets to my sole name. So the right steps are there but yes, I’m still hurt and shocked that he did not change his ways after the trauma of the affair. Like you I had trusted him all along, thinking nothing of his continued friendship and meeting with his ex (who he kissed in the same era as his emotional almost exit affair). No sex as far as I know but there was porn, a gateway behaviour and he’s always got on well w women and been flirtatious. I’m with you thinking that this anniversary thing is a logical consequence of his bad behaviour. He seems upset that he has wrecked it for us. I hope he will say on the straight and narrow. If not he knows we are over if there is a next time.

    • Sarah P. March 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm #

      Hi Fragments,

      He is offering to transfer assets into your name? I say do it!! I have seen cases where other men have offered to do that but the wife sat on it. When the wife decided she wanted an asset transfer, the husband changed his tune.

      Everyone out there, ALWAYS get a post-nup and asset transfers! 🙂

  15. Trusting God July 12, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

    I think I have been emotionally abandoned. My H and I are still together, but we hardly interact. It’s like we are just roommates. I see that I am the only one trying to do something about our marriage.

    My counselor told me (a while back) that any change or progress should be measurable, observable. He told me that my H’s diagnosis and treatment for ADHD would not change his personality, and he was concerned that I was “banking” on that. He was right.

    My H is more focused, a little calmer, but the issues and dysfunction and our relational dance are all still very much in everyday life.

    I feel like I am perpetually grieving. Striving. Hoping. Trying. Patient. Non-confrontational.

    Grieving the loss that seems to keep progressing. Grieving the loss of my friend, my companion, my cohort, my fellow dreamer, my lover, my husband. Grieving a death of sorts. He’s here, but he’s not here; he’s detaching, distancing himself, misplacing blame; his actions speak volumes.

    Striving to regain what I am losing; to fight for what I want, which is reconciliation; to learn all I can about how I can possibly turn things around.

    Hoping every day that I will see a positive change; that he will realize the error of his ways; that he will value me or our marriage as worth keeping, working for.

    Trying to learn about how I can do better; to be introspective; to engage him in conversation; just trying all the time.

    Patient about…everything.

    Non-confrontational when he doesn’t come home after work and doesn’t call; when there is no help with anything (and I mean anything) around the house; when he blatantly defies any request I make about us as a family or our home; when he breaks his promises/commitments (almost daily); when he throws me “under the bus” in front of his 2 teen/preteen sons. And they are watching closely.

    After an emotional affair, DV at home (not directed at me), aligning himself with his ex-wife, mother, and sisters, and other significant circumstances….I’m not even really sure why I’m still trying, or in this.

    I do not want to be abandoned. I did not get married to get divorced (again). I want to try. I want healing. I want all these good, seemingly right things. And yet there is no response from the other contributing party. Not even a bone.

    I do have my remaining assets protected. My house is in my name alone; it was purchased by me before we were married. I also have an acct in my name only, in a separate bank. I am in Michigan; laws here protect women’s dowery rights.

    I don’t know what else to say, except that I really appreciate the articles that you write, Sarah P.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Login

Web Analytics

Clicky