Discussion Topic

Wife Abandonment Syndrome - Hallmarks & Warning Signs

Posted on 05/04/10, 12:11 pm
Hi & thanks to everyone who read and/or responded to the my last discussion topic: Runway Husbands - The Abandoned Wife Syndrome. I am waiting for my book to arrive but meanwhile, I've been browsing through Vikki Stark's website, http://www.runawayhusbands.com. It's so fascinating as it closely parallels my experience. Here are the 10 hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome:

The reason that Wife Abandonment Syndrome is so traumatic is that the change in the husband's behavior is dramatic, sudden and unexplained.

In order to justify his decision not to include his wife in the process that led to the end of the marriage, he needs to come up with a compelling explanation for his actions. That explanation often has little to do with reality, causing the bewildered wife, who had previously trusted her husband's word, to wrack her brains trying to make sense out of something that is inherently nonsensical.

The type of man who abandons often appears to be unusually moral and trustworthy, making it even harder for the wife to accept that his words are empty justifications. The most important first step in healing for a woman in this situation is the realization that her husband is not the man she thought she knew and that he never was.

Ten Hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome

1. Prior to the separation, the husband had seemed to be an attentive, engaged spouse, looked upon by his wife as honest and trustworthy.

2. The husband had never indicated that he was unhappy in the marriage or thinking of leaving, and the wife believed herself to be in a secure relationship.

3. By the time he reveals his feelings to his wife, the end of the marriage is already a fait accompli and the husband moves out quickly.

4. The husband typically blurts out the news that the marriage is over "out-of-the-blue" in the middle of a mundane domestic conversation.

5. Reasons given for his decision are nonsensical, exaggerated, trivial or fraudulent.

6. The husbandâs behavior changes radically, feeling to his wife that he has become a cruel and vindictive stranger.

7. The husband exhibits no remorse; rather, anger is directed toward his wife and he may describe himself as the victim.

8. In most cases, the husband is having an affair and moves in directly with his girlfriend.

9. The husband makes no attempt to help his wife, either financially or emotionally, as if all positive regard for her has been extinguished.

10. Systematically devaluing the marriage, the husband redefines what had previously been an agreed-upon view of the couple's joint history.

Warning Signs for Married Women of Possible W.A.S. (even if your husband has not talked about being unhappy in the marriage)

1. Has he had affairs in the past or left previous relationships in a similar way, even if you were the one for whom he left his last wife. That's the strongest predictor that he has what it takes to do that again.

2. Does he seem uncharacteristically unhappy with his life, even if his complaints are not related to the marriage. It's a sign that he may be re-thinking his life.

3. Do you notice a personality change? Does he just not seem himself? Is he withdrawn or suddenly irritable? Is he snapping at the children or not wanting to participate in family activities?

4. Are his habits changing - suddenly going to the gym, buying flashier clothes, dying his hair, getting a tattoo, buying an expensive car?

5. Do his values seem to be in flux? Is he adopting ideas that he used to belittle or belittling things he used to value? Is he espousing new beliefs that surprise you?

6. Is he taking "business" trips or disappearing for periods of time and the reasons given just don't seem to make sense?

7. Has he started to frequently mention a woman at work?

8. Does he work in a career in which he is in a position of power or authority, such as a professor, pastor, business executive or chaplain, where younger women may look up to him?

Gaslighting

In an effort to validate leaving, departing husbands devise nonsensical excuses and re-write the past, reversing statements that they had previously made. This greatly confuses their wives, often causing them to feel like they are losing their minds. This form of manipulation is called Gaslighting in reference to a 1944 Ingrid Bergman film, Gaslight, in which in which the devious husband of the delicate heroine flickers the gaslights every evening as part of a plan of psychological torture designed to delude her into believing that she has gone mad.

Women who are subjected to Wife Abandonment Syndrome are often presented with statements that are contrary to those their husbands made prior to leaving. For example, the man who used to say that his wife was "the rock of his life" now says, "I never really loved you". Women are forced to question their own memories and are at a loss to know what to believe â it's almost impossible to accept that their husbands are just out-and-out lying to strengthen their positions.

Showing 4 Replies
  • Reply #1 05/04/10  12:27pm
    I read the book too. It was good.

    I joined this site at the beginning. If you're not aware of it, there are some interesting articles in the news section at the top of this page.

    Best of luck to you.
  • Reply #2 05/05/10  6:29am
    S101 -- While all the info you are providing is helpful, beware that you COULD BE violating copyright laws by copying and pasting so much in here.
    I have had many personal exchanges back and forth with Vikki Stark since first learning about her book (before it was published) and promised her that I would share the fact that it was coming out with my DS friends. She is an amazing woman and I would love to have the opportunity to meet her in person sometime.
    Incidentally, I just got an e-announcement yesterday that she is going to be in CHICAGO sometime in the near future. If anyone out there is close to the Windy City, I would urge them to take time to go out and meet her!
  • Reply #3 05/05/10  6:32am
    P.S.
    Here is the announcement from Vikki Stark:

    Are you in CHICAGO? I'd love to meet you!

    Come to my reading at BARBARA'S BOOKSTORE in University Village on Sunday, May 16th at 3pm. Please send me an email to RSVP so I'll know to expect you!

    Then, on Monday, May 17th at 5pm, I'll be the guest of Dr. Laura Berman on OPRAH RADIO!
  • Reply #4 05/06/10  10:09am
    Hi CowgirlKathi,

    Thanks so much for the warning about potentially violating copyright law. I honestly didn't think about it. I copied the info from Vikki's website and not from the book so I was under the assumption that since it's out in the public domain it was available for sharing. But you're right; I shouldn't assume. Sadly I'm not anywhere near Chicago and I can't get US radio but I'd love to meet/hear Vikki some day.

Welcome

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I want to start something for those of us that were married for a long long time. I think that we face a little different issues than those who were dating for a few years or even married for shorter period of time. Being married for so long we have older children some have grandkids dealing with teenagers and their reaction to the divorice empty nesters dating after 40 etc.