Runaway Husbands

You think it can’t happen to you. But it can.

“Wife Abandonment Syndrome” is a name invented by Montreal therapist Vikki Stark, whose own husband abandoned her suddenly after twenty-one years of marriage. In her new book and website, both titled “Runaway Husbands,” Stark delves into the stories of women whose husbands just up and left one day.

Stark, a divorce therapist, strove to understand both her own experience and those of other women through documenting their stories and examining what had happened to them.

Many of these men left with no words – only a short text message or even a post-it note to say that they were leaving. Many of the women Stark talked to, as well, mentioned that they had no clue that their husbands had any discontent whatsoever with their marriages (though self-deception works in hindsight, as well).

Stark discovered several common features among “runway husbands”: Such men are often successful and considered consummate family men, highly involved in their families and doing all the “right” things. The runaway husbands were also typically described as “conflict avoiders,” who would hardly ever discuss their problems or issues, instead often hiding behind “it’s all OK” masks. Perhaps this is why most women reported that they never saw their abandonment coming.

What do you think – why would a husband simply up and leave? Is there a way to see it coming – and prevent it happening?

13 thoughts on “Runaway Husbands

  1. marisa

    Dear Gina Rose, I have not yet age for remember what did you write above, but I think perhaps you talked without any experience about runaway husbands term means…in every marriage problems could arrive. the grandeur of a people and a couple understanding is to struggle together against instead of going away, as a fugitive and without a letter it is really what about, whoever did it, the woman or the man. If you could have time to explain yourself and how do you fell about your marriage with your couple, if you could have an opened door to solve your problems and a possible parenthesis it is not the same to get your staff and run far away…

  2. Pingback: Red Responds: Sudden Abandonment | California Psychics Blog

  3. lynn

    after 43 years of marriage my husband ran away. and now in divorse court. thier will be no closure becaue his self-confidence is so low he can not speek for himself. I did do it for him but now my daughter in law has taken my job and I thank her very much for lifting my burden. lynn

  4. lynn

    After 43 years his self-esteem left and this is the only way he has figured out to have self-control. It does not make it right that he left his responsibilities behind. He can not even speek his mind he has to have everyone he comes in contact speek for him. But he is right on one issue the abuse he did on purpose to me is good he is away. But I not only lost my marriage, my whole family and have had to make me a new life totally alone. I have alot caring people and that feels great cause of what I am going throw lynn

  5. bmeek8511

    As a man and primary care giver I completely understand the pressures and situations you are talking about. My marriage could have easily been one of those. But fortunately we were committed to our family and found a counselor and for the first time in 12 years talk more than ever. I would hope others that are in this situation or suspect it, talk to your spouse. Times are tough. Marriages that last 30,40, and even 50 years don’t go without at some point being on the verge of giving up. Instead they dig in and work at it. This was inspiring to read that others can relate to the same issue.

  6. searita4

    I think that these runaway spouses are liars and cowards. It’s incredibly deceiving to leave the person or people you claim to love the most, have commited to for life and/or take off on the children you chose to give life without honoring them in the slightest bit with at least an explanation. Okay maybe the spouse turned out to be a failure in his eyes or made a mess of the finances or just plain decided he can’t cut it with all the pressure….don’t you think he at least should man up with his thoughts and feelings? So what, if he feels he’ll be talked out of leaving or talked into counseling, shouldn’t this be protocol in any given contractual agreement that professes feelings of adoration and a lifelong commitment behind it? C’mon ladies, I see no spirituality here on his part and too many women ….(1 is too many), making excuses for self serving and inconsiderate behavior. New York is the last state in the country that doesn’t have a no-fault divorce and the bill is in now.
    What are we coming to here. Is this a supposed evolutionary process where we’ve populated the planet enough so it’s time for self indulgent individuality? Let’s all be autonomous and go it alone, we don’t need anybody anymore? I believe in honor before loyalty but there seems to be a lack of both going around.

    We need to stop accepting the unacceptable and learn from our mistakes…and become more selective in choosing mates.

  7. diadriel

    Prevent? Probably not. I tend to agree with Gina Rose. Notice the “perfect marriage” symptoms. All you need add is the 2.5 kids and white picket fence. Notice the number of years in the marriage – a known turning point between 15-25 years. I think it is possible these are men who were so domesticated by societal expectations and upbringing that they believed this “checklist of the perfect life/marriage” was the road to happiness, yet one day, they realize “But will it make you happy?”. The answer for them is “no”. In what I see as a desperate move, they up and leave. This behavior is cowardly and childish – throwing the ball down and stomping out of the sandbox. I’m not saying they shouldn’t leave the relationship, that is their choice and soul decision. However, I do believe that they will not move forward positively until they deal in an adult manner with the situation and have closure. Another point, from my perspective, is the universe sometimes feels it has to cause these extreme situations to happen in order to get our attention – on both sides of the relationship – before spirit listens to the message of learning and growing necessary.

  8. nhattran

    This is unhappy surprise.
    If it happens, we have to deal with it. Surprisingly, time heals. Sometimes, it takes quite long to forget and forgive, but we have no other choice.
    How to avoid it? I doubt there is a way.
    It’s hard to understand a man.

  9. cagirl79

    My husband of 21 years just up and left as well. He fits the exact type that Vicki Stark wrote about. Successful executive, conflict avoider, consummate family man, always doing the right thing. I thought we had an amazing marriage and so did everyone who came in contact with us. They would tell us that it was magical. We had the kind of marriage that people wanted to emmulate. Then one day as I was discussing one of the kids, he just looked at me and said “I’m done” and I said oh with this conversation and he said no with our marriage. At that, he got up and walked out the door. Thank you to CA Psychics and a few of my own psychic friends, I have managed to survive. They all concur that he still loves me but my light shines too bright for him and he can’t be near me. The Universe has to have something better but honestly it has taken a few years for me to stand tall and believe it.

  10. saphir

    it happen to me 2 after 23 years of marriage….i think it because they feel pression,overload and the only way out for them is to leave there family…i sense that my husband did give enough of is life….he was tired and stress…the hard part was not because he left me,but that he left is 2 sons in the process…that i can not understand…he wrote me a e-mail telling me that he can not handle no more our life together….and he just walk away…i ask to divorce but my husband did not want to divorce…i don’t know why…finally i did …he act in a selfish way…cowardly…leaving us with no explanations…2 years after he found a lady with money and with a good job….but she don’t want to live with him…she is a very independant women… before he walk away we did take time together for our couple…we did enjoy being together…sex was good…..i did work (2 jobs)….something happen in is mind ,maybe one day i will know the truth…


  11. busijilli

    I don’t think this problem is restricted to gender & I suspect that these guys had the same problem in their marriages, as I have in mine, with my husband; which has made me think seriously about running off!! It’s the incapacity of the other person, to either listen, without getting mad (or even listen, as far as that goes!) or just ignore what is being said to them! Yes these wives will have seen signs, just as possibly husbands have in the same situation, but like so people they’re either were too busy with everything else, wrapped up in their own tasks, to take any notice or listen when certain comments were mad, or simply didn’t understand, or try to understand what their partner was trying to say to them!! Men in particular seem to find it very hard to express their innermost feelings, even more than women & I believe that perhaps having tried to say something & been brushed off, or maybe they have an “explosive” partner, which means it turns into a full scale fight, if what you’re saying, is not to the partner’s liking & a lot of men hate confrontation, so things become so bad inside them, & they feel so helpelss to change the situation that they run as the only alternative!

  12. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Many reading this are too young to remember this but…..
    …this kind of reminds me of what happened back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when wives would just up and abandon their husbands and children to ” find themselves”.

    Many wives were from comfortable marriages and did not have to work …but staying at home with the children to play ” June Cleaver ” just left them unfullfilled.
    Anybody over 50 out there, reading this blog , remember this ??????

    I remember Look and Life magazines both had major articles about that then. Many wives would just leave with the clothes on their backs…..many didn’t even leave a note behind…..they just walked away…..and nobody , husbands, kids, or other family members ever saw it coming.

    I feel that the husbands of today are feeling incredible pressure….some just get tired and burned out, while others see themselves as failing their own expectations and the expectations of others, including peers and society.

    It’s a shame….

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

  13. Jacqueline

    Very interesting Alys,

    I believe this also comes from just feeling major overload, unfortunately during this economic adjustment time many men are struggling with not being able to financially provide like they used to, because of this men are having to choose to stay at home or seek other professions, if not 2nd jobs.

    This just may become more of a trend out of feeling of helplessness, I have seen age somewhat have a factor in this time of “up and leaving”, some men feel that they have given so much in there life that it is time for them to start to give back to themselves.

    I have seen such great results when couples spend specific time together, the more you make them feel special, that they are the most important person in your life, the more that they will make you feel like you are the most important part in there life.

    This is the good Karma….

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472


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