Abandoned Wives and Runaway Husbands: An Interview with Vikki Stark

After 21 years of marriage, one day therapist Vikki Stark’s husband walked out on her. Unbeknownst to her, he’d been having an affair for six years. She thought they were happily married. The experience changed her life and her therapy practice.

“He inadvertently gave me a gift. When I scraped myself up off the floor, I knew I had to help other women pick up the pieces and rebuild a better life and that has been my mission ever since!”

Vikki Stark

Vikki discovered — even after having been a family therapist for two decades by then — there was nothing in the resources that spoke to her experience of sudden abandonment. So she became that resource and wrote her book “Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal.”

In this week’s Tell Me How You’re Mighty podcast, Sarah and I interview Vikki about her work helping women heal from this sudden and shocking discard.

Your services are no longer needed.

Yes, it’s a gendered discussion about straight couples. Of course, women abandon too. And probably gay men for all I know. (Being an asshole is always a human problem.) But in the case of Vikki’s research, and her therapy practice, this phenomenon of sudden dismissal from marriage happens to women in their 40s and 50s, after their wife appliance services are no longer needed. There’s been an affair(s) that they had no idea about and their replacement appliance is much younger.

The fact that this First Wife/Younger Model cliche exists, it beggars belief that there were no resources addressing it. #misogyny I guess you’re supposed to realize that you’re obsolete and exit stage left.

The discard is a casual afterthought.

It won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog that the discard is brutally casual. Out of the blue, apropos of nothing. Vikki relates how she was discussing dinner options when he blurted out, “I’m leaving”. She thought he meant he was rejecting fish for dinner, not her.

Similarly, in the episode with Jenny Ball (of Happy Hausfrau fame), her husband told her he found an apartment, after which he decided they should watch Chicago together after dinner.

Hey, you should’ve somehow intuited that The Marriage Was Already Over. Appliances don’t need memos.

They choose moments when you’re at best to destroy you.

How many of you had D-Days during the holidays? A significant birthday? While about to sit for an important exam? During a period of career success? When your life is arcing upwards, that’s the moment the narcissist FW choses to abandon. It seems uncanny, but Vikki has seen these stories play out time and again. And we have at CN as well. No kibbles for you, chump.

I think there is an element of sadism to it. Reminds me of colonial powers leaving Africa, pulling up the railroad lines. They intend to leave a shell and destabilize you, after draining you dry, so you can have no other God after them.

You can rebuild.

No surprise — life is better on the other side of a fuckwit. Vikki is the best ambassador for surviving abandonment. Her practice is flourishing, she goes on fabulous retreats, and she’s helped countless women. Where once there was no resource — she is that resource. Well done Vikki!

You can listen to the episode here, or wherever you get your podcasts. (Please remember to review and subscribe, thank you!) You can check out Vikki’s workshops, videos, and retreats at Runaway Husbands.

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Karmeh
Karmeh
2 months ago

I’ve got an Olympic RH
As long time members will remember my D Day happened on holiday in Poland .

I came back from bathroom and seen his phone with the loveheart as eyes emoji . I asked to see his phone he said no , I asked if he was having an affair and he just blurted it all out .

I’ve never ever seen or heard from him since that second . He left me in Poland without a penny to get home and I’ve never ever had a text , a call an email nothing .
He didn’t even bother to show up to get divorced as he was booking his wedding that day .

Everyone said oh he will be back he will be back in a year and Hoover but that’s been almost 5 years and still not even the sign of a smoke signal .

I simply stopped existing to him the second I found about his affair and he ran away .

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

I think I remember your story. He took your passport with him, and you had to have the authorities stop him at the airport to get it back.

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

Same here. Everyone said he would be back. There’s part of me that wishes he would attempt a crawl back but only so that I can spit in his eye. That part of me is also minuscule.

Elsie_
Elsie_
2 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

I discussed the “he’ll be back” lie with our mutual therapist. She said no way. She said that for a 60-something man to do what he did, he was done. I didn’t quite get that for awhile, and then I did. My ex ended the marriage of several decades with a phone call and then a long-distance divorce. My attorney said 100% a sign of guilt, but whatever. Just get me to the next chapter…

2xchump
2xchump
2 months ago
Reply to  Elsie_

I think the hypothesis that they cannot love are unable to love and leave when your warranty is up would be the same as a car, who’s millage is do high that you need to trade it in before the expiration date.
It is so sad because we bond so and trust especially after years of apparent connection.

Bluewren
Bluewren
2 months ago
Reply to  2xchump

You could be right- he treated me just like the cars he wrecked and didn’t bother to fix- leaves them mouldering in the carport until they’re eventually taken away to the wreckers.
Perfectly good cars- just neglected and driven badly by their human.

2xchump
2xchump
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluewren

Exactly! My husband had cars he kept for 2 years only. He did fix them and then sold them quickly. Not really making any money but just got tired of them, bored easily. Just turned them over.. When he bought and sold 7 motorcycles in 2 Years, I knew his illness was progressing and my time was short. I knew it.He was happy with nothing. I stayed because I thought he needed me. He was bipolar so all of the behavior I let go because it seemed part of his disease. So unacceptable behavior became acceptable. I gave it a pass. I just didn’t know how long I had before I was traded in. I didn’t realize he had already replaced me with several models. But once I knew, it was over with my second cheater. My first cheater I begged but that was over too.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

It’s amazing how quickly they can just leave without a word. It’s just shocking. Did you have any trouble getting the divorce because of his disappearing act?

RanAwayFast
RanAwayFast
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

My DDay also happened on holiday 18 months ago. He left me and our teen kids alone in a remote area mid holiday after the ‘I have a girlfriend’ statement and ran to his 26 year younger Schmoopie. (I had found him on the phone to her late at night. He did try and hoover (not for long) and then turned nasty and ran again to another continent. Nobody understands the crushing pain until you’ve lived it. I am forever grateful to Vikki and Tracey for writing their books and hosting the communities which have held me together ❤️.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

That is and was horrible Karmeh.

How did you get the D without seeing him? I sure hope you at least got a decent settlement. I can’t even how frightened I would have been being left in another country.

While my ex was very cruel to me for the last few months, I was able to guilt him into filing instead of forcing me to do it. So that helped me in a couple way, one being he couldn’t go around saying I dumped him etc.

Karmeh
Karmeh
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I filed on grounds of adultery as she was pregnant ( so not difficult to prove) as such he had a right to defend himself . He never even turned up so I got a default judgement from justice of the peace .

I later found out by pain shopping ( yes I know and I don’t do it now) that’s the day they booked their wedding .

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Karmeh

I don’t judge pain shopping. I didn’t do it, but back in those days there was no real way to do it other than physically follow them around, and I wasn’t going to do that.

I am glad you could use adultery. I couldn’t but I did prove money squandering that I was able to recoup. We were not well off, so it helped a lot.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I think pain shopping is so natural for a chump. CL is 100% right that we need to avoid it as much as possible because barring very specific instances, it only hurts US. If you live in an at fault state, sure, looking for evidence is important. But get what you need and move on. Proof they had sex to use in court as grounds for divorce? Great. A stash of videos of them actually having sex or a list of all the places they did it? Not so great for one’s psyche.

I live in a no fault state so the details I do know while limited, are useless to me and just hurt me to think of

I was lucky in that he had everything on lockdown. I never had a chance to see his phone/emails etc. It had been that way for decades which makes me assume that this wasn’t his first affair. (Gotta wonder, was he cheating from the very get go? Or was he setting up a “norm” of me not having access so that when he NEEDED that privacy, it wouldn’t set off any red flags for me?) I’ll never know what else he got up to, as he will never admit anything that I can’t prove. The AP was long distance, and had a VERY small social media presence. The most I ever saw were maybe 3 pictures of her. I know more than I’d like about her because of what he told me.

I occasionally google her name out of a sick sense of curiousity. They are no longer together, so it makes even less sense for me to do this. I never find anything new Actually I see less now than was once available.

But I think it is very hard to avoid pain shopping because as chumps, there was a huge deficit in what info we had about our own lives. I know for me, it makes me want to know everything I can, even when it doesn’t matter at all. In my case, he told me about the affair. Had he not chosen to, I may never have known. But he DID tell me, so I didn’t even need to do that little dance of looking for the perfect “proof” in order to believe it. I heard it from the horse’s mouth. And still, if getting into his phone/email had been an option,I would have been all over that despite knowing I wouldn’t see anything that would help me and would likely see a lot I would wish I hadn’t.

So a lot of lines to say, yeah, I definitely do not judge anyone for pain shopping but I 100% agree with CL that it is not a good idea.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

That was true for me, in some ways not having the Internet was a good thing. You couldn’t look people up so it limited pain shopping.

Hurt1
Hurt1
2 months ago

Vikki’s story is my story. On the evening of 12/26/2009 the 26+ years of a beautiful life I had with a wonderful, caring man came crashing down. Minutes before while looking at his desk calendar to see if a future event was marked in I saw the word “kiss” on a date. When I innocently asked what that meant, he covered his eyes & told me he couldn’t “do this anymore.” I asked, “do what”? His reply was, “be married to you.”

When I asked if he had a girlfriend, all hell broke loose. The shark eyes came out & lies about me & our marriage were spewed left & right. Girlfriend it turns out was a work subordinate divorced mother of 5 without custody.

Within 3 weeks he had moved out & 2 months later he filed for divorce. It was as if I had been hit by a bus. Never once in all of our years together had he raised his voice. After dday he screamed constantly which left me shaking & defenseless. I hit rock bottom a few months later & was hospitalized.

After all these years I’m still not healed and don’t know if I’ll ever be. Unfortunately I didn’t have family support – parents deceased & brother lives overseas. Ex’s large family was my family until they weren’t.

Vikki’s book came out shortly after dday & it was heaven sent. I found Chump Lady a few years later. My healing has to come from within but knowing CN gets it & has my back is a huge plus.

unicornomore
unicornomore
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Hurt1, we each heal however much with timing unique to us, but my day was 18 years ago and the memories dont cause me physical pain like they once did and I just told a story the other day where he was not the starting point – he was finally irrelevant.

My dead cheater was mean and nasty from early in our marriage, so I didnt lose a caring person, I lost a harsh critic, but I was still devoted to him. I would guess it hurts more to lose a formerly good guy, but it all sucks.

I didnt have family support either…my parents are awful people who would have made things worse if I had ever told them. I hope for the best healing for us all.

Leedy
Leedy
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Hurt1, I’m so very sorry this happened to you. What a horrible person–as Mehitable says below, a cowardly bully.

DrChump
DrChump
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Wife did similar once I found the love note. The shock from being blindsided combined with the heartbreak are unbearable. I am 2 1/2 years from Dday and wonder how I made it through those first couple of months

Hurt1
Hurt1
2 months ago
Reply to  DrChump

Me too. Actually I try not to think of those early days even first few years too often as the pain was so unbearable. I still well up thinking about it. The moral injury is so acute even to this day.

unicornomore
unicornomore
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

I cried every day for a number of years. The day (while I was planning my wedding to Colonel Greatly) I learned that he had been a serial cheater, I shed nary a single tear. My love turned to distain and even though I now cry that my kids lost their father to death, I dont miss the marriage a single bit

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Oh that’s horrible Hurt1, he sounds monstrous, like he became a different person in an instant, a changeling. It must have been such a shock, an horrific trauma, no wonder you were hospitalised!
I wasn’t abandoned out of the blue in the end; he’d been treating me worse and worse for a while, I’d already given him a couple of warnings but he got worse, so I made him leave.
He DID abandon me out of the blue with no warning over Holy Week and Easter 2022 though and that was like a punch to the guts! He was gone 9 days altogether with no word from him, and it was only lucky for me I knew where he was, but in that 9 days I dropped a whole dress size from UK18 to a UK 16 ( since D Day May 2023 I dropped to a UK 10/12 in a month!). I was having what I think were panic attacks and was in actual physical pain! If it weren’t for my GP giving me Xanax and sleeping tablets, I’d have had a breakdown too I think!
I should never have taken him back then but of course, he love bombed me, I was alone except for my adult son and still am, was financially dependant on him plus the counsellor I had seemed to pick up that it was my poor communication skills that had cause poor FW to run away and hide on me, and I was too ashamed to even tell my best friend in England, so I got taken in by him and let him move back in after a couple of months of him being a “good boy”! I know I was in self-blame mode but the counsellor should have picked up on that and should have know that abandoning your spouse like that is a form of emotional abuse. She wouldn’t even let me tell her the whole story, but kept interrupting me and I would actually finish the sessions feeling a bit drained! But she was so nice, so I kept my feelings to myself! It was Accord, the Irish relationship counselling service so I’d warn any Irish chumps to avoid them; they’re concern is saving the marriage it seems, even at the expense of an abused, betrayed spouse! Grrrr!
Not this time though! I knew I had to be the one to call time this time but letting him come back after abandoning me like that will always be one of my worst regrets. After marrying him and that’s after meeting the b$%^&*! Wish I’d never known of his existence at all!

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
2 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

I’m glad that divorce is now legal in Ireland, so you can be rid of him legally.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
2 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

The interrupting thing is why I quickly gave up on RIC, thank God. With FW in tow, I interviewed six different therapists but they all did it. Being a punk, I’d use the same passive aggressive dulcet tone to tell them why they sucked as therapists. From having worked as an advocate for DV survivors back in the day, I recognized that these RIC therapists were literally recycling moldy old theories and approaches that used to be used on battered women but are now generally frowned upon and considered unethical in most circles. The constant interrupting is the giveaway. It’s a clear indicator that the client has been automatically labeled “borderline” or “histrionic” right out of the gate– in other words, a prevaricator and fantasist– so the response is to not allow the client to “whip themselves into a dysfunctional frenzy” as as they “fabricate” tales of victimization. They interrupt you because they’ve decided you’re a liar.

It’s like RIC practitioners found a dusty old box of Medieval bloodletting tools at a yard sale and are trying to make use of them by reinstituting and popularizing the Medieval practice. Or like how– in the never-ending hunt for new blockbuster drug profits– the pharmaceutical industry will recombine old and iffy or even dangerous drugs (or street drugs) and invents new clinical treatment applications for them (even if they have to invent corresponding diseases) so they can file for new patents and sell the drugs at top dollar. At the very least, it’s clinical and scientific scavenging.

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago

I’ve just remembered that the Legal Aid solicitor I talked to a few weeks ago kept interrupting me too! Then he told me I can’t sell my house without FW’s permission! He said I should do mediation and offer FW far more than I would do even if I HAD lost my marbles, and made out that I HAD to give him something! I was really upset and really , really peed off!
I rang my own solicitor, who was my parents’ solicitor and has known me and my son for years now, and he told me the opposite and said FW has no claim on my property and “..if he cribs about it when the For Sale sign goes up, we’ll send him a “F^&* Off” letter!” I love my solicitor!!
And I believe him over the Legal Aid fella, as when I told the Guards I’m the sole owner of the house, they rang FW and warned him he couldn’t come here without my permission again!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
2 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

Wow, that Legal Aid dude sounds like he’s card carrying member of Team Abuser. I wonder if it would do any good to complain or if the Legal Aid organization has been *designed* to serve abusers and disempower victims. Organizations tend to rot from the head so it sounds like something is rotten in local government.

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago

Wow! I wish to God I’d found this site then, and that I’d not chosen Accord for counselling. I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t let me tell her what had been happening or what he’d been doing1 No wonder I felt drained after the sessions. To think I’d been branded as “an hysterical female” by another woman is appalling, and if she thought me a liar, it explains why she wouldn’t let me tell the whole story and didn’t seem to care about how I was feeling about it all but blimey, that’s terrible!
I have been sort of beating myself up for having him back after that, but in the light of this, and everything else, it’s no wonder I did. It did occur to me a few weeks ago that she sort of “served me up to him on a platter”.
Thanks be to God I found a therapist at Turn2Me this time who DID listen to me, and was very much interested in not only the whole story, but how I was feeling and certainly did not blame me nor make me feel I was remotely to blame! One that gave me the unconditional positive regard that therapists are supposed to instead of making me feel I was to blame for driving the poor crathur away!
If I’d have had that sort of counsellor then, I’d be 18 months into recovery by now and I’d say well on my way to a better life. Hindsight is great though isn’t it! My lesson? Swerve the RIC or anyone who even infers that a chump shares even a jot of the blame!

Leedy
Leedy
2 months ago

“a dusty old box of Medieval bloodletting tools”–what a great analogy.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

“After dday he screamed constantly which left me shaking & defenseless.” These guys are cowards. They can’t sit down and even discuss anything. They just run away or they turn bully. He did that to you based on the idea the best defense is a good offense – keep screaming at you so you can’t scream at him, Cowardly bully.

GrandmaChump
GrandmaChump
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Hurt1, I hope you think of CN as your family now! Just reading CN comments has helped me a good deal by triggering long-buried memories that, upon examination, have lost their power to hurt and can be released as expelled thorns. The few that still have some sting, I write down and work on, until they can be reframed and then trashed. Just an idea…consider a more positive pseudonym…not to erase who you are, but to change from too-long-term-status-quo (if you’re ready to be free, now) to something aspirational, like free-as-a-bird.

I used to write resumes for various people, for fun. I’d interview them for an hour or so and job down all the LIFE experiences they treasured, not just their random job experiences, though I included those as well. Then I’d figure a narrative that pulled all the employment-positive aspects into one continuous but interesting story.

One former priest, then customer service clerk, had been desperate to find another job, any job. He read my one-page version of his life a week later, was silent a while, then thanked me. “I can work with this,” he said. A month or so later, I asked how things were going with his job search. “I didn’t even look,” he said. “What I’m doing is really fine. It’s just that I’d been seeing myself as a loser, but now I see that I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and all my life experience has been about that, and that’s what I’m doing now.”

I’m sure you have many attributes beyond being a Hurt1 (aren’t we all!?!) Wish I knew you so I could help you see how mighty you were, and are, and will be…and then thinking of FW’s fakery and betrayal maybe can start fading in the light of the brilliance you are….
How about Winning1Day@aTime? That’s a start!

MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

Hurt1, yours & Vikki’s stories are pretty similar to mine too. 6/27/2015, what I thought was a good marriage to a man I’d been marrid to for 14 years (but I’d known him for 20+ years) came crashing down.

FW had always been a quiet introverted guy. But for a few months before DDay he was acting differently and I was confused that he was picking fights suddenly. A friend of mine called me hysterically crying that she thought her own husband was having an affair after reading texts on his cell. I suddenly thought about his behavior and how he was now always on his phone… and went home and just asked him if he was having an affair (not really believing it). I also asked if it was his coworker because she started popping up unexpectedly.

And he was thrilled! He blurted out that he was in love (with his subordinate coworker who was separated from her husband and had 2 kids), that he no longer loved me and was leaving me. And within an hour he had packed a bag and left…moved right in with coworker. He never went into our house again. The shark eyes came out and he became an abusive cruel crazy asshole — not the man I knew before. It was devastating and I was traumatized…and dealing with a traumatized 9 year old boy who also asked “what happened to dad? Why is he so different?”

Both of my parents are deceased now and my only sibling (my sister) is estranged (her doing — she isn’t attached to any family anymore). You can still heal. It took therapy and close friendships to help me get me on track. And I stay on these boards to help others. Just always remember that you aren’t the problem. FWs — especially these “runaway” types… it takes a seriously disordered personality to be that secretive then cut loose and trade out lives. Please keep fighting for yourself and others.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
2 months ago

Your story reminds me of the stories of so many domestic violence survivors. It’s why I ended up thinking of some of these abusers as “Manchurian candidates.” Except the cue that triggers them back into their dysfunctional childhood FOO training seems to be meeting an equally disordered freak.

Not everyone who’s criminally inclined embraces their impulses. They may try to fight it, partly by hoping the right partner will “inspire” them to stay on the straight and narrow, sort of like Cindy Lou Who melting the Grinch’s heart or Belle inspiring the Beast not to be an asshole. It’s not only victims who are misled by that mythology but also abusers. In fact, I think that mythology is by abusers for abusers. It holds victims accountable for “failing” to inspire ethical behavior.

Freaks often sense they’re freaks from young ages. They may start to realize that not everyone else has, for example, violent, abusive sexual fantasies, fantasies about being king of the world or chronic head films about disemboweling people who bother them with an pick axe, etc. They may spend their lives trying to mirror normal emotions and behavior to fit in, avoid rejection and avoid having their weirdness and inner creepiness exposed. But oh my, the relief they feel when they at last encounter a fellow creepy freak to join forces with! And the rage they feel at all those “bigots” who’d kept them down their whole lives and made them hide their “lights” under a bushel! I imagine they go through a demented version of the awakening that many early civil rights activists experienced in realizing that, say, black is beautiful and that being gay is not sinful. They want to tell off all those oppressors who kept them down! Except the demented revelation is a complete insult to egalitarian self esteem campaigns because the “closet” these abusers are coming out of it is about being criminally inclined and the “shackles” they’re throwing off are constraints against criminality and sleaziness.

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago

This makes a lot of sense to me, with that good old hindsight again! Manchurian candidate is an apt description for my X and I’m still a bit annoyed with myself because there were times along the way his mask did slip but I didn’t cop on!
It is a brilliant film and I’m going to have to watch it again if I can find it!

unicornomore
unicornomore
2 months ago

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Cheater had possibly committed crimes along the way. He once had a rage at a hotel and came back to the room and told me that he had broken some guys arm. I laid there in terror waiting for the cops to come but none ever did. Much later I realized that he lied to me all the time to throw me off balance.

MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
2 months ago

Hell of a Chump, it’s oddly reassuring and validating that you see my story this way. Thank you. I sometimes read everyone else’s terrible FW stories and think mine isn’t nearly as awful. But you are right — FW is one fucked up freak fighting his true nature. And AP brought it out of him with her own wacko issues.

BTW — Manchurian candidate is an awesome movie. And I never saw the relationship between FW and that movie until you pointed it out! FW’s mom is truly Angela Lansbury. She’s one scary bitch who fucked up her son good.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
2 months ago

It’s completely shattering to see someone take off the mask they’ve worn for years and show a completely different face. Its obviously worse if they’re wielding a tire iron while they do it but the switcheroo alone is cataclysmic enough.

Yikes, you had Eleanor Shaw as an ex-MIL. Shudder.

hush
hush
2 months ago
Reply to  Hurt1

“Never once in all of our years together had he raised his voice. After dday he screamed constantly which left me shaking & defenseless.”

I totally relate! Sometimes there really are no discernible red flags to speak of until they are already out the door.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  hush

It’s AMAZING to me how they can hide whole other relationships, a whole other life, a SIGNIFICANT ONE they’re willing to leave you for. Someone else they’re in LOVE with!!! How the hell do you HIDE that for so long????

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

It’s mind-boggling isn’t it? I know I wouldn’t be able to anyway, and I doubt anyone except those who’re wired up wrong, the character disordered, could!

Leedy
Leedy
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Right. (How do you hide it even for a day?)

Elsie_
Elsie_
2 months ago

Such gold. I found Vikki about the same time that I found Chump Lady, which was post-divorce when closeout was immediately going all kinds of wrong. She articulated what I already knew, but it was helpful to have the words. The phrase “services no longer needed” helped me. Our college kids struggled with the same thoughts after their dad left. What did they mean to him? I said that I couldn’t speak to that, but I knew. They no longer “fit” his narrative.

He’s with a woman now who couldn’t be more different than me. A relative of his told me that they are struggling with that. Welcome to my world. I knew what kind of woman he wanted, and it wasn’t me.

hush
hush
2 months ago

I adore Vikki Stark! “Runaway Husbands” was one of the 1st resources I found when my xh walked out days before my 40th birthday, and just a few weeks after tricking me into a cross-country move to be with his married/male/closeted coworker Secret Schmoopie.

Then as I was phoning divorce lawyers, I found Jenny Ball’s The Happy Hausfrau blog, which was also a total gamechanger for me, as I mothered our 3 kids who were then ages 8, 6, and an infant.

These awesome women’s comment sections soon led me to CL, and to my favorite CL post: “The Ones Who Just Leave.” Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my chumpdom at all! 💜There is nothing new under the sun, as it turns out. Holy wow, we can even predict what a FW is gonna try to do! Thank you, Vikki Stark, thank you Jenny Ball, thank you Tracy Schorn!!! 💜💜💜

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  hush

“and just a few weeks after tricking me into a cross-country move to be with his married/male/closeted coworker Secret Schmoopie.”

That enrages me. My fw in the early spring of the year of discard (while he was still pretending) into buying a river front property. I even balked but he assured me we could afford it, and that our future grandchildren would be able to enjoy it.

Grrrrrr.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I agree. This aspect IS enraging. I tell people all the time that the thing about affairs that people who haven’t experienced it don’t consider is that it isn’t just “oh they slept with someone else”. An aspect that can be even more damaging is that the chump doesn’t have all the info about THEIR lives in front of them. I dare say that our fellow chump, Hush, would not have moved cross country with her husband if she knew he was cheating. There are SO many choices we make as Chumps for our lives that are based on lies or half truths. That is something that I don’t think non-Chumps always understand.

Some people decide to put their careers on hold, to support their cheating spouse’s career. Some people are the stay at home parent, giving up what would have been a lucrative career path. These are normal things that happen in marriages that are fine if both parties know what is going on.

I didn’t even get tricked in any epic ways like this, but I still get enraged at the idea of what I did for someone that didn’t deserve it. My FW is a very difficult man. Possessive, controlling, mean. Not always. He has a good side as well. But often he was hard to please. And I always thought “well, no one is perfect. I love him and will deal with his flaws. Isn’t that what love is?”. So to find out that I was dancing my heart out, trying to keep this person pleased (which was really a losing game) while HE was having a full on secret love life with someone else for YEARS? It’s truly enraging.

He was always flying off the handle about the littlest things. And I put up with it for a myriad of reasons including FOO issues. But had I known he was having an affair, I’d like to think I’d be less inclined to walk on eggshells to appease him.

I guess I should be glad I didn’t move cross country or buy him a business or any of the other huge things that Chumps had pulled on them.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

” An aspect that can be even more damaging is that the chump doesn’t have all the info about THEIR lives in front of them. ”

For me that is the real crime, the theft of my very life, my young life.

unicornomore
unicornomore
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

Im also enraged by the ones who move chumps. Mine tried and for a hot second, I considered, it but I knew that the kids and I would be unmoored in a new city and he had already talked of divorce, so we all refused to move. He lived far away assuring me that he and schmoopie were over (but now Im sure they were playing house). I still live in that same city and have the same job that got me through the whole thing. Im about to quit my job after 20 years as a dreadful boss has finally squeezed the last drop of blood from me, but I appreciate that it helped me survive that awful time

FooledMeThrice
FooledMeThrice
2 months ago

I thought we were separating temporarily when FW left for his mother’s, but he knew he’d been done for years and was never coming back. I guess the one good thing I can say about him is that he’s willing to work with me on the divorce and has so far agreed to pay and give me everything I’ve asked (we’ll see if that continues once we’re doing papers). I can’t imagine how much more devastating this would be if he was being cruel and ducking communication, too.

Apidae
Apidae
2 months ago
Reply to  FooledMeThrice

and has so far agreed to pay and give me everything I’ve asked

There was a time when he agreed to be your partner for life and to forsake all others, and you know how that worked out. Did he make these promises to split the property fairly in writing? Did your lawyer says that you can rely on what he said to enforce that agreement? Unless the answer to both of those things is yes, you should treat his promises as empty air.

FooledMeThrice
FooledMeThrice
2 months ago
Reply to  Apidae

We’re still in the process. We don’t have any property, children, or shared finances/assets, so in my state it’s possible to get a quick divorce if all parties agree. We’re meeting on 12/16, after my finals are done (yep, he abandoned me during finals) to put everything in writing, and we’ll have a lawyer review it to make sure it’s enforceable before we both sign. We’ll see if things remain civil once I start putting dollar amounts on things.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  FooledMeThrice

That’s the worst part of it, they say they were done for years; but of course we never got the memo. In fact my fw put on quite a show for me and the community. He had to, as he needed me in place to secure his captains bars and cushy office.

Good news is he lost his captains bars and cushy office as he made the mistake of boinking his direct report. He is fortunate he didn’t lose his job. Had it been a couple years later, he likely would have.

FooledMeThrice
FooledMeThrice
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I could tell he had lost interest in me. I didn’t realize it was because he was pining for another woman, and I spent years unknowingly pick-me dancing against her presence. I thought he was depressed because he’s objectively a failure. I tried to support him the best I could during this time and help him with therapy and whatnot, but there’s not much you can do to help someone who’s shutting you out. We even went to couple’s counseling for a while during this time, but if he wasn’t going to be honest about the OW, he shouldn’t have wasted our money.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  FooledMeThrice

Mine was so disconnected from me but he still told me he loved me every day, would go on the occasional date if I did all the work (reservations, buying tix, etc.) but he’d also ended our intimacy a few years before, eventually telling me he was no longer attracted to me. I thought this was fixable but it turned out he was instead paying younger women to have kinky s3x with him like he saw in his beloved p0rnos. I didn’t know that he had an 18yo sugar baby that I was helping to finance. He would assure me all the time that he was happy, that he loved me, that there was nothing wrong with me (except my abject hideousness, I guess?). So when I pointed out how much weight I’d lost and maybe we could try reigniting things on a random Friday in 2022, he announced out of the blue that he needed a change, he needed to do new things, he didn’t think he was made for monogamy, blah blah. I had to get back to work so later we went out for pie to finish the conversation. Stupidly I still had no idea where it was going. I got the shark eyes as he ate an entire pot roast dinner–including pie!–while telling me how he was done with our marriage. He didn’t love me anymore, hadn’t loved me in years and wanted out. No therapy, no counseling, nothing. He was done. He said lots of fun things like, “It’s not your fault, I just married the wrong person” and “I’ve known since [our daughter] was in preschool” (she’s in middle school now). Apparently I was still not getting it because then he went for blood and told me that he’d been cheating on me. Not once but for almost a decade and with many different women. That he was in love with the current one and wanted to be with her. But of course when I asked if that meant divorce, he was moving out, he was moving in with her…? Everything was up to me. It’s all been “up to me” on HIS unilateral decision-making. It was up to me to file and has been up to me to make every single legal maneuver because it hurts me financially.

Viktoria
Viktoria
2 months ago
Reply to  Conchobara

My god this is horrible I’m so sorry.

Bluewren
Bluewren
2 months ago

Oh yes…
Those of us who are left with no explanation at all.
Mine has an even weirder twist- I am currently in NZ and did live in Australia with husband I’ve known since we were teenagers.
One day in late March he decided to cease talking to me or communicating in any form while I was in NZ working on a short contract.
In October after months of attempting to get him to communicate with me, a profile pops up on his social media of him looking very cosy with a complete stranger.
Since then, still no communication even when I confronted him when I returned home without warning he had nothing to tell me but lies and that it was still all my fault.
He still hasn’t said he’s officially broken up with me by the way.
I’m sure he’s received his letter from my lawyer by now.

Leedy
Leedy
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluewren

This is indeed so weird! The exclamation points are silently going off in my head.

Bluewren
Bluewren
2 months ago
Reply to  Leedy

Not a single person I’ve told has thought any of that was ok- everyone is very perplexed like you.
He’s spread some pretty fantastic lies about me to appear like the poor hard done by abandoned husband too.
Unluckily for him people have told me all about those.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
2 months ago

Male abandoned by female here but all of the hallmarks here hit.

I thought we were on an upswing after some troubled waters. I had just gotten back from a pretty good vacation and was actually feeling pretty good about…everything, actually.

Then D-Day.

And “I still love you-but just as my friend, so let’s still be friends!(despite my horrific betrayal, and by the way thanks for supporting me financially through my entire education. I move out to my suspiciously already available new home in 10 days, best of luck in your future endeavors!)

The shock from all of the sudden change is still messing with me three months out. All on that “everything I planned for is gone, everything I believed in is a lie, I’ve been replaced because apparently I am no longer of use.”

And her move-out process was outright vindictive. She had already been gaslighting me for months heading into D-Day/the break-up but she turned it up to 11 for our remaining time together. I guess she needed to hit me when I was already down and heartbroken, else was getting the rest of her emotional abuse in on the “use it or lose it” plan.

Part and parcel to the whole “entitled narcissist” thing. Still hurts a lot when you suddenly learn that only half of the marriage was invested in “us” more than “I”. Granted I imagine that if they could see what harm they were doing that they probably wouldn’t cheat to begin with.

I am better off without the ongoing mind-fuckery and emotional abuse. It has made me be a better mental health professional and has opened a new vista of empathy for me(and associated shame that I did not take other people in that position as seriously, but “now I know”). I am in the process of being the best person I can be. I am happy that I am not alone in this and that it gets better.

Stay mighty everybody!

DrChump
DrChump
2 months ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

JW, Know the pain! It will get better!
I Had to watch FW slowly and methodically pack up what she wanted after Dday as if it was no big deal. Her new personality was nobody I recognized. I started finding out more and more over the first month after Dday making things even harder, all the while trying to keep my shit together for our son who was starting high school. Fw was taking him with her to buy furniture for her new place like it was a joyous occasion! Guess what, It wasn’t ! On the way home from school he would cry everyday He was as blindsided and heartbroken as I was but she didn’t even notice. “He will be fine” she said. Contrary to what we planned she also told him we were getting a divorce without me there.
That is the thing with these FWs, they think that everyone is on board with their poor decision and are ok with it!

CountryChumpkin
CountryChumpkin
2 months ago
Reply to  DrChump

I hate the way they completely negate the impact on kids. Mine declared the kids “over it” either before or a few months after the divorce was final and started introducing romantic partners. The first he claims was before, she was the young -enough-to-be-daughter girlfriend. That didn’t go over well. He moved her in, and within a year had two others staying there. The goings-on were icky – my daughter (at the time I think 12) wrote him off after that and hasn’t spoken to him for 2 years.
That’s what happens when you declare the kids fine for your own convenience and they’re not.

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago

I think doing that is a form of child abuse and should be an offense in Law. There should be legal consequences for parents who do that to their children. Severe consequences!
How is your daughter now? I hope she’s ok and thanks be to God she has you but her father is a disgrace! Shame on him and all parents who do such things to their kids!

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago

Oh, and the ‘gf’ (former sugar baby, from the time she was 18) is now probably 24 (don’t know, don’t care except it’s gross). We were together 21 years so she could literally have been our child. How do you f*** someone who was in preschool when you got married unless you are a sick mf’er???

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago

Our daughter started going to the school office every day complaining of headaches and stomach aches after DDay. FW asked me what was happening with her. I said, are you kidding?? She’s internalizing everything about us getting divorced and all the things YOU SAID TO HER and it’s literally making her sick. (He decided to tell our 12yo daughter on the way to school that he’d been having an affair, didn’t love me, was in love with someone else, and couldn’t wait for them to meet). To this day he denies that her ongoing head and stomach problems have anything to do with our ongoing divorce and instead indicates that she is a difficult teenager or is dealing with school stress.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
2 months ago
Reply to  DrChump

I went through the same “methodical packing in front of me” thing with an added side of “here is a stack of all of the gifts she didn’t want(the ring, mysteriously, was not on the pile.) Mine felt like a completely different person too-more outwardly abusive than gaslight-y/passive aggressive. Mine seemed to relish her “great escape” as well(or that she played me for so long-will probably never know.) The only reaction of my (very wonderful) support system-“is that cheating bitch delusional?”

They’ll get theirs. Damn shame these “people”(and I use the term loosely) almost require so much collateral damage for their so-called happiness.

Bluewren
Bluewren
2 months ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Yep- there’s no shock like the complete detonation of your past, present and future.
Everything you knew just blown away and no clarity if any of it was ever real.
It’s a lot to deal with and many no matter how well meaning don’t fully understand the depth of grief and what it costs us mentally and emotionally.
You are mighty- keep going!

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
2 months ago
Reply to  Bluewren

Going through the holiday thing for the first time and it still being so new, trying to tease apart what if anything was real is painful. It’s definitely difficult to empathize with until you have been there and had to experience the de-realization from the trauma.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

“The shock from all of the sudden change is still messing with me three months out. ”

That is early in the process. I am so sorry.

I honestly think my fw knew how much I would be hurting when I found out, he just didn’t care. In the beginning of his cheating he likely was just enjoying the sneak; when it came to light; oh well time to exit. I think his plan was to keep me in line for another year ish for political reasons, but when someone dropped a dime it was over.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

FW told me that he knew how much it would hurt me but he just didn’t care. He needed to be himself and DIDN’T HE DESERVE HAPPINESS?!?! He had the audacity to end his confession of all the cheating (that I know of, anyway) on DDay by saying, “I know you won’t appreciate this but MAN, does it feel good to finally get that off my chest!”

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I think I triggered D-Day early with mine as well. Once mine was called on it I guess all bets concerning civility were off with mine as well(though nobody smartened me up with mine.) “Mad that I got caught”, not “mad that I did the wrong thing.” Sigh.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago

This is kind of what happened to me about 35 years or so ago. Might be closer to 40. Frankly my memory of the time is a haze. We weren’t married but we’d been together for 7 years (no kids). I knew for some time he was a serial cheater but I thought it was just went he went on trips overseas….I found out different. But I accepted that because I really did love him and was crazy about him and I just thought he was the best I could do. That last part is the key. Anyway, one day he just up and left with no warning and not a word. He left with another woman for another state to go to work in a family business where he was going to make a LOT of money (and he did). I don’t remember how I found out, or what I did ultimately, this was before the Internet. All I remember is walking around in the pouring rain for hours that night till I finally went back home…..I don’t even remember anything after that. I’m not sure when my memories start back up about this and I don’t really want to. It’s all like a block. Never saw or heard from him again and did not try to seek him out. I was crushed like a bug. It took me years to recover and frankly I think that relationship is why I never ended up having kids. I wasted too much time on him and then all those years trying to get over it. Plus other terrible things like job losses, health problems, family deaths, started happening in that time frame. But what amazes me the most is how I little I remember about what happened when he left….a whole period of time that just got wiped out…..all I really remember is walking around in the rain crying hysterically. A movie moment. Maybe it’s like being shot. I sometimes wonder how he is, I know he’s had serious health problems, but I also know now that he really was not a good person and a user. I was just so screwed up myself from FOO problems that I put up with it. So I learned…..never put up with it again.

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

It sounds to me like he was genuinely evil, and your encounter with such deep evil was so traumatic, your mind has put that time away in a box and locked it up, to spare you from the immense agony. It’s sometimes a mercy that we can’t remember certain things, I suspect. I don’t think there’d be any point in remembering any of it now, but I hope you’re OK nowadays!
I have blanks in my memory about the last 10 years with FW, great chunks of time where the days all seem a blank, and I also am hazy about the exact time certain things happened, and when he DID certain things! Although I do remember what he did alright, and I doubt I’ll ever forget totally. I just hope there’ll come a time where I hardly ever think of him and if I do, I have no emotion about it, as with with my other Xs!

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I think getting shot is a good description. In terms of a long relationship it is sudden. It takes a while to get our minds right. My fw was a controller, (self admitted) but I loved him in spite of it; and I thought we were fine, as he wanted me to think.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

That’s what comes to mind, susie, like being shot. It was so shocking, so unexpected, and not a word out of him, he just up and left and I literally never saw or heard from him again. Maybe in one way it’s a good thing as there was no fighting, hah!, and no kids, but to have someone just disappear after 7 years, and I think he might have done it more for the money/job than for her. Who knows. What amazes me is that I just remember almost nothing from that time frame, I can’t remember what time of year this was – I guess with the rain it probably was the spring….I don’t remember coming home, going to work, talking to anyone….I think my memories kind of start up around work because we went through a massive reorganization. I actually had a nervous breakdown, I don’t know if they still call it that nowadays but I was a mess. I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it for decades but it was a real turning point for me.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

You know what…..I don’t even remember WHAT TIME OF YEAR THIS WAS. It’s like I went into some kind of fugue state and kept sleep walking for a some period of time. I did what I needed to do to survive somehow, but it’s amazing how little I actually remember. Probably the most painful experience of my life and that’s saying something.

MollyWobbles
MollyWobbles
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

You could have dissociative amnesia. It can get triggered when something incredibly traumatic happens. I have it so badly that I almost immediately forget things when I am even the slightest bit stressed thanks to FW and his bullshit. I have to write everything down so I don’t forget.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago

It is true that I was abandoned during an upward period of time for me – I’d just finished my BS (I was an adult student) and was learning to fly a plane and doing various other things and yup, that’s when it happened. It might have been a coincidence…..

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

You were becoming too successful for him to be able to control and manipulate! He resented it and could see you were going to become very independent, and he couldn’t have that, so he found some naive, gullible little slapper whom he could control and manipulate instead!

OHFFS
OHFFS
2 months ago

Mine would have run away if his AP would have had him for more than just a sucker to use when it suited her. She wasn’t, so he took it out on me. Somehow I was to blame for the fact that they couldn’t be together, even though she told him she was happy with her lifestyle with her (more wealthy) chump. He couldn’t admit to himself that it was because she wasn’t really interested in him. Right up until the day after Dday he believed she would be with him if she could. He was angry that after telling her he had been caught, she did not agree to leave her husband. So he turned on her, too. It was good, because I got all sorts of damning info about their relationship. He just didn’t think I’d use it to free myself. He probably figured I’d use it to go after her and get his revenge on her for him. D’oh, FW. I’d say live and learn, but they don’t learn.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

FW couldn’t run away physically (though he’d done so emotionally some time before DDay) because the child mistress still lived at home with her parents. So there was nowhere for them to be together. All their little sessions took place at local hotels during the day and stolen weekends when he secretly called out from work. He tried to act like we were still close and that we were friends who just happened to be married while he stayed another 9 months in our house, refusing to move out. He claimed he was saving up to get a place for him and the child mistress but instead just kept taking her on trips and vacations and fancy meals. When I called him on it he said it was none of my business and he could live there forever if he wanted and there was nothing I could do about it. After 9 months he did finally move in with his mom and then he went apartment hunting with the child mistress. I don’t know what happened exactly but he moved in with two 26yo girls of questionable backgrounds (one I’m pretty sure he was cheating with simultaneous with the child mistress) and the cm didn’t move in with him. According to our daughter he still sees “his girlfriend” but she doesn’t live there.

OHFFS
OHFFS
2 months ago
Reply to  Conchobara

Wow, that must have been nine months of pure hell, but you survived. Good for you.

Though I decided to leave almost immediately, I had to live with FW while I found and fixed up my new place, and it was the worst thing I ever went through emotionally. As soon as I left I felt so much better. Within a little over a year I was pretty much healed. I feel bad for chumps who stay, because you cannot possibly recover if you are still with the FW. So they go into survival mode, living lives of quiet desperation. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I couldn’t afford to leave! He makes over 2x what I do and we live in one of the most expensive counties in California. We got the condo at the bottom of the market when the last real estate bubble burst so I can afford to live here if I can stay in our condo. I can even *just* afford the mortgage on my own (just under half my monthly salary). He eventually moved out and into an apartment with two 26yos – narcissist to the core, they live in a luxury apartment in southern county (the ‘rich’ area) that rents out at $4k/month!

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
2 months ago

The ex was the classic Runaway Husband after 26 years, no kids. The only slight discrepancy was that exgfOW was only a year younger than him (at the time, 52 to his 53 and my 59. That was over 4 years ago). But, she was his gf from school (2 years) and in his mid-twenties (2 years). They had never lived together (although I understand that they may do so now and one friend has already predicted that the relationship will end in ‘murder’ which is shocking but unsurprising. This friend is very level-headed and does not say that kind of thing on a whim). In his head she was his youth and I was ‘joyless’. So I think the discrepancy isn’t really so different from the much younger woman.

The ex frighteningly ticked every box on the RH checklist. Picking up two points:

  1. my dad had died only 6 weeks before point 2 happened.
  2. the ‘announcement’ that he was taking off on a ‘headspace’ week over an English bank holiday weekend, ‘ON MY OWN’ literally shouted at me, came as we watched an episode of Schitt’s Creek (her recommendation) after he had polished off a large bowl of my best homemade chilli.

This happened on a Tuesday (ironic). He spent until the next Sunday visibly walking on air with a huge smile on his face (still sleeping in my bed – and it was my bed as I brought it to the relationship) while I tried to work out what was happening. He reluctantly gave me the names of the luxury hotels at which he was staying. He took the car, leaving me to travel over 100 miles each way by train and cab to pick up my 83 year old mother to take her to my father’s grave on his birthday for the first time since his death. I had to lie to her about why I didn’t have the car because she was in no fit emotional state to hear that the ex had probably left me. Obviously there was minimal communication while he was away. Fortunately the weather in our special places, which he was was visiting with the OW to ‘expunge’ me, was awful. He came back a day late, walked into our garden, arms open for a hug, saying ‘Mighty, I’m leaving you’. I thought he had gone bonkers! Who does that!

Anyway, he duly trotted off to a local hotel where I expect she was waiting for him before she headed back to Canada or wherever! I knew something was up because there was the imprint of a bottom watermark much larger than my bottom on the passenger seat of our car. I discovered the affair about 8 weeks later and duly divorced him.

It’s funny to look back on now because his behaviour was, yes sadistic and smirking, but also truly pathetic and cowardly. Having seen what he was, I found him physically repulsive and have often asked myself why I sold myself so short, now over 30 years previously. That’s been the important part of therapy for me.

I had been married before, and without kids, I think I was easily thrown away by this covert narcissist. I had no value to him any more. And now, he has no value to me. ExgfOW got her soulmate, the man of her dreams. May she always live in interesting times!

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

You gave me a laugh over the big bottom watermark on the carseat! I had Katherine Tate’s Nan come to my mind, saying “She’s got a great, big fat ARSE, the woman!” Hehehe!

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
2 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

It was exactly like that Shadow! I felt like shouting ‘that’s not my bottom’

Shadow
Shadow
2 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

It’s mad how , although they cause us so much pain and damage, they are also so ridiculous in ways that you can’t help but laugh at them!
They’re clowns!

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

The pure sadism of these actions is remarkable. Not only does he leave you like this but he does it in a way that causes maximum pain when you’re already down (your father passing). And then to come home thinking you were going to hug him after this…..I don’t know where they pass out the brains but it can’t be here on Earth. Got to be aliens somewhere. Hope they enjoy life on top of Shit Mountain.

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I can’t uptick easily. I would uptick all the BTL comments if I could. So comforting to know that the experience isn’t suffered alone. I thought I would die of heartbreak when this was going on and for a couple of years afterwards (lockdown happened two weeks after I started proceedings and it was tough).

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

They are seriously delusional. About 3 weeks after DDay I suggested we do something for our daughter to help her. FW and she decided–and then informed me–that we would all go together to Knott’s Berry Farm. I went along with it for our daughter’s sake but it was horrible. I tried to walk with our daughter or alone but he would try to walk next to me. The highlight was him saying, maybe we should all 3 get passes and do this occasionally in the future. I literally stopped walking, and keeping my voice low and a ghost of a smile on my face so our daughter wouldn’t hear, hissed at him to knock it off, that he had lost all rights to be a family with the countless selfish choices he’d made. I told him I would never spend another day with him again. He acted like a wounded baby animal. Sniffed that he couldn’t believe how mean I was being. He said that he didn’t know why we couldn’t stay friends. I laughed at him and said that friends don’t do the things he did. Friends don’t hurt me and then laugh about how much better it makes them feel.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Conchobara

A lot of these nuts REALLY want a harem and they’re just don’t understand why we all don’t wanna be sister-wives, LOLOLOL!!!! Nah, I’m good, thank you.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Ha Ha ha! I refer to his roommate situation as his harem: he lives with two 26yos of questionable background (one of whom I am fairly certain either has an OF channel or is an AP since his disclosure docs list her by name–something he seems to have forgotten or thinks I’m too dumb to realize). He also still has his child mistress in his life in some capacity (I don’t know how involved they are, or care, but I know at the last minute she decided not to move in with the other three of them). Hahahaha

cbanks1985
cbanks1985
2 months ago

I read this book and it was so helpful. It’s amazing how similar all these FW work.

Conchobara
Conchobara
2 months ago
Reply to  cbanks1985

It was the second most valuable book after LACGAL for me! FW didn’t technically run away since he refused to leave for 9 months but his entire personality changed on DDay. He had emotionally built up barriers for years, claiming depression following his dad’s death years before, but it was solidified on DDay. He did so many of the things the runaway husbands do: out of the blue announcement, the shark eyes with the story about how he deserves to be happy, etc. All of it.

AristocraticChump
AristocraticChump
2 months ago

Thank you for all the wonderful podcasts Chumplady! Really helpful to hear this one as an abandoned chump! Thank you for all the questions you raised.
I wouldn’t have survived being abandoned without this site. I’m here reading all the time but don’t often comment and I hope the following helps any newly abandoned chumps!

  1. the FREEDOM is WONDERFUL. It may not feel like that now but I promise it will.
  2. If you have even a smidgen of a feeling of relief at any point during your abandonment process you were probably being abused – get help.
  3. My husband abandoned me at around 5.15am in the morning shortly before leaving for a business trip. I had got up and come down to make his cooked breakfast for him as I always did, to make sure that he was ok before his long journey. He calmly and briefly told me that he was not going to return after the business trip.
  4. We had just celebrated our wedding anniversary on a holiday abroad
  5. He’d been saying l love you every day etc.
  6. I was blindsided. I had no idea he had a girlfriend and he didn’t mention her in the I’m leaving conversation.
  7. I discovered months later that he had a girlfriend
  8. He found his girlfriend at work.
  9. He was busily pretending that he didn’t have a girlfriend and I didn’t find out about his secret double life for months after he left and I was well into the divorce process.
  10. He had moved straight in with her.
  11. I was no longer of value to him
  12. My ex husband did all the usual things trickle truth/appalling behaviour/high conflict divorce, you name it. All typical, all predictable but when you’re in it and new to this whole world you don’t know its just what they do and that they have a script. Finding Chumplady was so life changing!
  13. He was all over the “you’re my best friend” speech, oscar winning performance with that one.
  14. I didn’t understand what projection was. I was completely clueless. He was accusing me of having an affair and it was just shattering.
  15. He was what I now believe to be pretending to be suicidal. I actually think he wanted me dead. Please anyone in this situation please read Gavin DeBekkers The GIft of Fear. Please also read Lundy Bancroft Why Does He do That. And please seek help from a shelter. Even if you can’t believe this is your life, seek advice from people who know what these monsters are and can protect you.
  16. I still find it so hard to say I think he was pretending as its such a terrible thing to do and its so terrible to doubt someone incase its real. Please know its ok to be a good person and doubt them. Do your best to get them help. Protect yourself from manipulation if they’re pretending and get help for you. Its such a difficult area
  17. I think anyone dealing with a really difficult one should run them through the Mosaic model- thank you Tracy I’d never heard of it before, I wish I’d had it at the time Anybody going through this in real time, please do it, particularly if their partner is armed. And get help, safely.
  18. Someone capable of that level of deceit is not safe. Don’t take any risks.
  19. I think the highly secret double life abandoners can be fascinated / obsessed by their partner’s communications. I didn’t realise for a long time that my emails / phone / social media were all being monitored.
  20. One thing I haven’t seen in some of the comments and I wish I’d managed to contribute it to the podcast maybe as a question was that I think that as I’ve recovered from this experience, I’ve so often admired the courage and bravery of chumps who faced a D-day and left. When you’re abandoned, you didn’t get the choice, so you don’t know if you’d ever have been strong enough to leave. I was so incredibly worn down – boiled frog – and I had put up with bad behaviour for a long time and I didn’t even really understand until I was out that I was being badly treated, I just excused and put up with it and I tried to make things work and I didnt understand at all that I was’t in a reciprocal relationship. So my abandonment was a complete blessing. But I think the fear going forward into new relationships, both work and personal is sometimes am I strong enough to protect myself, would I leave if things weren’t ok? So I think maybe for abandoned chumps trusting ourselves going forward as well as others can be hard?

Life really is wonderful on the other side, its so peaceful. You’re free.

Mighty Warrior
Mighty Warrior
2 months ago

AC thank you! My situation was similar and included all these points. The ex wanted to erase me. It sounds dramatic but he would have benefitted all round if he had been able to keep pushing me to suicide (and he tried but I love life). My life is tough but better than living with one of the most abusive people I’ve ever met (I used to be a criminal lawyer and I’ve met quite a few abusive murderous people). That boiled frog analogy is so apt.

AristocraticChump
AristocraticChump
2 months ago
Reply to  Mighty Warrior

Hello Mighty Warrior! So glad you’re free!

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
2 months ago

Wow. My ex waited until I had a toddler to take care of, and we had gone through bankruptcy, until the very week I had been accepted into a graduate program and life started to look up to decide to admit he had been cheating.

Just when things would have actually been better for all of us he pulled the rug. To this day I never pursued the degree and although I am doing just fine now, I still hold it against him that I never got to pursue that because of his selfishness. But hey, now he is free to pursue whatever it is he wants now. And I have a life I love, even if it is different than I had imagined before. 🙂

I also am glad he at least did it before I racked up more student loans. Small miracles.

2xchump
2xchump
2 months ago

First cheater, abandoned days after delivery of second baby. 2nd cheater abandoned after retirement. He had been job hopping for our entire marriage and finally found a good job with benefits. He Never had to cover me with insurance before, as I supported him all along. Once he had a good job and DIDN’T NEED ME, he was gone. It just hit me that when a cheater says, he never loved me, he might be right. They don’t know what true love is! If I was just OF USE all those years then he did not love me at all. Both cheaters used me until they shopped around for the next one to use. So that was not love at all. My warranty was up
So perhaps the “I NEVER LOVED YOU” is the only truth they actually tell? They can’t feel to love.

expired appliance
expired appliance
2 months ago

Like so many of us, my fuckwit asked for a divorce after 30+ years of marriage while returning from a family vacation – which included my entire extended family. Utterly in shock and humiliated. Fuckwit is such a “generous” guy that there must be something wrong with me. He surprised my children with 2.0 on Thanksgiving. Pulling myself out of this hole slowly with support of friends and these communities. Thank you Chumpland.

2xchump
2xchump
2 months ago

When they say they never loved you believe them. My 2 cheaters mirrored me and my likes, dislikes needs and wants. It appeared to be deep and abiding love, but it was manipulation to get his own needs met. A sort of people pleasing on steroids. And why it took ME so very long to figure it out? I’m reading a book called BLIND TO BETRAYL by Jennifer Freyd. This is putting the emphasis on my acceptance of the final 3 years of ramped up abuse while my former 2 cheaters were discarding me. It is important for me to recover from the shock of my own refusal to see the amount of pain I was in and what I tolerated for the sake of my security and the saving of my family structure. No one can do that work for me. Last night I missed getting hit by a car. My grandson was in the car with me. I missed getting hit by seconds.. My adult son was in his truck right behind me and saw it all. It would have been my fault. I need to look at that. Yes I have a part. I have to look st that. I am a victim but I do have control of what I do from now on. I have choices to make all along. I was turning left without yielding. In both my marriages, my self worth was hit, my courage was tested. I need to look back with compassion and move forward a better, kinder more compassionate and wiser person. Build a better me. I won’t be driving my grandson sat night on the highway again. My son will take him now. Learned a lesson.

RaffNoMore
RaffNoMore
2 months ago

These may not be the most popular comments but I am sure there are a lot of us that feel this way… When I hear stories about spouses who hit the road or drop dead I wish that happened to me. I wish he just left and never hear from him again. I have spent the last 11 years dealing with his retaliation – filing false claims of child abuse, child sex abuse, saying I am a drug addict, interfering with my employment, abusing me through the courts. I have not added is up but I am sure I have paid more than $250,000 on lawyers dealing with his bullshit. My life and the life of our kids would be so much better if he just wasn’t here – though death or abandonment. I am counting the days until the last kid graduates from HS, just 1,646 days. When I hear stories of them just leaving through ghosting or death – I wish that was me.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
2 months ago

Let me start by saying that Vikki Stark’s book was a revelation during a dark and chaotic time. It helped me immeasurably. After I read it, I made the mistake of asking her to help us with therapy, since she was familiar with our kind of situation, which had until then been met with incomprehension by everyone in our circle, including therapists and counselors.

However, In the session, which I had such high hopes for, she acted as though she had never heard of Wife Abandonment Syndrome, even though ours was a textbook, textbook case. Instead, told us that “neither of you have covered yourself with glory”, told us she couldn’t help after our 50 minutes were up, and ended the Zoom on a scolding note . I was disbelieved and gaslighted by a professional, who validated my husband’s version of events and treated me with scorn. I felt as thought I’d been slapped across the face. I struggled to believe someone who had been through what I had, and who had written Runaway Husbands, could be so cruel and reached out to her. She told me she was just doing her job and she could not take sides in her role as marriage therapist. (This was patronizing and insincere, of course. She could have dealt with the facts impartially and still have been neutral. That is not what happened. She was just, in person, Not Nice.) She finished her email with something to the effect of “a word of advice — don’t expect the legal system to help you.” Well, she was right about that. But there was nothing stopping her from helping me that day, when I was really floundering and desperate. Instead, she pretended she didn’t understand me. She is monetizing her repugnant market, as she is entitled to. But at heart, she has chosen to put making money over authentically helping. Watch her videos, read her book, the research is helpful, even if her empathy serves her business instead of her conscience.

kat
kat
2 months ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

I am so sorry this happened to you. I have to admit- that there were a few things she said that just …did not work for me. But then I’d think- well everyone doesn’t have to think exactly like CL to have something to offer, right? This is very much a take what is useful and leave the rest behind.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

Other than a 6/12 (can’t remember) session on how to move past divorce, I couldn’t afford counseling; which I likely needed. But, I am kind of glad because who knows what kind of “help” I would have received.

Unfortunately when we are in the midst of it, we really have no idea what kind of counseling we need; otherwise we wouldn’t need counseling. By the time most figure out they are being victimized again; it is too late.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
2 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

The second betrayals by the people you turn to for help… I would have given anything for some authentic kind guidance and insight. If it makes you feel any better, I had sessions with a lot of counselors and therapists, and not one of them helped. They didn’t get it and they didn’t have anything helpful to offer. But Vikki Stark was the first and the worst, because she DID know what I was going through.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
2 months ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

(If you’re wondering why my husband agreed to go to therapy, it’s because he was laying down an alternative narrative – in which he “tried”, in anticipation of court. Completely cynical and calculated on his part. I didn’t understand this at the time.)