I’ll put it shortly: there were no red flags, nothing that could have warned us. At least: nothing to cause a huge concern. Most abandoned wives did not have days of endless arguing, threats of leaving to live somewhere else, or him expressing that he was unhappy in the marriage. In fact, where were the signs at all?
…It felt like we were both in a completely different marriage at the moment he let everything out…
There were no moments of insecurity, no days left crying, no weeks spent in marriage counseling and no years spent drifting apart.
In fact, there were many acts of love, countless words of affection, the house echoed with laughter, plans were made for future events, and involvement in each other’s lives. Things were stable, content and looking on the up. He was active and making progress in different areas in his life. Where were the signs that he was miserable?
He told you he was happy.
He told you that he loved you.
He told you everything was okay.
If he was so miserable, resentful, unhappy… wouldn’t you have seen it? You would have felt it, sensed it, noticed it. But things seemed normal, at least before any affair, withdraw or abandonment started.
See- you didn’t see it because he didn’t feel it. He was disconnected from himself while putting on a mask. Going through most of his life being more focused on how other people feel about him, as opposed to focusing at all on his feelings about anything else.
He didn’t allow himself to feel anything that wouldn’t benefit his image in your eyes, because he needed you to see him as perfect. It’s all he’s known.
Here I’m only describing the classic “runaway husband” who seemed doting, caring and kind throughout the marriage, and may not fit the profile of every man who abandons his family. Not everyone will fit this script. That being said, lets get started…
He went through many hoops to avoid you seeing his emotional disconnection.
Maybe he succeeded completely-
….or maybe they came out in subtle ways… so subtle that it would have made you look ungrateful if you were to take issue with seemingly minor little flaws like these:
He gave up a bit too easily. Too easily on his feelings, too easily on his points, too easily on his promises. I am not just talking about the marriage, I am talking about every area in his life. If there was conflict, he picked the easy road out. Even if it meant severing ties with people he cared about. Even if it meant never speaking of the issue ever again. Even if it meant him getting the short end of the stick. He didn’t give a lot of resistance on things, went with the flow, and dipped out when things required him to step up to the plate in a light that didn’t make him the good guy.
He didn’t really keep is word. He did just enough to keep you happy with him, but not much more. Promises weren’t ever upheld for his moral integrity, they were upheld for other’s perceptions of him. That meant that if no one were holding him accountable, he would revert back to not doing what he said he would. If, for whatever reason, you reminded him about something he said he would do- he would give an excuse like “I forgot” in order to not look lazy or unwilling. Forgetting promises and commitments seemed to be a trend- but only with things that he didn’t want to do.
He wasn’t that passionate. He didn’t inspire people with his actions, but he may have sounded convincing with his words. He was more talk than anything. He enjoyed things, sure, but there was almost nothing that drove him to act out of his way- unless there was a consequence for not doing so. It was as if his motivation stemmed solely from avoiding consequences, rather than an internal drive. He gave in to momentary pleasures, but even then, his interest would wear off quickly. When he did do things within the marriage, he made sure you knew about it- this was more about getting validation from you as opposed to genuine altruism. Again, something was not quite right about his internal motivation.
He kind of never grew up. Maybe he still hung onto every word his mother said, or maybe he never grew out of his teenage hobbies, either way- there was something inside of him desperately clinging to his childhood. He may still indulge in video games, comic books, or activities he once did as a kid. He might still leave his laundry or trash around in the same way he did when his parents would pick up after him. Maybe you have even filled the role of parent because of his habits- reminding him that its getting late, reminding him to pack a meal, eat healthy, etc.
He ran on auto-pilot. We supported them too much. They never got to fail on their own, or at least, they never learned from their failures. We saw careless patterns and were eager to give them a boost. Sometimes we helped them find their career path, get that promotion, talk to family, meet new friends. The truth is, people who are so disconnected from their own self will run on auto-pilot. Unsurprisingly, these are also the same people who are prone to having a mental crisis when they realize just how much they’ve aged and how little time they have left to experience life.
He engaged in many forms of escape. Escape from who he was, his own feelings, his own mind. Much of his life was lost in mindless activities. He completed his daily obligations, gave you some attention, went to work, paid bills, ate food, then…. mentally checked out. This could have been with consuming drugs or alcohol, or it could have been with electronic devices. Hours scrolling through social media, watching videos, or just vegetating on TV. If he completed all his “chores” for the day, then who are you to judge how he got to spend his free time? Right?
The bottom line is that he was disconnected with himself- and extremely dependent on you seeing him as ‘good’- in an almost childlike sense. It may have come out in other forms, it may have been hidden, it might have even been impossible to see. But his capacity to abandon was not something new- he carried it with him and it crept out in subtle forms throughout his life.
More from Husbands who Abandon:
- A List of Traits
- Does He Feel Guilt?
- Exploring Reconciliation
- His Story
- Intro to the Runaway Husband
- Letter to Abandoned Wives
- Mama's Boy
- Marriage Therapy
- The Meddler in Your Marriage
- Understanding the Runaway Husband
- Why There is Always an "Other Woman"
- Why You Didn't See the Signs