When a husband unexpectedly abandons, there is someone in the background gaining from it. Here I will talk about the meddlers who gain from the destruction of your husband committing spousal abandonment.
Spousal abandonment, or wife abandonment syndrome in this case, is when the husband leaves suddenly and unexpectedly, with no intention of returning. The wife is left in shock that the loving husband she remembered is now filled with bitterness, blame and anger. Seemingly overnight. They usually move out completely within a week, and avoid contact with the wife as much as possible- if any. Usually by this stage, there is already a girlfriend, even with husbands who have had no history of cheating.
For the abandoned wives who, after sitting on this for months, investigated more than a private detective, and STILL believe he didn’t cheat-
I believe you. I really do. While I stand by the claim: “there is always an Other Woman”- I mean that there is someone who is filling that role- telling your husband that he deserves better, telling him that you’re crazy, that he is better off without you, that leaving is the only option. (Read: Why There is Always an “Other Woman”)
Today I am writing strictly about the meddler.
Now I know there is a very valid argument around holding a husband completely accountable for his choices. His choice to leave. His choice to cheat. His choice to abandon. Etc. -but for the purpose of this post, and with acknowledging his mental health around this time (See: Depression in the Runaway Husband) I’m just going to focus some problems I have with what I consider to be a “marriage meddler”.
Someone got involved, heard your husband’s story, and now they are helping him run with it- all before you knew anything was ever wrong. My understanding is that this happens before the affair- and often the first meddler isn’t even the affair partner.
They came in while he experienced a low point in his mental health. Whispering in his ear about an idealized version of life, promises of a perfect fairy tail ending- all without you. This is reinforced in his mind over and over. And just like that- the remaining love he had for you, in his weakened, depressed state, has been neurologically overwritten in favor of a fantasy. Something reality can’t compete with.
By the time you hear his story, it has already been re-run inside his head until he has believed and accepted it as the one and only truth.
This is why there is virtually nothing you can do or say to get him back. He is emotionally unreachable. Cold to the touch, with the real him buried beneath many layers of ice. Ice that did not accumulate all in one night.
The meddling outsiders could have been his family, maybe even a mother or sister. This can also happen with friends and coworkers, usually ones who are lonely, divorced or experiencing a low time in their own lives. The meddlers are people trying to boost their own self esteem by helping find the cause of all of your poor helpless husband’s problems- you.
They have distinct traits of someone who is unhealthy, not looking out for your husband’s best interests, and are deluded in their own quest to be seen as a “hero”.
After speaking with my own husband, months after he had made his departure, many things were revealed. He had a divorced childhood friend who was coaching him on what to do, giving advice that was meant to break us, and using underhanded controlling and manipulative tactics. I had someone mention that his friend was probably using him for money, and my husband denied it for 3 months before admitting to draining our entire savings for his friend’s late bills and car payments- starting from the first day he left.
My husband admitted a lot of things later down the road. He told me: “I didn’t want to admit I was being used” and “I wanted to believe that they were really there for me.” He has since had a fallout with this person, realizing all too late that he had missed so many clues about the meddler’s character.
Here are 5 signs of Marriage Meddlers~
1. They aren’t sad to hear about his woes, or wishing him the best, or helping him find his way- no- they are excited about this. They are writing a new story to add to their list of accomplishments- checking it off after the very first word of unhappiness is uttered behind your back. Gossiping to their circle about other people’s drama. They hear the woes of a marriage going bad, and they want to jump in, ignoring boundaries, asking more, and feeling powerful. Your husband is now in a state of being impressionable, vulnerable, easily influenced, and looking for answers.
You’ll notice that this is the type of person isn’t cheering for you when you succeed, but is the first to jump when you fall. This is candy for their ego.
2. They don’t question his one-sided, exaggerated, or inconsistent story– They like what they hear- why change it? If he say’s he messed up, they will hush him and excuse his behavior while vilifying yours. They need for him to be the helpless and hopeless victim, because they are getting their esteem boost by playing rescuer. They offer to be there for him, push all their plans aside, and make him their priority. They reassure him that he is perfect, that nothing was his fault, that everything will be okay. Not because they care about him, but because this makes them feel really good about themselves and they want him to keep coming back and feeding that feeling. They are saying what feels good, not what feels right.
3. They don’t play devil’s advocate, defend your side, or help him with communication skills- none of that. They need to keep you as the center focus for his problems. They need your marriage to stay in this low point. It’s how the meddler hopes to bond with your husband… by having a common enemy. In psychology this is one of the prominent ways of manipulating people. This also keeps your husband from questioning the meddler’s advice- the focus is on you, not the meddler. You are bad, therefor they are good. And everything they say is for his benefit, his protection, his needs. They build an “us vs them” bond.
Another way to build a fast, false friendship is by encouraging secrets, or doing/saying things that your husband would feel uncomfortable sharing with you. This is manipulation 101, and their friendship goes from 0 to 100, overriding his connection to you.
4. They don’t give good advice, in fact, their advice seems intentionally sabotaging. While your husband is in full receiving mode (something everyone experiences when they are at a low, and venting to someone they look up to) the meddler now has a playing field to work with. There were obvious signs, like constantly telling him that leaving was the best option, but there were also more subtle ones, too.
Here are some examples of sabotaging advice, disguised as helpful: “You don’t have to talk to her or answer her calls or tell her anything about your day. You are your own person and she is controlling you” “Take all the time you need to be away from her. She will respect that if she really loved you.” “You tried everything. You don’t owe her anything now.” “It’s okay to be selfish, You deserve to be happy” Keep in mind- this advice was given to my husband to encourage the abandonment, silent treatment, stonewalling, detachment etc.
If I asked him if he was coming home, I was “controlling” if I asked him about his day, I was “invading his space and didn’t love or respect him”. If I gave him space, I “didn’t really care about him”. While I was being accused of being manipulative, he was blind to the true manipulator, who was happily draining our savings. I was the only villain in his story.
5. They don’t push him into therapy, don’t help him into local support groups, don’t help him reach out to family. This stood out the most to me, since I was being accused of abuse, but there was no effort made to encourage or inform him of abuse resources. He was actually being encouraged to isolate himself! The truly classic “divide and conquer.” His friend insisted that he will be all the support he needs (-as long as he has money). His friend invited his other friends into his business, briefing them, and keeping him constantly busy with their hangouts, occupying as much free time as possible. All while discouraging him from opening up to anyone else. When someone goes through a divorce, they are in need of more support than ever, and this is the ideal position a toxic meddler wants to be in for their ego trip.
They need your husband to rely on them, feed their grandiosity, and milk this event with a front row seat. This is the grand finale of your marriage, and they don’t want anything to ruin it for them. The marriage meddler walks guilt-free, feeling self-righteous and heroic.
As you experienced the flames of your home crumbling before you- they were sitting back, enjoying the fireworks.
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