Dear Readers - Here are interesting responses to the column about so-called “runaway husbands” and their “abandoned wives” (June 12):
Reader #1 – “I’m much older than your letter-writer (who at 47 was shocked by her husband’s sudden announcement that he was leaving her that night).
“In my case at 68, after 40 years together, the leaving of my husband was a tremendous shock and a great disappointment.
“I don’t have as many opportunities as younger wives but I am seeing that life can be better than I first thought. Thanks for referencing the book Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal.”
Reader #2 – “Your response to the woman whose husband suddenly wanted a divorce implies that it’s mainly men who abandon their marriages and betray their partners. This is not the case.
“As with women, in most cases the husband has no idea why their long-time partner was unhappy and wants a divorce. I do agree that in almost all these cases, the spouse usually decides to leave when they find another relationship to move on to.
“Abandoning a marriage suddenly is not a gender issue. It’s more about the character, maturity and self-awareness of the person leaving.
“There are also many options for divorce recovery groups across Canada (now done virtually), open to both men and women, which can be very helpful.
“I attended one years ago after my wife of 15 years (we have three children) returned from a trip to visit family and announced that she wanted a divorce. There were no warning signs, explanation or discussion.
“Hearing the similar experiences of both the men and the women was comforting and enlightening. One thing clear to me was that the pain of an unexpected divorce was very real, and also manageable, regardless of gender.
“There are other very good resources that can be helpful in recovery from divorce, that are not gender-focused. One that comes to mind is Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends by Dr. Bruce Fisher.”
Ellie - I agree, of course, that women have also abandoned their husbands by leaving them suddenly and devastatingly, and that there’s also often a designated partner in the picture.
I’ve written about such situations when they’ve been told to me, and I’ve also mentioned Bruce Fisher’s book just recently.
However, in my June 12 column, I was responding to a specific woman’s feelings about being suddenly dumped by her husband.
Also, I had found a valuable resource in Stark’s book which she’d focused on “runaway husbands” and I naturally referred to it.
I asked the author, who’s also a psychotherapist, why she hadn’t similarly interviewed men on the same topic. Her response: When she interviewed women, the vast majority gave similar answers, such that the trend to feeling abandoned was easy to document.
But when she interviewed men about their wives suddenly leaving, they gave such different answers that Stark said she couldn’t document a trend.
My own conclusion from that reaction reflects what I, too, have noticed through this column: Men and women process their emotions differently.
There’s neuroscience backing that finding. Writing in Psychology Today in 2014, Denise Cummings Ph.D. noted the following, “A number of studies have reported that males and females recruit different neurocircuitry when processing and ‘down-regulating’ (blunting) emotions.”
Bottom line from me: A sudden, unexpected divorce can turn the abandoned person’s life into a state of living hell, whatever the genders involved.
FEEDBACK Regarding the daughter’s letter about her parents’ acrimonious marriage/divorce when she was 15, and her mother’s constant efforts to alienate all four children from their father (June 14):
Reader – “Her mother’s now 92, yet the daughter has never gotten over how her mother reacted to the separation and divorce.
“The daughter is totally unforgiving. How can she, over 70 years, not find it in her heart to forgive this parent, and maybe ask why the mom felt so resentful of the father?”
Ellie - This daughter was the eldest, strong-minded enough to try to avoid the line of fire. But she saw her siblings, the youngest an infant when the parents separated, harangued and repeatedly told that their father was an “evil monster.”
The daughter’s most telling description of this woman’s attempts to brainwash her own children into hating/fearing their father, “If we kids didn’t take her side, God help us.” Hard to forgive.
Tip of the day:
Marriage ended abruptly is usually deeply hurtful. But recovery is helped considerably through friendships, comfort, revived self-confidence, and therapy.