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Marriage 911

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Dr. David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Center and has been helping couples in crisis restore and revitalize their relationships for more than 30 years.

At The Marriage Recovery Center, Dr. Hawkins promotes '3 Days To a New Marriage, Guaranteed!' Contact TMRC for a free 20-minute consultation.

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Walk-Away Wives

I received many responses to my recent post, “Why Women Leave and What Men Can Do about It”. This article seemed to strike a chord with many of you. With women leaving their marriages at phenomenal rates, I’m not surprised.

Many men responded, indicating they had sought professional help in time to completely turn their marriages around. They were glad their wives had sounded the warning, alerting them to changes they needed to make in their marriage. Other men indicated they had ignored the warning signs and were facing an unwanted divorce. In hindsight they wished they had done much more to be better husbands. Others, however, offered a perspective I hadn’t fully considered, and I offer it now for your consideration. Here is a response from one man.

Dear Dr. David,

While I agree with much of what you wrote about, and fully acknowledge that men need to completely love their wives, I don’t think you have been entirely fair to men. Consider an additional scenario facing thousands of men.

After 27 years my wife came home and abruptly indicated she wanted a divorce “to find herself.” When I asked her what that meant, she wasn’t able to tell me. She simply said she felt trapped in marriage and wanted to be free to discover who she really was. When I asked her why she couldn’t do that within the marriage, she wasn’t able to tell me.

She has since left and we are in the middle of a divorce. As I look at her actions, I consider them selfish and I feel abandoned. She reassured me that I’ve been a good husband and her actions have nothing to do with me. Yet, I’m the one who will suffer. Our grown children will never know the legacy of an intact family. I must try to face life alone and learn how to pick up the pieces all because she wants to “find herself.” What are the men left behind supposed to learn from these situations?  --Lost and Alone

Dear Lost,

You were not the only one to write and tell me there is another side to these stories. Many men (and women) are abandoned with little of the reason for it pertaining to the marriage. There are many other dynamics at play. Let’s reflect on a few of them.

One, our society has changed dramatically over the years, with women being more able to care for themselves without a husband. Women are less dependent upon their husbands and have greater choices. With greater earning power and increased feelings of independence and autonomy, they feel free to consider staying in or leaving their marriage.

Two, the “world” encourages independence, enticing women (and men) to “have it all.”  This attitude teases us to look beyond our marriage for more. With much of the stigma for divorce removed, women experience greater options. Many women, noticing other women who have left their marriage, seek the freedom they perceive outside of marriage.

Three, while it may appear that women (and men) leaving has nothing to do with their mate, there is often a degree of dissatisfaction, resentment or other unexpressed emotions working on them. Many women have felt dissatisfied for years and have become “numb” in their marriage. They seek “life” outside marriage because they haven’t been able to find it within the marriage.

Four, some women (and men) leave out of sheer selfishness. They no longer want the responsibility of caring for their husband and perhaps even children. Like a coiled up spring, some women snap and make seemingly rash decisions to leave. Again, this tension has often been building for some time but they haven’t known how to deal effectively with it.

Finally, a failed marriage is unfortunate and tragic, whatever the cause. Working with men (and women) who have been abandoned often fails to yield insight as to what happened. There are so many variables at work, and some women who leave offer few clues as to what went wrong, leaving men to pick up the pieces.

I would love to hear from women on this issue. Why are you leaving your marriage? What issues have to do with your mate, what issues are unrelated, and what can be done to save marriages? Let’s discuss this issue. Tell me what else women want men to know, and what men want women to know. Please give me feedback on this issue, or ask for more information about Marriage Intensives and my clinical practice at The Marriage Recovery Center. Please see more about my work at and, sharing your concerns and insights at

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2011 11:43 AM

Comments on this post

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

This woman has either watched Oprah too much or is hiding something.
Left by ECRUZ on Jun 08, 2011 1:25 PM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

I walked away from first marriage 15 years ago. The third and final time I left him, I was scared for my life and did not even say good-bye for fear that he would kill me. I had tried to get counseling for our marriage before that, but he refused. He had all the power and control and it was very freeing to get away, even though I had to go in hiding as he was looking for me.

Women definitely think differently in today’s society versus 100 years ago and we want some control too, even in healthy relationships. We want to be heard and loved and appreciated and protected and most of all to have fun with our best friend our husband. We want our husband to think very highly of us. We are like a delicate flower and require gentle loving attention from our man.
Left by seekingthehighest on Jun 09, 2011 9:59 AM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

I tried to leave my husband and 3 kids. My husband never gave up. And yet, I worked harder to leave. He still never gave up. I wanted what a lot of men have...Power & Control! Most of our friends were my husband's male friends. I witnessed countless situations of men cheating on their wives/GF's. "Having their cake and eating it too" They seemed to be free, to do what ever they wanted to, while being in a relationship. It was acceptable for men to do this, and yet women cant do this? It made me angry inside which sent mixed messages. Satan was telling me "If man can have this, why not women too?" I too wanted that kind of control/power. To do what I want & for my husband to back off and allow me to have my cake and eat it too! I became selfish with my own flesh desires. After 3 yrs of feeding my flesh, I asked Christ into my life. He shown me the truth. I thank God everyday for my husband; He never gave up! He fought a battle with satan, He fought for ME! He is truly a man of God!
Left by jenAric on Jun 15, 2011 1:00 PM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

Also, God never gave up on us! With God, men and women have the strength to win the battle with Satan. I hurt my husband and children. With God's grace and love, my husband and I are walking in Christ. If you are a wife, know that God desires you and desires you to be with your husband and only him. Satan will lie to you, he uses the world to entice you in believing that you can have your cake and eat it too. Don't listen to Satan! He does not care that you hurt yourself or your loved ones, He is a liar! God LOVES YOU and he DOES CARE! You can truly have it all in Christ. "When in doubt...get closer to God" Pray and ask for truth. He will show you. Disclose everything to god and to your husband. Together you will win the battle. Read "Every Woman's Battle" (Discovering God's Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment) by Shannon Ethridge. A great help book.
Left by jenAric on Jun 15, 2011 1:41 PM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

i am actually filling out divorce papers as i am typing. i feel so abandoned by my husband. he promised he was NOT like other men.said he would never lie to me. said he would never hurt me. said he loved family.

i have discovered in three short years that all it took was one year for our marriage to be so awful and it to be everything to a "T" of what he said it wouldn't be. husbands, take the time to know your wives and when you think you know them, realize that that process never ends. we all change everyday. man or woman. women recognize this by instinct and men can't accept changes they don't see coming. once the "conquest" is over then they stop trying and learning and hearing and paying attention. then they wonder, " Why?" don't wonder because deep down you already have the answer. your woman changed and you missed it...
Left by Ray and Stacy McNett on Jun 22, 2011 11:25 PM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

I havn't left my husband but i feel like it. He is constantly threatening with divorce and taking the kids if I don't do what he wants me too. If i spend money on anything but groceries he critises me, But then he will go out and buy expensive gadgets for himself. when hes home he is most interested in sleeping or being on the computer. If i ask him to do anything he yells at me and thinks he has all the responsibility in the house and i do nothing. I am a stay at home mom. I have clinical depression and chronic migranes, and anxiety disorders. I was going to join the Army right out of highschool, he convinced me not to. I gave up my dreams to start the family he wanted. I have no emotional support. He wanted kids, but since we have boys insted of girls, he hardly pays attention to the boys.I'm depressed, neglected and very lonly. My husband is a christian and even has a bachelors degree in christian ministry. Why does doing God's will by staying in a marriage have to be so painful?
Left by mpwifey on Jun 24, 2011 12:30 AM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

It is odd, with overwhelming evidence, the problem and the fix somehow are placed on men.

There is a crisis and Women have "empowered" themselves in America to cause unreasonable harm and poverty.

I have seen many times where a wife leaves a perfectly fine man for little or no real reason, and I have also arrived home to find my house empty.

The general attitude by the public is "He must have done something wrong".

Men out there need to WAKE UP! Your value (and that of your sons) has diminished to a position of irrelevance.
Left by HD Veteran on Jun 29, 2011 6:12 PM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

When a man don't take care of his family his wife starts to feel the lack of: love, appreciation, public appreciation, companionship, care, joy, etc. If the couple don't build future projects together,if they don't stay within what they have previously agreed, which means they decide to do something together but then he does something else alone. When he depreciate children and wife and express rudeness to the insiders and politeness with the outsider. When he doesn't participates in family life and ignore the necessities of his wife he creates resentment on the relation and kill the love.
I believe that all could be avoided if the man loves his wife "like Christ loved the church". This means that he should give her attention, even if he's in the mood of TV or Internet or what else. All people have the necessity of feel they're important and if men do this for their wives they would be very happy too. Like Christ loved the church first, men should love their wives first too.
Left by Paula on Jul 21, 2011 7:07 AM

# RE: Walk-Away Wives

Are the scriptures inspired and written for the sinner or to those who have come into the revelation of knowing Almighty God? If the Holy Scripture is for the believer, then, I am puzzled.

The first and great commandment the Lord Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second, like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is according to Mat. 22:37-39.

My puzzle in all this. If God ordained marriage from the beginning with a husband and his wife and they both know the Lord and are brother and sister in the Lord, according to the scripture, then, how could they NOT love their neighbor as their self?

It is a command, a decree from our Lord and King. We must demonstrate our inheritance of eternal life, of who we are in His kingdom and how much we love Him.

The world is waiting for this demonstration.
Left by rthornto2- on Jul 28, 2011 12:55 AM