Runaway Husbands
The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal

Review Part III
Niche Support

For me the main though not fatal flaw within the book was the default assumption that when Wife Abandonment Syndrome leads to divorce. I say that this flaw is not fatal because many of the wives will not want to reconcile their marriage, but what of those who do? Stark never speaks against Standing for marriage, but then, she never addresses what those who do not want a divorce should do. There is siply an underlying assumption that such a person would not be supported in that direction. I am of the opinion that Stark may have not intended to come out against Standing; my guess is that she would choose neutrality if asked. She uses both direct language mixed with subtle hypnotic techniques to subtly imply that there is no alternative to divorce.

  • When reviewing her own story of abandonment she says “Being a therapist, I knew right away that the marriage was truly over.”1
    Yes, a lot of therapists feel that way about your situations too, don’t they? This default belief is a barrier to counseling and supporting a Stander because it brings in the therapist’s biases.
  • Throughout the text she calls the abandoning husband the former husband or the ex.
    I was an abandoned wife; I have no former or ex-husband; I have a loving spouse with whom I am building and rebuilding our marriage.
  • #2 of the Accept the marriage is really over.She states the marriage is over without offering a comma but alternative.
    Your old marriage is dead, but…
  • # 5 of Hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome: “By the time the husband reveal his intentions to his wife, the end of the marriage is already a fait accompli, and he often moves out quickly.”2
    And yet some cycle; though they may have left the house, the situation is neither smooth nor certain.
  • Section heading on page 14: Not Your Typical Divorce
    Not your divorce, maybe not even a divorce.
  • In a list of things not say: “’He’s not coming back,’ told to the wife while she is still in shock and not ready to integrate that.3
    I agree that is not something to say, but her comment as to why implies that though the wife is not ready to hear it, it is the truth.
  • To particpate in her survey it is a requirement that a participant’s marriage/relationship ended quickly.
  • Her survey also uses the term former husband in the questions, thereby taking another route to eliminating the ability of someone who is still married to qualify to take the survey.

It’s not merely that she alienates an entire group within her niche, but that there may be many others within her niche who would consider Standing if given information and support. Data collection needs limitations, but by limiting her survey only to those who did not reconcile their relationship, she fails to present alternative pathways and her data is skewed because it gives the appearance that divorce is inevitable since she does not collect data to the contrary. If you decide to determine what percentage of rocks are round and you limit your data to round rocks you will determine that 100% of rocks are round. Perhaps upon reading my criticism she would claim that there were no (or few) cases of reconciliation, but in addition to flawed collection requirements her use of subtle hypnotic language (former husband, not your typical divorce, ex…) further discouraged Standers (reconciled or still Standing) from participating.

Maybe divorce is more probable than reconciliation. Maybe most MLC or Wife Abandonment situations will end with divorce, but most is not a statistical number. If 10% reconcile in general, shouldn’t this information be given? By failing to give this information, are more relationships not being directed toward the possibility of reconciliation which means the number could become higher than 10% (which happens to be a made up number)?

Stark’s niche is narrow. The relationship must end abruptly—the husband either leaves immediately with the brutal surety if the plummet of a guillotine or as a death-by-a-thousand-cuts3 often due to the wife discovering clues that her husband was having an affair. The latter situations may take longer from discovery to abandonment, but abandonment is realitvely quick following disclosure. Both of these follow the pattern of high-energy MLCers, but Stark leaves out the less common low-energy type of situation in which the husband’s departure is emotional and not physical in the beginning; it may take a few years before a low energy MLCer leaves physically and infidelity, though common is less so. This is a less common situation, but by failing to address it even briefly, she leaves out an entire group who are desperate for the same validation she is giving the other women. The spouses in low-energy situations feel left-out because their husbands (or wives) check many of the symptoms, but not enough for group inclusion and they are thus left without answers.


  1. Stark, Vikki. Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal. Montreal: Green Light Press. 2010. p 5.
  2. —p 11.
  3. —p 110.
  4. —p 31.

To be continued tomorrow.

Series NavigationRunaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, Part IIRunaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, Part IV


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