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

Review Part IV
Missing Topics

MLC
I also don’t find it a flaw that she fails to address midlife crisis in any detail other than to admit that the MLC was the most commoon asnwer given by survey partcipants for the reason their husbands left. But I find it surprising that this did not encourage her to research and report about MLC—though perhaps she has researched it and does not buy into the concept. What I find to be the flaw was her failure to acknowledge her reader’s opinions further and validate them by at least referring them to sources where they could learn more about MLC. Instead she seemed dismissive of the idea: “A woman affected by WAS [Wife Abandonment Syndrome] may think that her husband is just suffering from a midlife crisis that will pass…”1 Just a midlife crisis? It seems as though she feels a midlife crisis is something more simple, and yet many of my Key Components of MLC match her Hallmarks of WAS.

Stark’s Hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome
(I have paraphrased this list.)
RCR’s Key Components of a Midlife Crisis
Pre-separation the husband showed no signs of neglecting his wife.
Pre-separation the husband communicated no unhappiness.
News of pending abandonment is often sudden and given within the context of a casual conversation.
Reasons given are nonsensical.
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. The Urge to Abandon
Radical change in behavior—he becomes cruel. Personality Changes or Mood Swings
No remorse, he blames the wife for what went wrong. Blaming or Projecting (Denial of Responsibility)
Usually there is an affair already in process. Infidelity
Complete abandoment—no offers of financial or emotional help. (The Urge to Abandon)
Rewrites marital and relationship history to devalue his wife and the marriage. (This is embedded in my explanation of Blaming & Projecting)
Depression – Covert & Overt

The first four in her list have no counterpart in my list because they are relationship specific and I was trying to limit myself to MLC symptoms, but those experiences are also often shared by those with MLC spouses.

Infidelity
On that same idea, she also failed to give anything other than sideline information about the nature of infidelity. I understand that she wants to direct her reader’s to recovery through self-focus and self-healing—good—but that does not mean she should avoid giving resources or explanations about infidelity. Her survey particpants showed an Affair Down trend, but she did nothing more than to acknolwedge it and give examples through their excerpts. If she researched it further from her expert therapist view, she did not include it in the book. It doesn’t need to be the bulk or even a major portion, but I have found that the additional information brings great relief to left behind spouses.
Instead, in a continuation from the statement above, she said “…or that he’s under the influence of a scheming girlfriend but will eventually come to his senses.” 3 Since she does not expand that theory I am unfortunately left to make assumptions and thus I wonder if she feels this theory is also dismissal worthy. But it is true that an alienator can pressure and influence the betraying spouse; emotional blackmail is a powerful tool. I understand the need to direct the betrayed spouse from deflecting blame from her husband by blaming the alienator, but both affair partners share blame and it helps some to know the manipulation that may be occurring. For some it aids in forgiveness (a necessity for Standers) and for others it helps them to view their spouse as a weaker man than they may want and thus makes it easier for them to move away from their marriage. Sometimes there is a predator and a prey.
Sweetheart was responsible for his actions and revealed his weaknesses. But the alienator faked a pregnancy, threatened suicide and continuously told him he should feel guilty for what he was doing to her—unfair tactics.

Detachment
Where is detachment? Maybe it is not a common topic and it only seems common because I had it drilled into me on the forums when I was a newbie. Some of the borrowed content refenced letting-go, but only in passing and the concept Stark failed to elaborate with a definition and method. And yet isn’t that one of the greatest challenges faced early and often for the first months or even years?

Denial of Choice
I understand that this book is not a guide for Standing. There is nothing wrong with not being that sort of book, but she could refer her readers to the concept and books or other resources that support Standing. Instead she emphasizes that we have no choice—again without offering a comma but alternative. What is true is that you have no choice in his actions or choices, but you can choose your actions and you can still say No. It may not stop a divorce, but it is still your right. Perhaps she thinks she is empowering her reader, but some find it deflating.

“The husband makes the decision unilaterally, news of the end is delivered suddenly, and long before the words leave his mouth, his wife’s fate is sealed. She has no say in the matter and no idea how she got there.”4
“Give up the vision of the future with your husband. Give up the prospect of enjoying your grandchildren together with him or traveling when you both retire. Give up the pride I not being a divorce statistic. Give up the easy companionship of having someone who’s known you for decades…Give up what you’d hoped and expected your future to be like. Just give it all up because you don’t have a choice anyway.”5

That last excerpt is a statement against Standing. I think I know what she is trying to say. It’s about releasing attachment to the goals you had for your life

Summary

I think this is an important topic and Stark could make it into a great book, it’s just not there yet. And many will disagree with me. It is currently #17 on Amazon’s Divorce category and out of 20 reviews, 19 are 5 stars and 1 is 4 stars. That’s great! I think Stark is providing a much needed recource, my quibble is that it could be better, not a little better, but much better.

How?

  • Remove the default divorce language for more neutral language.
  • Acknowledge and accept that some Wife Anandonment Syndrome situations can achieve reconciliation.
  • Cut the majority of borrowed text gleaned from particpants; use it as brief examples and then expand upon how to follow through on the advice offered.
  • Spend more time defining her intitial lists. i.e. Create either a single chapter dedicated to each of her Transformational Stages or dedicate one chapter to all stages with each stage heading a section. Do the same with her Seven Steps for Moving Forward.
  • Add some information on those topics I said were missing. Not a lot, but maybe a section on each within an appropriate chapter.
  • Though I’m sure she had a competent editor, some grammar issues were missed; have the book looked over again by a different set of eyes.

So do I recommend this book to you, my readers?
Yes, but with caveats. If you have stayed with me through this long review, you have read my concerns about her default divorce language. Read the book forewarned. There are better books and worse books, you may find something of value, but then it is not a necessary book for the betrayed spouse of an MLCer’s (Standing or not) library.

Sources

  1. Stark, Vikki. Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal. Montreal: Green Light Press. 2010. p 82.
  2. —pp 11.
  3. —p 82.
  4. —p 31.
  5. —p 164.
Series NavigationRunaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, Part III

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