There are many different ways in which a marriage comes apart – sometimes it ends with mutual consent while at times it marks the final episode in a series of bitter marital conflicts. While all of them may be equally painful, one of the most bewildering ways in which a marriage can end is spousal abandonment. If you are a victim too, here are a few strategies on how to cope.
About spousal abandonment
Spousal abandonment occurs when a marriage breakup is initiated by one partner suddenly, without just cause, and without warning as perceived by the other partner. Most of the times, the marriages that succumb to spousal abandonment are long term ones, those which have pulled together for ten or more years. Before the breakup, the abandoned partner may feel nothing wrong with the marriage and even consider, together with friends and family, it to be generally normal and maybe even satisfying. Spousal abandonment usually come in the form of "sudden endings.", at least for the abandoned partner and thus can be all the more traumatic for the person left behind.
Whether or not you may have seen it coming, once your spouse walks out on you, it is the end of your relationship, at least in its present form. Accept the fact, no matter how impossible it may seem. Do not scheme and think up a strategy to get him/her back. Shake yourself out of daydreams in which you see your spouse repenting his/her decision and returning to you. If you know of his/her family, friends or pastor urging him to go back to his family, distance yourself from these efforts since as far as you are concerned, he/she has already made his choice clear. Any decision that your spouse may take separately will concern you only when he/she communicates them directly to you.
Allow yourself to get upset
Take your time to fully mourn the loss you have experienced. Every marriage involves huge amounts of investment in terms of time, effort and emotions and when you find that you don’t have a marriage any more, it can seem to take away the ground beneath your feet. The primary emotions are that of anger, despair, abandonment and helplessness. Cry if you feel like and get as miserable as possible. The grieving process is important if you are to move on the next stage of healing.
Get out of the victim mode
When you are coping with your husband or wife of many years abandoning you, you may try to grope for reasons what led to it. You may think it was because you were too fat, too thin, too busy or too lazy. Or perhaps your relationship lacked the spunk that should have kept your spouse anchored to the marriage. The hurt of being abandoned by a spouse is often compounded by the misguided blame of mutual friends, other family members and even older children who view the partner who has walked out as a type of "winner" while the one left behind is considered a type of "loser" who is therefore, somehow, more at fault for the breakup. Thus you are likely to find people who you previously considered mutual friends avoiding you as well, as if they don't want to catch some sort of communicable "loser" disease.
Stop interacting with people who see you as a victim or worse somehow as having brought it upon him/herself. Keep in touch only with those who are a source of support and comfort and thus your true friends. While you may not realize it now, one of the positive things to emerge from this abandonment would be to realize who your true friends are and those who genuinely have your welfare in heart.
Reassure your kids
The painful consequences of spousal abandonment often go beyond the breakdown of the marriage since it means the destruction of the family too. So if your spouse has left his/her kids along with you, make sure that they are alright. Seeing their mom or dad abandoned may intensify their own feelings of sorrow and insecurity. Have a chat with your kids and let them know that there will be a few changes in the family. It is a good idea to let them know why their dad/mom left but keep their age in mind before you decide how much to reveal to them. If your kids are particularly close to a grandparent or an aunt, enlist their help in making your kids feel secure and loved. Finally reassure your kids that no matter what happens, you will always be there for them and you all will be together.
Find out where you stand
Once you have emerged from the immediate turbulence of your experience find out where exactly you stand legally. Spousal abandonment can be of various types – where your partner has just checked into a motel or if he/she has left with all his/her belongings. You can continue to be married without legal separation or divorce and merely live apart from the spouse who has quit. To bring a little more clarity to the situation you can go for legal separation which will still allow you and your spouse to live separately but a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse. A divorce though legally terminating your marriage will restore both you and your former spouse to the status of singles. However courts in most states require that the spouse needs to have been gone for a minimum period of time before someone can file for a divorce on the grounds of abandonment. Find out about the laws on spousal abandonment laws in your state which will help you take the best decision possible.
Then again consider if you wish to charge your spouse of marital abandonment and use it to force him/her to come back or to leverage your child support or alimony application. Marital Abandonment though can be hard to prove and the courts, except in severe cases are going to view abandonment as legally immaterial. In other words, the courts will not force a man or woman to stay in a marriage. but though the one who abandons the marriage will not be forced to return, he/she will be held financially responsible for things such as child support, spousal support and property division through a divorce court order. It is imperative you clarify your legal position with your lawyer and spouse so that your interests and those of your kids can best be protected. Though you may be hurting too much now to make the rounds of attorney’s offices, the longer you leave the untangling of the legal mess, the longer it will take you to move on the real sense.
Get on with your regular life
After you have attained a measure of equanimity, try to have life with varied interests. Pick up a new hobby or learn a new language. Join a course in which you were always interested but never had time for. If you did not have a job earlier, look for one now. Once you fill your life with things to do and learn, you will be too busy to obsess about your spouse leaving you. Around this time, you can also get back to the social circuit. Go out with friends and co-workers. Attend parties and celebrations but try to be part of a larger group. Give yourself time to put your pain behind before you rejoin the dating scene. Keep yourself open to making friends and meeting interesting people but take your time to settle into a new relationship.