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You may be familiar with the movie Runaway Bride, starring Julia Roberts. In the movie, Roberts has a habit of leaving a string of fiancés at the altar. Some women find themselves facing an uncontested divorce when their husband suddenly decides to leave their marriage.

Generally there are no signs and the departure comes as a shock to the wife. There is a term for this type of disengagement from a marriage – Sudden Wife Abandonment. Also, this type of departure can give a woman Wife Abandonment Syndrome (WAS).

When a wife is suddenly abandoned she generally has no idea that her marriage is about to end. Often these types of marriage appear to be happy. Normally there is no warning and commonly these marriages tend to be long-term, ten years and over.

Sudden abandonment can add to the trauma that a female experiences during an uncontested divorce. Some women have reported the loss as being greater than the death of a loved one. When there is no just cause for sudden abandonment women can experience additional emotions to a "normal" uncontested divorce.

  1. Loss of trust;
  2. Fear;
  3. Anger;
  4. Depression; and
  5. Anxiety.

Vikki Stark, therapist and divorce counselor, has interviewed over four hundred women who have been victims of Sudden Wife Abandonment. One of the remarkable findings was the consistency in patterns from sudden marital abandonment. The most common five patters are:

  1. Husband shows absolutely no remorse. In fact, he tends to blame the wife and makes himself out to be the victim;
  2. Reasons the husband gives for leaving are inane, deceptive, trivial and exaggerated;
  3. Husband's behavior completely changes, appearing to have become vindictive and cruel;
  4. Often the husband has been having an affair; and
  5. Husband abandons wife emotionally and financially.

Absurd reasons men have given for abandoning the marriage have ranged from not being compatible due to their horoscope signs to not liking the drivers in the neighborhood.

Stark is also the person who coined the term Sudden Wife Abandonment. She has primary experiences with her own ex husband who suddenly left her after over twenty years of marriage. After her sudden spousal abandonment, she went on to create a website for women in similar situations – Runaway Husbands. Also, she is the author of the book Runaway Husbands: Making Sense and Bouncing Back from a Divorce You Didn't See Coming.

Some other suggested readings on this topic are:

  1. Sudden Endings by Madeline Bennett;
  2. Necessary Losses by Judith Viorst; and
  3. Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships by Diane Vaughn.

Don't despair. If you are a victim of sudden wife abandonment, or know someone who is, there generally is a happy ending. Females who are suddenly abandoned are forced to redefine their lives and themselves and tend to come out stronger in the end

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