The Walkaway Wife Syndrome

walkaway1Did you know that of the over one million marriages that will end in divorce this year, two thirds to three quarters of those divorces will be filed for by women? What is this so-called, “Walk-away Wife” syndrome all about?

In the early years of marriage, women are the relationship caretakers. They carefully monitor their relationships to make sure there is enough closeness and connection. If not, women will do what they can to try to fix things. If their husbands aren’t responsive, women become extremely unhappy and start complaining about everything under the sun… things that need to get done around the house, responsibilities pertaining to the children, how free time is spent and so on. Unfortunately, when women complain, men generally retreat and the marriage deteriorates even more.

After years of trying unsuccessfully to improve things, a woman eventually surrenders and convinces herself that change isn’t possible. She ends up believing there’s absolutely nothing she can do because everything she’s tried hasn’t worked. That’s when she begins to carefully map out the logistics of what she considers to be the inevitable, getting a divorce.

While she’s planning her escape, she no longer tries to improve her relationship or modify her partner’s behavior in any way. She resigns herself to living in silent desperation until “D Day.” Unfortunately, her husband views his wife’s silence as an indication that “everything is fine.” After all, the “nagging” has ceased. That’s why, when she finally breaks the news of the impending divorce, her shell-shocked partner replies, “I had no idea you were unhappy.”

Then, even when her husband undergoes real and lasting changes, it’s often too late. The same impenetrable wall that for years shielded her from pain, now prevents her from truly recognizing his genuine willingness to change. The relationship is in the danger zone.

If you are a woman who fits this description, please don’t give up. I have seen so many men make amazing changes once they truly understand how unhappy their wives have been. Sometimes men are slow to catch on, but when they do, their determination to turn things around can be astounding. I have seen many couples strengthen their marriages successfully even though it seemed an impossible feat. Give your husband another chance. Let him prove to you that things can be different. Keep your family together. Divorce is not a simple answer. It causes unimaginable pain and suffering. It takes an enormous amount of energy to face each day. Why not take this energy and learn some new skills and make your marriage what you’ve wanted it to be for so long?

If you’re a man reading this and your wife has been complaining or nagging, thank her. It means she still cares about you and your marriage. She’s working hard to make your love stronger. Spend time with her. Talk to her. Compliment her. Pay attention. Take her seriously. Show her that she’s the most important thing in the world to you.

Perhaps your wife is no longer open to your advances because she’s a soon-to-be walkaway wife. If so, read the posts on the messageboard. Don’t crowd her. Don’t push. Be patient. If you demonstrate you can change and she still has eyes… and a heart, you might just convince her to give your marriage another try.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Read More of Michele’s Articles

2009 Copyright – Michele Weiner-Davis. All rights reserved.

About mwd27

Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW is an internationally renowned relationship expert, best-selling author, marriage therapist, and professional speaker who specializes in helping people change their lives and improve important relationships. Among the first in her field to courageously speak out about the pitfalls of unnecessary divorce, Michele has been active in spearheading the now popular movement urging couples to make their marriages work and keep their families together. She is the author of seven books including her best-selling books, DIVORCE BUSTING: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again, and THE SEX-STARVED MARRIAGE: A Couple's Guide to Boosting Their Marriage Libido. Michele's work has been featured in major newspapers such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and magazines such as Time, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Essence, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Woman's Day, Men's Health, New Woman, and McCall's. Michele is a marriage expert on Redbook's advisory board, and She has made countless media appearances on shows such as Oprah, 48 Hours, 20/20, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News, CNN, and Bill O'Reilly. Michele's Keeping Love Alive program aired on PBS stations nationwide. She recently completed a reality based show for the BBC about helping couples save their marriages. Michele maintains that her true expertise in helping couples have great relationships is derived from first-hand experience. She and her husband have been married for more than thirty years.
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  • Jim Baldwin

    Michele Weiner-Davis. Thank you so much for your work. I am a bit concerned as you seem to have been giving a lot of attention to my private business. I mean, you have described my marriage to a “T”. It is amazing. Knowing my situation as accurately as you do surely you have a fool proof fix. How can I interest my wife in at least looking at your material? God help me. Please help. Jim

  • dm4526

    Jim: I am in the same boat as you. going on 2.5 months after my wife said she didn’t want to be married anymore. She says if she had to decide today, the answer would be no. I am expected to sit around for months while she decides if she wants to stay in the marriage. We have 3 boys 7, 9, 11. She said she wants to be alone, independent. She needs to fix herself first before she can think about working on our marriage. She won’t go on a date, give a hug. She is completely cold. We have been married 15 years. Still wake up everyday and can’t believe this is actually happening to me and our family. Nothing I can do or say will change her mind. this is the hardest thing I have done or probably will do in my life. Everyday is a nightmare. Have to make a choice everyday to be happy. It doesn’t work all the time, but it helps.

  • Shawn McDuff

    My comment echo’s Jim’s – this is exactly what I’m going through. My wife announced that we were incompatible about a week ago and I’ve been struggling to understand what went wrong and what do about it about ever since. Plenty of info on what went wrong, but I’m coming up blank in the fixes department and she’s definitely not hearing me when I try to suggest any course other than divorce.
    I believe in my heart that we can build a better marriage if I can convince her to give it a shot and I still haven’t given up. However, I’m paying an enormous price emotionally to keep fighting it and am getting nowhere fast. Is there any way I can get through to her?

  • Jim Baldwin

    Shawn, my belief is that I, and probably “we”, meaning you and I and every other man out there who is in this place, most likely do not possess the ability to convince our spouses of anything or that any material or counsel that we’ve found is of any value to them. My wife has told me multiple times over the last 8 months (since she had me served), that its great if I’m finding help but that she doesn’t need any. No one other than her “pseudo pastoral counselor, friend”, who counsels her to divorce me, has anything of value to contribute to her knowledge or understanding of what’s going on here. It grieves me greatly that my wife, who has spent years seeking every imaginable self-help aid for me, now cannot see beyond her nose to recognize her own responsibilities in this breakup, much less her need for some help to see things in a slightly different light. Mrs. Davis’ concepts are refreshing and I am confident that if my lovely wife would but listen, our relationship would be revolutionized. The only thing I know to do is pray. Additionally, and I realize against divorce busting principles, I have “inadvertently” left a couple of Mrs. Davis’ articles lying around with key parts highlighted. The sixth paragraph of this article is the best invitation I can imagine to encourage our wives to at least attempt another shot. And I empathize with your emotional battle you are waging. It is a very draining, and emasculating, beating, especially with the extreme bitterness and unforgiveness that my wife is operating under. Chuck, my DB coach, has encouraged me to monitor my own bitterness level, and obviously not let it get out of hand. The only way I am able to do this is to constantly, daily, even hourly at times and definitely by the event, forgive, forgive, forgive, and forgive again. Jesus Christ said 70 times 7. What he meant by that was, as many times as it takes for me to have peace. I cannot win back my wife’s heart if mine becomes laden with bitterness. Finally, if you have not already, read Divorce Busting. I am constantly referencing it in dealing with certain situations. It has given me tools of so much greater use than all of the years of marital counseling we have done together. Also, I would encourage you to try the Love Dare, by Alex Kendrick. Read it and do the exercises without your wife’s knowledge. This is the first thing I started on before I found DB and it turned my wife’s heart in a matter of days. That is until her “counselor friend” advised her to not trust my manipulative kindnesses. I am heart broke but not giving up. Thank you again Mrs. Davis. Jim

  • Jim Baldwin

    dm, I hurt right where you’re hurting. It’s been 1 year since my wife began pulling away. She left the bedroom and refused any further intimate contact, physical or otherwise. She filed for divorce in Dec., had me served in Jan., and forced me out (by virtue of her atrociously angry and mean behavior), in March. Just as Mrs. Davis indicates in this article, when my wife left the bedroom, she left me. In other words, she was done. I thought man, finally some peace. Give her a couple months and we’ll get this worked out. I did not read the signs. No nagging and badgering meant she’s finally got it. We’re on the upswing. Little did I realize how low we had sunk! I truly did not see divorce coming. I am devastated. 25 years and three kids (2 at home). Lots of hate and anger directed at me. The best I can say is if your still residing jointly, you have a much more sporting chance than I do. Dare to love her. Take advantage of the opportunity to show your wife new behaviors. This is not implying fault in your behavior. Only that something is not working and new can be refreshing and encourage desirable responses. Get and read Divorce Busting and Love Dare. Do not tarry, do not pressure and do not defend. Just love unconditionally. Expect nothing in return. Forgive. I wish I could claim victory from such responses myself but not yet. I can only trust God. His best to you.

  • EricClements.Com » Blog Archive » Walk Away Wife

    [...] times.  If I could write a better article about it, I would.  Instead I will simply give this link to this article by Michele [...]

  • DateDaily

    I hate to say it guys, but when a woman decides it’s over, there’s really nothing you can do to change her mind. The nicer you become, the more turned off she’ll get.

    The solution is to take the hints when problems start. Pay attention BEFORE she gets fed up.

    Because once a woman has her mind made up, it’s very unlikely that she’ll walk backwards.

  • mwd27

    I understand why you say what you say about women not turning around once they start walking. However, my whole career is based on helping people stop the spiraling downward and recommit to their marriages. On a daily basis, I see women change their minds. I do one and two-day personal intensives and the transformations are remarkable. So, while I agree that you need to pay attention before the problems start, it aint over until its over. There’s still hope.


  • mjaybee

    Wow – are there no more spine-enabled men in America?

  • Jim Baldwin

    Mrs. Weiner-Davis

    I am very impressed with your material and your methods. I believe it is the most valuable and sensible approach that I have ever heard. My situation is very delicate, but I am very confident that your approach could help. I am practicing the DBing principles but it seems my little spouse is just not interested in anything I might try. I just wish I could get her to take a look. How can I interest her in at least looking at your material? This marriage is very much worth salvaging. She just can’t believe that right now. Do I need to just back off, let her divorce me, and then try to recover later? Every encounter with her, no matter how gentle and loving I am, is met with a barrage of hateful, mean, degrading, venomous spewing. Please advise. Jim

  • Chuck

    Hello Michele,

    After my wife of (20 years) told me she wanted a divorce in Feb 2008 I started to search for help. I’m not one to seek out counseling I found your web after searching “Stop Divorce Save Marriage” I got your book Divorce Busting and also got the DVD’s. I read, watched, and listen with great interest. I immediately began to engage and by May things between us and our marriage seemed better than ever. Unfortunately as quickly as this began to improve they started back in the old pattern she was seeking advice, communication, & maybe comfort from a Male colleague by April 09 the D word was spoken again only this time with much more conviction. I asked her to participate in Divorce Busting readings and the DVD within the first 10 minutes of watching “I don’t agree with this” after that and some additional research I also lost the desire to save the marriage even thought I still love her and do today.
    As of now we have been official divorced since Sept ‘09 She has bought a house taken what she wanted from the house the car & cash all with my support “no anger” I don’t know what to do other then be patience. I’m lost & confused!

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