OK. I got a lot of replies and I'm thankful for all of them. Don't mistake things, I'm not especially fragile anymore, especially given the lapse of time. So Rose888, I don't want you to leave! But a number of you asked questions from different perspectives, and I don't know where to start and how to keep this thread focused.
Are any of you husbands whose wives walked out, especially without warning? At the moment I would like to hear those stories. Also, are any of you WAWs (or WASes)? Comparing notes would be very helpful to me.
As for what I did wrong, I have a good handle on it. Here's a synopsis. Basically, we grew apart. My ex is a very sweet sensitive woman, who wanted a traditional role and a strong husband. She really got the best of both worlds with me, I am a sensitive and gentle man but also am well-educated and technical and had a good career. But the stresses of being past age 45 really got to her. She was the full-time Mom and homemaker for 15 years, yet when she went back to work (my oldest was entering college and we needed the income) she began resenting me for not pulling my own weight around the house; yet, I was always a traveling man so I wasn't around a lot to do my share of the load. We had never communicated perfectly, yet it had gotten better over time. She will say I didn't attend to her needs, her love languages too, which are acts of service and affirmation. My bad of course. We were in mutual bad patterns, of course, as she didn't attend to my love languages either. As she began pulling back, as many as 10 years ago, our sex life plummeted, so did our touch, which is what I need as a sensual man. She also stopped appreciating me and all the effort I put into supporting the family (I earn far more than she) and being a great Dad to three demanding kids. Also, she was always afraid of, or reluctant to, engage in, sex. We had a heart-to-heart about this maybe 10 years ago, when I told her that about everything she didn't like about me -- grumpiness, curtness, not leaping up to help her with the dishes -- was because I was sex, affection, and affirmation-starved. Oh, she half listened and it was better for maybe a week or so. But she defaulted back to her normal MO soon after. She is not an especially sophisticated person so talking rarely fixes things for her. I know that sounds contrary -- she wanted communication but communication didn't work so well for her -- but it's true.
She would also say she wished I would do, on my own, little things. Like she gets out of the shower and sees that I made the bed. Like I volunteer to go to the grocery store with her. Like I volunteer to decide what to make for dinner, or have dinner ready when she gets home after me. Like I have a sleepless night and she wakes up to find out that, during the quiet hours when I couldn't sleep, I did some laundry. One of the divorce attorneys I spoke with said that my marriage began falling apart 20 years prior, as my ex silently began tallying up these little hurts, one nick at a time. After 32 years there were quite a large number of them! And she no doubt concluded I was beyond hope, that I would never, ever change. [She's wrong there, and Michele's article confirms such.]
We muddled along since then. Our youngest graduated high school in 2018 and frankly I thought we would soon begin to work on our marriage. The marriage wasn't poisoned. As I said in the first post, I don't womanize, I don't have any addictions, I don't gamble or take drugs, I don't waste money on cars or other toys. But I believe now that when that graduation happened, that's when she started planning her exit, an exit she had been contemplating for years. We didn't get anywhere in the marriage from June 2018 onward because she had checked out already. I was waiting for the right time to get away and try and rejuvenate things, she was making arrangements about secret bank accounts, getting counseling on how to divorce your husband in secret, and a whole lot more. D-Day was September 2019.
This is very consistent with Michele's articles about WAWs. That's why I'm here. Her articles were the closest thing to an explanation that I'd heard over 11 months.
If you asked my ex, I expect she might say that I was emotionally abusive; I found evidence that she might have concluded such. So I delved into it with my therapist about 9 months ago. We concluded that I was NOT emotionally abusive. Emotionally abusive men have anger issues, they are paranoid and always read their wife's emails and texts, and they are controlling. That was never the case with me. I never said a cruel word to her, never called her a single name, never said a single critical word to her about her appearance or figure. [I grew up in a broken family where that happened all the time so I was very sensitive to that.] That's a reason why I was so shocked that she served me divorce papers out of the blue.
In summary, what did I do wrong?
Didn't communicate well Didn't attend to her love languages (yes, she'd told me about them) From her perspective, wanted sex without the accompanying affection and romance and tenderness An accumulation of little things over so many years -- e.g., not picking up after myself.