There are many reasons people get divorced. One that is not discussed often is marital abandonment. When most people think about the abandonment of the marriage, they only consider one type, physical spousal abandonment, where a spouse lives the union without notice and physically abandons the relationship. However, many different things can be regarded as desertion in marriage, and physically leaving it is only one type of abandonment.
Abandonment in divorce is a subject that is coming up more and more in divorce proceedings as how society views marriage is constantly changing. There was a time when people grew apart and started living their own lives separately but in the same home. People stayed in marriages for the children or because that was expected of them. However, these days people are coming to terms with the need to advocate for themselves and ensure their happiness. This can be for either side of the marriage, the spouse who was filed upon or the leaving spouse.
What Are the Types of Marital Abandonment?
The four types of marital abandonment we will be discussing are emotional abandonment, physical abandonment, attentional abandonment, and financial abandonment. There is a fifth type that I want to touch upon, which is spiritual abandonment.
When people marry, they either share the same faith or a core set of values. When spiritual abandonment happens, one partner has shifted in faith or values, and the other does not feel they are married to the same person any longer. This is rarer, but it should be considered a possible reason for martial abandonment.
Emotional Abandonment in Marriage
Emotional abandonment divorce is becoming more and more common. Typically, it starts with emotional distance in the marriage, for instance, when one partner is vulnerable to the other, letting them into personal dreams or pain, and the other is dismissive. They may lack empathy for their spouse's feelings or even exhibit negative emotions towards them, like disdain.
Other examples of emotional detachment in marriage are when one spouse is:
- Keeping their feelings inside and doesn’t want to have conversations deeper than “the facts.”
- More focused on themselves than the relationship.
- Changes behavior to exclude you from parts of their life.
- Only talks to you about your children or shared chores.
A part of a strong marriage is the ability to rely on one another. The vows cover this, talking about bad times and sickness as much as the good times a marriage will have. Marriages are a marathon, not a sprint, and all couples will have rocky times. During these times, they should be able to depend upon one another. When they cannot, it can make one person feel emotionally disconnected from their spouse and reevaluate their entire marriage.
Physical Abandonment in Marriage
Physical abandonment in marriage may be the most common, but this does not just refer to someone physically leaving their spouse. It can also imply physical intimacy issues or sexless marriage.
The decline of the physical nature of the relationship can take months to years. It can start small, like reduced affection, especially around other people. One partner may pull their hand away or turn away from a kiss. Over time this could result in less touching of any kind, and eventually, they could have real physical intimacy issues.
This usually leads to one partner, the one who craves sexual contact or at least some physical atten-tion, feeling rejected or even abandoned. Although it can be expected for people to have less sex the longer they are married, physical abandonment is more than this. When this occurs, it gets to the point of almost no physical contact, and these two individuals move from a married couple to roommates.
Attentional Abandonment in Marriage
Physical attention is not the only thing important in a marriage. It is also essential to give and receive enough attention from your spouse in other ways. Conversations or spending time together is just as important as intimacy. When there is a lack of attention in the relationship, it could spell trouble for the overall marriage.
There are many different reasons why this can happen in a marriage. For instance, when someone is in the middle of obtaining an education, building a business, or climbing the corporate ladder, they may neglect the relationship in favor of other aspects of their life. They could also just be tired, depressed, anxious, or have a desire to spend the little free time they have doing things they enjoy that their part-ner does not.
Sometimes, external forces can cause this as well. Some of these forces could include having kids and all the responsibilities that entails, having friends or family who do not get along with their spouse, or dealing with a sick, dying, or recently deceased loved one.
Marriage is about a bond between two people, and both of them need to protect that bond for the mar-riage to work. This includes working on giving attention in a relationship. If there is a breakdown in the amount of attention one partner is giving to the other, this can often lead to divorce or unhappy marriage.
Financial Abandonment in Marriage
Financial abandonment happens when one of the spouses refuses to fulfill their financial responsibili-ties. Typically, this occurs when a spouse leaves the marital home. Sometimes there will be signs or a discussion first, but not always. There are situations where a husband or wife comes home from work or is out of the home for an extended period only to find that their spouse has packed all their things and left them.
If your spouse did leave home for an extended period of time, and abandonment is grounds for divorce in your state, you may be able to file based on it. Note that the leaving spouse may file for divorce first with different grounds cited. However, if the spouse has never left or only did so for a little while, the reason may not stand in court. Refusal to support themselves, you or your children financially are clear signs of financial abandonment, but you may have to work with a lawyer to see
Consequences of Marriage Abandonment
There are consequences to marriage abandonment for all parties involved. Leaving your spouse is a big decision, and the ramifications for both parties should be understood before this decision is made.
The spouse who is left will face many problems, including financial and mental issues, which may result in needing therapy to work through what happened and why. It can be challenging for one spouse to come to grips with the fact that the person they pledged to be with until death separated them just got up and walked away one day without notice. This can be even more difficult if there is no communication about why this happened.
Children are especially affected if one of the parents leaves, whether or not they remain in contact. Both the abandonment by one parent and the emotional turmoil the other one is going through influ-ence the way they develop, their sense of security and sometimes their physical security as well.
Depending on the state and its laws, the abandoned spouse might have issues when filing if they can-not locate their husband or wife. Some states have very specific procedures for missing spouse divorc-es, while others may not give you an option to end the marriage. If you know the location of the spouse but not enough time has passed since they left, you may not have an opportunity to file on the abandonment grounds for a while.
If you are in a bad marriage and one spouse makes it impossible to stay, the one who leaves can fight in the divorce for constructive desertion. This is when one partner is forced to leave home and marriage due to the other partner's behavior.
Regardless of who abandoned who, it is paramount that the abandoned spouse finds healthy ways to deal with abandonment in marriage.
What To Do When Husband Abandons Family?
What if a husband abandons his wife? Being an abandoned wife and dealing with a husband's aban-donment can be difficult. The first thing you need to do is understand how you were abandoned. When your husband physically leaves you, this is easy to identify. However, this can be harder to recognize when it's emotional or physical.
Once you realize you were abandoned, you will need to make decisions going forward. Will you con-tinue working on your marriage, or is it time to file for divorce?
You should also understand that your life will change on several fronts, including emotionally and fi-nancially. When this happens to you, it is important to take a step back and not make rash decisions you will regret later. Here is a small list of things that you can do (as well as some you should avoid):
- Give yourself permission to feel. You can be sad, angry, or even relieved. The important thing is that you do not bottle up your emotions.
- Do not beg. Once your husband has either left you or made the decision to leave, begging will not help. Even if it convinces him to stay, it will probably only be temporary, and you will al-ways wonder if he is with you because he wants to be or if he only stayed out of pity.
- Get your affairs in order. Even though you should not keep it all inside, you do not have time to wallow either. Do whatever you can to protect yourself and your children, if any. Find a lawyer and find all financial documents (or request them). You will need to prove who owns what and if he took any extra money or hid any assets.
- Find and save all other documents from him. This includes text messages, letters, notes, and cards. There could be valuable information in those communications that will be needed for the divorce.
- Forgive yourself. Take time to heal. Do not spend too much time blaming yourself for a failed marriage. Recognize what went wrong, but use that information to grow and heal, not blame yourself.
- Consult a lawyer about opening new financial accounts. You might need them to financially support yourself further, but be cautious with how you go about it.
- Don't have sex with your ex. Sure, you did it for years. You may love him, but the marriage is over. If you sleep together again, it can be emotionally confusing and can come up in the divorce proceedings.
- If you have children, do not badmouth their father or step-father. Children are innocent and should not be used as weapons. Instead, help them cope with your separation, and get help from counselors if possible.
What To Do When Wife Abandons Family?
Many people do not understand that abandonment in marriage can happen to both sexes. Sometimes the wife abandons the husband, and the husband now has to deal with the fallout.
So, you might wonder, what to do when the wife leaves home? Legally, this will be the same as the other way around. However, socially, husband abandonment can cause additional issues. Although so-ciety is moving forward with how we deal with the sexes on a more even footing, we are not 100% there yet.
An abandoned man might face more social scorn, even when undeserved, as some people still believe that “a man should be a man” and no man should ever be in a position where a woman leaves him. Sometimes, people have too much pride to admit what happened.
If your wife has left, you may be lost. This can be a confusing time, one in which you may not know how to feel or act. Here are some ideas of things you should do and things you should avoid during this difficult time in your life.
- Decide to move on (or to try to win her back). If you choose to try to get your wife back, un-derstand that this is a difficult road, and if you are at the point of divorce once in your mar-riage, it could certainly happen again.
- If you are moving on, make a fresh start. Box up mementos and anything else important that reminds you of her and your relationship. However, do not throw things away. Now is not the time for permanent decisions.
- Analyze where your marriage went wrong. Even if the marriage is over, that does not mean your life is. At some point, you will move on. Ensure you do not make the same mistakes again.
- If you have children, do not use them either as weapons or as spies. Make sure to minimize the effect that your divorce or your wife leaving will have on them.
- Get your finances in order. If you are headed toward divorce, you will need to understand who has what and how to divide the assets.
- Get a good attorney if you want to file on fault grounds. If you have children, ask your attorney about your state laws regarding custody and visitation.
- Forgive yourself (and her, forgiveness is healthy). Accept your new life and take steps to move on. This can include moving out and either embracing new experiences you could not have with your wife (hobbies she never wanted to try) or learning new things (take a class, go back to school, visit a museum).