Walkaway Wife syndrome is a slang term for a common phenomenon – a woman who’s done with her marriage and about to blindside her husband with divorce.
Of course, he wouldn’t have been blindsided if he had listened. Women with walk-away wife syndrome don’t all suddenly decide to leave. They make a heartbreaking decision to end a relationship after years of trying to get their husbands to understand their concerns, to no avail.
Typically, the husband only starts to listen once he realizes she’s really going to leave, but it’s too late by then. She’s ready to walk away.
Stats on Divorce
Though most stats don’t call it “walk away wife” syndrome, they do highlight the issue. According to law firms, nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by women, and they find many of the reasons defined by walk away wife symptoms as leadng causes.
While enjoying the popular R/twoxchromosmes community on Reddit, I found a thread discussing walk-away wife syndrome from the wife’s perspective. Most of these women tried to keep things together for a long time but, ultimately, needed an equal partner rather than someone else to take care of.
Here’s what real women say about their experiences as a Walk Away Wife.
Stupid to Stay
One woman recounted the tears, complex emotions, and sadness she endured before becoming a walkaway wife. Then, an epiphany struck.
“I woke up one day and realized how stupid it was of me to be in love with someone that treated me that way,” she recounted.
The user said she left, and she’s happier than ever.
The Begging You To Stay Isn’t About You
One woman said that when husbands “blindsided” by divorce papers beg their wives to stay, it’s not about the women.
“He is scared to lose everything that he gets out of the relationship with you. It’s only about him,” she said.
If he cared, he would have made all the changes you wanted him to make. He didn’t want to. He wanted to continue living life in easy mode off your hard work. He only cares now that he sees his free ride is about to end.
He Hasn’t Changed
Many men will go to great lengths to pretend they’ve changed, but if you agree to stay, they’ll soon return to the same behaviors.
“Just because he’s acting all remorseful when he has to face the fire, does not mean he’s changed.” shared one user.
“My mother always says that anything a man changes to keep you, he will go back to and tell you it’s because of you,” stated another.
Ultimatums are Pointless
After one too many discussions that go nowhere and cries for help that remain unheard, some women issue an ultimatum. “Do this, or we’re through!” they’ll say.
Many women in the thread said ultimatums are pointless.
“Your relationship shouldn’t be an ultimatum. It shouldn’t be “Don’t drive drunk, or I’ll leave you.” Or “Do the chores or I’ll leave you.” If the only response you ever get is at the ultimatum stage, that’s not a relationship, you have a third child,” said one user.
Doing Nothing as a Stay at Home
It’s wonderful that mothers no longer default to stay-at-home parents. However, some women found they couldn’t trust their husbands to care for things at home.
One woman said she had to walk away because after working all day, she had to come home and do everything around the house.
“Absolutely nothing was done, nothing. I’d come home from a 12hr shift and have to cook dinner and clean and do the kids homework get them ready for everything. He literally did nothing, and I begged for help, and he wonders why I left him.”
We get that parenting all day is rough, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything else around the house.
When You Realize They’re Using You
Some people are users. They’ll go so far as to pretend to love someone just to gain access to their wallet and labor.
A few women discussed discovering that their partner, whom they loved deeply, never returned those feelings and only cared about what they could take.
“In my case, I was worn to the very nubs, after he had taken most of my money, time, and health. I finally left,” recalled one user. “He didn’t love me either despite my love for him. He just realized that his ATM was gone,” she added.
Another said she worked her butt off helping him build and fund his dream ranch, only to discover he never really loved her.
Read Next: How to Identify Financial Abuse
Who’s Breaking Up the Family?
Some women feel immense guilt over divorce, especially when children are involved. When you’re the walkaway wife, it’s hard to overcome feeling like you’re breaking up the family if you literally walk away.
One woman said that women who feel guilty have it backward. They aren’t to blame. The husband who refused to step up and help out is.
“No, he did that. Don’t you internalize the blame for this. I’m guessing you gave him a million chances to do the bare minimum, and he didn’t step up. He chose not to,” she said.
Too many men put on a mask, only allowing their true colors to show when they think they have a woman tied down.
One Redditor shared how her fiance slowly morphed from an equally contributing partner to a sexist jerk.
“We started out splitting costs, cooking, and chores 50/50. That lasted about a year, maybe,” she began. “He turned our bedroom into his personal gym, and my stuff was all shoved into a corner. He stopped cleaning. He stopped paying his share.”
“Then, one night it was his turn to cook, and I had been at work really late. It was such a long day, and I was exhausted. I got home, and he had made dinner, but he had eaten all of it himself…I packed my car and took off.”
Comfort and Familiarity
When some women dug deep, they realized their husbands didn’t want to be married anymore either. They only stayed because it was familiar and filing for divorce was too much effort.
“He didn’t truly have it in him to be happy with me anymore. He just wanted us to be a couple again due to familiarity, fear of the unknown, financial fears, sunk costs fallacy and so on. We might have been temporarily happy again for a month or two, but it wouldn’t have lasted,” said one user.
Leaving is Hard
Leaving a life you thought you’d live forever is difficult. A marriage typically has shared finances, living arrangements, and maybe even kids. Even if you want to leave, it might not be financially feasible.
However, one woman shared sage advice: “Leaving is hard. But letting yourself live the wrong life is so much worse.”
Leaving is hard, but the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be stuck living the wrong life.
Walk Away Wives Are Right To Walk Away
Often, walkaway wives are derided for breaking apart families and not communicating their issues with their partners. But in truth, most of these women do try to communicate, explain precisely what they need, and are constantly ignored. This goes on for years, and their partner only seems to want to listen when they realize the jig is up.
Men must step up and become equal partners to prevent their wives from walking away.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.