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"The Hug" by Lauren Goldman

The Abandoned Wife's Guide to Recovery and Renewal, the new book by Vikki Stark, M.S.W. will help you understand what happened in your life and learn how to use this crisis as an opportunity for a better future!

To order a paper copy of the book through Amazon.com, click here

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Reactions from women who have read the book:

Thank you so much for this wonderful book! I experienced a whole range of emotions as I read along sometimes tears, sometimes giggles but a whole lot of head nodding and "Yep, that was him all right!" as I turned the pages. Your book and your website have provided invaluable comfort and support in my journey towards recovery from this life altering event.

Jean from Philadelphia.

I sat down and devoured your book - read it so fast with lots of highlights in yellow! I'm sure I will reread it many times. Lying in bed, out jumped your belief about brain tumour and abduction by aliens. I burst into hysterical laughter until I collapsed in hysterical tears. Those were my exact same thoughts.

Carmella from San Diego.

I received your book and couldn't put it down until I finished it. It is an absolutely outstanding book that has so eloquently portrayed almost to a tee everything that I've experienced in the last several months.

Linda from Sydney, Australia.

PLEASE NOTE: This website is dedicated to helping women who were abandoned by their husbands but it is important to state that wives also abandon their marriages without prior notice, although not at the same frequency. It is also important to highlight the fact that not all men who choose to end their marriage do so in this way.

What we need most of all to recover from Wife Abandonment Syndrome is each other!

Here you get the chance to tell your story to other women who really know what you are talking about. The goal of this "town square" is to provide support and encourage healing for yourself and others. Please feel free to write about your thoughts and experience, but most of all, let's all share the tricks we used to "make it through the night" in the early days, and the wisdom we gained that helped us "bounce back better" when we were further along the road to healing. There's strength in numbers - let's give each other that strength.

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Wednesday, February 27,2008

And eat it, too

My former husband really wanted to have both his "bachelorhood" and freedom to come and go with other women as well as to keep his position within our family and saw nothing untoward about this.He didn't want to live with me and our kids but wanted to be able to come by often for dinner,come for holidays and chat on the phone like a son gone off to school rather than a man at mid-life abandoning his family. It would be funny if it weren't so very sad.He wanted to use me to spend comfortable, enjoyable time at home with our kids and he didn't have the smallest inkling that this was wrong...for me for our children and even for his own sense of worth.He doesn't get it.And neither do I. Has anyone else has an experience like this?

Posted by



Does it sound to you as if your ex is treating you like "mom"? What you describe reminds me of all those independent-as-heck young men who go off to college and bring their laundry "home".

One of ex's best friends never moved out, in a way. He has been living with a woman I really like for almost a decade. But at the same time, he "stores" lots of stuff -- and I do mean LOTS of stuff -- in the home he abandoned. (Last spring, when he needed a length of 2-by-4, he fetched it from the garage of "the matrimonial home".) And, although he's a busy and well-respected lawyer, somehow there isn't a settlement in place.

Okay, allowing an ex to store things after all those years isn't the best idea. However, I find myself in a similar position after nine months. What am I to do with lovely old furniture that came to us from his mother? How am I supposed to deal with his fancy motorcycle which hasn't been on the road in many years and which I can't even move? Why am I still taking responsibility for what he didn't take from the wine-room?

Maybe the next time your ex wants "in" at dinner-time, you should serve something unpalatable or burnt. Or, get him to take the family out to dinner instead of letting him think he's welcome at the trough ;-)

Saturday, March 01,2008


That sounds like a terrific idea. I have an appointment with my lawyer next week and I'll get her moving on what you have suggested, for sure.

Until I re-read my comment and saw yours, I don't think I realized how much I resent continuing to store his stuff in space I could use myself!

Thank you very much for your post!

Thursday, March 06,2008


My husband is an entertainer on cruise ships. No problem until last summer when according to him he fell in love with another woman. He came home, has been home for 2 months and even though he admits that continuning this relationship with her ( she lives across the country) so communication is by e-mail, cell and pics of course! is wrong and I have asked him to end it...he refuses...I thought at first we were trying to work on our marriage but now I believe he is "having his cake and eating it too" he doesn't want to leave, as he has no where to go (she hasn't invited him) and the next ship doesn't leave for a month...I don't want to leave my home...what to do?? The pain has been unbearable

Friday, January 21,2011


Hi M. -

I was drawn to this section of the Community Forum by your title's obvious reference to "Getting to have your cake and eat it too". This is EXACTLY how I refer to my ex. In fact, I have nicknamed him "Mr. Cake & Eat It Too".

I have known my ex for 40 years, and we were married for almost 28 years of those 4 decades. Our marriage was not perfect (show me one that is), but I thought it was rock solid. And he told me how happy he was that we were still together and had shared so many important and happy moments throughout our lives together, over and over again.

The amazement that I experienced when I discovered by accident that he had a "secret" relationship with someone else - a mutual friend no less - sent shockwaves of pain, horror, loss and self-recrimination throughout my being. The waves seemed to never end, and each one overwhelmed me with pain and despair as I realized more and more how much emotional, physical and financial security I was losing / had lost. I almost lost the will to continue, especially on days when I felt so worthless that I could not imagine how anyone could (or should) care about me.

But what really amazed me was the fact that after he had confessed to the true nature of his relationship with her, he told me that in all honesty, he figured it would not matter to me. He said that in a "perfect world", our marriage would not have ended at all - he would have been very happy to have continued to enjoy the immense security and other benefits of our very "happy on the outside" long term union, while indulging himself with "dessert on the side".

He was very disappointed when I cancelled our plans to take a long-awaited cruise vacation in the wake of our marital breakdown. This willingness to ignore what had really happened between us, coupled with a desire to still enjoy all the "good" parts of remaining together, was just one example of the many ways that he continues to bathe himself in denial about what happened, and about the role he played.

Even today, more than a year later, he has the same attitude. We are only months away from divorce and my life has been turned completely upside down. I left my job, moved away from the city where I had lived for 30 years, have started a whole different life alone, gone through some significant health challenges, and had to endure many changes in my friendships. But he would like nothing better than to still have a very "couple like" friendship with me - one that would still celebrate our shared history & memories, maintain a chatty exchange of weekly details about our lives through text & email correspondence, allow him to ask me for advice about decisions he needs to make, take advantage of our pooled emotional strengths, and allow him to convince himself that if we are still "friends" and capable of "being there" for each other, then perhaps what happened wasn't so horrible after all.

I feel like he is now eating dessert first (with she, who WAS a friend to me), but is still looking for something "on the side" - this time with me.

And the first reaction I have to that thought (no matter how many times I have it) is a simple and direct one:

How dare you?

I have come to realize that although I still love the boy I dated way back in high school and the young man I married, I do not love the self indulgent and extraordinarily foolish middle aged man he has become. I cannot fathom how he could do this to himself, to his reputation, to me, or most importantly, to us. And then I remember that somehow in his mind, he has justified this by thinking that it should be a "win win" situation - Mr. Cake and Eat It Too.

And then I remind myself that somewhere back in time - probably a decade or more ago - he lost the ability to really care about me and us - so that he could serve only what pleased him. And that in making that choice, he ceased to believe in or actually defend "us", and became capable of ignoring my pain and devastation.

All of this means that he does not love me, otherwise he would not be able to witness my multiple descents into hell last year and stand uselessly at the sidelines, unwilling to commit to finding a real answer.

He really is a self indulgent child, trying desperately to get both his cake and its enjoyment, AND to salvage his reputation as a "good guy" as well.

I cannot speak for others who know him (but some of them confirm that they feel as I do). I just know that his reputation has been irreparably damaged in my estimation.

And that I have to move on, lest his continued efforts at self preservation literally drown me in my own tears of sorrow and rage.

I am a reluctant single woman, but I am becoming increasingly more resilient.

I am beginning to embrace who I am, where I am in time and space, and the future that stretches out in front of me.

It hasn't been easy and there will be other difficult days to get through.

But I am worth the effort.

And so are you, M.

I hope your journey through this horror is slowly becoming easier to navigate, and that you too will emerge on the other side of it - stronger, more confidant, and more happy.

All the best -

Sunday, May 20,2012


I can't believe how these posts ring true with my situation, as though I had written them myself. My soon-to-be-Ex literally said "I want to have my cake and eat it too" right to my face. I was dumb enough to take his desire to keep me in his life as a sign that he didn't really want to leave me (which of course, he did). For three months after he dropped the bomb about his affair, his refusal to end it, and his needing to make a decision to leave or stay, I tried everything under the sun to stop him from leaving. The whole time he behaved like he wanted both his family and the OW. During this time, he romanced me, told me he loves me, continued having sex with me, and lied to her about all of this. I was so amazed and encouraged at how badly he was treating her that I was ignoring how badly he was treating me. It's obvious to me now that he doesn't love either one of us, only himself. (I hate that woman, but sometimes I almost pity her. She didn't steal herself much of a prize). I understand now that during those three months he was just buying himself time to plan his escape. He fantasized of a "friendly divorce" scenario: coming over for dinner, vacationing together, continuing to be "best friends" (apparently we'd been nothing more than friends for 23 years! Imagine that!). I made it clear that if he left me, he would lose ALL OF ME. He couldn't comprehend or accept this. After he left, he acted like nothing had happened. Poster above mentioned the behavior was that of a son going off to college. That is exactly how he acted. Like him moving out and getting his own place was fun for everybody and a perfectly natural thing. He was light-hearted and made jokes with our children as he was taking things out of our family home to move into his new place. Makes me sick to remember it (four months ago). Such an unbelievable child. No empathy, no decency, no maturity. Just childish selfishness. He behaved with his children and with his parents and siblings like he expected them to be happy for him. He's completely oblivious to the fact that destroying our family has hurt everyone. He abandoned his family and wanted a new life but also wants everyone to think he's a great guy. After he left he tried to maintain this "best friend" scenario with me, even though I had made it clear a million times that it was impossible, that if he left, I would never forgive him and have nothing to do with him. He didn't respect this and instead was sending me texts as though nothing had happened. Inviting me to go come when he picked up the kids for visits. Texting me compliments from across the room at one of our kids events. (See how nice I'm being to my wife? See what a great guy I am?) I stuck to my guns and I'm glad I did. No dinners together, no responding to unecessary communication. He is not allowed in my home. I don't have anything to do with him. I don't badmouth him to the children and I don't interfere in their relationship. But I refuse to be a part of it. I will not go from being wife/love/life partner to being a margianalized person in his life. I am ashamed of how badly I let him treat me during those three months. I wanted to believe he was temporarily insane and it would pass, so I utterly debased myself. I let myself be treated horribly by a man I had loved, depended on, and trusted for decades. But at least I made it stop after he left. If I had continued to allow him to keep me in his life, but only on his terms, I would have been letting him get over me gradually while prolonging my own agony by wallowing in false hope.

I don't know how I could have been married to him for so long and not seen him for who he truly is. I'm struggling with feelings of wasting my entire life on this immature incredibly selfish man-child. I feel awful for my children that this person is their father. I thought he was a moral, loving husband and devoted father. But as I have looked back on our years together, I have thought of more and more incidents that pointed to his true character, if only I'd had the wisdom to see it.

I am annoyed with myself that I can't get over it all faster, though. I still miss him, I still burst into tears. He is SO not worthy of me, yet he has made me feel so unworthy. I was always a confident person and I can't stand feeling this way. I know I am grieving over the idea of him, not the real him. But I'm also spending too much time in "this-was-all-my-fault" land. His "reasons" cut me. Was this all my fault? If only I had done this and that... I try to remind myself every day that while I was not a perfect wife, he was not a perfect husband. Like everyone, our marriage was not perfect. During our imperfect, but for the most part harmonious marriage, I chose happiness, loyalty and devotion. He chose selfishness, misery, cruelty and destruction.

I am told by family members that he does not seem particularly happy. And while I am not happy now, I believe I will be. Life is too short not to choose happiness.

Monday, February 22,2016

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