Reading through everyone's stories, imagining everyone's pain, I understand that it is a very difficult life event for a woman to walk away from a marriage (termed as "Walk Away Wife" Syndrome). I just wanted to share a personal story that might add a little more perspective to the discussion.
My sister and her husband had been married for ten years. They met in college, dated for three years, and got married when they graduated at age 21. They divorced about 6 months ago. I overheard my ex-brother in law referring to the situation as exemplifying the "Walk Away Wife" Syndrome and that was a real surprise to me.
From his perspective, things were going well. They have two little boys (5 and 3), a house, and a steady life. He didn't really understand what was so bad about the marriage, that he treated her very well (perhaps too well), and thought that it could have been worked out.
Now, my sister's perspective was VASTLY different. They had actually spent a couple of years in marital counselling where she asked him to take on more responsibilities around the house (without being nagged) and he didn't keep up with that. She stated, and the counsellor agreed, that he was pretty emotionally unavailable. He didn't have much to say for the most part and it took him days to process his feelings/discuss any issues. He never acted passionate/interested in her but he did open stare at other women in restaurants and on family outings. In fact, he had set up a trip to have an affair with another woman, a trip about which he had of course lied to my sister about for months. He decided to cancel the trip and told her the truth. And she was HUGELY upset. Unfortunately, he couldn't understand why she was angry since he had not gone through with it and told her about it.
At first she filed for Separation and then tried to work on issues. When she felt there was no change, she filed for Divorce. Now my sister, who had always seemed very prim and proper, seems to have emerged from her shell. She's not a partier by any means, but she does have girls nights once a week and is much more social/verbal than she had been in the past. She is more open with her sexuality and a more confident person.
Now I am not saying that she's typical of the so-called Walk Away Wife. She tried counselling for years. She tried to work on the marriage. And she certainly did not cheat, become a 'party girl' or abandon her family. She has just discovered new sides to herself. She changed careers, from nursing to teaching, and remains the primary caregiver of the children. I am very happy about the fact that they are still cordial and had zero drama with the divorce, child support settlements.
As she and I have discussed the situation, some main points come to mind:
-She had unmet needs (for romance, attention, support around the house, and more responsibility from him)
-She communicated those needs and they remained unmet
-She had to become the 'in charge' one as he's admittedly always been passive about everything
-They were unable to communicate honestly and intimately with each other
-She lost respect for him
-She fell out of love for him
This was years in the making and, mostly, it was a process that happened in silence. There were MAJOR hints, but he didn't hear them. So when she asked for the divorce, she was seriously done.
She tells me she wishes she had dated more as she has grown so much through the years and through raising kids. Once she had the kids and became a mom her priorities changed. Additionally, she realizes that she settled with him. It was more about getting married to a 'good enough' man than Mr. Right.
Perhaps this will resonate. Perhaps not. Just my thoughts.