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Ask Dr Gilda-My husband deserted me


One woman wonders how to deal with the abandonment—and be open to love again.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
Last year, my husband of 34 years hugged and kissed me goodbye as usual, went to work, and never came home again. He sent me an email that day to say he was never coming home again. Only recently, many
I want to be a victor, not a victim.
months later, did I find out where he was—many states away, with his parents. He not only shut me out of his life, but also his adult daughters.

This past year has been incredibly difficult for me. I’m living with my daughter now. I want to be a victor, not a victim. But I love him, and miss my best friend. He had been a wonderful man for decades. How do I get over this and begin searching for new love?
– Abandoned and Hurt

Dear Abandoned and Hurt,
The biggest tragedy of this story is that you had no idea what happened to your husband, where he went, why he left, and how he felt. So you were left waiting and wondering—which is victim behavior. Of course, living amid so many unanswered questions delays closure. And this uncertainty continued for a whole year of your precious life!

Abandonment is a common human fear. The grief process requires you to pass through all the stages of shock, denial, anger, blame, depression, acceptance, and moving on. If you’re still stuck in
Acknowledge that this chapter is closed forever.
any of these stages, get some grief counseling.

The good news is that now you know your husband’s whereabouts, and you can devise a plan to become the victor you want to be. Your wish toward this end shows you are making positive strides.

Here are some things you can do to hasten the process:
  1. It’s time to level with yourself. You say, “I love him, and miss my best friend.” Why? This husband of yours disappeared without any concern for you—or his daughters. He selfishly left, discarding all responsibility and commitment. Real love is a two-way street. If you’re getting zero back, and if your feelings have been trashed, how can you say you “love” him?
  2. Hanging on to the fantasy that this guy is some prince is sustaining your pain. If you need to, work with a therapist to help you glide into reality.
  3. Examine what really was happening in your marriage before your husband left. Did you sense that he was unhappy? You say, “he had been a wonderful man for decades.” That might have been the case, but how well did you know him in more recent times? He must have been in emotional pain to have suddenly dropped out of his entire life.
  4. Begin divorce proceedings at once. Acknowledge that this chapter is closed forever; you cannot love a ghost. Only when you do this will you be able to get out there and date again.
As this Gilda-Gram says, “Your feelings are based on how you choose to feel.” Are you ready to choose to let go? Find new friends and welcome new adventures. You still have plenty of living to do!


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).
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