what is walkaway wife syndrome

What Is Walkaway Wife Syndrome?


Sometimes, one spouse leaves the other in a seemingly abrupt manner. It leaves the other spouse reeling, and it may shock family and friends. There’s a term for this: walkaway wife syndrome. This term is sometimes used to describe instances where a spouse – often the wife – has felt alone, neglected, and resentful in a deteriorating marriage and decides it’s time to end it.

Is Walkaway Wife Syndrome a Spur-of-the-Moment Act?

Although the term “walkaway wife syndrome” might make it sound like a spur-of-the-moment decision, the “walkaway” usually comes after a long period of unresolved conflict. The divorce that results is sometimes years in the making.

After unsuccessfully trying to get her spouse to deal with their relationship issues, the wife in this situation finally decides it’s futile. She has taken time to consider all her options and prepared herself mentally, emotionally, and financially to leave the marriage.

This leaving may seem abrupt to the people around her and even to her husband. However, it can take a walkaway wife up to two years to finally decide to divorce.

What Are the Warning Signs of Walkaway Wife Syndrome?

After a long time of feeling alone and unsupported, a wife may begin to quietly question her marriage. Is this relationship worth the time and trouble she’s devoted to it? Is she willing to spend the rest of her life doing this? What would happen if she asked for a divorce? How would her life change? What would she need to make that happen?

After some deliberation, the wife finally concludes that she’s done. She develops an exit strategy. In her mind, the marriage is over.

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In the meantime, her husband thinks all is well. His wife has stopped putting pressure on him to change. She has stopped trying to get him to notice her or do things he’s been putting off. Things are quiet on the surface, and he thinks any past troubles may have blown over. But he’s missed some important warning signs:

  1. She’s no longer triggered by the things he does that used to drive her crazy.
  2. She stopped complaining about his behaviors even though he didn’t change them.
  3. She doesn’t have much to say to him in general.
  4. She is distant and cold.
  5. She is no longer interested in a sexual relationship.
  6. She is no longer interested in their relationship at all.
  7. She is going about her own life without him.

While her husband hopes their issues have resolved themselves, her behavior shows she has shut down and is ready to move on.

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Without mutual commitment and communication, a marriage can quickly deteriorate when inevitable issues surface. This can result in partners growing apart, extramarital affairs, and sometimes even domestic violence.

A walkaway wife who has suffered years of feeling neglected and alone usually checks out of the marriage long before her husband becomes ready to make the changes needed in their relationship. By the time the word “divorce” is uttered, it’s often too late.

What Can a Couple Like This Do to Resolve Their Issues?

Couples Therapy

Sometimes, a walkaway wife is willing to give her partner another chance. Her spouse now understands the magnitude of the problem and is desperate to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work.

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Couples therapy can be a viable option for couples dedicated to working through their issues together. A couples therapist can help the pair develop an understanding of each other’s needs through compromise and open communication. They can offer suggestions for how to work together to turn the marriage around.

Remember, though, that in a walkaway wife situation, one spouse has already checked out. Thus, traditional couples therapy can be challenging.

Discernment Counseling

Discernment counseling is a short-term intervention designed to help couples in this type of situation. The therapist works with both people together and alone, asking each of them to take ownership of what went wrong and express what they may be willing to accept in order to stay together.

If both spouses agree to work together toward a resolution, the counselor will ask them to make a short-term commitment to couples’ counseling – typically about six months. After this, they can decide how to go forward.

Is Divorce in Your Future?

Couples rarely come to a divorce decision on a linear course. For most, the decision to divorce is filled with hopes and pitfalls, stops and starts.

At Know Law, we’re dedicated to helping you live your best life possible, whether that’s staying in your marriage and working through your differences or moving apart and going your separate ways. We offer a range of resources so you can understand your options. If you decide to divorce, we also offer affordable divorce plans that simplify the process.


  1. Is walkaway wife syndrome common?While walkaway wife syndrome is not uncommon, it is essential to recognize that every relationship is unique, and not all marital issues lead to this situation.
  2. Can men also experience walkaway spouse syndrome?Absolutely. While the term “walkaway wife syndrome” is commonly used, both men and women can be affected by similar feelings of neglect and frustration in a marriage.
  3. What are some coping strategies for individuals experiencing this syndrome?Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist can be beneficial. Additionally, engaging in self-care activities and hobbies can help individuals process their emotions.
  4. Is it possible to rebuild trust after a walkaway spouse situation?Rebuilding trust can be challenging but not impossible. It requires open communication, commitment, and a willingness to address underlying issues.
  5. How can one recognize signs of marital distress early on?Early signs of marital distress may include a lack of communication, emotional distance, and a decline in intimacy. It’s crucial to address these issues proactively to prevent escalation.
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