Jerry Davich: Walkaway wife’ issue sparks firestorm of debate between sexes
Jerry Davich email@example.com November 25, 2012 7:18PM
Updated: August 20, 2013 11:08PM
The middle-aged woman boldly strolled up to me at the end of a presentation I gave last week and she whispered in my ear.
“I was a walkaway wife five years ago and I have absolutely no regrets at all,” she said with a smile. “Your column defined my life until I had enough of it.”
Another woman pulled me aside at a clothing store: “That column really hit home for me,” she said flatly.
The women were referring to my recent column on “walkaway wife syndrome,” a relatively new phrase describing wives (and women in general) who’ve had enough of their relationship and made the tough decision to bail out.
Since that column ran (you can find it on the P-T website and my social media sites), I’ve heard from dozens of readers who felt compelled to weigh in on this touchy topic. Not only women, but men also who feel they’re getting a bad rap for not meeting “unrealistic expectations,” as one angry guy told me.
“Jerry, you’re missing the point here. Just because these women don’t get the instant gratification they seek in a relationship doesn’t mean they should simply quit and walk away,” said Frank L. of Gary. “Marriage takes work, sure, but too many wives are asking for too much from their men. My wife walked away 20 years ago and I’m still mad at her. And now I’m mad at you for making her feel justified to do it.”
Although my column garnered glowing reviews of redemption from most women readers, most men who contacted me are livid over it and angry at me for “betraying” them.
I should note that the men I was referring to in that column are the husbands who don’t want their ladies to walk away. If you don’t want her to walk, then step up your game. And don’t complain if you’re not giving 100 percent. That was my initial point — put up or shut up.
“I think it’s funny how all the men are (angered) about this column,” said Kristle C, “Jerry just did you a favor. He told you how us women really think. All we want in a marriage is to be loved, respected, and every once in awhile for you to drop your male ego and do something sweet to show us you care and appreciate us.”
Personally, I’m a big fan of separating ourselves from unhappy, unproductive, or unfulfilled relationships. I view that as a positive step in life — for either gender — not a failure or setback. Why stay together otherwise? And don’t tell me it’s “for the kids,” a tired excuse used to mask deeper reasons and issues, I say.
“Just like the guy in the article, I still love (my husband) to death, but I just don’t like him anymore,” one Hobart wife told me. “I am tired of cleaning up after him. He doesn’t need a wife, he needs a mother. The only thing I would add to your piece is that sometimes cleaning the kitchen is the best foreplay.”
I thought her feedback was so indicative of many other female readers’ comments, I posted it on my social media sites. But I soon received an email from the woman, asking me to remove her name and city from my posts. She was afraid her husband would find out.
Many wives (too many actually) had similar fears about their men, who must be collectively clueless about the fed-up negative feelings that their women are harboring. Some of them, for a few months. Others, for many years.
“Sometimes it takes a wife walking out the door for her husband to realize she is seriously not putting up with the BS anymore, not going to let it go, not going to ‘get over it,’ and she has found the courage to walk away,” said Ronda B. of Gary. “Everyone needs to get this message as a wake-up call because it really boils down to the fact that we take each other for granted.”
‘It works both ways’
Christine H. of Valparaiso said, “Walking away from that nightmare on earth was the best thing I ever did. I haven’t been so happy as I am now because I did. No one is perfect but mediocre is not acceptable.”
A woman who labeled herself as a “future walkaway wife” said, “I know my husband of nearly 30 years loves me and that I’m the most important person in the world to him. He is a hard working guy who has been a wonderful father to our kids. We could not have had a better provider. He’s not a barfly, hasn’t physically abused me (or the children), or cheated. Everyone who knows him would tell you he’s a good man.”
“But his ill temper has finally taken its toll,” she continued. “When he gets mad, no matter who or what has angered him, he takes it out on me. The hateful, hurtful, vicious, mean-spirited things he has said to me have finally outweighed all the wonderful and positive aspects of our marriage.”
“He wouldn’t dare say those things to me if he truly respected me or cared anything about my self-esteem. And as you know, once words are spoken we cannot take them back. When I become a walkaway wife, everyone will be shocked. Especially him.”
Another woman, who’s now single and happy, pointed out a common by-product of a bad relationship: Husbands who don’t “get it” end up having affairs because their wives don’t act like they love them.
“You want us to be hot in the bedroom at will, but you are cold and inattentive in the living room or wherever else,” she said. “I just got more and more resentful, while he goes to the races, week-long hunting and fishing trips, helps his buddies for days on end but won’t lift a finger to help me.
“I didn’t leave to meet a better man or look for greener pastures, I just got tired of being used as a brood mare and maid. I just got tired of feeling alone. Being lonely when you have someone is 1,000 times worse than being alone.”
Kenneth Stevenson of Schererville served as the voice of reason.
“The problem is the people who really need this information won’t get it until it’s too late because of ignorance, not stupidity. Keep in mind that there are husbands who do the same thing. Remember, it works both ways.”
To her credit, that aforementioned Hobart wife later contacted me again, admitting her own marital faults through the years.
“Jerry, like so many other wives, I am a compulsive ‘Wendy.’ I have spent most of my years taking care of everyone, including my husband, so I guess I am guilty of creating my own monster. And now I am unhappy with the situation that I, in part, created.
“We, as women, must look to ourselves when searching for reasons for our unhappiness. The blame does not solely lie with our spouses.”
Her candid admission aptly illustrates the reality of most relationships, rocky or otherwise, and I’m convinced from personal experience that communication is key.
Sure, I welcome your feedback, opinions and even complaints, but you need to talk to each other about this issue. If you can do it on your own, great. If not, maybe professional help is needed, whether it’s a counselor, a pastor or a mediator.
Without talking, one of you will eventually be walking. The choice is yours.
Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.