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How to deal with being abandoned

Community Member

My husband moved out 4 months ago but it t was only supposed to be for a few days to clear his head. He said he felt the world closing in on him. He said he was getting angry quickly & then felt guilty about his reaction. For 2 weeks he stayed in touch & said we'd be fine but over the next 4 weeks his contact stopped. No calls, no visits, no messages, nothing. I tried to see him before he caught the bus but when I did he was always moody. Then I got a text saying he was giving up (which meant our marriage) because he was better on his own. Just like that. No effort, no discussion, nothing. It ripped my heart out.

I sent him emails & texts begging to come home, to talk, telling him I'd support him through whatever he was going through - nothing. After 10 weeks I asked him what did he want me to do with his things. He said to put them in one place & he'd get them. He also said he appreciated the words & sentiments but kept contact sparse until he felt comfortable being himself.

Last week he came & got all his things, said he wasn't coming back, was happier & better on his own & it was too late to fix our marriage because he felt nothing. I have suspected all along that he might be suffering depression but never did I think this would happen. Never.

During the first 2 weeks I bought tickets to a concert he wanted to see. I made sure he still got one (which turned out to be the day before he got his things) & was encouraged because it only took him 30 mins to pick it up after my text. I hoped he would go. However last night he didn't show & it hit me like a ton of bricks. He doesn't want anything to do with me. This man I love has basically abandoned me & I am at a loss as to why his feelings went from love to nothing in only 4 months.

I sent a message to one of his work mates yesterday asking him to keep an eye on him & if he agreed with me about depression to point him the direction of getting help. I also want to help him but he's physically & emotionally unavailable to me.

I  want to know why does someone push their loved ones away, shut them out so completely & end all contact? Do they ever return? How do I deal with the pain without blaming him when it might be depression & outside his control? Do I keep trying to make contact or leave him alone? Am I just trying to justify the end of my marriage by 'diagnosing' it as depression because I have nothing else to go on? 

I need answers because I am at a loss & feel helpless.

47 Replies 47

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Melly

I am sorry you are in such a hard place. I can give some reasons for your husband's actions and thoughts but they will not necessarily explain how it happened. I suggest you explore this web site and read as much as possible about depression and how it affects people. There is also information for carers which may help you.

Depression is a horrible illness and in some ways changes the personality of the person it attacks. The person remains the person they have always been but displays behaviour that is unlike their usual way of living.

Clearly you expected your husband to make more of an effort to remain in your marriage and that this period would soon be over. Sadly I have found, relationships can be the first casualty. It's not because your husband no longer cares for you. Once he starts to recover he will remember his affection and may well want to reunite. But there is no guarantee of this.

Depression does weird things to our brains. No we are not crazy! Our capacity to think clearly is reduced and the world narrows down to a very small focus. It's as though we are wearing blinkers and can only see one path, and that is very often painful, causes shame for being in that place, afraid of hurting (emotionally, not physically)  the people near to us, feeling alone and lost. None of it is deliberate.

The most frequent comment from those with depression and their families, is the need of the depressed person (DP) to abandon everyone. Like a wounded animal we want to nurse our pain in alone, convinced that no one can help, that no one wants to help. This is untrue but it is difficult for DPs to see and recognise this.

Depression is as painful as other physical illnesses but immensely difficult to describe. DPs go to work wearing a mask and often colleagues have no idea. Inside is a scared person, afraid someone will find out and be disgusted, a person who needs every bit of strength to function normally. No wonder they are exhausted at home and snap and snarl at everyone. They feel guilty, believe their families, and everyone else, would be better off without them and gradually sink into exhaustion.

I hope you are not upset with this picture. It is really a horrible place to be and sadly those who have not been there do not fully understand how it feels. That was not a put down by the way. Try describing childbirth to someone who has never had a child.

I would love to continue this conversation with you so I hope you can respond.


White Rose/Mary,

Thank you for your response. I can't say it makes me feel better but it does help me realise that I need to stop blaming him & myself for what has occurred. I suppose it also validates my concern that he may be suffering depression.

I have been looking on the Internet to get as much information as possible. A lot of advice for the non DP is to listen & provide support but since he's no longer living with me & I have no idea where he is, it makes it hard to get  a dialogue going. Every couple of days I send him a text (hoping he hasn't blocked me) to tell him I'm here if he needs me, wishing him a good day, telling him I love him etc. Is there anything else I can say to open up the communication lines? Should I say nothing in case my continual contact only makes him feel worse? I have also been asking 'why' but after your response & the research I realise he probably doesn't really have an answer/know why & I'm probably only making him feel worse.

In the last couple of days I have found out he is in regular contact with his ex-wife (by text) & this disturbs me because he told me that, excluding contact about his kids, he wanted nothing to do with her but it appears that at least since January there has been 30-40 texts each month. Unfortunately I also found out he texted another number over 330 times in December-January & now I question whether him leaving was more about our relationship then his mental health. 

We had a falling out in our first year of marriage for his inappropriate contact with other women but he didn't think he was doing anything wrong. Seems stupid doesn't it that even with this latest 'evidence' I still tell him I love him. 

I feel there is multiple issues going on between him & me & I'm not sure how to handle either when I can't talk to him face to face & I don't want him to sink further into a black hole if I become confrontational.

Hopefully the person he works with can get him to open up & help him seek medical support, but I suspect my husband is very adept at hiding his condition.



Community Member

I am really, really sorry for what has happened to you.

It is a unknown to us whether your husband has a serious depressive illness or not, only a detailed psychiatric assessment could hope to shed light on that.

Whatever the problem was, you do NOT deserve to be treated this way. In my opinion it is unacceptable,

Even if he has a serious psychiatric illness, there comes a point when a line is crossed in regards to how severely the other persons problem impacts on the other person.

You think, given the large amount of time (considering you were married), that he could do a little more in recognition of how you must be feeling from his actions.

He could be have a fairly serious depression- we do not know- but it sounds like he is still working etc. He can work and maintain contact with his friends, but he can't provide you with more information or take more account of how devastated you must be? It doesn't seem like he is taking any proper responsibility at all.

 It seems he managed to look after himself well enough to come collect all his personal belongings.

In the end you have consider if he has acted into a selfish, irresponsible way with complete consideration of his own needs, while entirely disregarding your needs.

I personally could never justify treating someone else like that, that's why I personally find it very hard to excuse. Whatever the reason, its a tragic situation.


That other information you have provided about his women raises serious alarm bells as to what may have been the reason for him leaving.

I'd just be careful jumping to the conclusion that depression is entirely responsible for all his behavior, all I am saying is please protect your own best interests in all of this, and part of looking after your own best interests is ensuring that other people live up to a certain basic standard in how they treat you.

Whatever the truth of the situation, how you have been treated in this situation can not be just dismissed in light of "his needs".

Take care.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Melly,

Sorry it's such a difficult time for you, not having answers so you know which way to turn. Please be sure to look after yourself. Try to continue regular activities or go for a walk every now and then if need be. 

The "possibility" of losing someone you love can be so painful and can also lead to grief. If you feel like a bit of reading I recommend grief and loss. (From the menus at the top of the page, "The Facts", "Grief and Loss".)

Having suggested that topic, I'm not coming to any conclusion about your husband coming back, I'm suggesting the read in case you need a hand to get through some difficult emotions that might pop up regardless of what happens.

Look after yourself Melly, that's the most important right now.



Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Melly - one more thing.

I understand what being abandoned is like. It's horrible and it makes it really really easy for you to blame yourself. Please don't. It's not your fault.


Dear Melly

I am sorry my reply was not as helpful as I hoped. Since reading your second post I am finding myself agreeing agreeing with HyperDave and Lats. It seems at the first sign of a problem your husband just abandons ship. It is possible this may be due to depression. As I said it does strange things to us but the only way to be certain is for him to visit his doctor.

His inability to see anything amiss with contacting other women is worrying and now he is talking to his ex-wife. It appears he is happy with female contact where there is no possibility of responsibility. Whereas in a marriage he must take responsibility. And he is taking no steps to check on his health. It seems to me he is avoiding or denying he has a problem and there is no way he is going to listen to someone insisting he get checked out.

Until he can accept he has a problem it will continue. It's the same problem with drinking or gambling, realisation by the person concerned is the only way things will change. To me it sounds as though he wants his 'freedom', no matter what the cause, and will not change until and unless he recognizes what is happening.

You can listen and be accepting of all this forever and a day but nothing will change until he wants to. I am so sorry this is happening to you. He is not abandoning you, rather he is thinking of himself and what he wants instead of living in the real world. It will dawn on him one day but in the meantime you need to consider your options.

This is not about you. It is all about him. I wonder if it was his first wife who brought the marriage to an end and this is why he wanted no contact other than the children. Now he sees her as a safe person to talk to because they will not get back together. This is just speculation as I am by no means an expert in this area.

I suggest continuing with your life as though he is no longer a part of that life. If he wants to return he must ask and demonstrate he has grown up. I know that's hard for you to accept and you are feelings so dreadfully hurt. I think it's to stand back and wait for him to make the next move. No more texts etc, just wait. Allow yourself to grieve but do not take responsibility for his actions. It's his choice not yours so don't feel guilty and wonder what you could have done better. The answer is nothing.

Look after yourself.


Community Member

Dear Melly.  I am so sorry for what's happened to you.  However, unfortunately, unless he opens the lines of communication, there's not a lot you can do.  Beating yourself up is counter-productive to your own health.  I agree getting in touch with his ex must have been soul destroying for you.  Do you know what caused their break-up?  How long were they married.  Everything Mary has said is right - harsh true, but right.  You are at present in a grief stage,  I would try and get some grief counselling to help you get through this time.  Part of grief is also anger because you couldn't prevent what happened.  The counselling would help you deal with the anger.  I would also avoid all contact with him till you are emotionally strong enough to deal with his destructive personality.  Are you in a position where you could join a club like Parents without Partners, they would give you the support you need.  The emotions you feel are making you extremely vulnerable which makes it harder to be able to make decisions about your situation.  We all reach out when we're hurting, you need support, don't be afraid to ask.  Your G.P could put you in touch with a grief counsellor.

All the best.


Thanks for your support. I agree that the way he has acted is very poor but when you read below you will see it's not out of the ordinary. However saying that I seriously never thought he would be so cruel, cowardly or treat me in such a disrespectful manner - at least not without some form of communication.

However in saying that, before we got together & just after I met him in 2006 he 'disappeared' for a period of 6 months. When he 'came back' he said he's suffered a mental breakdown & shut everyone out. Bit of history, he is an ex-British soldier who was in the Military Police (at the time above he was still serving). Because of his job & the places he went he dealt with a lot of things that the rest of us don't deal with on a regular basis (if at all) so it all got to him.

Then when we were married (2010) he left me after 6 weeks because he felt had made a mistake and wasn't ready. Again, in his defence he had left the military after 22 years, had sold all his possessions, moved to Australia where he knew no one, had no job & was suddenly living with me as a new husband. A lot of adjusting required to his life. He came back 4 months later & we moved forward.

So history shows me that when things get tough he gets going, but maybe I'm just trying to grasp at straws to make this period easier on me so unless he chooses to talk (& the day he gathered all his stuff he did say he'd call me during the week - which I'm still waiting for) I am left not knowing anything certain.

Again, thanks for the support.