Where you can find Vikki:
[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Today on the relationship Revival Show we’re talking to Vicki Stark. Vicki is an internationally known psychotherapist, speaker, author, divorce recovery expert. And as the director of the Sedona counseling center of Montreal. She’s particularly well known for her groundbreaking book, runaway husbands, which has led her to mentor a worldwide community of women recovering from unexpected divorce. And when we say unexpected, we mean, out of nowhere Slap you up the side of the head with a two by four unexpected you’re going to find out all about that. And her amazing work and our own story. Right here right now.
[Jon Dabach] 00:37
On the relationship Revival Show. You’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as Mr. Spirituality. That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy.
[Jon Dabach] 01:05
And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by. Vicki Stark, thank you so much for being on the program. I’m really excited to talk to you about this runaway husband kind of phenomenon. And and why you chose to get into this world and how it’s become such a focus specialty of yours, why don’t you kind of walk us through how you kind of stumbled upon this and have taken charge of it?
[Vikki Stark] 01:44
Yeah, well, first of all, I really want to say thank you, Jon, for the invitation to come and get an opportunity to talk to your people. Because I’m really passionate about trying to get the message out. Because I, at this point, I sort of run a worldwide community of women to whom this has happened. And I’ll explain in a minute what this stands for. And so many of them felt they didn’t know about my work, they didn’t know about my book, runaway husbands, and that when they found the book, they realized a tremendous sense of relief.
[Vikki Stark] 02:21
They realize they’re not crazy, and they’re not alone. So I’ve been a psychotherapist for over 30 years, and I believed myself to be in a happy and secure marriage of 21 years. Back in 2006, I felt very comfortable with my husband, I felt like we have fallen in love so intensively and that it was gonna last forever and ever. And I had written my first book, which is called my sister myself about sister relationships.
[Vikki Stark] 02:52
And I’ve been on the road doing a book tour for 23 days. And when I returned home, I had taken the red eye back from the west coast to, to my home in Montreal. And my husband picked me up at the airport and drove me home. And then he went off to work because it was the morning. And when he got home from work that night. I I had spent the day sort of, you know, unpacking I’ve been on the road for a long time, you know, sort of, you know, getting comfortable being home, doing some grocery shopping and everything.
[Vikki Stark] 03:24
And when he got home, I said to him, I bought fish. And he said, it’s over. I said, Okay, you don’t want fish maybe will have chicken and II said, No, it’s not dinner. It’s the marriage. It’s over. And I’m moving out right now. And obviously, I was completely shocked, traumatized devastated. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. And what subsequently happened to sort of speed the story along is that he did move out. He actually moved out the next morning.
[Jon Dabach] 04:05
Don’t speed it along. I’m like now I’m now I’m sucked in watching a movie.
[Vikki Stark] 04:12
Yeah, so he moved out the next morning into the apartment of his girlfriend. And he had apparently been having an affair for six years. I don’t know if so, which is the remarkable thing about this is that I’m a marriage and divorce counselor. Right? So I saw no signs at all, that my husband was having an affair.
[Vikki Stark] 04:33
Really, there really weren’t any signs. He really kept it pretty much away from anything that I could possibly figure out what was going on. So he moved in with his girlfriend and then I began this terrible process of of grieving and loss and suffering. I lost 30 pounds. And one of the things that was remarked Trouble is that as soon as he moved, it moved out, he sort of turned on me.
[Vikki Stark] 05:05
Whereas a day earlier, he’d been a loving, attentive, caring husband that I felt secure with. As soon as he moved out, his eyes turned cold. It’s like a zombie. And I, all I received from him was meanness and blaming and anger and him saying, you know, all those times you thought we were having a good time, I was really miserable. And I’m trying to wrap my mind around this complete revisionist story of our history together. So as time went on, I started, you know, I have already written one book and being pretty much a researcher, I started trying to see if anyone else had written about this phenomenon.
[Vikki Stark] 05:52
And so I came to call it wife abandonment syndrome. So it’s an abandonment, I had no idea he was unhappy, he’d never said I’m unhappy. I had no idea he was thinking of leaving. And so I started trying to see if anything was written about it. And really, there wasn’t, there was nothing. But as I started talking about it, other women started coming out of the woodwork, women who had experienced the same thing. So I did for, for my book, runaway husbands what I done for my sister’s book, and I crafted a survey. And I heard from eventually, I heard from 400 Women Worldwide, who had experienced this.
[Vikki Stark] 06:41
And the thing that’s remarkable about what I heard from these women is that the stories were eerily similar, right down to the husband blurting out, it’s over, or I can’t do this anymore. In the midst of some mundane conversation, you know, they’re getting dressed to go to the market. And in the car, he says it’s over. You know, it’s not like he ever sits her down in the living room and says, you know, Teresa, we have to, we got to talk. You know, that doesn’t happen. You know, it’s just he says, he blurts this out.
[Vikki Stark] 07:20
And in the majority of the cases, I’d say, 90% of the cases, there’s another woman, there’s been an affair going on. In the majority of the cases, he moves out, either that day, or within the week. In some cases, there’s sort of a back and forth over a few, a few weeks or a few months. But the typical thing is that he moves out very, very quickly. Yeah. And then he, he starts to rewrite the history and say how unhappy he’d been.
[Vikki Stark] 07:51
And, you know, just as my husband had done, but that it was so similar, it was like, hella scary, you know, and that when I started realizing this is a pattern, then, you know, I call it a syndrome. And then I started doing this research and put together this material. And over the course of a couple of years, I wrote it wrote this book. And so and since then, the book came out in 2010.
[Vikki Stark] 08:19
I have a updated version coming out in a few months, but the original book came out in 2010. Since then, I’ve worked with, I’d say, 1000s of women throughout the world, running retreats, and running workshops, and, you know, just hearing from people and, you know, trying to help people rebuild their lives, when it was like a tsunami came and knocked everything over. And their lives are unrecognizable.
[Jon Dabach] 08:53
It’s so fascinating, the fact that I know that it’s so similar. And yeah, I mean, you when you’re saying it, I’m thinking of past clients of mine that were that that happened, and it’s like, oh, okay, and now it’s starting to ring true, even on anecdotally and social circles, where I’m like, what you whenever you hear that straight, like, What do you mean, he just left? What do you mean? He was, he said he was unhappy, and I didn’t know.
[Jon Dabach] 09:18
And you, you know, from the outside looking in, you’re like Ness, and well, there must have been a sign, you know. And so, in your research, and in this work that you’ve done, have you ever looked into an underlying cause? Or is it more about rebuilding for the women after this happens?
[Vikki Stark] 09:44
Oh, no, no, no, I do a lot of work. Because, you know, like anything in life when something happens to you, you want to understand what happened. Yeah. And so you know, so that, no, definitely well, first of all, let me say that you know, very Oh, Often when people hear about somebody who’s experienced this, they say just what you said, you know, you must have known something, you must have seen something.
[Vikki Stark] 10:07
So it’s very comforting for the women in my community that I’m a marriage counselor and I if I didn’t see it, they’re not going to Yeah, for sure. But it’s also, you know, a fact that this kind of divorce is unique. This kind of separation and divorce is unique. It’s not like a typical breakdown of a marriage. Yeah, there’s
[Jon Dabach] 10:25
No slow burn.
[Vikki Stark] 10:26
I mean, they’re going to marriage counseling, you know, they’re talking, oh, it’s going to be over if you don’t do change this, you know, this. There’s none of that because it comes as this traumatic shock moment. Yeah. And so, you know, so for people around like, they can’t they can’t wrap their mind around it. Because it is special. It is unique. And it’s not, it’s not a typical divorce, which also means that it takes longer for people to recover.
[Jon Dabach] 11:00
Does it happen to men? Is there such a thing as husband abandonment syndrome?
[Vikki Stark] 11:05
Right. So when I started doing the work, I decided I would, I would research women and men who had been left, because absolutely, there are men who are left. And so I received a bunch of surveys and did some interviews with men whose wives had left. And in the majority of the cases, first of all, there had been trouble in paradise. The wife had been saying, George, if you’re not home on the weekends, you know, and you don’t help around the house, I can’t take this anymore.
[Vikki Stark] 11:37
You know, the, the, the wives had given indication, it didn’t happen in this shocking kind of way. Yeah. And the other thing that I recognized is that there was no pattern for the men. It wasn’t always that she was having an affair. Usually she wasn’t having an affair. Yeah, he was just sick and tired. And so she wanted, you know, she wanted out. And so eventually, I realized that that I really couldn’t study much more about the men because each case was so unique and different, that it didn’t have this sort of cohesiveness.
[Jon Dabach] 12:12
It’s so interesting. So when I, you know, I have a friend who’s a trauma specialist, and she deals with suicide, grief. And, and I, it sounds like a bit of a morbid similarity. But when you look at the, the way men and women also attempt suicide, there’s a similarity here, too, because men will oftentimes do it with a gun, there’s no negotiation, it’s, you know, there’s a very high, unfortunately called the success rates, right?
[Jon Dabach] 12:40
Yeah. And with women, it’s more of It’s usually more of pills or some kind of ingestion, the success rate is much lower. It’s almost like there’s room for negotiation, you know, in even in something as morbid as suicide, whereas it’s like, there’s this percentage of the male population where there’s this slow burn brewing inside that no one knows about, and then this crazy nuclear explosion that you cannot do anything about.
[Vikki Stark] 13:08
Yeah, that’s an amazingly apt analogy. It really is. But it’s your earlier question about, you know, how much I explored. Why does this happen? So my demographic, my typical woman in my group is 53 years old. Okay, yeah. Yeah, I mean, sort of just a lot of them have adult children.
[Jon Dabach] 13:32
Is that a mean, median age? What kind of model? Did
[Vikki Stark] 13:36
You know? I don’t remember from statistics class that everybody offered
[Jon Dabach] 13:41
Divide, or was it like the middle number of the line? No, no, I
[Vikki Stark] 13:45
Added up and divided me. Yeah. All right. Got you. Yeah. So um, so and a lot of them are older. You know, a lot of the women are in their 60s. Outliers. Too obvious. Yeah. Like that. And then some of them, of course, are younger. But for many of them, the husbands feel. And, of course, I’m hearing this through the wife because I don’t really have much access. I have some men that I work with, but I don’t have much access. The husbands feel like they start to it’s really not about their dissatisfaction with the marriage. It’s more about their dissatisfaction with themselves, and their fear of aging. And so they feel
[Jon Dabach] 14:29
Like so are the women typically younger?
[Vikki Stark] 14:32
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Typically, yeah. So they feel like I’ve been a good son. I’ve been a good husband. I’ve been a good worker. I’ve been a good father. When do I get to be James Bond? And so they’re at the office and somebody and this is a very typical thing that the woman who’s the affair partner is of a lower socio economic status, you know who if he’s the boss, she’s the Secretary, you know, or she’s the trainer at the gym.
[Vikki Stark] 15:04
I mean, its stereotypical stuff. And she looks up at him. And she says, oh, you know, Richard, you know, you’re so interesting. Tell me a story about you. And the wife has heard this story already, you know, 2000 pounds. And she’s rich. Richard, don’t tell that story again. And so he feels like he really got her attention, this woman’s attention. And it is, it is exciting. I mean, affairs are exciting.
[Vikki Stark] 15:29
And it’s an ego boost. And it makes him feel good. So here he is, at a point in his life where he feels that either he’s made it enough in business, or there’s not that much to look forward to, or he hasn’t made it in business. But that everything is pretty mundane. And so somebody is making him feel really good. The sex is really, you know, turned on, and he suddenly feels alive. And that, that, that sexual ally aliveness is pretty it’s pretty hard to pass up. Yeah. Because when you’ve been sleeping with, you know, Trudy for 27 years, you know, this, you know, everyone knows the drill. That’s so, you know,
[Jon Dabach] 16:12
You picked through Trudy,
[Vikki Stark] 16:13
You know, it’s Sunday morning, and it’s the same thing over and over again. But you know, it when he has an opportunity, and often it’s too, it’s too good to pass up. Yeah. And so he, he sort of jumps from his secure relationship with his wife and family often. And he goes into this other world, which is very different from his life before. He and for he in loses out, he misses out. Often the kids, the adult kids want nothing to do with him.
[Vikki Stark] 16:51
Yeah. Because he’s lied. And he’s cheated. And he’s had an affair, and he’s hurt mommy. Yeah. You know, when mommy is sitting in a dark room crying for six months, and the kids have to take care of her. Yeah, absolutely. So faster. It sounds
[Jon Dabach] 17:07
Like such a specific guy. Because I always talk about with my clients about affairs being really prevalent when there’s opportunity, right, and why women when why women classically haven’t had more affairs is because women tended to be in the home over the years in the past. And so with the opportunity of affairs opening up, women are having more of them. But what’s interesting about the profile of this man is that he doesn’t have a lot of opportunity. But one good one came, yes.
[Jon Dabach] 17:42
And because he doesn’t have other opportunities, he’s now clinging to that one. And it’s become this relationship. So it’s not like, I mean, I’m, and I’m going to make a weird a wild assumption here. It’s not like he’s the suave, debonair James Bond that he wants to be. He just has that from one young woman of a lower socioeconomic status that he could feel like he has some position of power control in the relationship. And his, you know, his egos being stroked. That’s so, so fascinating.
[Vikki Stark] 18:14
But you know, it’s often many of the women in my community, you know, when they’ve seen the affair partner, or they or they knew the affair partner, maybe it was her friend or the neighbor, or something. You know, they’re always like, surprised because they’re not a trophy wife, right? Or trophy girlfriend. It’s not the gorgeous, sexy girlfriend, you know, often it’s a, it’s a sort of a plain looking woman or somebody who doesn’t feel great. But she makes him feel great, right. And often the wife is on the ascendancy in her life.
[Vikki Stark] 18:48
You know, while he’s 50 on your book tour, like I was on, I had published my first book, and it was very exciting. It was a great moment. It was actually the very exciting until my life fell apart. And he left me three days before my book launch in here in Montreal, where I had all the press, and like about 100 people coming, he left me on a Tuesday and the book launch was on the Friday. Oh, man, it was almost like he couldn’t take it couldn’t take seeing me be, you know, in the limelight. He had also written a few books that didn’t quite make it off the ground, but he couldn’t take seeing me in the limelight. And
[Jon Dabach] 19:31
So there’s a healthy dose of jealousy there.
[Vikki Stark] 19:34
Yeah, yeah, definitely.
[Jon Dabach] 19:36
Yeah. That’s so fascinating. So, I mean, I’m just you have me enthralled. Because it’s, I feel like the more specific you get the more interesting thing, you know, things. Yeah. So what’s the process like of recovery, which is probably most of the work that you do now? Because you’re building this community and this kind of movement to make awareness of the situation? Or what’s, what’s your day to day? Like? I mean, are you? Are you talking to women all over the world? Are you holding retreats? Is it more of an? What’s it like?
[Vikki Stark] 20:12
A typical days that I’m in Australia in the morning, and then having Sweden in the afternoon? So I always joke, you know, like, I’m just traveling all the time, because we really do have a worldwide community. And I’ve even done therapy sessions with a woman in Mongolia. Wow. So I do individual therapy sessions, you know, with women, as well as my typical private practice here in Montreal, with marriage counseling and all the other things I do. But then I run groups, and I run workshops, and I run retreats. So there’s, there’s a lot going on.
[Jon Dabach] 20:49
Yeah. And then what’s the process? What are you working? Are you working on recovering from the trauma?
[Vikki Stark] 20:58
Yeah, so the process is huge. First of all, it is a physical trauma. It’s an it’s a, it’s a defined as a trauma. When your life changes in the blink of an eye, and you didn’t see it coming, you know, when you get hit by a car, or you know, you suddenly have a diagnosis or something. And everything in your life changes. It’s a trauma. So the women that I work with, are deeply, deeply devastated.
[Vikki Stark] 21:32
Often not functioning, they can’t go to work, they’re crying all the time, and everyone loses weight, a lot of weight. They’re hardly functioning, and it takes a very long time to recover. And so they start to feel bad about themselves. And they say, wow, you know, it’s been six months. And how come? I’m not better yet, you know, and other people after eight months or something, you know, are saying, you know, it’s been a long time now, how come you’re not better? Well, you’re not better because you had this life for 32 years.
[Vikki Stark] 22:08
And now it’s, it’s totally gone. And not only that, you’re fighting with him. And he’s not being generous. And he’s trying to, you know, sort of be the financial winner in all of this. And so you’re struggling through all of this stuff. So there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done. And so one of the things that’s, that’s the positive is that we provide a community where they get the support.
[Vikki Stark] 22:41
So I have a Facebook group, a private Face Book Group, where the women can communicate with each other, you know, it’s three o’clock in the morning and Singapore, well, you know, somebody’s awake somewhere. And so that there’s always somebody who can talk to them. It’s such an international group, and everyone is sharing and supporting and helping, you know, there’s nothing like Women Helping Women, you know, they’re always on, you know, they’re always ready to be helping each other.
[Vikki Stark] 23:12
So, so that’s, you know, so the community is one of the ways that the women recover. But one of the things that I like to say is that a crisis of this magnitude can be a springboard for change, and how to learn, to love yourself, to not be filled with regret, to not blame yourself, and to be able to recognize that there is a life after this marriage. And it’s a huge adjustment. Now, a lot of times the women say, well, if he’d had a heart attack and died, it would be so much easier. And of course, it would be easier. You’d be alone, also, and you’d be heartbroken. But at least you would not have been betrayed.
[Jon Dabach] 23:58
Yeah, the narratives totally different. Yeah. Totally. Yeah. Is there so I’ve had a few clients, where it might have just been two, it’s two or three, I’m trying to think back. But I’m wondering where the where the woman was in a previous relationship. This is kind of like a minor version of this, where they were engaged to somebody who they were with for five years, eight years, seven years, some somewhere around there, understand, but you know, significant amount of time. And they just call the wedding off suddenly without explanation.
[Jon Dabach] 24:38
And I’ve and now that you’re saying some of the symptoms, they lost way, there was long recovery. Is that kind of a similar thing? Now, there wasn’t another woman, necessarily, but there was and then they were obviously much younger, and there, you know, late 20s, I would say, but it seems like a very similar trauma.
[Vikki Stark] 24:59
Yes. So first of all, I’m laughing because my own husband who left me, he did that when he was engaged by God. And in his 20s, and there was a hole, the wedding was planned. And two months before he told her, I’m out of here. And so he has a history of having done this stuff. But you know, the thing that I say is that, like, there’s, there’s two sides of the same coin. Like I’m working now with a woman who met her husband when she was 19. And they were married for 50 years. 50 years, he lived her whole adult life. 50 years.
[Vikki Stark] 25:33
Yeah. But then when you have the women who are 29, and they’re looking forward to their whole future, and they’re feeling like, great, I have my sweetheart, and I’m set, and I have my future. And that’s ripped away from them. I believe it’s equally traumatic. I mean, other people look at them and say, Oh, you’re young, you’re gonna find somebody else. But no, because you first of all, you don’t know whether that’s true.
[Vikki Stark] 26:02
Secondly, if you had the hope of having children, you start to see the windows Reno’s narrowing. Thirdly, it’s not so easy to find somebody you love. And if this happens to you, how do you trust again? Absolutely. And that’s the big question for the women in my community, which is, could I ever imagine trusting again, you know, will there ever be the possibility that I will open my heart to somebody and believe them, when they might be lying and betraying me, and setting me up for this type of devastation?
[Jon Dabach] 26:40
And one thing that’s so interesting with this other version, where it’s when they happen, when it happens younger, they will go through a divorce. So there’s zero communication. And they often don’t get any closure of what’s going on. Because the man has no responsibility to split up assets, or anything, they just take off. So they’re left completely in the dark. And they there’s a lot of that self-blame of like, what did I do? Maybe it was me.
[Vikki Stark] 27:10
So painful, so painful. But you know, it’s interesting, you say the word closure, because everybody wants closure. And so the women in my community, I tell them all the time, forget closure, there’s no closure, we’re going to happen. He’s never going to make that phone call and say, oh, you know what, and you know, I’m really sorry, I hurt you. That forget, that’s, that’s not going to happen.
[Vikki Stark] 27:34
So there, there is no closure at any, you know, at any level. Yeah. And also, you know, if the kids are adults, like in my case, I just never haven’t seen him again, when he walked out that night, I saw him once in court, and have never laid eyes on the man again. So um, so sort of the same thing can happen. If, if the kids are adults, it’s different if you have if you’re co-parenting Sure, with your ex.
[Vikki Stark] 28:03
And then that introduces this whole other terrible, painful aspect, which is that he’s moved in with the affair partner. And now your 10 year old, is going to stay at his house with a girlfriend, and I even had one woman who had a baby, you know, like 10 months old or something like that. He left he moved in with the affair partner. When he had custody of the baby. The baby slept in bed with him and the girlfriend. Oh, heartbreak. And this mom had to put up with her precious baby sleeping in bed with him and the affair partners are
[Jon Dabach] 28:47
Really hard. That’s brutal. Yes. So you know, it’s so funny to talk about closure that way. It’s my it’s my same exact approach, the analogy I always use, and the one I used with these two women that I’m thinking of specifically, now, I there might be a third, I don’t know, I have to look through my notes again. But I said, they’re like, I just want closure. And I’m like, it’s not a game of Clue.
[Jon Dabach] 29:07
No one’s going to call and say it was the candlestick that ruined your marriage. You know, like, it’s, it doesn’t work that way. Yeah, and it’s true, because there’s nothing even if even if he did call and apologize, that doesn’t make anything better. It gives you a sense of like, what the hell was that about? And you know, because you do, you do have instances where there is an apology 20 years later in your life, that didn’t really help anything. You know, the healing comes from within, not from without.
[Vikki Stark] 29:38
Well, in my community, it’s very rare for anyone to call and make that you know, make that apology for at all. It’s like a weird thing because my book is called runaway husbands. So why did they have to run away? Like my husband ran away? They feel bad about themselves. Yeah, yeah. The last their conflict of orders, yes. And the last thing they want is to face an angry or tearful wife. So you can take it. So you brought
[Jon Dabach] 30:11
Up conflict avoiders? Is that their conflict style in their marriage prior to the?
[Vikki Stark] 30:18
Yeah, that’s why the marriage was so good before they weren’t fighting before. You know, they weren’t bringing up issues and talking about things because they’re running away from conflict. They the last thing they want, and they can’t tolerate, a wife is going to say, but why? Why are you doing this? And they don’t have an answer. And it’s also part of the reason why they tend to get estranged from their adult children who also want answers. Right.
[Jon Dabach] 30:46
Right. I will say I’m, I’m not a conflict avoider, and nobody in my family is really conflict avoidant. And in terms of conflict types. For people who don’t know, in the Gottman world, there are five different, you know, conflict types of couples, one of them is conflict voters.
[Jon Dabach] 31:04
And generally they could stay married if there’s no resentment and detachment building underneath the surface. But I got to tell you, when I have clients who are conflict avoiders and are just quiet in the session, I get nervous. I’m just like, what’s really going on? Yeah, that’s what I start pulling it out. And because now I know, it’s like, there’s a possibility that one day he’ll just show up with a suitcase and say, I’m done. And that’s it.
[Vikki Stark] 31:25
[Jon Dabach] 31:27
If you now knowing what you know, and dealing with this so much, if you saw, do you still see couples? Or is it are you? Okay? So if, if you see a couple where there is conflict avoidance, and you’re suspicious that there might be something brewing under the surface? Is there something you can do or say, to try and bring something like this up? Or is it a lost hope? Is this something where if the man’s made this decision, you kind of just have to let it run its course?
[Vikki Stark] 31:56
Well, look, once he’s made his decision, it’s because his feelings for his wife have extinguished. The fires going out and you can blow on it, all you want is not going to regenerate. So when he’s made his decision, it’s always like a feather complete, it’s done. And there’s no going for therapy, you know, why doesn’t he come for therapy, he doesn’t come for therapy, because he knows he’s lost interest in his wife.
[Vikki Stark] 32:25
And he’s maybe has felt like this for quite a long time. And it’s trying to talk himself out of it. And then when he gets to the point where he gets the guts to say, I’m leaving right now, goodbye, I’m running out the door, you know, he’s so scared, he has to say it really fast and get out of there. That he doesn’t want to be in any situation where somebody might try to get him to reconnect with her because the feelings are just not there.
[Jon Dabach] 32:51
When do you think that decision is made? Is that the is it at the very onset of the affair? Or is it kind of a little bit into it?
[Vikki Stark] 32:59
No, no, it’s at the end. You know, and I think that’s why my own husband was in and out of his affair for six years. First of all, it’s because I’m such a great wife. But secondly, it was because he really struggled with himself. And then at a certain point, I went on the road for 23 days. He had a chance to feel like what was it like to get rid of Vicky and be with her? And often, that’s one of the aspects of wife abandonment syndrome, is that the marriage falls apart when one of them has been away for a week, you know, visiting,
[Jon Dabach] 33:41
Play house with their affair and take it for a test drive for lack of a better term. Yeah. Oh, my gosh, this is so fascinating. This, it’s like it’s like, it’s, I feel like it’s a psychological profile that like, you know, CSI would work up, give it You’ve done so much. It’s so interesting.
[Vikki Stark] 34:00
Yeah, yeah. But then the other aspect of all of this, Jon is, through the years because I’ve been working on this for a long time. No, I’m, I’m really working on how the women can take whatever life throws them. And, and really use that as an opportunity to develop the self-love. Even though the self-love isn’t there, you know, that, that it’s your throat thrown into this situation.
[Vikki Stark] 34:34
And either you can be miserable for the rest of your life or you have to sort of do the work on your own, of being able to, to love yourself to recognize you didn’t have to be the best wife in the world. I wasn’t the best wife in the world. I could be annoying like anybody else, you know, but somehow he was fine with it for 35 years or something, you know, until he met this other person and then suddenly it started to grate on his herbs.
[Vikki Stark] 35:00
Yeah. So, you know, they have to learn to be able to love themselves, to forgive themselves for whatever their contribution was to it not being like, you know, ideal marriage for both of them. And then to be able to find happiness, you know, to create happiness in their own lives, with or without a partner. And it’s
[Jon Dabach] 35:22
So it’s, in many ways, almost like a very extreme retirement. It’s a redefinition of identity. It’s a redefinition of purpose. So, oh, yeah, I could totally see that. Yeah. How long does it typically take to recover from trauma, when you are getting the support of the runaway husband’s community and guidance from someone like you?
[Vikki Stark] 35:46
I won’t say a number. Because it really depends on your own history. You know, if you were in a childhood home, where you didn’t get much of anything, and you were made to feel bad, or you know that abandonment mates made sense, because you were made to feel bad, it’s going to take you longer.
[Vikki Stark] 36:07
Yeah, if you were in a supportive home, and you felt pretty good about yourself, and like you had like myself, I had a, I had a profession, I had an identity apart from the husband, you know, some of the women were stay at home moms, and their whole life was built around the husband, and they really didn’t have a job or not, or, you know, a very well developed identity. So that’s going to take them long, perhaps longer. But you never know. Because sometimes they reach down, they pull up some guts, or something.
[Vikki Stark] 36:36
Yeah. And, you know, and one woman I’m working with, she said, you know, I saw he, how he behaved, and I decided, you know, I’m not going to love this man, or want him back. I’m not going to take him back. He didn’t treat me with respect. So that was her character, strong character. She knew what she wanted. And then other people years later are still you know, even though he’s married, they’re still crossing their fingers and hoping he’s going to wake up one day and come back.
[Jon Dabach] 37:04
Do you have any data on your kind of sample size? Your own personal one of the rate of remarriage on either the woman or the rate of divorce or separation on the male and the affair? Or is that something that you can’t you just don’t have enough contact? And
[Vikki Stark] 37:20
No, I don’t have contact with men. That I don’t know. The rate of free marriage? I don’t really know. You know, some definitely some of the you see the women who get married, they drop out of my community. Yeah. Didn’t want to get emails from me. Right? So I don’t make sense. Yeah, I’m happy when people unsubscribed. I’m hoping that that what that means is that I’m going to Vicki No need. Yeah, that’s a nice thing. So yeah, so I don’t really have data on that. And then here’s a big
[Jon Dabach] 37:55
Question for you. Did you ever offer to make fish for anybody again?
[Vikki Stark] 38:02
That’s the joke in my family know. Everyone says, bye. I’m leaving.
[Jon Dabach] 38:08
I have a big Jewish family. The first question I have my mother’s mouth would be what kind of fish was it? I probably should have made a salmon. So funny. Okay. Vicki Stark, thank you so much for joining. It was an absolute pleasure for me. Please, please check her out at runaway husbands.com she’s got so much going on. There’s retreats, there’s a community, and you can get in touch with her directly.
[Jon Dabach] 38:36
If you know of anybody who’s been a victim of this kind of trauma. She is clearly the expert and it is something that should be taken just as seriously as she mentioned as a car accident. I mean, this is real trauma that needs to be dealt with. So don’t underplay it. Don’t tell people they’ll get over it or it’s or it’s you know that they’re young that’s there’s there’s a place and a space to do this in a very healthy way.
[Jon Dabach] 39:03
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