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What is a “walkaway” spouse?

When a couple divorces, it’s rare that both spouses make the decision together. In most cases, there is one person who has already gone through an “emotional” divorce and wants to make the split legal. They say they want to divorce, often to the shock and confusion of their partner. This individual is what is known as a “walkaway” spouse.

A walkaway spouse detaches emotionally for several reasons, although the most common is to create a safe distance between themselves and their partner when they are hurt, angry, and/or tired of the marriage. Although either gender can withdraw emotionally, it is more frequently seen in women.

How do you know if your spouse is detaching?

Below are some common characteristics and behaviors of a spouse who is already divorced emotionally.

  • They spend a lot of time outside the home to avoid dealing with an unhappy relationship. They often work late and go out with friends for dinner or drinks without their spouse.
  • After spending a long time communicating their concerns and frustrations, they suddenly stop trying and become cool and distant.
  • They respond irritably to any attempts to save the relationship, such as marriage counseling.

What can you do?

When you notice these behaviors, your instinct will probably be to control the situation. You may feel confused and hurt because you failed to see that the marriage was in trouble until it was too late. As a result, you could respond in ways that can make your spouse more determined to leave, such as:

  • Struggling to save the relationship by asking them to attend marriage counseling with you.
  • Behaving in a clingy manner and begging for them to give you another chance.
  • Asking family members and mutual friends to intercede.
  • Showing up at your spouse’s workplace, parents’ home, and other places where they spend a lot of time.
  • Sending frequent and sometimes harassing texts and emails.

What a so-called “left behind” spouse needs to understand is that they cannot control their departing partner’s intentions by being intense and irrational. The best thing to do in this situation is accept that they can only control their own feelings and get the support they need to help them move through the process of divorce.

Contact a New York divorce attorney

If your spouse has informed you that they want a divorce and resists all reasonable attempts to work on the marriage, then a New York divorce attorney can protect your rights in important matters like child custody, property distribution and, if applicable, spousal support. The goal is for you to be in a financial position to start over and be ready to embrace new opportunities. Jayson Lutzky handles divorce and family court cases in New York City. If you have received court papers or are considering starting a case, then contact Mr. Lutzky’s office at 718-329-9500.

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