“My marriage suddenly went from bad to broken…My wife walked out on me and the kids and I feel stranded. How do you handle a wife leaving her husband and kids?”
I feel sorry for you, my friend. Seeing your wife walk out on you and the kids is really challenging, I know.
It’s frustrating feeling so powerless.
Right now you’re feeling stranded and alone in a big wide ocean of responsibility, doubt and, dare I say, blame? Do you feel like if you’d done something differently, perhaps she would have stayed?
Watching the woman you love leave without any explanation, or at least any legitimate one that you can empathize with, is difficult for any man. But I am here to help.
As you continue reading this article, I’d like to help you understand more about why your wife left, your own feelings about her leaving, how you can move on, and how you can handle your kids. It’s not going to be an easy journey, but hopefully this article will help clear things up for you.
First, Reflect On What Happened Between You & Your Wife
If your wife recently walked out on you in the kids, then chances are things have been pretty chaotic for you recently. Dealing with the kids and your own raging emotions, life can quickly become overwhelming a situation like this
I know that this will probably be challenging for you, but we need to reflect on what happened with your wife.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Feeling Confused Or Lonely
Many men force themselves into a much more painful situation than is necessary by adamantly refusing to spend any time reflecting on what happened between them and their wife.
By stoically refusing to acknowledge what’s happened or to think about and learn from it, you are dooming yourself too much longer and more intense unhappiness.
So, allow yourself to think and reflect on your marriage without beating yourself up. Try and find a way to think about things objectively.
When Did Things Go Wrong With Your Wife?
The point of this exercise is not to blame yourself or to blame your wife, rather it’s to honestly assess the recent events in your marriage, and help you both come to terms with them and move on from them.
Obviously, there was a point in time that your wife made up her mind to leave her husband and kids, so the question is: When do you think it was?
When was the turning point in your marriage? When did your wife make up her mind to leave you? If you don’t know, take your best guess.
Do you think your wife has been fading out of the marriage for a long time now, or do you think that it was just in the past couple months that she decided she wanted to leave?
What parts of your marriage do you think led your wife to take such a drastic measure to pursue her own happiness. What made her so determined to leave you stranded with kids? Many times if you think hard you can see a recurring theme in your recent disagreements, perhaps, that could show you what went wrong?
Understanding what went wrong in your marriage or between you and your wife will be important if you try to rebuild things down the road, or in any future relationships you may have. Plus, it can help you get over your wife leaving faster if you have a specific reason why she left.
Of course, inevitably there will be those instances where there really is no discernible reason why your wife left you and the kids. Sometimes women are just selfish or impatient and decide they don’t want to be in the marriage anymore for no fault of your own. It’s just part of life, unfortunately.
Do You Think That Your Wife Has the Right to Leave?
Now that you’ve spent some time figuring out when and why your wife decided to leave the marriage, this is the important next step. This is a very powerful question, and one that is probably going to make you stop and think for a second… Do you think that your wife had a right to leave you in the kids? Why or why not?
Again, I’m not asking you to place blame, either on yourself or her. But, if you’ve been putting your wife on a pedestal, then answering this question could knock her down a notch.
Do you think your wife had the right to leave you and the kids?
Would you have left in her situation?
Most of you reading this article will agree that your wife did not have a right to leave, at least not the way she did.
Think about what it means if your wife left when you wouldn’t have, even in her shoes. It probably means she wasn’t quite the woman you imagined.
Would You Want Her Back Even If She Wanted You?
All of this reflection has been to lead you to one critical point of realization… You deserve better than your wife.
If she was willing to leave you when you wouldn’t have left her in the same situation, then guess what? You could do better. Your kids are better off without your wife if that is her level of commitment to your marriage and your family. YOU are better off without your wife if that is her level of commitment.
There is such a thing as a truly poisoned marriage that can’t be repaired, but 75% of the time both women and men will leave prematurely without giving the marriage the fair amount of effort that it deserves.
I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t miss her, or that you shouldn’t try to get her back if you want (after all, we all need forgiveness). I’m just trying to inform you of a perspective you may not’ve had before.
Accept That Your Wife is Gone, Or At Least Act Like It
Now that we’ve spent some time thinking about why your wife left you, let’s talk about what your current obligations are, both as a man and a father.
The best thing you can do, both for yourself and for your kids, is to accept that your wife is gone (or at least act like it in the mirror and in front of your kids).
The Only Way to Heal is to Move On
No one has ever felt better about a divorce by spending their time stuck in the past. It’s easy to get lost in memories of your wife, especially since we just spent so much time reflecting on your past marriage…Do not let this happen!
Operate your life under the assumption that your marriage is permanently over… Focus on the future and on your day-to-day life, not on the past or what you could have done to save the marriage.
Don’t spend time wondering what your wife is doing, spend it wondering what your kids are doing.
Show your children the importance of living in the present, and you will be setting an example as a father that life goes on through good times and bad. Plus, you’ll find yourself bouncing back to your usual self faster the less you think about your ex-wife.
Plan What Adjustments Need to Happen in Your Life
Now that your wife has left you and the kids, there will be some changes in your life that need to start happening pretty soon. Take some time to think about what those changes are, and what you need to do in preparation for them.
For example, if your wife was the one to take your children to school, then you need to figure out who’s going to be taking them now that she’s gone.
Also, recognize that in the first couple of months after the divorce, spending time by yourself will probably be less than enjoyable, so make a point to arrange for yourself to be around other people as much as possible. I know that this can be hard to do with kids, but do your best.
My advice is to go through a normal week to identify where you need to pick up the slack for your absent ex-wife.
Start Working On Your Own Happiness
You need to start actively pursuing your own happiness and contentment.
You and I both know that you are facing a heavy burden of depression, guilt, loneliness… You need to do your best to fix the holes in your boat and get back afloat as soon as possible.
It’s of the utmost importance that you present a stable image to your children as a father because they are going to need you now more than ever.
When you are depressed, sad and lonely, you will be weak; when you’re weak, you will struggle to be the best father you can be. When your wife leaves you and the kids, it’s easy to get wrapped up in taking care of your children to the exclusion of everything else…Don’t let this happen.
Don’t feel bad for focusing on yourself and your own happiness, too (as long as you’re not forsaking your kids).
Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario (divorce)
So your wife has left you and the kids, but have you pursued divorce? Have you signed the papers? Or are you and your wife just “separated”?
Even if you have no intention of filing divorce, it may still be worth consulting an attorney just to prepare yourself for the months ahead. They can help you prepare for the worst and make sure you retain as much custody of your kids as possible. I get horror stories every week from men who never thought their wife would be so cruel in court to them, and I can tell you every single one wishes they would’ve talked to a lawyer when everything started.
Obviously, this is all your call, but think about it. If you really don’t recognize this woman that used to be your wife, then it’s usually If you think that you reallt thiand your wife might get back together, then obviously that’s a whole different matter. I’ll talk more about how to get your wife back at the end of this article if that’s something that you’re interested in.
How to Handle the Kids After Your Wife Walks Out
The prospect of raising your children all by yourself is intimidating, to say the least.
Take comfort that you are not the first husband who has faced this seemingly impossible mountain and successfully climbed to the top. It seems daunting, but your kids need you, so you’d best strap up and start learning how to be a good dad in such a sensitive time.
Remember that the House May Be a Sensitive Place
Depending on how recently your wife left you and the kids alone, your house may be a very tender place to spend time for your children right now.
Especially if you have younger kids, then the house is probably filled up bad memories… Obviously, selling the house immediately probably isn’t an option, so try and make a point to take your kids out of the house on a daily basis. Whether that means going to get ice cream, going to the movies or even just taking them with you to run errands, give them a break from the place they associate with their mother.
Find a Hobby For Yourself
As I already hinted at early in the article, it’s important that YOU do whatever you can to keep yourself sane during this time of trial in your family.
It’s your responsibility to maintain a stable demeanor, and to do that you’ll need to have something to take your mind off your wife and your marriage.
I highly recommend you find a hobby that you enjoy; something that you won’t mind thinking time into while you recover from the hole your wife left in your life. No one can be the perfect super dad they never need any time to themselves… Don’t try to over-stress yourself!
You’ll be a better dad if you have something that you enjoy spending time on besides your kids.
Enroll the Kids in an Extracurricular Activity
Similar to how you need to find something for yourself to do outside of the house, you need to find something for your children to do outside of the house on a regular basis. You can kill two birds with one stone – give your kid something else to think about and get them out of the house – by enrolling them in some sort of extracurricular activity.
Here are some ideas for your kids…
- They Could Start Taking Music Lessons to Learn How to Play a Musical Instrument
- Choose One or Two Sports for Your Kids to Start Playing (They Can Help Pick)
- Have Them Join a Social Group, Such As Boyscouts/Girlscouts, so They Can Make Friends outside of School
- Any Other Activity or Hobby You Think Your Kids Would Enjoy… Even If It Means Arranging Weekly Play Dates, That’s Better Than Nothing
Anything that gets them out of the house and around other people or other kids is a good thing for you. It will drastically help them move on from losing their mother.
Make Family Time MORE Important
To make up for the fact that your wife has left you and the kids alone, you should do your best to find more time to spend as a family, together enjoying each other’s company.
Cook together, play board games together, watch movies together.
This might seem counter intuitive to some of you, but you need to establish the new family unit, and you need to make sure your kids still know they have a family. They need to know that you’re still there for them, no matter what….That they always have someone to depend on, even if it’s not their mother.
You should also do activities together outside of the home (like seeing a movie or going out for dinner).
You’re Recommended to Check Out Family Therapy
Depending on the age of your children, it may or may not be a good idea for you to check out family therapy.
Either group family therapy or individual family therapy could be very beneficial to your children at this point. Not to mention, you could probably do with a little therapy yourself right now.
Check your phone book for any family therapists in the area that you could look into. If you can’t find anything, try talking to your family physician; often your doctor will know someone to recommend for counseling like this.
Having someone to talk to that is outside of the family may be just what you’re children need to get over your wife leaving.
Is Moving An Option?
If your wife has just left you and the kids, then things are probably pretty chaotic right about now, and I’m guessing that chaos extends to your finances, too. So, moving to a new house may not mean option right now… You’ll have to decide that for yourself.
However, if at all possible, I would highly recommend looking into a new house.
Especially if you know without a doubt that you’re not going to be taking your wife back (even if she wanted you back), then one of the greatest ways to start a new chapter in your and your kids’ lives is in a new house.
Again, I know that this won’t be possible for everyone reading this, but it’s something to look into if you think it’s feasible, and if you think it would help you or the kids cope with the loss of your wife/their mother.
At this point, the only way you can get your wife back is if you let her go. I like to call this the Let Her Go mindset.
Most people really have no idea what it takes to make your wife WANT to come back.
If this is you, if you want to start making the most of what you can control in this separation, then check out 10 Steps to Gain Husbandly Leadership. It’s my “pay what you want” guide that gives you everything you need to start implementing husbandly leadership today.
Of course, we have lots of other free resources available to you on Husband Help Haven, so don’t feel like that’s your only option.
Hope something in here has helped!
Much manly love,
With much manly love,
I'm Stephen, the guy behind Husband Help Haven. I'm not a marriage counselor or a lawyer, I'm just a guy on the Internet who has talked to a loooooot of men going through separation... Over 2,000 in the past 5 years. My goal is to give men the tools they need to save their marriage from separation. Read more here