When your husband walks out?

When he leaves you must be able to grieve and, at the same time, protect your legal interest.

Note: I posted this and then took a 5-mile walk with my dog. As I walked, I thought about this and realized that it may sound like I think every divorce is going to devolve into a fight between a sneaky, lying man and a victimized woman. I don’t. However, I went through hell with mine and I’d like other women to be able to get some advice if they happen to find themselves in a similar situation.

If you’re headed towards divorce, please keep this in mind: Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. I wish you the best.

I check my articles analytics often and am blown away by how many women end up here by typing in, “What to do when your husband leaves you”. Literally, hundreds a day. They end up here because of the first article I wrote for DivorcedMoms about What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You.

I wrote that one kind of tongue in cheek, it contains some very real advice but as I read over it now, I realize when you are in that zombie-like state right after you’re abandoned, you may not want to read about how much fun it is to have sex as a single woman or how the Divorce Diet is real.

You want advice, serious advice, advice you can hold onto and if you want, wear it like a Superman cape to give you strength. You want to know that you’re not the only one who has felt this way, not the only one with so many different feelings and thoughts ricocheting through your brain that you’re half-convinced one will shoot out of your skull and accidentally boink someone else.

So here is my stab at Part Two of What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You. Read this one if he’s just left, or maybe he’s left and come back a time or two.

Read this one when you know it’s over.

Read this one before you sign your decree.

Read this one if he stops paying child support or alimony.

First off, here’s a high five, or if you’re not creeped out by stranger hugs, a big fat hug.

I’m proud of you for getting this far. I hope that you have surrounded yourself with good friends (you only need one or two to get you through this, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself with many more).

I hope you realize or are starting to realize, just how strong and amazing you are. I hope you have properly mourned the death of your marriage, and if you’re still in the grieving stages, you have my heartfelt condolences.

You will be ok.

So let’s do this.

Here’s What To Do Immediately When Your Husband Leaves You

1. Save every single email, every single text, every single note you get from your husband.

If I had done this, things may have turned out a little bit differently for me. Mine promised to pay all of my attorney fees. He promised to pay for my health insurance. He promised to do lots of things that never came to be. In fact, some of the things he promised, he ended up fighting and trying to do the exact opposite. If I had saved some of his earlier emails, it may have helped. Don’t just save them in a file on your computer. Print them out. Every single one.

At the very, very least, you will have some interesting reading material when all is said and done. I like the ones where mine just plain old lies his ass off, and the one where he obviously hit the keyboard after hitting the bottle and went on and on about regret and apologies and how the person he ended up with isn’t “anything special”. Those aren’t going to do squat for me in court, but they do reinforce the fact that I am infinitely better off without him.

2. Hire the best attorney you can afford.

Beg, borrow, sell whatever you can live without (tools, golf clubs, and other boy toys sell really well on Craigslist. Just sayin). Ask any friends you have who are attorneys, or who are married to one or roomed in college with one. Get loans from family. Try contacting organizations in your city that help women in crisis or community groups that help low-income people. They may be able to lead you to an attorney who will help you free of charge, or who will allow you to make payments.

You need someone who has experience with divorce, and lots of it. My first attorney was ok. She was cheap, and she had some prior experience. But she let a lot of stuff get past her, stuff that ended up costing me lots of money in the long run.

Another thing to keep in mind: unless your attorney was a good friend prior to the divorce, they aren’t your buddy. They may be awesome, they may be super friendly, and they may kick total ass at their job, but at the end of the day you are simply a source of income to them.

You need to make sure that you keep tabs on what’s going on, double check the information that they have about you, your income, your expenses, etc. And just a heads up: once you’re out of money, you’re out an attorney. It’s not a case of them being a-holes or scoundrels, it’s just business. But after sitting in someone’s office weeping into tissues for a couple of months, you kind of form a quasi-friendship feeling about them. You have to get over that.

3. Read every single word on every single piece of paper, ESPECIALLY drafts of your Marital Termination Agreement.

Have a friend read it too, or your mom or dad or anyone who isn’t going through a divorce. In our first MTA, my ex somehow got to claim all four kids for taxes. Yes, that’s right: he leaves, doesn’t spend more than 4 whole days a month with them, and then wanted to claim them on his taxes?

He also wanted to claim the mortgage interest on our house which he hadn’t lived in for 2 years. He got away with these things for a year. And then I got them changed. Stand up for yourself, even at the risk of sounding like a harpy in your attorney’s office.

Question everything. YOU are the customer in this relationship. Write down questions that pop into your head in the middle of the night, send an email or leave a message. The things you do now will determine your quality of life in the near (and far) future. Don’t sit back and assume that others will look out for you. They will, of course, but you need to be in charge of your destiny. You must grow some balls and become your number one advocate. You can do it!

DON’T FORGET TO READ THE FINAL MTA BEFORE YOU SIGN IT!

Take as long as you need, don’t let anyone rush you. You sit down, and you read every last word. Some attorneys have been known to sneak in some changes between the last draft and the final, official MTA. Check things carefully: holiday schedules, length and amount of alimony/child support, who claims the kids for taxes, who’s responsible for what marital debt, etc. Your attorney should be with you when you sign it, to go over it with you. If that’s not possible, bring a friend who is familiar with your situation.

4. THINK AHEAD!

You and your kids are young right now. But that’s going to change. You need to think of your retirement. When I got divorced, my husband had one small 401k, which we had to split, and part of it had to be used for some overdue tax payment. That shouldn’t have happened. It should have been mine, the tax payment should have been his responsibility. I essentially got nothing.

It was like I worked at a job for twelve years, gave it everything I had, sacrificed my youth and got nothing. No retirement, no severance package, no going away party with cake and balloons. Nothing. Make sure you get something for your part in the marriage.

And your kids. At this moment the biggest expense may be shoes and camp, but as they grow, so do their bills. School supplies are spendier (hello? Graphing calculators for three kids?). Sports will become prohibitively expensive. They will need driving lessons, behind the wheel classes, they’ll need to take their driver’s license test and there will be car insurance and gas money (not to mention a car to drive). They’ll have to pay for college entrance tests and COLLEGE.

Make sure all of this is addressed in your MTA. All of it. Don’t worry about sounding petty. Make damn sure that your soon-to-be ex is assigned at least half of these expenses. This was one of my biggest mistakes. None of this was even touched on in my MTA, and now I have 3 teens, two who should be driving but I can’t afford the classes. And considering that their father won’t pony up $100 for new eyeglasses, they won’t even ask about this stuff. Don’t let this happen to you.

He’s also responsible for their health insurance. Which he did take care of, for a while. Then he switched them all over to New Wife’s insurance, which sucks. In my humble opinion, they chose the absolute worst package available. I don’t know if it was a subtle way to say, “Screw you” to me or if they are truly the most miserly people on the planet, but it sucks. Some crazy high deductible, so high that I cannot afford to take my kids to the doctor. We’ve had to wait out ear aches and put off well-child examinations until I can afford to pay for the whole visit.

We lost our awesome dentist because mid-way through a batch of appointments, my ex switched the insurance to a group that wouldn’t pay. That bill was in my name (he would never agree to be the guarantor…get that in your MTA, too!!) and it’s being lumped in with my bankruptcy. Now I have to face this dentist, who is a family friend, at school events and even though she knows it’s not my fault I still feel like a deadbeat.

I was surprised to find out that you can go back and have the terms of the decree reviewed by the courts, and quite possibly have them modified if they are unreasonable. I found this out because I did the next thing:

5. Research. And read the fine print.

You have the internet. Spend some time researching divorce cases in your county. You will be amazed at what you find. One thing you will learn is that nothing in a divorce decree is etched in stone. It can all be changed, it can all be modified, it can all be worked around. There are more loopholes in an MTA than there are in a latch-hook rug kit.

If my ex-husband was able to go back and have his child support obligation reduced to zero dollars a month, you can bet there are loopholes. It’s a matter of finding facts to support your claims, keeping good records and again, having the right attorney.

As far as my case goes, yes, he was able to do that. But…and there’s always a big but, isn’t there? But I have done my research. I’ve gone through our MTA and found that there are certain conditions that had to have been met in order for some of the waivers and claims to stand up in court. Conditions that haven’t been met…or were met, but only for a bit. These are the loopholes you’ll be glad to find. Trust me on this one.

This next one is tough, but if I had done this…oh my. Life would be much different for me and the kids.

6. Dump the house.

Or at least consider it. Look at your mortgage, really look at it. We had three mortgages, which I had “kind of sort of” known about prior to the divorce but didn’t really think about it until I became solely responsible for the payments. Can you afford it? Is it going to go up? Are your property taxes affordable? How about the utilities like water and sewer and recycling? Add up your utilities and what you pay to maintain your home, include everything right down to how much you spend on gas for your lawnmower. How many years are left on your mortgage? Can you do it on your own?

I don’t care how much you get in alimony or child support, pretend that’s not there (because sadly, out of 6 million women who are owed child support every year in the U.S., 2 1/2 million don’t get it). Can you cover it? Unless you have a pretty good job and a smaller mortgage, you won’t be able to do it. The house is the number one biggest piece of marital debt in most divorces. Don’t let it become all yours.

When my husband left, he left me with close to $300,000.00 in-house debt. He moved in with his girlfriend almost immediately and closed on their new house (with a pool!) within a week or two after our divorce was finalized. They tied the knot less than a year later and are now expecting a baby (his fifth child. Seriously.).

My milestones haven’t been so sweet…I’ve gone through the humiliation of being left, the shame of foreclosure, the embarrassment of bankruptcy. My children and I are working through everything, and in the end, I’m sure we’ll all come out stronger people for it.

But, if I had been able to avoid even one of the many hurdles I’ve had to jump over the past few years, it would have made everything just a little bit easier. That’s why I’m writing this down, that’s why I’m exposing my past and my mistakes and my moments of bad judgment.

If I can help just one of you get through this and end up with fewer battle scars than I have, it will be worth it. I’m not an attorney, I’m not an expert, I’m not qualified or certified or accredited by any branch of the gnarled legal tree. I’m an average, everyday woman, a woman who married a guy had kids with him and went along with everything he said. I’m a woman who trusted a man with her life and realized too late that it was a mistake.

Oh, and one more thing:

7. Don’t have sex with your ex.

Based on my experience, and the experiences of other divorced women I’ve talked to, this is fairly commonplace. They come back. They come back with hard-ons and crocodile tears and sometimes a bottle of wine. They crawl back into your bed and whisper to you about how they’re sorry and they’re lonely and they miss you. They do this even with a younger piece of ass waiting for them at their bachelor pad, sometimes they’ve even married this piece of ass and yet, there they are at your front door.

Don’t let them in. Not into your house, not into your bed, not into you. Sure, at first, it’s nice. You close your eyes and the shitstorm that has become your life dissipates for a few minutes. You have your man back where he belongs, and you think, just for a bit, that you’ve won. Everything is going to be all better.

But it’s not. When he’s done, he leaves. He may stay overnight, but more than likely he’ll go home to whatever or whoever is waiting for him. Just like you used to wait for him. You’ll be left feeling used, feeling cheap and wearing the stench of bad decisions and regret like some cheap body spray from Walgreens. Don’t do it.

Ok, I lied, TWO more things:

8. What if he stops paying child support/spousal maintenance?

First thing; don’t panic. I mean, yes, you can panic a little bit because things like bills, electricity, gas for your car and food for your kids can’t be paid for with wishes and dreams, so yeah. You can panic about that. But you’ll get through that. Trust me, I fed four kids and kept the lights on with about $700.00 a month for a while. You are tough, and this will be one of the times you prove it.

But in the long run, don’t panic. This is one example of the law being on your side. If a man owes child support and/or spousal maintenance and doesn’t pay it, it’s going to haunt him. Unless he goes all Unabomber and slides off the grid, his social security number, name, address and all that good stuff will be flagged. He will have problems getting loans, getting credit cards, buying a car…hell, he may find his auto insurance rates go up overnight.

You have to make sure you file the correct paperwork with your county, however. The first time he’s late or misses a payment, you can call your county’s Family Court division and ask about collecting child support. There is a certain length of time that you’ll need to wait (it has to be a certain number of days/weeks overdue before the county can step in and pursue it) but it won’t hurt to have the paperwork all ready to go.

This is another instance where you need to keep diligent records. If he tosses you some cash, record the amount and date. A check? Photocopy. Promises to do it? Get it in writing. Keep the voicemail.

Past due child support and alimony cannot be dismissed no matter what. Not if he files bankruptcy, not if he loses his job, not if he becomes incapacitated and unable to work. And no, if he remarries and Wife #2 (or 3, or 4…) has a good job, her income cannot be touched. If she has a heart or soul, she’ll help the poor man provide something for his kids, but her income is off limits as far as legally collecting support in arrears.

Even if your ex is purposely under-employed or is able to hide some of the money he makes or under-report it, the courts will only look at his income when determining the amounts and collecting the arrearages.

However…courts will look at all of his available resources when determining some of this. And having someone else who has been and is able to continue helping with the household expenses is definitely a resource. But this isn’t something I know too much about, just relaying what I’ve read elsewhere. Situations like this are best left for your attorney, and someone else who you may get to know (and love, just a little) …a forensic accountant. Expensive, but they can make or break your case. If it’s suggested you use one, and you are able? Go for it.

And that’s all I have for now. Hang in there.

When one spouse just up and leaves the marriage, the other may have a fault ground for divorce — abandonment, which is also known as desertion, a term with very unfavorable connotation.

Abandonment means that one spouse has left the other without consent, but like adultery proving desertion means more than that a person left home without the consent of the other spouse. Most states require that the defendant or respondent left home for a year or more; that the parties failed to agree about the departure; that plaintiff or petitioner failed to pay support; and that the departure was not caused by the plaintiff or petitioner.

Many times spouses abandoned marriages because they could not get a divorce any other way. For example, at one time Ireland prohibited divorce, and unhappy spouses, unable to end a failed marriage, walked out, leaving abandoned wives and children in poverty. By abandoning their spouses, however, they got what the wanted: an escape from a bad marriage.

Abandonment is not the same as separation, trial or permanent, which in most cases happens as a preliminary to a divorce.

Like adultery, alleging desertion appeals to some spouses who seek a moral vindication because they can say, “He or she left, he or she does not pay, and I didn’t do anything wrong to make it happen.”

The length of time of the abandonment varies from state to state, but usually it is a year or more. But reconciliations — when the party who left returns only to depart again — resets the clock.

A spouse who refuses to relocate if his or her spouse is transferred through work may have a major marital problem, but it is not abandonment for the spouse to refuse to move.

If someone leaves a marriage because the other spouse has made it impossible for the person to stay, the person leaving the marriage can claim constructive desertion, in that the other spouse made it intolerable to stay in the marriage. Constructive desertion happens when one partner causes the other partner to leave the marital home through misconduct. If one partner is forced to leave the home because the other’s misconduct, he or she has been constructively deserted. In this regime, the conduct of one spouse makes it impossible for the other to stay in the marriage.

Physical or mental cruelty to the spouse can constitute constructive desertion. Moreover, refusing sexual intercourse can often be held to be constructive desertion. In some cases, requiring a spouse to live with intrusive or abusive in-laws was held to be constructive desertion, as was refusing to relocate to a new town or state.

In the case of sexual relations, constructive abandonment means a spouse leaves the marriage in spirit by refusal to have sexual relations. In sexual desertion, which is considered a fault ground, the party charging it must prove abandonment, generally for one year, during which the spouses may share the same roof (but presumably not the same bed).

Constructive abandonment is a form of abandonment used as a ground for divorce, and it may also be considered a form of cruel and inhumane treatment.

Some years ago, a newspaper story described the marriage of an aging movie star and her husband. Though still legally married, he lived in one wing of their enormous house; she lived in the other, and they both entertained their separate and individual circles of friends in the common rooms on a reservation basis. This is probably a creative example of desertion, sexual and physical as well as by consent.

Without a doubt, constructive abandonment could be the grounds for divorce in many marriages where it is not used for obvious reasons. As grounds for fault divorce, sexual desertion means laying bare very personal details of two private lives.

When one person just walks about the door, but the separation is voluntary or mutual, the couple have separated; they have not divorced.

Just leaving by mutual agreement is not a divorce. An agreement to separate may be a preliminary for a no-fault divorce, but just leaving is not.

For example, when the husband and wife separate on a trial basis, both may agree to it, but a trial separation — one sometimes undertaken to take stock of the marriage — is not grounds for a divorce in itself.

Desertion must meet certain criteria, and most but not all states consider it a ground for divorce.

Desertion, like adultery, is a difficult route to divorce, and like adultery not used much. In general, most states require the plaintiff or petitioner, the party who is abandoned, prove that the defendant or respondent left the home for more than one year, did so without the agreement of the spouse, failed to pay support and that the reason for the departure was not caused by the plaintiff or petitioner. Abandonment or desertion means that neither the husband nor the wife refuse the duties and obligations associated with the marriage.

Some states have laws saying that if one spouse has moved out, it demonstrates an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, sufficient for a divorce.

Abandonment is not the same as a woman fleeing domestic violence in a crisis, nor it is the same as a man announcing his intentions to divorce his wife and then moving out.

Like many facets of marital and family law, abandonment has two sides. As a strategy for coping with the domestic turmoil of a failed marriage, just leaving may have legal repercussions that weaken one’s case after he or she thinks better of it and decides to formally end the marriage. This is particularly true when there are children because it may be much more difficult for the person who left to make a strong case that he or she is a fit parent if he or she walked away for a significant period of time.

When a husband stays but doesn’t support the household at all, the marriage has broken down to the point where the spouses share a roof and nothing else. The two people live as ships passing in the night. One spouse pays for everything, and the other contributes nothing at all.

In some states one of the traditional grounds for divorce was nonsupport. In these states, a husband was required to support his wife. Some states still have this ground in the state statutes.

Q: What can I do if my husband walked out on me and 2 kids for another woman he got pregnant?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Question

My stomach is tied in knots, and I feel in a constant state of anxiety. My husband walked out a week ago and said he needed to separate. He said that he could not take it anymore. We had started seeing a counselor, and I thought things were getting better, if only slightly. We had a very small disagreement (if you even want to call it that) the night he left, and he blew up and walked out. Blowing up and screaming is his communication of choice.

He moved into his friend’s house and took his three children with him (this is a second marriage for us both). He said he wants to spend more time with his kids before they leave for college.

I feel like I am dying inside. He won’t talk to me or answer my texts. I’ve tried to respect the distance he’s asking for, and I’ve sent only a couple of texts. I also wrote him a letter apologizing for any part I may have played in any of this. I love him and my heart is breaking in two.

I want to give him space, but I am afraid that he will get an apartment, move his kids in and file for divorce. I sent him a two-word text this morning. It said, “Good Morning.” He sent nothing back. I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I am afraid. I am afraid for my future and for my children. Please help.

Answer

I’m sorry you’re in such agonizing pain right now. I can tell you’re in shock and trying to find some way to calm your anxious body, mind and heart. Even though there are relationship issues to work out with your marriage, it’s punishing to not have the option when you long to repair things.

We are emotionally defenseless when someone we’ve given our life to suddenly abandons us and won’t communicate with us. Before you figure out what to do with your relationship, you’ve got to restore your emotional balance.

He’s not giving you the option to communicate with him and get resolution through working things out. Instead, he’s left you with no information to chart a path forward in your relationship. If this is the case, it’s critical that you accept this reality so you don’t continue to search for something that isn’t there.

Now, I recognize that is much easier said than done, but your mental and physical health depend on your ability to pivot back to taking care of yourself instead of trying to get him to see you.

He knows where you are. But for whatever reason, he’s unwilling to have an actual conversation with you. You can literally drive yourself crazy trying to get him to respond, so please spare yourself this horrible possibility.

You are starving for connection. Our relationships, especially our primary attachment bond to our spouse, is like emotional oxygen. You need rescue breathing right now, which you can’t easily provide for yourself. Like supplemental oxygen, you need someone to give you the much-needed relief of knowing that you’re not alone and that you’re going to be OK.

Find a trusted friend, family member, support group or professional counselor who can see you and listen to what you’re experiencing. They can give you a space to share and ultimately know that you’re not crazy. You’re experiencing abandonment terror.

Talking with another person can help regulate your breathing, your heart rate and even help you sleep better. Even though you might benefit from meeting with your doctor to see if medication might help sooth these panic attacks, I believe safe relationships are the first line of defense to help us regulate our bodies, minds and emotions.

You may feel like you’re giving up on your husband if you turn away and focus on getting personal support for yourself. Please remember that he knows where to find you if he decides he wants to have a conversation with you. You’ve invited him to talk and share with you, but you can’t make him talk to you.

When you’re not speaking with someone else for support, you can work on developing individual coping skills. These involve your spirit, emotions, body and mind. Here are some things you can begin doing right away to help you slow down and find your emotional balance.

Breathe deeply.

Focused breathing takes practice and discipline, but it signals to your body that you don’t need to be in the primitive fight and flight mode that comes when we sense danger. You’ve been abandoned and cut off, which activates our deepest fears of isolation and deprivation. Breathing will help you teach your body that you’re not going to die and that you will be OK. Even though you have understandable fears, the breathing will help you think more clearly and know how to address these fears. You can search online about how to do deep breathing.

Pray and meditate.

You don’t have to be a religious person to pray and ask for comfort and reassurance that all will be OK. The 12-step recovery tradition recommends seeking the support of a higher power. You can also meditate so you can slow down your thoughts, your body and allow yourself to feel peace. This will help regulate you so you can stay in a nonreactive state of mind and body. You can search online for guided meditations you can follow.

Write down your feelings.

Dr. Sue Johnson teaches that the first step in regulating any emotion is to label it. In other words, as you begin to write down what you’re feeling, you will start to feel more clarity and control over your emotions. Write down the things that you’re terrified to say out loud. Give yourself permission to write letters to him, to yourself and to others. Write and feel how nice it is to have your thoughts captured and in front of you. Don’t worry about what to do with all of these letters and writings. Just let them flow out of your mind and heart onto paper.

Practice self-compassion.

Dr. Kristen Neff teaches that we can offer ourselves the kind of compassion that we would receive from a friend. Even though you’re going to be working closely with friends and supports to get this compassion, you can also provide it to yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed and alone. You can visit her website and complete some of the free exercises.

Take care of your physical body.

This is something all of us can benefit from but especially people who are in shock. When your body is in a state of trauma, all of your resources are redirected to keeping you alive, which means that taking care of yourself usually gets ignored. For example, you may stay up all night typing a letter to him or waiting to see if he’ll text back. You may skip meals or exercise as you ruminate about what he’s doing or thinking. Self-care means that you take care of your physical self first before anything else. This means you get serious about structuring your bedtime, meals, exercise and breaks. It means you cut out things that are distractions and keep you stirred up in internal drama.

Your husband has left without an explanation and you’re in shock. Take care of the shock right now so you can be better prepared to make decisions and sort through the other challenges that will arise in the future, especially if he’s planning to divorce.

You want to have your full mental, emotional, spiritual and physical faculties on board to help support you, as you may be facing more surprises. It’s not your fault that he chose to do this to you, but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself so you can function in your different roles.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

Geoff Steurer is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity” and is the founding director of LifeSTAR of St. George, a three phase treatment program for individuals and couples healing from the effects of pornography and sexual addiction. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, UT. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. He also specializes in working with individuals and couples dealing with any form of sexual betrayal. He has been married to his wife, Jody, since 1996 and they are the parents of four children. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. The opinions stated in this article are Steurer’s own and may not be representative of St. George News.

I was married for 20 plus years when my husband walked out the door leaving me with three teenagers. To say that I was devastated would be an understatement – I was crushed beyond measure. During those first days, weeks, and months, it felt as though I had fallen down a deep abyss of shock, confusion, and sorrow. But I survived, and yes, I have thrived. Over the last five years, I have recreated a life that is filled with laughter, love, friendship, and beauty.

What to do when your husband walks out the door:

1. Let the feelings flow – shock, sadness, grief, confusion, hatred, rejection, misery, depression, bewilderment, disappointment, anguish, heart-ache, sorrow. You are living in the middle of a traumatic event, let the feelings flow.

2. Pick yourself up and call a friend. Surround yourself with friends that love and care for you. You need them, and they are there for you.

3. Beg him to come home. Yes; it is hard to let go. Yes, I begged. But when he refuses. know that you will be OK – you will be better than OK; you will flourish. Not right now, but in the future. You will be happy, you will lead a life that you have rebuilt and that you want, you will do more than survive, you will thrive. Believe it now and fake it ‘till you make it!

4. Cry, scream, and find a quiet place to fall to pieces – it’s normal – it is OK to not have all the answers, to not be able to hold it all together. Give yourself the space needed to crumble – for a bit.

5. Know that you are loveable. Love is a choice, and he chose not to love you. He is one person living on this planet of over seven billion people. He is an idiot. Your family loves you, your friends love you, your children love you, and most important you love you! You are lovable.

6. Smile and go out in public . As humiliating as this feels – you did nothing wrong – you are beautiful, you are smart, you are kind, and you are wonderful. His choice is not a reflection of you. Go out and be seen. Remember, fake it ’till you make it.

7. Rage! Yes, rage is real – feel the rage and then let it go. You have been wronged. You both chose to get married and make that commitment, you both chose to bring children into the world. He chose to leave, not you. Rage is real. But for your health, feel it and then let it go. Don’t let the rage poison you. Fantasize the retaliation – but keep it in the fantasy world! Your kids need you. The rage will pass.

8. After the kids are in bed soak in the tub, light candles, turn on soft music, and pour yourself a glass of wine. One glass. One bottle? Maybe. But not for long. Keep alcohol in check. Too much alcohol will lead to bad decisions. Remember to be kind to yourself.

9. Cry some more. Give yourself the space to grieve. You have suffered a great loss. Grieving is part of the process. But don’t drown in the sorrow. If you feel yourself sinking too low call the doctor. Call the doctor today – not tomorrow. Get professional help. This is a great loss, and your life has been turned upside down. Your kids are counting on you.

10. Remember, You Are Lovable.

11. Do not “date” your husband. Do not let him play games with you. This is a marriage, he is either in or he is out.

12. Yes, people in your community are talking about it – but you are a survivor – do not hide – put on some clean clothes, put on your make-up, and be seen. You did nothing wrong. You are wonderful. Stop and chat with acquaintances in the grocery store aisle. Smile. You are surviving. Hold your head high.

13. Hold your kids tight – let them cry, be there for them. They are sad; they are confused, they just lost all the stability that they believed was their family. They need you.

14. Encourage and support a relationship between your children and their father. As much as you despise him, he is their father. They are sad, angry, and confused. Do not add to that. You want your children to grow up to be healthy and whole – they need their father. Do what you can to keep their relationship alive. Even though he is an idiot for leaving.

15. Take down all of the pictures and photos that include your husband. The kids can keep them in their rooms if they want, but you don’t need to be walking through the house looking at them. Take them down and shove them in a closet.

16. Be present during the day for your kids – fall apart after they go to sleep. Take it day-by-day, hour-by-hour. Call a friend.

17. Sleep in the middle of the bed – it is yours now. Go out and buy new sheets, a new comforter – make it all yours.

18. Clean. If you husband walked out the door with just one suitcase like mine – throw all his clothes into garbage bags and toss them into the garage. Or better yet, insist he picks them up – why give his stuff garage space? Keep yourself busy. Clean your home. Find peace in your everyday routines. You are now 100% in charge of your home. You will now be doing little (and big) things that he always did – know that you can do it! You will learn and friends will help.

19. Look to the future – the future is yours to design. What do you love doing? Do it! Find a way – this is your opportunity to reinvent yourself to be your best. Take a class – learn something new. Engage yourself in new opportunities.

20. Hire the best attorney you can find. Interview more than one! Ask around. Best does not mean most expensive. Find one that will work for your best interest. For the record my first attorney (the more expensive one) did not work out. After a four way meeting where I really felt that she was not looking out for my best interest, but was rather racking up a large bill, I went looking for a new one. After more interviews I found an amazing attorney, and she charged considerably less! It was easy to change attorneys – even though I was already eight months into the process.

21. Organize all your finances. Start hunting and gathering all the necessary paperwork to support what you need financially. Be prepared with supporting financial documents when you head to the attorney.

22. Find a good therapist. Need I say more?

23. Get outside and explore nature – go for a walk, take the kids to the park, go on a bike ride, hike, walk a beach – whatever is closest and easy to get to. Surround yourself in the beauty of nature. Breathe fresh air – nature is majestic.

24. Exercise. Endorphins are a powerful feel-good drug. Take advantage of them and stay healthy.

25. Join a new group. Make some new friends that don’t know your “before,” just your “now”. Better yet, try to join a group that involves exercise – a walk group, a hike group, a bike group. Meetup.com lists all kinds of groups in your area. Keep moving.

26. Believe in yourself – the best is yet to come. You have all the power you need to survive and to thrive.

27. Breathe and move forward. One baby step at a time.

*** I am the first to admit that rebuilding my life to took time, effort, self-love, and a posse of friends. During that time, I often asked myself, “What do I need right now to help myself deal with fear and nourish myself?” What did I need to do in order to move forward?

It’s crazy to think that ten years ago I could barely got off the bathroom floor where I laid sobbing the big ugly tears with the snot filled nose that had me gasping for air. While the grief cut deep, and I had moments of self-doubt swirling through my mind – I never truly doubted that I could and I would survive. I had to dig deep to find that belief in myself, so I dug deep. I put one foot in front of the other and figured out how to deal.

I lost a lot. Still today, I can think back and feel the loss. The loss of a family unit, a home we built together, a job I loved, and even a few friends. Yet, through this loss and my divorce I have also gained. I have learned and I have grown. I take the time to nourish my whole self, my marriage, and my family in a way that I did not before.

During your time of loss, be sure to take the time you need to take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself, you are grieving. And grief is a heavy job. If you need some ideas on how to start with self-care and moving forward, check out my free on-line class, Nourish Your Whole Self.

Nourish Your Whole Self 

It’s just three easy steps to get you started on your journey to bring more joy and balance to your life. When you sign up, you will have access to a six minute video that walks you through the three steps and a downloadable journal sheet to get your ideas on paper. Click here for the course: Nourish Your Whole Self.

This class is a first! I am having fun learning how to create courses for my readers. Admittedly, there is much more for me to learn. But I am not waiting for perfection. Like everything else, it is a process. My goal is to bring to you more ways to help you create a beautiful life for yourself. After you complete the course, please let me know what you think. I am totally open to your feedback.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR SPOUSE WALKS OUT

You never thought it would happen, but it has. Your marriage is crumbling and possibly over. To make matters worse, your spouse simply picked up and walked out on you. Sometimes a spouse leaves outright, or sometimes it is on the sneak when no one is home. Nothing can be worse than coming home to find that your spouse has cleaned out their closet and left. Try explaining this to children, who experience abandonment on a whole other level. No doubt, your emotions will run the complete spectrum, from abandonment, fear, disbelief, sadness, and helplessness to anger and beyond. But take action you must. Here are my top three tips for a call to action plan when your spouse leaves.

· Get to the Bank and Secure Your Funds. Most spouses who walk out will make the next stop the bank to empty the joint account and stop direct deposit of their paycheck. It is the number one retaliation tactic that occurs the minute a spouse leaves. If you believe that your spouse intends to cut you off financially, you need to make sure that you can survive for at least three months or until an attorney can take action and file a support application on your behalf. This is one reason why it is always a good idea to have some financial independence by having your own bank account. Never wait for hindsight to hit you in the face, even if you are happily married.

· Put Your Children First. The presumption under the law is that parents have equal rights to their children. This is the status quo until a Court decides otherwise as it pertains to custody and parenting time. If you feel insecure about this for any reason, you need to see an attorney. In the interim, I believe it is your duty and obligation as a parent to ensure that your children are shielded from the ugliness of your breakup. They are not pawns to withhold and guilt the other spouse into coming back, and the children are not something to “win” in this fight. Your spouse may be a lousy husband or wife, but they are still the other parent of your children.

· Call a Family Law Attorney and Schedule an Appointment. Never, ever believe that it is wise to delay seeing an attorney. This is a huge mistake. Even if you are unsure of the status of your marriage, you need to know your legal rights because knowledge is power. An experienced family law attorney should be able to answer all of your questions and dispel some of the myths you may have been operating under. It amazes me how many times I hear, “Well, my spouse said if I divorce them….” (At the end of that sentence, there is usually some twisted or incorrect assumption about the law.) When you are extremely upset, you are far more likely to believe what comes out of the mouth of your soon-to-be ex, who has an agenda. Do not fall for it. Be the informed consumer and reach out for help. Come in to see me for your free 30-minute in-depth and eye opening consultation by calling (732) 741-2600 or visit us on the web at NJFamilyLawDivorce.com.