June 2022: Abandonment — Peter of Richmond, VA shares, “When your wife of 18 years only offers you her reason of leaving as “I am not happy,” it left me wondering, WHY aren’t you happy?”

I have been back out there for 6 years now. It took me nearly 2 years to summon the courage to start over again after my former wife abandoned our 16-year-old daughter and me. I chose the word “abandoned” because that is what it felt like to me. When your wife of 18 years only offers you her reason for leaving as “I am not happy,” it left me wondering, why aren’t you happy?

I never abused her, either physically or verbally. Alcohol wasn’t an issue. I rarely drink any alcohol. I never “went out with the boys.” She wasn’t a hunting, fishing, or golf widow. I took my family to church nearly every Sunday. I took care of my body. I never wanted to get to the point of not caring about my appearance. So why would a woman, whom I had been with for 20 years, just walk away from her family? To this day, it is a mystery.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. I have been testing the dating waters and have found them to be very murky. There are a lot of emotionally damaged people out there whose souls have been crushed. Before signing up for my first online dating site experience, I wrote out a list of qualities I was looking for in a potential Mrs. X.

I have found there are relatively few women that interest me. When I did, often the feelings weren’t mutual. Were my standards too high? Maybe there was something unattractive about me that hadn’t been an issue 30 years ago. Was there some work on myself that still needed to be done Frustrated with my lack of progress, I would go through stretches where I wouldn’t make an effort to be an active participant in the “I’m single and looking” world. Maybe what I was looking for wasn’t available anymore.

Then, a few months ago, a lady who had lost her husband a couple of years ago reached out to me. During one of our conversations, she told me of an exercise she had done about a year after her husband’s death. In the latter years of her marriage, life wasn’t great on the home front. So, she made a list of things she could do daily for a future husband that would show him that he was loved and appreciated. She emailed me her list. After reading her list, I thought, wow! I want to be loved in that way! That night I sat down at my desk and started typing out a list of “spontaneous and practical gifts” I could give my future wife if I was fortunate to find such a lady. It was slow going at first, but then the ideas began to flow freely. 3 hours later, I had my list! (See below.)

Though it was my former wife’s choice to leave, I have often wondered what I could have done to be a better husband. What signs that made her unhappy did I miss? Perhaps if I had daily “gifted” my wife these small tokens of affection on my list, she would have felt more loved and appreciated.

If there is to be another Mrs. in my life: We will both agree to remove the word “divorce” from our vocabulary and to love each other like the precious gifts we are. I encourage each of you who take the time to read my list, to come up with your own list of gifts you want to give your significant other. You are together because, at some point in the relationship, you decided your life would be better with them than without them. Do the work to keep the passion alive. It’s worth the effort.

My Gifts to My Future Wife

By Peter, Richmond, VA

This is the way I would like for my future partner (hopefully) and I to approach a loving, committed relationship.

My spontaneous gifts to you:

  • Foot massage while we are watching a movie on our comfortable couch
  • On a day where you have been busier than I, making you dinner or taking you out to dinner
  • Cleaning the kitchen after you have labored in preparing a delicious meal for us, while you relax
  • Washing your car and keeping the gas tank full for you
  • Massage your neck and shoulders when you are tired
  • Long passionate kisses that lead to other marital fun
  • Walk up behind you, put my arms around your waist, and tell you how lucky I was that you chose me
  • Be there for you whenever you need to talk … ready to listen
  • Help you achieve whatever you are passionate about
  • Tell you every day, in some way, that you are an answer to prayer and that I treasure you
  • Touch you in such a way that it brings you pleasure (when we are alone)
  • Go to bed naked and enjoy the warmth of each other’s bodies (often)
  • Day trips to nowhere in particular…just create new memories and shared experiences with my wife
  • Make you a fruit smoothie or your favorite cup of coffee every morning that we are home together
  • Communicate often during the day, calls, text messages, etc…to let you know where I am, how I’m doing, and to check on you
  • When we are with others in social settings, sneak you a wink and a smile to let you know I am your guy…and always will be
  • Saying please and thank you because I respect and value you

Practical gifts to you:

  • Keeping my body fit so you will always desire me
  • Showering and shaving each night before I lay down beside you, because I think it is important that I always smell good and my skin feels it’s best when sleeping with you
  • Talk about everything … no secrets
  • Aside from whatever purposeful task God has for us at any given time…you come first
  • I will have your back — always
  • Be equally supportive of your children as I am my girls
  • Show your children through my words and actions that I love their mom and will take care of her
  • Encourage you in whatever way I can
  • Let you win most of the disagreements 🙂
  • Have date nights as often as possible
  • I will never lose sight that you are a gift from God
  • When I screw up, practice humility by asking for your forgiveness
  • Honor our marriage vows
  • During the holidays, we share equal time with each other’s families
  • Share the upkeep responsibilities of our home with you. I realize there is no such thing as “woman’s work”
  • Never going to bed angry. If the issue can’t be resolved that night, we express our love for one another and agree to resume the conversation at another time