Laura’s Story: “He Is Gone, And I Am Devastated”

Stories like the one below break my heart. I’ve read Laura’s story several times and can’t keep back the tears when I get to the end. Hers is an oft repeated tragedy that happens when a woman becomes angry and bitter. It’s the end game to our previous post you can find here.

Laura contacted us and told us her story. We have her permission to share it with you. It is reprinted below exactly as she sent it to us with the omission of names and a few grammar edits. We share it as a reminder that anger, bitterness, aggression, and negativity will not win your man. Our hope is that we can all learn from Laura’s humble admission of her mistakes.  We should weep with her and for her, and her husband’s, broken hearts. Please pray for her and all the women/men who find themselves in similar straights.

Hi Jim. I just read your book The Disconnected Man without putting it down. It’s marked up like crazy. My husband just left me after 30 years of marriage (and twins who just entered college). I don’t know how many words I can type in this message, but I wanted to share an interesting combination of insights I gained from your book.

My husband has been the disconnected, emotionally unavailable spouse, and I am the highly relational, connected one of the pair. Yet, he is the one who left me, describing what you said your wife felt on page 14…unloved, not valued, that I didn’t care one bit about him. And I am left feeling everything you described about your journey on page 15 and 16…the deep guilt, remorse, agony of how I damaged my husband and our family.

In my situation, I find some contrasts to your story. But I also find so much that is hitting the nail on the head. When I married at age 22, I married a man whom I knew to be steady, duty-bound, upright, unflappable, good, helpful. I was not spiritually mature enough to understand why he might avoid negative emotion and why he had not only so few words, but why he couldn’t or wouldn’t feel or go deep (I always thought about an iceberg…he lived up top, I lived below much of the time).

Instead of gently loving my husband out of the shadows and seeking to understand emotional unavailability/passivity, I was tough on him. The marriage started off so poorly by my responses…they drove him further into withdrawal…and it never gained proper footing. Although I loved my husband and knew him as a good man, husband, and father, I grew to disrespect and dishonor him by the way I treated him. I did the opposite of what you lay out in your book. I did not use my influence and power well. I was not patient nor gentle.

He disengaged even more, and so, I did too, turning to everything you mentioned in your chapter “Patience Lasts a Long Time”…except encouragement for him. I just turned my focus elsewhere. When we did try “getting to the problem” on occasions, he always said it was all me..that there was nothing he was doing wrong…that just made me feel rebellious, shamed, and confused at why I didn’t respond to anyone else this way but I did to my very husband. And now, he is gone, and I am devastated.

So remorseful with my past and my counter-productive behaviors to help him feel, trust, love, thrive. He obviously feels deeply and is emotionally fragile…I know that he left to preserve and protect his heart. I don’t know what journey he’ll take with grief and healing and growth. He usually runs and avoids. I can now only pray for him, and pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to him…as I am one who is responsible for adding to the walls around his heart.

I thank you for your book in regards to my own journey. I have confessed my sin to my husband, to my children, to close friends. They all tell me that it’s a 2 way street, and that God does not want me to live in guilt and self-condemnation. I know this, but I also need to feel this pain deeply for a season and allow God’s refining fire to burn into and transform my character.

Thank you for sharing your story and journey. I also read “Married but Not Engaged” by Sally and Paul Coughlin. That, too, was helpful. Too late, but it helped me identify and articulate so much….even though I responded in ways that further damaged my marriage and did not help my husband, nor me. I am desperately missing him, but his heart is locked tight against me. Divorce papers (division of assets) are nearing our signatures, and I…who has connectivity as one of my top 5 strengths in Strengthsfinder…is left to grapple with a future without a man whom I love, but who I had such difficulty communicating with and connecting with.

Please keep sharing your book and story…not only for the husbands who struggle with connection and communication issues, but for the wives who so need the guidance you offer in your book. I pray that your story will help many marriages move toward the abundance of life that Christ offers us in Him.

Blessings, Laura (last name withheld to protect her privacy)