Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

How Long Does It Take a Wife to Recover from Abandonment?

The key is turning your focus from what you lost to what you still have.

Key points

  • There is no set, uniform time it takes to recover from abandonment.
  • Turning your focus from what you have lost to what you still have can be helpful.
  • Developing an appreciation for life that leads to happiness requires work, but it is possible.

What’s the normal recovery time when your husband has suddenly left you? One year? Two years? Five years? Eight years? The answer is... yes. The normal recovery time is the time that it takes for you to recover. Women who are still dealing with painful thoughts of their ex on a daily basis and anxiety around holidays and events years after the marriage has ended are often ashamed. But they shouldn’t be.

They feel that they should be over it already. Their friends and family insist that they should be over it already. It feels like the whole universe is shouting that they should be over it already! But they’re not. And there are good reasons for that.

There are a lot of complex factors at play but the one that has the largest impact on how long it will take for you to click into a new normal is your belief about your own future. If you’re telling yourself that you will never be happy again and that there is nothing to look forward to, it will be much harder for you to stop ruminating about the past.

I can hear what you might be saying right now: “Vikki! All that is true! I will never be happy again. I have nothing to look forward to!” I think part of the problem is that you are still defining your life in the terms you used when you were with your husband. If your happiness is dependent on you living the life you had in the past, then yes. You will never be happy again because that life is over.

But perhaps you need to make a new definition of what constitutes your future life and potential happiness. Rather than focusing on all you have lost, can you tally up all you still have? Can you work on becoming agile and pivot to a new vision of your future? One that you define on your own terms.

Yuliya Yesina/Shutterstock
woman drinking coffee
Source: Yuliya Yesina/Shutterstock

True, profound happiness comes from an appreciation of the very simple things in life. The other day, my client told me that she went for a walk by herself on the mountain (the city of Montreal was built around a beautiful “mountain” park). She said she was walking up the trail and drinking in the experience. She thought to herself, “I could be lying in a hospital bed somewhere but I’m here now, walking on the mountain”. She was able to feel how special it was. That felt good to her.

It takes practice to learn to really feel appreciation for the moment, for the simple things. You have to work on it. Practice trying to feel appreciation when you’re sitting at the breakfast table in your warm house with food on your plate. You won’t feel it right away, but with practice, you can get there. Practice communing with the trees outside your window. Feel their quiet energy. Tune into the small beautiful things that surround you. Construct a secret chamber in your heart where you can retreat in peace, just feeling good to be alive.

I believe life itself is a gift that we have to cherish.

When you can turn your vision from the past to your own future, whenever that is, the real healing will start. Your future may be small and quiet and different from what you expected but hey, it’s all yours. Make it beautiful.

How have you been trying to reclaim your love of life?