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Man shocked to find a 'goodbye note' from wife; 'She disappeared without a trace for a year.' AITA? UPDATED 2X

Man shocked to find a 'goodbye note' from wife; 'She disappeared without a trace for a year.' AITA? UPDATED 2X


When this man is horrified by his wife's abandonment, he asks the internet:

"My (M50) wife (F48) abandoned me two months ago to find herself. AITA?"

My wife Mary’s family has a history of dementia, developing memory issues in their mid to late 50s. Her mom, grandmother and several other relatives on her mom’s side have developed dementia.

Her mom lived with us for four years until earlier this year (father is dead). Our kids are independent and out of the house. Oldest is in her last semester of college and the younger enlisted.

The last four years were tough on us, our kids (daughter moved for college but moved back for a bit during Covid), and our marriage. Living with someone with dementia is brutal.

We had talked a lot the last year about taking the remaining college funds, our regular savings, sell or rent the house (we were ready to downsize anyway), quit our jobs and travel for a year or until the money runs out.

We just had to wait for her mom to move into a home. I understand her anxiety about developing dementia and I was burned out. You live through Covid working remote, a wife working remote, a college and high school student taking remote classes, and a MIL with dementia and see how you hold up.

Space finally opened up and we were able to move her mom into a care facility, I finally thought I had a chance to breathe. When we moved Mary’s mom out, Mary’s mental health took huge downward spiral. I went from caring for her mom to caring for her.

She felt guilty about putting her mom in a home and had lots of anxiety about developing dementia.

Our plan was to start our traveling summer 2024. Two months ago I get home and she’s left a note (my friends call it exhibit A). Basically she was going on our trip without me.

She had quit her job, took most of the savings, and wasn’t sure when she’d be back. Maybe a year, maybe sooner. She “knew I’d understand”. Her location is turned off and my calls go directly to vm. I texted the kids a picture of the note.

We have our own checking accounts for direct deposits of our paychecks but we’d transfer most into a joint account to pay the household bills and savings. We both had access to main savings account.

We have joint credit cards we used for household expenses. The two cars and mortgage are joint. We both also have our own small savings accounts, our own retirement accounts (equally funded) and our own credit cards for gifts and fun things. I closed all joint cards and accounts.

I waited a month to see if she’d come back (hopefully before she spent our savings). After receiving only one text the first month, I went to a lawyer.

She basically said there was very little to do right now, other than change the beneficiaries of my retirement accounts and life insurance (yay, my wife gets nothing else if I die alone while she’s having our adventures).

It was only a month and there was no way to serve her papers. My lawyer advised me to keep paying the mortgage and the cars.

The cost of trying to get a judge to approve the sale of joint assets was more than making payments. I didn’t want to ruin my credit by letting one of our car get repossessed, but I can’t sell it because she’s on the title.

I get random texts and she sporadically posts on Instagram (of course she has comments turned off). I want to block her so bad, but my lawyer advised me that it’s better to maintain a communication channel that’s not through our kids.

Her last post was from Hawaii. She put in the comments how great a husband I was for letting her take this trip. I’m barely making it paying two cars, a mortgage, household bills, insurance, hoping there are no emergencies because I have no savings…and she’s enjoying our trip. F’her.

I’m so pissed at her, I helped take care of her mom for four years, and her when she fell apart after her mom moved into a memory care home, and she returns the favor by abandoning me.

I’ll never get to take this trip and have to put off retirement. My only solace is the kids are pissed at her, but they’ll probably forgive her eventually. Double F’ her.

I’m no fool, she’s hooking up with guys. She looks good, she’ll have zero problem getting men. I texted her and asked if she was sleeping around, a week later she responded that she wasn’t (sure ).

So, I’m drinking alone on a Friday night and she’s somewhere, probably on a beach, enjoying life. Triple F’ her.

Edit 2: my lawyer has given me a bunch of advice and options, it was just way more than I could possibly include in this post.I could definitely push the issue harder, and I might need to at some point, but all that work is very expensive.

Finding her, serving her, getting a judge to sign off, that’s not cheap. I’m following up soon and I plan on talking about the savings and my finances. Until I paid all the bills and realized how little was left it didn’t hit me that I had to worry about money.

And now, OP's 1st update:

She 100% is under the delusion that she’s coming back to a marriage. She’s had a few conversations with our daughter and she’s convinced I’ll understand and forgive her. She only hears what she wants.

I asked her to send me an address to serve her papers. She only told me that we’ll work it out when she comes home (the f we will).

My daughter tells her all the pain she’s causing, but she just says that she only has 5-10 years left until she gets dementia. It’s impossible to know if she’ll even develop dementia, but shouldn’t she be spending this with her family?

An update from my original post. I’m feeling much more positive now that the financial situation has become a little more manageable (basically I’m running up debt that will get paid off when I sell the house).

Even with lawyer fees I have 6-8 more months before I have to worry about money (assuming there are no emergencies).

My friend’s wife gave me some good advice. Don’t go from being a hero to a villain in your kid’s eyes. How I talk about and treat my wife will determine my future relationship with my kids.

I don’t give a damn about my wife, but I don’t want to make her a sympathetic figure or drive them away from both of us.

I followed up with the lawyer, basically she said we’re going to have her “payback” the savings she took through a reduction in her share of the assets. Any division of assets will include the savings she took.

She’ll also have to repay the money I spent maintaining the household while she was gone. There is plenty of equity in her share of the house and her retirement plans to cover that.

She said that our finances are so intertwined after nearly 25 years of marriage, my wife is going to get some share of the assets. Best case is she agrees to the terms of the divorce and it’s relatively cheap and quick.

Otherwise it gets complicated and expensive. She gave me a lot of options and how much I can expect to spend, so I decided to just mostly wait.

I got a couple of credit cards with promo rates for purchases and transfers, that gives me breathing room and I can conserve cash. I’ll just pay them off when I sell the house.

Now that my financial situation is less stressful, I’m actually enjoying her being gone. I’m free to do whatever I want, whenever. I don’t have to cook or clean or take care of anyone. The house is quiet for the first time I can remember. I loved my wife, but her mental health weighed down our marriage. On balance it was worth it until now.

The first month or so I expected her to be there whenever I’d get home. When someone was at the door or if I heard noises I’d think it was her. I’d check doorbell cam obsessively.

I’m not looking forward to her returning. It has to happen, but when she comes back I’ll have to deal with her, the divorce, getting the house ready to sell, dividing all our stuff, finding a new place to live.

I’m hoping she’ll stay away until after New Years but my daughter said she thinks her mom will be home for Christmas (either to stay or visit). My lawyer will have papers ready to serve her. Hopefully she’ll just agree to the terms and continue her travels.

People had some great advice - Renting or selling the house: not really feasible right now since I’d have to fix some stuff and get it ready to sell/rent. Since I need a place to live the amount I net each month (rent - mortgage...

rent on an new apartment - storage unit = not worth it). My kid’s rooms are still full of their stuff and I don’t want to spend the time and effort to clear them out and put them in storage.

Getting a HELOC: this was great advice, I didn’t realize I didn’t need both people to get a loan. If I need more money I can go this way. In the short term the promo rates on the credit cards were cheaper and easier than getting a heloc.

Serving my wife divorce papers or getting a divorce in absentia: This is something I might need to do eventually, but the cost in lawyer fees goes up exponentially in cases like this. I’m comfortable just waiting for now.

Look at the phone bill to see where she’s at and possibly going: I did look at her usage and did notice that she doesn’t post on social media until after she leaves a place.

Like when she posted about Hawaii she made a call that day that originated in Los Angeles. She posted about a cruise and I figured out the dates (trying to serve her at the port possibly) but it ended a couple of days before she posted. She tried adding international calling to her line but I blocked it so she removed her phone from our account.

She’s told her family she won’t be home for Thanksgiving. Nobody told her my daughter and I are spending Thanksgiving with her family, though. She can see the posts of us having a good time without her.

She left her keys. I changed the code on the security system, the passphrase, and password. I also found a new hiding place for the emergency key we had in the backyard.

OP's 2nd update:

My wife texted me in the middle of December that she’d be home for Christmas. I told her that we (our daughter and I) would be at my brother’s, she obviously wasn’t welcome.

I’d leave her car in the driveway and the fob in the backyard. She wasn’t allowed in the house unless I was there, she didn’t have keys to get in. She spent Christmas with her sister.

When we got back I met with her. I decided not to be overly confrontational because I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of thinking I cared enough to be mad. She was taken aback about how detached l was, I could tell it bothered her that I didn’t show her much emotion, not even anger. I just wanted her to agree to a divorce.

This is a summary of several different meetings, both with and without our daughter (she hasn’t wanted to meet with her mom alone yet).

I asked why she left without telling anyone. She said she didn’t want to wait a year, She didn’t want anyone talking her out of it, she didn’t want to work anymore, she wanted to leave before her mental health got worse.

I’m sure it mostly because she didn’t want me to stop her from taking the money. She knew I would take care of everything with the kids and house when she left.

We had decided to go summer of 2024 for a few reasons. Packing everything and getting the house ready to sell was going to be a lot of work. We wanted to make sure our daughter graduated college, got a job, and was settled.

We wanted to make sure we had money when we got back. We wouldn’t have a house, cars, or jobs so we needed money because it could take months to find work and a place to live. We didn’t want to have any worries or deal with a mess back home.

At some point in our planning she began questioning (to herself, not me) if she ever wanted to go back to our old life. She didn’t want to work full time or buy a house and stay in one place after we got back.

She wasn’t sure what she wanted but she didn’t think she would figure it out talking to me. I told her that’s the reason we were taking the trip, to figure those things out together, to see what we wanted for the next part of our life.

I asked her why she didn’t just get a divorce before she left, then she wouldn’t have had do do this behind our backs and she would have had plenty of money without stealing our joint savings.

She claims that she didn’t want a divorce, that she wanted us to live whatever life she figured out. I told her that’s not how marriages work, one person deciding for the other.

In talking/texting our daughter, her family, my texts and voicemails she realized I might not forgive her (she was right about that), so she might have to “visualize a future” without me.

This is where I had hoped she would say some stupid shit like she was going to squander all her money living in a van and make travel vlogs or she met some guy that she needed to wire money to so they could open an ice cream shop in Alaska.

Instead she wants to be a digital nomad, working part time fully remote and living in new places. She tried to convince me to go with her, but I’ll never be able to trust her, plus I don’t love her anymore.

Traveling like that for a few years doesn’t sound bad but she doesn’t have a job or any work lined up. She’s not in her 20s and that way of living will get old quick, no close friends, no family. I want her to make it work so she won’t be here trying to get back in our lives.

How are the kids doing? Our son wouldn’t have seen us the entire time she was gone anyway. He only responds to her with very short texts. He told me she wanted to see him but he said he was too busy and wouldn’t be able to get away. He lives in the barracks so it’s an easy excuse to avoid her.

My daughter stopped talking/texting her. She’s pretty upset, her worry turned to anger when she realized her mom wasn’t having a mental breakdown but was just being selfish. If her mom was sticking around, they could probably work through it eventually. I just care that my daughter is happy, so whatever she decides I’ll support.

2. Did she spend all the money? About half. I think she realized she needed to figure it out before she completely ran out of money.

3. Did she sleep with anyone? I didn’t ask because I didn’t care. Asking would imply I wanted her back or it would matter. Even though I didn’t ask she claims she didn’t, not sure if she’s lying or not, she might just be saying that because she doesn’t want the kids to have another reason to be mad at her.

4. Does she feel bad for what she put us through? She claims she does and she wishes she had handled it differently. She said getting away and figuring herself out was best for her.

I told her she was just being selfish. When she first left we were worried something would happen to her and we would never see her again.

She’s always been self centered. I told her she’s taking the easy route and letting everyone else handle the difficult parts. If she gets sick? Kids will take care of her. Goes broke? Live with family. Abandon everyone? They’ll forgive her.

She thinks her siblings and our children will let her live with them like we let her mom live with us. I’m sure when she “visualizes her future” she sees our kids there; they might not be and definitely not in the same way they were before.

Despite how it might sound, I’m actually really happy with how it all turned out. Our divorce is far from final, but we’ve agreed on the big things; we’ll sell the house, how to split the retirement and profit from the house, how to payback the money she took and what I spent maintaining the household.

I got most of what I wanted from the settlement and she’ll soon be (mostly) out of my life. I won’t have to pay alimony, and because she’s choosing to make significantly less money than she was, I won’t be forced to support her.

That would have been a kick to the teeth. She isn’t my responsibility anymore and I won’t have to care for her if she does get sick or goes broke.

I figured I’d start dating again. I didn’t realize a 50 year old man with children out of the house, a good job, and in decent shape would be a catch.

I’m not fighting women off with a stick, but I’ve had a lot more interest than I expected. It’s been kind of nice meeting new women. I’ve worked out the numbers and I’ll be doing pretty well after everything is settled and I only have to support myself.

Not where I wanted to be; 50, getting divorced, and using Reddit as free therapy sessions. But, I’m happier now than I’ve been in a while. I’m even planning a little vacation of my own. P.S. thank you to everyone that has responded and reached out. It meant a lot.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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