SUDDEN ENDINGS by Madeline Bennett


Wife Rejections in Happy Marriages
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 Bennett, whose husband abandoned her after 25 years of seemingly happy marriage, examines the psychodynamics of so- called wife-rejection syndrome--a term she has coined for a chain reaction that starts with a trauma provoking such anger and guilt that a husband suddenly projects a lifetime of accumulated grievances onto his mate, and that culminates in feelings of rage and acts of revenge against her. Bennett's personal experience provides the core of her study and is supplemented by her interviews with 25 other women whose long (at least ten-year) and presumably happy marriages ended in sudden abandonment. The characters in the domestic dramas she describes are always the same -- a loving, innocent wife and a once-trusted husband who has inexplicably turned into a vindictive enemy. Since Bennett is clearly not a disinterested party, a leap of faith is required to accept these characters as described. If there is another side to the story, it is not told here. Besides interviewing other deserted women, Bennett has talked to dozens of therapists, some sympathetic, many decidedly not. Curiously, she states that only a layperson could have written about wife-rejection syndrome since therapists would ``face censure from their colleagues for breaking silence on this particular form of intimate betrayal.'' Nevertheless, she urges mental-health specialists to research the syndrome and learn to help couples deal with it. She also takes to task no-fault divorce laws, asserting that they overlook the one-sidedness of many divorces, that they protect vengeful husbands, and that they provide no penalty for sudden abandonment. Offers a comforting thought--``He'd have to be crazy not to love me''--to women whose marriages have failed, but it's weak in demonstrating its validity.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-09428-7
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991