Updates: “Hurt Wife” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Hurt Wife” who needed some validation that divorcing her cheating, manipulative, verbally abusive husband after 18 years of marriage didn’t make her an awful person. Keep reading to see whether she pulled the trigger.

It’s been a rocky winter. My husband’s father died around Christmas, and I put my concerns on hold until after the funeral. Well, I thought I did anyway. I was pretty distant, but I tried hard to be supportive. I told my husband my feelings about getting a divorce, and he turned on the water works and begged me to give it another chance. I laugh, but in reality I somewhat think he does this partially because he cares as well as partially to be manipulative. He has been more doting, but I have recently found, from a couple years ago, a picture and email of an old girlfriend and him at a reunion. He says it was nothing. Actually he said it was “nothing more than excessive flirting.” Still, he doesn’t go out at night and he comes home around dinner, so I don’t think he is messing around now anyway. Unfortunately, I am constantly waiting for that other shoe to drop, you know?

We have been going to counseling, but honestly I don’t see it going anywhere. More and more I dream of what life will be like for me “after the divorce,” yet here I am, still married. I can’t seem to find the right time. It’s his birthday this weekend… we are visiting my daughter in college next weekend… it’s Easter … etc. Maybe there isn’t a right time and I just need some courage. I re-read your reply and all of the other wonderful letters of encouragement, and I start believing in myself a little more.

Thank you for your advice; it really means a lot for me. Wish me luck!!

Be strong and keep your eyes on the prize. There’s a life of dignity, independence, and freedom for you if you just go after it.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].


  1. LW, every moment of your life that passes by, wasted, is THE RIGHT TIME. Please, don’t wait any longer.

  2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    I mean is there ever the “right” time for a divorce? There will always be something (Easter, visits, vacation, dog died)…woman up and rip this bandaid off.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Hmm, I think I need to take this advice.

    2. Absolutely true and can be applied to any part of life- there is never a “right” time to get married, have a baby, bake bread all day, take a vacation, move across the country, get a dog, start working out- anything. You can find a reason not to do or start something anytime.

      Sometimes you gotta just bite the bullet and DO. Just do whatever it is you want to do. I recently did this with Zumba, something I had wanted to do forever but it was never the right time, but I finally just did it and now I do Zumba. It works out.

      1. Lemongrass says:

        That’s me and working out. I was waiting until I wasn’t so tired from caring for E. Then I thought, that could be years, just buckle down and do it!

  3. landygirl says:

    Putting off leaving, if in fact you actually want to leave, isn’t going to make it any easier. Maybe you should see a therapist and figure out what you really want instead of being wishy washy about the whole circumstance. You are using every excuse in the book to stay so I question your desire to leave.

  4. You are inventing reasons to stay ‘just a little longer’. You say that couples therapy isn’t working. See a therapist for just yourself and explore why you keep clinging to this miserable situation. This is a very disappointing update.

  5. If everyone waited until they could complete their divorce without it coinciding with any plans or holidays, no one would ever get divorced. I can see waiting after a family member’s death, but Easter, really?

  6. ReginaRey says:

    Hey LW, I just want to point you toward a resource I know of that could help you, when you’re ready to talk to someone. He’s an acquaintance of mine who specializes in divorce coaching, and I think he works with people in very similar situations. Just a tip, if you find you want to talk to someone about your options. http://www.highpointcoaching.com/

  7. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Stay married. Its clearly what you REALLY want. Otherwise you wouldn’t be making up such a lame excuses. Easter? Really? Hey! Don’t forget — soon comes Arbor Day…

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Does anyone know when Flag Day is? The Kentucky Derby is May 4th so that weekend clearly won’t work…

      1. flag day is june 14th.

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        my 1/2 birthday is May 24 – can’t divorce then!

      3. I only know about Flag day because it’s 2 days after my Birthday. Which I only celebrate for 1 day, Mark. Not an entire week/Month 🙂

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        FLAGMONTH! Similar to birthmonth, which GG tells me I’m not allowed to celebrate.

      5. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        What? Why not? That sounds right to me.

      6. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Gah I hate birthday month! One day damn it.

        AP your birthday is the day before my wedding. weirrrrrrd.

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        shut up

      8. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        super crazy! except it’s just my 1/2 birthday so it’s just 1/2 crazy.

      9. I try to celebrate my birthday for a whole year, but no one wants to let me do that. Jerks.

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        I think you’re my soulmate.

  8. EricaSwagger says:

    You should never ever keep yourself miserable to save someone else from being miserable. You come first. Your own happiness is what’s important here. (Honestly, your husband probably isn’t happy in your marriage either.) You will both find a way to move on.

    There may always be a reason to wait. But there’s also a hundred reasons not to.

  9. My sister took something like 3 or 4 years to finally end her marriage after she knew it was done. He wasn’t truly abusive, but he was a whiner and a manipulator. In the end, it was all only about him.

    This is your life and it’s ticking away. If you know it’s done, rip the scab off already. You’ll want those years back if you waste them. You don’t do him or yourself any favour by staying if you’re not really there.

    Good luck.

  10. Cracked.com is like a hit or miss for me, but I read something on there today that was funny & HIGHLY applicable to this situation, I think. Here’s the link, LW: http://www.cracked.com/article_20398_5-ways-your-brain-tricking-you-into-being-miserable.html

    Read the “Grief is addictive” & “You’d rather be unhappy than uncertain” bits, at least, this line especially: “The problem is that most people grow so scared of risk that they are more likely to stay in situations that make them miserable than take a chance at happiness.”

    I know everybody probably said something along those lines to you already, but please soak in how much you’re screwing yourself over.

  11. I’ll say the same thing here I keep saying to a friend in a similar situation: it’s not going to get any easier.
    I get it. It’s Big and Scary and overwhelming to think of all the things you’ll have to do, and having to face the world all by yourself after however many years of an admittedly unhappy marriage. That part isn’t going to change no matter how long you stay. I know that for my friend, she is going to need every bit of strength and determination she can muster, and every day she stays, a little bit of that strength drains away.
    I believe you actually do want to leave, and that when you think of your future, you don’t see him in it. But how do you get from here to there? Sometimes you just have to jump, and have a little faith that you’ll land on your feet. It’ll be hard, but it’ll also be worth it.
    And, the sooner you go, and get yourself into therapy, the sooner you can start to heal and let your real life begin.
    In the end, you really only have those two options. Stay, and wallow in your misery, or go and give yourself a fighting chance.
    Good luck.

  12. lets_be_honest says:

    I really look forward to an additional update about how you actually are surprised to be enjoying being alone, whenever that update may come. Best of luck.

  13. “The best time to plant a tree was always 20 years ago. The second best time is always today.” (Chinese proverb)

    There is always a right time, LW. That time is today, right now. Don’t waste another day of your life being miserable.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      There’s a workout thing like that too. Something about staying on the couch a day longer. You could’ve ran a mile by now. Idk. Liquid lunch.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Liquid lunch or liquid life? I’ll choose the latter.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        I’d choose the latter too, but I meant lunch.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Also, love this is the first comment you’ve made today (or in a few days).

  14. Don’t worry that it’s taking you a while to rip the band-aid off. You’ll feel better when you do – but you’ve spent 18 years of your life being a wife. It’s going to take a bit of time to be READY. There will never be a “good” time to leave – but there will be a time when you are ready. Hang in there and from one divorcee to you – it really does get better. Of course I won’t say it’s an easy process – but life can be so fulfilling once you are free of a marriage that is restricting to you and who you are meant to be. Good luck!

  15. Wow. I just can’t imagine living like that. I can’t even fathom it.

    Good luck, LW. Seriously.

  16. I don’t know if you realize that you’re in control here. The holidays aren’t controlling the situation. Your husband’s reaction isn’t either. You are in control, and every day you don’t act you are choosing a life of misery. And that’s not your husband’s fault or Easter’s fault, it’s all on you to make a positive change. A divorce isn’t going to fall into your lap.

  17. In the words of Dear Sugar, “Be brave enough to break your own heart. You don’t have to have a reason other than wanting to leave”.

  18. LW, I was in your shoes about three years ago. I went to see an attorney about my situation. My wife can be charming at times, but she is also a manipulative bully. For about a year I also waited for the right time: she had surgery, our financial problems got worse, Christmas, etc. Then I really decided I had had enough after another year. But I should have pulled the trigger right after I met with my attorney the first time.

    If you want to work on your marriage, I understand that. But my thoughts are you need to choose to either work on your marriage or work on getting out.

  19. I was you 6 years ago. It took me such a long time to get sick of myself about letting my then husband have his charm work on me. I was thinking well we have a child, I do not have my family around (I came from another country), moreover, I did not have friends because he isolated me so much fro everybody. Thankfully I went to college (it took me forever since I had to take few classes, I worked par time, I did all within 8 am until 3pm when my son got back from school)
    Finally I had enough, I got a full time job right after graduation, and on six months I save up some money, I filled for divorce, move out.It was not easy in the beginning because I had to rely only on having faith that I will be better off by myself, still with no family around, I relied on the few friends I made (some from college). And still behaved as the “poor me” on the little things I had to learn the first year following the divorce: I actually cried the first time I had to change a light bulb (it was a complicated need a ladder screw driver deal). My son got hot cocoa and watched me in amazement the first time I use a driller. But you know what? I love my life now, I treasure the peace of mind I have now. Life is still complicated I am still weary of letting my self be vulnerable enough to fall in love again. But the point is that you learn to love your self anew, your wonderful beautiful self, the one your children will admired (my son is leaving for college this Fall and he toll me he admires the strength I have shown to him – getting that from a teen that had his family broken is priceless)
    Ok enough rant. I love you all here at DW, I actually have learned a lot from you, and the LWriters and from Wendy.

  20. Datdamwuf says:

    LW, I suggest you take a 2 week vacation alone. It doesn’t have to be expensive, there are cheap ways to go, like renting a cabin in the woods. Just go be alone with yourself for a while, you will be surprised how much it can help.

    I would also warn you that going to marriage counseling with a manipulative spouse is not going to help you – the counselors are usually invested in “saving” the marriage at any cost. The one we saw caused a lot of harm, my husband was cheating and being abusive and still the counselor kept trying to keep us together. My ex managed to keep me with him an extra 6 months due to this dynamic. I also read your first letter, I hope you’ve found a better therapist for yourself, do continue the individual counseling.

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