"Husband Leaving, Need Hope and Strength"...Let's give her some.

Sometimes I forget the reason I started blogging. Some days I forget about that moment, a little over three years ago (!), when I sat down, logged onto Blogspot and created The Happy Hausfrau. My goal wasn't to become popular, it wasn't to seek revenge. My goal was simple:

I wanted other women going through a very particular kind of hell, the shitstorm of having your husband leave you, to know they weren't alone.

I wanted to tell my story, because I still remembered what it was like, those first few weeks and months after he left. How utterly alone I felt. I knew what it was like to sit down at the end of a long day, weary and sad and feeling the weight of the world and all of its unknowns settling down on my broken shoulders.

I knew what it was like to trudge, in a zombie-ish fashion, throughout the day wearing all sorts of masks:

The "Strong Lady" mask
The "Tough Chick" mask
The "Super Mom" mask

And I remember, oh-so-clearly, what I saw in the mirror when I took off those masks. I saw a woman who had been crushed. A woman who was surrounded by people all the live long day but had never felt so isolated. A woman who so desperately needed to know that she was going to be okay. That her kids were going to be okay. That everything was most certainly going to be okay.

I wrote a post called "What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You". And then a follow up to that post. As of today, the original one has had almost 100,000 views. With dozens more coming every day. Sometimes I look at the little application that tells me what search terms people have used to find this blog of mine. Sometimes they're amusing: "fat naked housefraw" "what does a pound of fat look like" and my personal all time favorite, "hairy hausfrau".

The ones that are always there, though, are the not so funny ones. "What do I do when husband leaves" "my daughter's husband left her with two little ones" "husband leaves after 25 years". And the one I read this morning that touched me so much:

"Husband leaving, need hope and strength"

I wanted to reach out to the woman who typed that one. I want to find out who she is, I want to sit down with her and hold out a box of tissues for her while she tells me her story. I want to hold her close and comfort her and tell her that everything is going to be okay.

I'm not a liar. I don't like to give false hope. I think the harsh reality of this life is, sometimes it sucks. Things happen that we aren't prepared for. Things happen that scare the crap out of us, threaten to ruin us. Things happen that leave us feeling depleted. Defeated.

The other reality of this life, the one that isn't so harsh? It's that life goes on. These things happen and they hurt and they almost kill us. But we get up, we assess the damage. Some of us look around, furtively, to make sure nobody saw us fall. And then we do something that amazes us.

We carry on. We get out of bed, sometimes we shower. We make lunches and balance checkbooks and answer emails. Some of us go to work, some of us stay home. We visit therapists and college admission offices and food shelves. We go on field trips with our kids, we take walks by ourselves just to hear the sound of our feet making contact with the road.

We go to church or synagogue or mosque or Macy's. We gather our friends around us, we find out which ones are in it for the long haul and which ones we need to set free. We comfort our babies. We get dogs.

We do what we need to do. What our kids need us to do. What the world expects us to do.

And then, one day...something miraculous happens. Yes, we shower, but something even better than that. One day we wake up and we realize that the hurt doesn't hurt so bad anymore. We look at our kids and realize that they are growing up and doing the things normal kids do. We realize that over the past few months, we've been the ones helping our friends out, instead of the other way around.

We realize that we are indeed okay.

Look at me, ladies. Look at this hot mess I am. I lost everything that was mine just a few short years ago: my husband. My house. My comfortable, predictable life.

My life now? It's not all wine and roses, people. I don't have a 401k or even a savings account. I don't own, I rent. I drive a used car that has a fair amount of duct tape holding one of the side mirrors together. I gain and lose the same 25 pounds every year. I have one kid who grapples with mental demons every day, one kid who has a slight anger management problem, one kid who will deal with daddy issues the rest of her life and a kid who is wrestling with puberty. I've dated a bunch but have yet to fall in love, and I'm beginning to think that it's my destiny to be the eccentric single lady for the rest of my days. I have a vibrator somewhere but due to panic over the kids finding it I have hidden it so well that the freaks on "Storage Wars" will unearth it before I do.

I work 3 part time jobs, pieced together like a patchwork quilt in order to make ends meet. Hell, I don't even have a guaranteed job for next fall. I'm worried about this summer and about the rest of my life.

But...I'm here. I'm alive. I'm relatively happy. I shower at least 4 times a week. I have made so many good friends, and hung onto so many of the old ones that I can't venture out my front door without running into one of them. A couple of weeks ago, I stood up in front of 500-plus people and read out loud. Read a story I wrote about a stupid pasta bowl that made me cry.

I have made huge progress since that day my husband left me. Am I success story? I don't know about that. But I do know I am an "okay story". And I want those ladies, those sweet and sad and lost ladies out there, to know that they will be okay stories too. They already are.

I don't ever ask you guys to share anything I've written. I loathe the thought of pimping out my blog, of begging for comments or likes or whatever. But I want you to do something for me, and more importantly, for the women who are just now asking for hope and strength:

Share this. And add YOUR story to it. Comment here with your own advice. Tell me, and our new sisters, what gave YOU hope and strength when you needed it the most. Here's your chance to chime in and describe how you felt then, and how you feel NOW. Tell us about the day YOU knew you were going to be okay.

I'm still tweaking my never-ending manuscript that will hopefully become a book. One thing that has been stumping me is the epilogue, the "happily ever after" ending.

I think a chapter written by ALL of us would be kind of kick ass.  Don't you?

A chapter called, tentatively, "Okay Ever After: Stories of Hope and Strength".

Get to typin', girls. We all want to hear your story.


  1. You caught me on a day when, nine months since he split, I am low like a heartbroken teenager. But for every day I have like this, I'll have three where it doesn't bother me so much. Or I'm too pissed off to be sad. My wasband is a hoverer, even with a girlfriend, so I still haven't plotted out how to detach and get the space I need. I've figured out two things during this shitshow. The first is that when it feels like crap, when a wave of fear or hurt or anger or rejection or "how could he do this to me?" washes over you, sit in it. Do not try to make it go away. Just sit in the feeling, in the mud, and giving it attention will make it evaporate in twenty minutes or less. Even remembering later in the day that you felt so badly about that earlier won't hurt. The second thing I learned to do from Oprah was to distinguish "clean" pain from "dirty" pain. Clean pain is the way you feel when something bad happens to you or for you (or you learn something you'd rather not have known.) Dirty pain is going beyond that, to the things you're afraid of, the interpretations of what it could mean, the predictions of the future. If you have to be in pain, find clean pain. Tell yourself "in a year it won't hurt like this" over and over until the words start to sound like a different language. Do nothing. When it's time for you to do or say something, you will know in the moment what it should be. Before then, don't speculate and don't fret. Strength for me comes from saving my sons from a future full of bad choices like their father's and his father before him. Hope is that I'm young, and I believe I have a daughter out there, and a man who wants to have one with me. My therapist would tell me in the beginning to "just look at what you have today."

    Housfrau, I heart you.

    1. Awww Nell...this made me cry happy tears. Thank you. I heart you, too.

      Thanks for the Oprah thing, too. I hadn't heard that one before. Makes a lot of sense. I'm guilty of dirtying up a lot of things, pain included.

      Thank you for chiming in!

  2. It's been 3 months since my husband decided the grass was greener (and younger and sluttier) elsewhere...it's hard. I wouldn't say I'm on the other side yet. But, it does get easier. I can find a reason to smile and laugh every single day.

    I curled my hair today. My bestie tells me it's time to start "trying" (she even bought said curling iron). I've worn a ponytail forever. Forever. I put on lipstick and curled my hair today. And I know that there are better days ahead.

    This blog and chumplady.com have gotten me through. I see so many good people who've weathered the same storm. And they're all fighting the good fight. We might be chumps, but I'd rather be a chump than the alternative. :)

    1. Hey Amy! LAUGHING IS GOOD. Smiling is good! Curling your hair? AWESOME. Looking at yourself in the mirror and smiling at yourself, putting lipstick on your sweet mouth...all of that is SO GOOD. I'm proud of you.

      I like chumplady too. We have a lot of good company in this particular arena.

      Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jenny - you are a success story. You are amazingly strong, funny, and have a great gift for writing. Your ex is stupid to not recognize how valuable you are.

    I know I'm going to be okay when my kids do something so funny or touching and I'm there to see it. I'm there to love them and see them and be with them every single day. My husband is the idiot who walked away from us and if he's too dumb, selfish, or weak to be happy with what my kids and I had to offer him then he doesn't deserve to be a part of it.

    The women that I have met once I became a part of a club that I never wanted to join (the betrayed spouse/infidelity club) are the strongest, most caring people that I have ever had the privilege to meet. The common thread through us all is that we are GOOD people. Too good for the husbands who would do something so horrible to the ones they purportedly loved at one point in time.

    To the woman who googled and found you - you will get through this. You are stronger than you ever thought. You don't know how strong you are until you really don't have any choice. You will keep getting up every day and putting one foot in front of the other. And one day you won't have to forcibly do it, it will just be automatic and the joy of living with be yours again.


    1. Thank you Kay. I'm glad we connected. You are a true fighter, lady, and I have no doubt you're going to come through this shitstorm with flying colors.

      I'm amazed, too, at how awesome the women in this particular club are. You'd think we'd all be bitchy negative trolls but I've found all of you to be such kind and sweet people. Blows my mind.

      Thank you for sharing.

  4. I found your blog a few weeks ago. It has been a Godsend. I've been married 18 years, 3 kids ages 8,5 and 4. We've had problems for several years but now he is ready to divorce. My gut hurts and I am dreading telling family and friends....things will get better, right?

    1. Awww dear lady...YES it will get better. Big hugs to you, my friend. That painful pit in your stomach will go away eventually. I'm sorry you're dealing with this.

      You two were married quite a while before you had kids..I hear a lot of people say it's a mistake to have kids right away after getting hitched. Do you mind sharing what you think went wrong? Was there someone else?

      Hang in there, friend. And thank you for chiming in. You've come to the right place.

    2. We initially waited about 5 years to start a family. Then we couldn't get pregnant and so it took another 5 years to have a baby.
      Once the family started things went from normal bumps to more serious things. He felt unloved because I spent all my time and attention on the kids. He felt unheard because I would say I would try to do better but things never changed.
      A few years ago we went to counseling. After doing that, things still went downhill and he did have emotional affairs with 2 separate women. One was physical because they met to spend a day and evening together. She was also married, kids, but separated.
      I found out from a friend of a friend. He vowed he loved me and it was a mistake and was over. Then I found out this year he had started his contact with her again (she is out of state). I said it was over. He said he doesn't love me and he is tired of ruining both of our lives.
      But I still wish it could work out. We could just be a bad match, but we have 3 boys that deserve more than this.

  5. Funny I read this this morning. Today would've been my 15 wedding anniversary. I dropped the boy off with his dad early this morning for a trip out of town. It's also ironic the ex celebrated his 2nd anniversary with new wife on the 17th I think, which is also the 13th anniversary of my awesome dad's passing. I guess May is odd for me...sorry for rambling.

    1. Ramble all you want! I was just thinking about you the other day. Hoping the school year is wrapping up nicely for you and your sweet boy.

      May is a prickly one for me too. Aside from all of the frantic end-of-the-school-year stuff, it's full of birthdays and anniversaries here, too.

      Hugs to you. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Success Story? You ABSOLUTELY are. Don't ever think otherwise. I only have two kids and there are days when I wonder if I have a clue as to what I'm doing and think my spouse and I need extra help in keeping them on track. You have 4 great kids and great kids aren't born great, they are made. They come out wild eyed,kicking and screaming and it's up to us to take these little flailing balls of Play Doh and turn them into something useful. You have done that on your own despite being handed a set of circumstances akin to a crap sandwich. You are kind hearted, have great insight, funny as all heck and a great writer. Success Story? Yep, that's you. Big things are coming your way but don't ever discount the amazing person you are and job you have done so far.

  7. I like that you don't sugarcoat, Jenny. I think your honesty has to help people going through something similar more than anything else.

    Oh, and you need to write that memoir . . . "Okay Ever After." It's the perfect title.

  8. I love a new coping concept, and "clean pain" is the best one I've heard of in a long time. Let it be like a surgery, not a slow dismembering. Regroup in the new. Read "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales. He says that survivors are the ones who adapt to the new data.

    I filled about 15 notebooks with analyses of "why" and what I could have done differently. Not sure that was necessary, but it was probably a useful psychological exercise. When you're adultery-ed upon, and divorced-upon, there is a natural tendency to try and avoid that happening again. Yet, I know now, 30 years on, that my greatest contribution to the problem was being loving and loyal to someone who, at his very heart, didn't want that. He wanted to be free.

    Make a list of the things you don't miss. Mine was long ... I didn't miss having waitresses receive more attention from my husband than he gave to me, when we were in restaurants. I didn't miss finding little slips of paper with phone numbers on them here and there around the house. I didn't miss the weird chill I'd feel whenever I managed to somehow convince myself that all would be well, if I just kept loving. I didn't miss having his eyes rove up and down over my body, looking for something to criticize. I didn't miss long hours spent at home alone when he'd cancel our plans to go "somewhere" else. And ultimately, I didn't miss him at all. One quickly realizes that some people suck the lifeblood from you, and others nourish. Set your sails toward the nourishers, and be one to them.

    Make a list of everything you have not lost. I assure you that it will be long, as well.

    The freedom to rebuild your life the way you want it to be is a freedom to be cherished, especially when you realize that a true partnership is not possible with the man you thought would work with you on that.

    Everything on Jenny's blog and in the comments is food for thought and encouragement to keep on. I tried some divorce recovery groups but encountered great bitterness there, and so I moved on, not selecting people or groups because they shared my divorced status, but because they shared a passion for something that I did, too. Jenny's wonderful post about letting go of her identity as "divorced Jenny" is inspirational.

    Most importantly, if you are a person of faith, believe that God is in the business of love, and of relieving pain. For a while I prayed that God would restore my first husband to me, but the prayers hit the ceiling and dropped back on my head. It was as if God were saying, "Go forward. Leave him behind."

    In fact, as I drove away from our house with my car full of stuff, not knowing if I'd ever see the man again, I cried out in pain to the low, dark clouds I could see through the windshield. "God, my life is over." Softly ... but surely ... I heard and felt ... "No, it is just beginning."

    In those subsequent 30 years, I can tell you honestly that that was indeed the case. Work, school, travel, new friends ... and finally, when I was strong and ready, 13 years (and interestingly, 13 weird guys I dated that could fill a chapter in Jenny's date book!) past that cloudy day, walking down the aisle with a wonderful man who has proven to be a true partner and a true joy.

    There is no reason not to hope, and every reason to joyously live each moment that we have on this earth. Have values you believe in, and hold fast to them. If we have children, to live in joy and self-discipline as an example to them is the ultimate incentive. And if you live in joy and self-discipline by effort long enough, you will find that they eventually come naturally to you with little effort at all. Be well. Be you.

    1. Bravo, my friend!!!!!! Love this, love it so much. I tried one of those divorce support groups too...it was the most depressing bunch of people, EVER. What you wrote here is beautiful. I can practically see those clouds in the sky.

      Thank you, Becky.

  9. I am one of the crazies that still need hope. I need hope to know that I can survive, hope that I can be the same mom I was to my daughter, hope that she will not be royally f'd up with daddy issues. I'm 24 years old, my daughter will be 7 next month (yes, I started way too early...all because he had those bedroom eyes) I don't know how I did it, but I made a home for myself and my child without a high school degree without anything. I eventually went back and got my GED and went on to get my dental assisting diploma. We had a wonderful life. I had a man come in and "put a ring on it" right after she was born. That turned into an abusive hell that almost left me without a life and her without a mom. Once getting out of that hell, I decided...F them! Yes, I still have a place that gets wet at times but my friends can come by the glow of the streetlight, once my daughter is in bed and they can sure as hell be out before any cuddling will ever be involved. I protected myself and my child that way for a long time. We were truly happy, just us. I had a substantial amount in a savings account, my car was paid for, my apartment had furniture and I was...wait for it....19!! Next, a man comes along and when I say tall, dark and handsome... it doesn't describe his attractiveness, oh and he had bedroom eyes. I'm screwed!

  10. Beautiful whirlwind romance, he has a son 2 years older than my daughter. After a year, we moved in together. He owns four companies and has a padded pocket so much so I think they can put the people in straight jackets in a room with his wallet and they will be fine bouncing off it. This man gave me everything I ever wanted and my child too. Sold my car, bought me a fancy new one (of course in his name) I quit my job, sold everything inside my apartment. Can't furnish a home thats already furnished right? He was my best friend. We never had a day go by that we werent laughing our asses off. I fought a long custody battle for 2 years with his ex wife to gain custody of his son. We won. I continued to raise the kids and be madly in love with him as I know he was with me. Thats an amazing feeling, to know that this man who could have any woman in the world, wants me. Not just wants. Desires, loves and cares more than any person I have ever seen in my life. four years into it, a bout of drug abuse comes along on both sides. I stayed and took care of the kids still addicted while he ran off and claimed to be working. My grandmother got sick right before Christmas with lung cancer and passed away on April 17 this year. Things were bad, we were fighting all the time, we couldn't stand to be around each other. The drugs were to blame yes, but I pacified my grandmothers passing with them and the day she was buried I quit using. He continued using on for a few weeks and then stopped on Mother's Day when I came home to him telling me I needed to leave, we needed a separation because we were too angry with each other. Ok?? I am supposed to leave with no job, no money outside of yours and your credit cards, with a small child who calls you dad because you need space? Right. I left that night with my daughter and what does he do? Calls me, begs me to come home and just lay with him, just cuddle...no sex. I did like the stupid stupid stupid woman I am. It was wonderful, I came home we cuddled. No sex. We didn't even talk about our problems. We laughed again! Like old times! Holy Shit Batman, this may work! The next two days he was scarce, I didn't hear from him except when he wanted to call and argue. I stayed at my moms. Then Wednesday I found a job, I text him to let him know and what does he say? Let's celebrate. So I bring over oysters to celebrate. We had sex, mindblowing, earth shattering sex. We laughed same shit, old times right? Thursday...dick head pops right back out of his hiding spot to argue. Friday...our 5 year anniversary....ahhh Texts me and says happy would be anniversary so I wish him the same. I come to our house to pack some more of our things and he pulls in and tells me to go because he has an employee that is his good friend coming and they are going to have a few drinks. UMMMM NO! I refuse and take my Home Depot boxes inside and start packing away what is left of our lives.

  11. His good friend comes over and invites me to go to a club with him. I'm thinking this is strange, aren't you going with my man to have a few drinks? Of course I don't voice this and I carry more boxes inside. My ex comes in and I was sitting on our bed looking through a box of pictures. He becomes erratic and saying the most awful things, in order to hurt my feelings. I cry and ask him if this is a separation or if we are really over. He responds, we are over, not a separation and gathers his clothes so he can go to our lake house to get ready. His friend and employee calls, says that he needs 30 mins to take a shower and he will be ready he's just pulled out of our driveway to go do so. Ok. my ex leaves and I go meet his employee and we went to have a few drinks and share company. He proceeds to show me a text that my ex sent him earlier in the day of a picture of a woman who shares her birthday with our anniversary and says "something to keep the pecker pickled" hmmm I thought welp, tonights bad decision will not make itself...better get going. I had sex with his friend and employee. It took a few days for him to get wind and several nasty words later and a few days later he calls me. Wednesday, asks me to come over because he's going to help me move some furniture down. hmmm I am a stupid stupid stupid woman remember? I come over, he cries and tells me he doesn't want to fight anymore and I am the best friend he has ever had. That he will never have with another woman what he had with me. DUH! But that we can't be in a relationship because I crossed a line. hmmm ok. So we lay in bed, cuddle, old times again without sex. The next day hes a dick to me and wow was I expecting something different? So that evening I call and leave him a voicemail asking to come get the rest of our things because I found an apartment. No reply. I pull up to our house and here is a woman and her two kids, getting into his Jeep with him to go to our lake house. WTFFFFFFFF!! You can't be a father to your own son who I sat through a nasty ass custody battle with you....my daughter cries every damn day because her "daddy" doesn't want her. You won't call her but here you have this 40 year old hag and her two young daughters trying to play daddy....your son is with his grandparents and you havent seen him in a week. Is it me or am I in a damn desert hallucinating?? I didn't say a word and hes been with this woman every night since. Taken her in our fifth wheel camping, taking her to our lake house. Not dragging his ass into the office until 11am, leaving around 1 to go have lunch with her and then laying with her at night?? I know to look at my story you think oh...get the hell on with your life. This man was and still is the love of my life. I want him. But no, he gets clean after I am and he gives her the man I fell in love with. Not the man who was using with me. The MAN that used to be there. She has him. Ho is ugly I know, everyone knows, rode hard and hung up wet.

  12. I'm 24, not the ugliest but not saying that I'm the next Miss America either (you have to be a virgin and all) Hes 38. I'm on this damn roller coaster that just doesn't seem to stop. I bring it upon myself, I know. I come when he calls and now that hes with another woman, hes not calling. I feel as though I can't do this. I cant quit thinking about him and our life we had together. I hope that hag ho is only a rebound and he will come running back. But they have a 15 year friendship prior so I also have a feeling he will stay put. She isn't me though. I need help. I need to know that I will be ok. I need to know that he will come back? I'm not sure about that but I do want him back with every fiber of my being. I should be able to take mine and my daughters things out of storage by monday and move into our apartment. I know that space will be what we need. but I also feel that I need him. What happened to that 19 year old girl who wasn't scared? Who knew she could do anything and let him come and go by the street light? How can I get over him? How can I get rid of the sick feeling in my body? When will I be able to eat? When will I really sleep?

  13. It has been almost four year since I first found out my now-ex-husband was cheating on me, and just over three years since my divorce was finalized. Life DOES get better. I am in love again, my children have adjusted well, and I see happiness in my future. It took a long time for me to get to where I am today, and I still sometimes mourn the loss of the dream of having a happy, nuclear family life, but I am now on the other side. To every woman who is in the midst of the pain and fallout caused by infidelity...YOU will get here too.


  14. I so love all of the comments here. I'm only a few-week old member of this club, but I have a couple of ideas that have helped me so far.
    - Figure out when your weak times are and promise yourself to avoid contacting him during those times, for those are the times your censor is weak and you will regret it. (For me, it's in the morning. I wake up with something I just HAVE to say. No, I really don't and really shouldn't.)
    - Tell your mom. I was so worried to tell my mom (gosh, I hate hurting my mom and making her worry), but you know what? Moms are freaking awesome and they love you so much and when they tell you that you are strong and you will be ok, you totally believe them and you remember that you always have them to lean on. I just told my mom today (after hearing that my grandmother is very sick- lordy, sometimes life just wants to kick you in the arse and then do it again, doesn't it) and she was amazingly fantastic and we had such a great conversation, even through my tears. I wish I had confided in her sooner, but I think I was hoping this would all disappear.
    - Talk with your friends. Talk their ears off. Cry. They love you. They support you in hard times.
    - Appreciate the lessons you are learning. I have learned more about myself and things I need to do better through this process. I hope I will be a better person for having gone through it. I also have a newfound appreciation for people going through hard times during the holidays. I have spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family for the last 8 years. This year, I will not. I am sure it will be a hard day. People love to ask about your holiday plans (in totally well-meaning ways- this is a happy time of year for most!) I felt terrible the first time I was asked about my Thanksgiving plans, because I responded with tears and an admission that my husband had left a few weeks earlier. (Thank goodness this was a work friend and she was completely kind and understood!)
    - Be exceptionally kind to yourself. This crap is not for the faint of heart. I am sure it gets better. It must. I believe all of you ladies who have made it out the other side. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  15. Wow. I'm a googler who found your blog tonite. Can we go get a milkshake sister? My husband left me 4 weeks after I delivered our premie twins...it's been 6 months and still no answers or reason besides his lame "there was a void between us" crap. My life went from living in soho condo to moving into my mothers home with my babies in a split second. I did start showering which is just better for everyone involved and I smoke a ciggie late at night alone because it feels bizarrely wild (I'm not even a smoker). Thanks for this blog lady.
    It seems so far away but it's nice to know there is life after such devastation.


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