How To Heal a Broken Heart (Real-World Tips to Help You Deal)

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The pain that comes with illness or injury can be intense. But the pain of a broken heart hurts at a whole different level.

A Long Time Ago ...

I was walking along a moderately busy street, on a cold, drizzly night in South Bend, Indiana. I was only vaguely aware of the traffic whizzing alongside of me. My face was so wet from tears I barely noticed the rain.

The man I loved, the one who I’d been in a relationship with for years, the one who probably wouldn’t have gotten through school without my help, the one who I thought I wanted to marry, was cheating on me. As best I could tell, he’d been cheating on me for most of the time we’d been together.

I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Somewhere, deep down in my gut, a tiny voice had been niggling at me for years. It tried to warn me that something was wrong. But I pushed the voice aside. I silenced it with “reason.”

I didn’t want to know that the man I Ioved more than life itself was cheating on me.

But it had gotten to the point where I could no longer deny what I didn’t want to believe.

Beautiful woman in a bad marriage staring out through a rainy window

That’s When I Started to Wonder …

What would happen, I wondered, if I just walked out in front of those cars? The road was winding. In the dark and the rain a driver might not see me until it was too late.

If I got hit at the speed the cars were going, would I die? Or would I just get seriously messed up and have to live the rest of my life in a body that was broken as badly as my heart?

I paused to watch the traffic go by. As I did a car whirred past me, drenching my clothes as it raced through the puddles on the side of the road. The shock of the cold water on my legs brought me back to my senses.

Shaken, I turned forward and continued the long walk home.

I didn't realize it at the time, but as I turned away from that road, I had already started to heal.

How Do You Heal a Broken Heart?

If you Google, “how to heal a broken heart” you’ll find advertisements for everything from therapists and “breakup coaches,” to spellcasters who promise they can bring your lost love back.

The articles you’ll find in that same Google search are filled with advice like, “take time to grieve,” and “find a new source of joy.”

That’s great advice.

But when you’re crumpled on the floor sobbing your guts out, and it feels like the shards of your broken heart are ripping through your chest, telling yourself to “find a new source of joy,” just doesn’t cut it.

That’s especially true when the pain you’re dealing with comes from a divorce.

Not only have you lost your lover, your partner, and maybe your best friend, but you’ve also endangered your financial security and turned your family upside down.

It sucks.

While you can’t instantly eliminate your pain, you can take steps to understand it at a deeper level. That understanding helps.

Woman standing on a river bank in the rain with the saying: "The only way out is through."

The Five Stages of Grief

In her pioneering work with the dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief that everyone experiences when someone dies.

Those same stages of grief apply to any kind of major loss, including divorce.

The five stages of grief are:

Denial – (No! It’s not over! We can fix this! Just work with me!)

Anger – ([email protected]*# you! I don’t need you!)

Bargaining – (Please come back! If you come back, I’ll be better! I’ll change!)

Depression – (I’ll never find love again.  Ever. Life sucks.)

Acceptance – (This relationship is over, and that’s okay. I’m going to be okay.)

Knowing these five stages of grief is helpful. It makes you realize that you’re not alone.

You’re not the only human who has ever had to deal with loss.

What’s more, there’s a pattern to your loss. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to your suffering. All you have to do is not let yourself drown in a sea of sorrow in the middle.

Believing that you can do that, though, isn’t always easy.

Dirty man fighting his way out of a tunnel with the saying: "When You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going."

Embrace the Suck

When Sheryl Sandberg’s husband unexpectedly died of a random heart attack at 47 while they were on vacation, her Rabbi told her to “lean into the suck.

That wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

But there’s wisdom in those words.

Avoiding grief by pretending to be okay doesn’t work. Distracting ourselves with work, food, alcohol, or anything else we can find to numb the pain, ultimately leaves us feeling worse.

The only way to get past the pain is to feel it.

You’ve got to work through all the stages of grief before you can have any hope of getting to the other side. That means that, for a while at least, you’ve just got to live with a life that sucks.

That’s not easy – especially in today’s world.

We’ve all gotten used to getting what we want, when we want it.  Instant gratification is usually only one click away. We can do, and have, what we want, when we want it, and usually as often as we want it.

We’re not used to having to wait. We’re not used to having to wade through the muck and messiness that comes with a broken heart and a fractured life.

But you can’t rush through heartbreak like it’s just another item on your “To Do” list. (Finished with heartbreak? Check. Ready to move on? Check.)

You’ve got to live the heartbreak. You’ve got to give in to the pain and let yourself experience it. Once you do, then - and only then - can you start to let it go.

Sad woman drinking coffee from a cup with inscription: "Just because something ended doesn't mean it never should have been."

Easing the Pain of Heartbreak

While much of your healing happens over time, there are things you can do that will help you deal with your heartbreak faster.

1. Establish a “No Contact” rule.

Not seeing your ex every day will give you the space to grieve without being constantly reminded that your relationship is over.

Of course, to do that, you’ve got to be strong enough to tell your ex that you only want to communicate when it’s absolutely necessary (like when you need to talk about the kids). It helps to only communicate through text or email. Face-to-face communication makes grieving harder.

You’ve also got to be strong enough to resist the urge to break your own rule whenever you’re feeling down.

For example, if you need a sitter for the kids on Friday night, the only question you need to ask is “Can you take the kids on Friday night?” Asking, “What are you doing on Friday night because the kids need a sitter,” is NOT the same question!

2. Re-Discover You!

Every relationship involves some amount of compromise. That means that you probably stopped doing certain things you liked doing because your ex hated doing them. Or maybe you started doing things you really didn’t enjoy just because your ex liked them.

Now you can change that.

Take some time to re-discover what really makes you happy. Maybe you liked to read, or watch drippy movies, or hang out in coffee shops on Sunday morning. Maybe you liked camping, but your ex’s idea of “roughing it” was staying at a Marriott. Whatever you used to like to do, do it now!

If you don’t know what makes you happy, try thinking back to when you were a kid. What made you happy then? What if you did that again now? It doesn’t matter that you feel a little silly sitting on a swing next to a five year old. If swinging makes you happy, then swing away!

Woman kicking up dirt, running in the sunrise in the desert

3. Move.

Exercise is the cheapest drug on the planet.

When you move, your body releases endorphins, powerful “feel good” chemicals. Those natural chemicals can help lift you up when you’re feeling down. (Plus, as you start to get in better shape, your self-esteem will get a boost, too!)

Exercise will also help you sleep better. It will help you clear your mind (even if only for a while). It will also help you fill your time AND make you look better too!

So, instead of turning every night into a sob-fest, you can spend a couple hours at the gym first. You can always go home and have your sob-fest later.

4.  Resist the Urge to Make Stuff Up.

When a relationship ends – especially one that you wanted to last forever – we all have the tendency to rewrite history.

We either look at the relationship through rose colored glasses, or through glasses covered in black smoke. We tell ourselves that the relationship was awesome, wonderful, amazing – the best thing since sliced bread! Or we convince ourselves that everything sucked, our spouse was a shit, and that we were stupid for getting duped into staying in a marriage that was so bad.

Neither one of those scenarios is probably true. Instead, the truth probably was that your marriage – just like everyone else’s marriage – was both good AND bad. Some things WERE amazing. Others sucked.

You’ll get through your grief a lot faster (and with much less pain!) if you can acknowledge the reality of your marriage, rather than glamorizing or demonizing it.

5.  Practice Gratitude.

The last thing you feel like doing when you’re grieving a loss is to be grateful for what you have. Yet nothing will help you heal from divorce faster than focusing on what’s positive, while acknowledging what’s negative.

That doesn’t mean you have to walk around like Pollyanna, pretending that life is prefect. That’s called denial. That doesn’t work.

What WILL work is finding things in your life that you CAN be grateful for – even when it feels like your life is falling apart. Think you’ve got nothing to be grateful for? Are you alive? Are you healthy? Can you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell? Did you eat today? Are you living under a bridge, or do you have a roof over your head?

We take all of those things for granted. Yet, they’re all blessings. They’re gifts. Plenty of people would be thrilled to have those things in their life. So, instead of focusing on everything that’s WRONG with our life we spend a little time focusing on what’s RIGHT, we can at least start bringing things into balance.

Doing that WILL make you feel better.

Yellow sign that says "No More Pain" against a cloudy sky.

How Do You Know When Enough is Enough?

While giving yourself time to grieve is important, there IS such a thing as grieving too much. Many people get attached to their grief. When that happens, they get stuck in it.

As counterintuitive as it seems, you can get comfortable grieving, or being angry or sad. Being down becomes more than just a stage you’re going through. It becomes a way of life.

That’s not where you want to be. That is not the place from which you can rebuild a life that you love.

You want grief to be like a thunderstorm in your life. It should come in and do its thing for a while. Then, it should leave. (With luck it may even leave a rainbow in its wake!)

But, if grief has been raining in your life so long that you need an ark to keep from drowning, your grief has gone on too long.

Of course, knowing when you’ve crossed the line from healthy, natural grief into permanent misery is hard. Everyone goes through grief at their own pace. Some people will get through it more quickly. Others won’t.

What’s more, trying to rush through grief only prolongs the process. So knowing when your grief is becoming pathological can be hard to tell.

Even still, there are ways to judge whether you’ve gotten stuck in your grief.

For example, if you measure the time since your breakup in years rather than months, it may be time for you to get help to get over your loss. If your friends have stopped asking you out because they can’t bear to hear your breakup stories yet one more time, that’s also a sign that it may be time to move on.

Hands reaching up to a blue sky, releasing a bubble. Sun is shining.

Letting Go and Moving On

Letting go of a relationship or a marriage, especially one that took years, or decades, of your life, is hard. No matter what you do, you’re going to experience pain.

But if you can face that pain, embrace that pain, then allow yourself to let go of that pain, you will heal.

Give yourself time. Give yourself permission to be a little selfish and self-absorbed for a while. All of that is okay.

If you need help along the way, get it. Therapists and grief counselors can be an enormous help to get you through the roughest parts of your divorce. They can also provide you with the reality check you need when your grief has continued for longer than what’s healthy.

Never worked with a therapist before? That’s okay. There’s no shame in reaching out for help.

It’s far better to get the help you need than to stay stuck in a life you hate.

Finally, do your best to focus on the future and let go of your past. Take it one day at a time. Eventually, you will heal your broken heart.


This was originally posted on April 25, 2013 and updated on June 3, 2022.

Karen Covy

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches people to make hard decisions with confidence, and navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about the art and science of making difficult decisions in emotionally-charged circumstances. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


after divorce, coping with divorce, divorce and emotional health, divorce blog, life after divorce

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  • Karen, thank you for being vulnerable in sharing your story. I am mostly in the stage of acceptance but find myself simultaneously going the the stages at different times is the day. It has only been four months since my wife left me so I things are still raw. However, I am now able to look at the positives and the blessings I have in my life. I have found your blogs and advices helpful in my situation . Thank you for educating me about the divorce process and how to heal my own heart.

  • Wow Karen….thank you for your personal story. It is so nice to be able to connect and find other people that have been through this very same situation and experienced the very same reactions (no eating, sleeping, etc.). I have been married for 23 years when my husband cheated on me. It has been just over a year and my divorce was final yesterday. I found these words and realized this is exactly how I feel! “And then it happens…one day you wake up and you’re in this place. You’re in this place where everything feels right. Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive. Your vision is clear. You’re at peace, at peace with where you’ve been, at peace with what you’ve been through and at peace with where you’re headed.” -The Minds Journal.
    It really helps to hear your personal story, thanks for being so open!

  • I just wanted to thank you for emails but even though I read all your articles and in my mind they make sense but my heart ( after 40 years, 2/3 of my life), I just can’t seem to find a way to reduce the pain. Especially since the divorce has lingered on now for 31 months and not only did he leave but he managed to take my children, grandchildren and most of MY family with him. I am beginning to think I will never recover and most days I just want to disappear from life all together. I try all your suggestions and am getting weekly counseling but still nothing seems to help. I can only spend so much time occupying my mind and time but the nightmare still finds a way to bring me to tears each and every day. Again thank you and I will try again another day to find some peace. God Bless you for what you do. I look forward to more emails from you.

    • Oh my! I’m so sorry to hear how you are suffering.

      Stay with the counseling. Keep doing everything you can to heal. Hopefully you will find some peace soon!



  • Wow! Thanks for that personal story, Karen. It helps to know that you’ve been there too —it’s true, heartbreak is heartbreak, no matter how it happens. Sharing this gives you personal credibility with your target audience —and it’s inspiring to see how you’ve taken this personal pain along with your professional experience and leveraged that into helping others go through divorce. Thank you for putting the empathy you’ve gained into positive action!

  • Dear Karen,
    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I know that needed to hear this. I am at the acceptance and letting go stage, I find this stage among the most difficult for me. Learning how to accept that the man I was married to for over 20 years was not at all what I believed him to me. My family even scolds me sometimes and says “how could you not know, we all knew” that is devastating and gut wrenching. I love this man so much and made every sacrifice only to discover I was not only living a lie but that the truth really came out when we discovered he was doing certain things to me for the life insurance money. I have to let go and find me, just like I read. The challenge is I don’t know who I am yet.

    • You may think you don’t know who you are yet, but I can tell you are amazing just from what you’ve written!

      What you’re going through is hard, but when you come out on the other side you will be so much happier! You will also be stronger.

      As for your family, I’m sure they mean well. It’s easy for them to say “We all knew,” but when you’re the person in the thick of things, it’s NOT easy to see the forest for the trees. EVERYONE is blind! So try not to beat yourself up for not seeing what you now see. What’s important is that you learned the truth, and you’ve had the courage to move into that truth, even though it’s hard.

      Don’t worry too much about “finding yourself.” Just keep going. You will reconnect with yourself in time. When you do, life will look totally different (and so much better)!

      I wish you the best.


  • Well Karen I think that the individual weather there male or female young love or old love or middle-aged love they need to find something to put their energy into. Me myself when I went through my first divorce saying that I was an over-the-road truck driver I use seeing the beautiful sights of the country to help me get through everything. I was only married for 6 months years ago, unfortunately for me I Married Too Quickly because this beautiful woman wanted me. I was so I should not marry a ready-made family when my parents were alive I should get a woman that was single. But I said I would make an exception to an unspoken rule and I married a woman that have been married twice before. both of her children had had different fathers. I was their third father. After I found that out after marriage I was thinking to myself WTH? shortly thereafter we got married saying that I was a truck driver my wife’s drop dead gorgeous sister who was insurance sales woman convince me to sign a half a million-dollar insurance policy. So in case something happened to my wife I would receive a large sum of money, and if something happened to me she receive a large amount of money. So to make an epic Saga short, I had a near-death accident where I had to get extricated with the jaws of life and then I had to get airlifted to the ER and from North Carolina to South Carolina. I did not sustain any major injuries but when the doctor called to tell my wife I been in an accident she asked was I did or what? Needless to say when I found that out I was 100% pissed off. my wife being in the travel agency owning our own travel agency 911 years ago head really tore her business up and so she was hoping to recoup by marrying me. Then I found out she was cheating on me with her best friends husband. What gave it away to me, he would not tall to me after picking me up from the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Chicago. We had to drive out to Schaumburg. a few weeks later I asked her best friend a question and so she started putting two and two together and she decided to stop by the house. I was Trucking all across the country and then I heard about the drama this story could be a bestseller. To make a long story short once again cry it all out and then tell yourself that it is over you’re ready to move on. it took me almost 2 years to get over it. But the best part is that I found a beautiful woman who loves me inside and out from head to toe. she was not a materialistic gold digger as my first wife was. we had a real rough spot in my current marriage and that’s why I contacted you. Everything is working fine. I Thank You Mrs. Karen Covey. Remember: Until we speak, Always stay blessed. Pray more and worry less.

    • I’m so happy to hear that everything turned out well for you and that your marriage is doing great! I know it may seem a little weird since I’m a divorce lawyer, but the truth is I’m the biggest hopeless romantic on the planet! I honestly wish that no one ever needed me again! So, I’m totally happy for you and I wish you the best!

      Thank you for sharing your story!


  • Hi Karen, Thank you for your kindness to share your pain. Sometimes I go back in time to feel the love I had for my ex wife as I still miss her. Then I stop myself from going Down that road as there was so much mental abuse, it’s as though I have to regain the anger in order to not write her or call her. I don’t like having those feelings either. It’s been just about a year since we have separated. I Won’t be able to file for divorce in the state of North Carolina we have been separated for a year and one day.

    The reality of divorcing this woman I was married to for 30 years is painful, so I appreciate your thoughts of you sharing your pain.

    Sincerely, Rick Blake

    • Rick,

      I am so sorry to hear your pain. If I could make a suggestion? Right now, try not to judge your feelings. What do I mean?

      Right now you said you are using your anger to deal with your pain. There’s nothing wrong with that! Obviously, you don’t want to stay angry forever. But if you can use your anger to give you the strength to not write or call your wife, then that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually an amazing coping mechanism!

      Do your best to be kind to yourself. My guess is you’ve been through a lot. You probably have a lot more to go through still. (Sorry. Just being realistic!) But you can and will get through this time. Someday, you will be happy again. In the meantime, try to be kind to yourself along the way. You’re doing the best you can!


  • 26 days away and I have to see my x at the final hearing. I’m getting stronger every day, however feel I’ll lose what I gained by having to communicate at our final hearing. My heart was broken 3 years ago and I pray that it will be ok on May 22.

    • I know it will be hard, but try to think positively. The truth is, May 22 is just one day. Even if you have a temporary setback when you go to your final hearing, it’s just one day! You have your whole life ahead of you after that.

      You’re going to be okay. Really.



  • Karen,
    You hit it smack on. My x was a mean alcoholic. I put up with him, his cheating and his abuse for 25 years. During last 8 years, my parents both died,
    and my husband asked to split. So, I am alone and left to pay a mortgage (on a house I did not really want to get with him due to trust issues) alone. I am still a mess, but think it is due to loss of three people. I want you to know that you are an inspiration to me and appreciate your help. I don’t know why my x left me and he won’t say why. I wonder often why I am still alive, and what purpose I have to exist alone, and in debt, with no concern for my welfare from anyone, so I am afraid of the future and what it will bring me. This is just one of many things I now have to deal with. My x would never give me a reason why he left, but I do like not having to deal with his physical abuse. Still, it is hard to close this chapter and go on. It has helped to read your words. I consider ending my life with my own hands a sin, so I will do my best to deal with my life as it is. Happiness is something I hope to regain one day.
    Thank you for caring.
    J. Neuman

    • Oh my! I hear your pain through every word that you write!

      Please, please, if you have any thoughts of hurting yourself, get help now! Here is the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. They are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Please call them!

      I also STRONGLY encourage you to get other help as well. There are lots of therapists and counselors who can help you through this difficult time. Many of them work on a sliding scale basis. Many are covered by health insurance. There are lots of ways to pay for their services, even if you think you can’t afford them!

      As for figuring out why your ex left, the truth is, you may never know. I understand that you think that knowing the reason he left will give you closure. But, if you are open to it, let me suggest to you that you can get the closure you seek without ever learning the answer to the question, “Why.” Give yourself permission to just say: “I will never know why and that’s okay. What’s important is that I let this go and move on.”

      Is that easy? No! But is letting go worth it? Absolutely yes!

      In closing, once again, I encourage you to get help. Trying to go through this time alone is the worst thing you can do to yourself.

      Hang in there.


      PS If you’re interested in knowing more about why asking “Why” in divorce can actually hurt you, check out: What Are The 3 Divorce Questions You Should Not Ask?

    • Knowing the why really has not helped me. After 32 years of marriage that took me away from my family supporting my husband in his career in the ministry, he walked out. My husband was happy to say why, almost gleefully. A. he never loved me when he married me. B. By marrying he missed out on finding his “one true love”, “his soul mate”. C. He should not be stuck with a fat dumpy wife, as he feels he is very attractive and in great shape. All of which was awesome to hear. Not only that but the church provided him with a lawyer for the divorce, (I will not even comment on that) so his bill was 3000.00, where as mine was 20,000.00. Guess which lawyer did all the work. So not only did he get to walk away, I financed it so he could go find that “one true love”.
      The divorce has only been final for 5 months and I got nothing.He not only had a pro-bono lawyer he was also very good at what he did. If you think intimidation and threats makes for a good lawyer. Well I he took all the cash and I got the house so I have that and a mortgage to go with it. I gave up my career and moved away from my family to support his work in the church. I work as a substitute teacher and have for the last 20 years. Does not pay the bills or provide health insurance.
      Knowing the”why” does not change much. I still at 60 years old have to start my life over, go back school, get a career job with benefits. How is that going? It is not, no one will even give an interview to someone who has been out of the work force for so many years. I completely empathize with being afraid of the future. I fantasize about semi trucks and car exhaust as the answer to my pain and what I perceive as a hopeless future. I am 40,000.00 in debt, very scary. I do have 3 children who would suffer more then they are right now if something happened to me. Is that enough to keep me going? It has to be. There is nothing else.
      So “why” does not take away the pain, secure your future or pay the bills, it still leaves you asking WHY!

      • Oh my! I’m so sorry to hear your pain. It sounds like you are really having a rough time. I’m not surprised, given what you’ve been through.

        Please, whatever you do, remember your kids. You may be down, but you have so much to live for! If you are thinking of actually taking your life in any way, please get help. You can text the National Suicide Hotline. Just text CONNECT to 741741. They’re available 24/7, 365 days a year.

        I also suggest you connect with a good therapist as well. Many work on sliding scales, or are covered by health insurance if you have it. A good therapist can be a godsend right now and can help you work through this dark time so that you start to see a brighter future for yourself.

        Please, get help. Your divorce may be over, but you are not over it. That will take time, patience, and help. But it will happen. Things will get better.

        Hang in there.


  • I needed to hear this today! Thank you for sharing about yourself and about the grieving process.
    In my case I’m the one who wants the divorce as my husband would just remain in this difficult situation forever rather than do anything different. He’s a virtually impossible person to live with as he is committed to having a difficult life and then complaining incessantly about it. It’s such a deeply entrenched pattern and he knows no other way. His negativity just overwhelms and depresses me and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to deal with it for the entire 40years of the marriage!! I’m so tired and beaten down by the situation but as he’s a fighter at heart, have been scared to take the necessary steps toward divorce for fear of him doing something that will make my life worse than it already is. That said, I’m now committing to starting the process so that I may eventually have the peace and freedom I desire,
    Thanks again!

    • Cathy,

      I’m so glad my words helped. I hope they give you courage. You may (or may not!) have a battle ahead of you. But once the dust settles, there will be space for peace.

      I wish you the best.


  • Karen, I really appreciated reading your personal story tonight. I go back and forth in the stages of grief and after tonight, I am angry again. I had a brutal night of having to listen to my husband try and once again make me feel inadequate and like everything is all my fault. Tonight, once again, he played on my 12 year old daughter’s insecurities and pulled her into our problems, but he’s very good at manipulating situations, so she looks at him as her “hero” and me as “unapproachable”. I can’t even begin to tell you everything I do and have done for my little girl as I am sure all parents do. She and my husband are constantly butting heads and literally screaming at each other, yet she actually told me tonight, she can only talk to him and not me. It broke my heart. I don’t want my inevitable divorce, which my three children don’t know about yet, to be contentious. I want it to be as amicable as possible. I have tried to talk to my husband about possible scenarios and talking to a mediator, but he just ignores me. It’s now almost 3:00am and I am awake now because his usual pattern is to start his berating or emotional abuse is always around 11:00pm or 12:00am. He knows I have trouble sleeping, so I almost wonder if he does it on purpose. I have gotten used to his threats to leave which is about every other week or call a divorce attorney which occur at about the same frequency. What’s so sad about this whole situation is that I have been married to this man for almost 23 years, but through my counseling sessions I discovered I have never truly been happy. I looked over my life with him and really thought about it. I have asked and begged at times for him to make changes. For example, we have two outside lights hanging on either side of the garage door. Each light has three bulbs in it. I asked him in the middle of March, the night before a two day snow storm we had to please unscrew a decorative screw so I could put new bulbs in it. I had gotten out the ladder and was able to unscrew the first decorative screw on each light, but for some reason, I couldn’t unscrew the second one on either light. I tried everything and every tool I could find, but just couldn’t do it! I had to take my daughter to an activity that evening so I texted him and asked him to please do it for me when he got home so I could put new light bulbs in. He first texted me back okay. Then, he texted me and said, “Why tonight?” I said because there’s a two day snowstorm. I want to be able to see outside if we need to. He wrote back and said that it wasn’t necessary to do it that night. It’s still not done over a month later. It literally would have taken him about 2 minutes total. I know that was a long example, but that pretty much sums up a lot of my issues with him. He never follows through on anything. My 16 year old son has asked for years to learn how to mow the lawn and he still hasn’t taught him. If I knew how to use the lawnmower, I would show him! My husband will say “yes” and mean “no” and expect me to know that he meant “no”. I’m just worn out. We have tried marriage counseling, but it’s always my fault he says that it doesn’t work for us, although he is the one who told the marriage counselor he wasn’t going back anymore. The ironic thing is that he keeps telling me he loves me and I’m the “love of his life” and he would be lost without me, yet he constantly treats me lousy. I want to move forward with my life, but I have never been alone. I went from my parent’s house after graduate school to moving in with him when we got married. I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone the rest of my life. The problem is that my husband knows that and he uses that to try and get me upset. But, I am trying really hard stay positive and look to the future. I just had major surgery a little over 2 weeks ago, so while I can get around and drive etc., I can’t clean or lift anything and I need to rest a lot more than I would like to! Financially, we have nothing left since he was laid off this last time and I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 16 years. I have worked part-time at home for over 9 years, but not in my field. And at this point, I’m ready to make a career change. So, I am looking at ways to make that happen. So, after saying all of that….I enjoy reading your informational blogs and I really enjoyed reading your personal story tonight as well Karen too. It helped me realize, as well as reading everyone’s comments, that while my story may be different, I’m not alone. I’ll be okay, eventually. Thank you Karen & everyone!

    • Oh my goodness, you are SO not alone! The number of people who suffer in silence is mind-boggling! You have absolutely no idea how many couples LOOK like fine on the outside, but have problems that no one else knows about.

      That having been said, just because so many people aren’t happy that is no excuse to settle for a life that makes you unhappy, too.

      You said you are scared. I’m not surprised! You’ve been with the same person for decades! Who knows what leaving him will be like? Of course you are scared of doing that! But if you give in to your fears, you will have a life that is limited by those fears. Right now, your life doesn’t seem to be so happy. (Btw, I’m not saying you have to or should leave your husband. That’s not my decision to make. What I’m saying is that when you start facing your fears and doing whatever it is you think you can’t do, your life will start to shift.)

      You mentioned at length that you are want your husband to change. I totally understand. But, it doesn’t sound like that has worked for you. I doubt that it ever will. (Sorry!)

      Here’s what most people don’t want to believe: you will NEVER, ever, ever, change anyone else. The only person you can change is yourself. Period.

      What’s interesting is that, when you change yourself, the people around you suddenly change too. Why? Because YOU are different.

      So I encourage you to work on yourself. Fall in love with you! Educate and empower YOU! Build that new career, do the things you have always wanted to do. When you do, you may be amazed at how your life changes! (And it doesn’t even have to take a long time!)

      Good luck!


  • My serial cheating spouse asks me yesterday for a speed even though he moved out of the house in novermber. So I’m assuming he wants a divorce. I’m heartbroken, mad and have no idea of my future financially or mentally. I read you story but can’t see past 1 hour let alone months. Lost and unable to even get out of the bed or eat.

    • Sorry for the typos.
      He asked me for a separation yesterday. 3 days befor my 50th birthday and 1 day after I returned from my vacation.

    • My heart goes out to you! The beginning of a split is always the worst.

      If you can, find someone to talk to. That will help. Truly, though, for awhile you’re just going to feel awful. (Sorry!)

      Nothing I, or anyone else, can say or do right now is probably going to make you feel much better. Know, though, that you will get through this. Someday, your sun will shine again. In the meantime, just do your best. Hang on!


  • I probably sound ridiculous after reading through all these comments and everyone has been married for soooo long and my marriage only lasted a year and half before my husband left me. We were the “it” couple in college and we had so much fun dating, I thought we were perfect for each other! I have been through those stages multiple times usually keep going back to bargaining I have made a fool out of myself begging for him but when he packed his bags and walked out that door he started right away on those papers.. I tried so hard to change his mind. I feel like he took everything from me my heart, my life I had been building for the past year and half, and the hardest thing to accept my career.. I was in the dental hygiene program and I tried SOOOO hard to stay in.. but it was when I passed out in class from the lack of food I knew I had to take care of myself and the program was to intense I couldn’t even see patients without crying. There was like rock bottom and then me slightly below that!

    • As J.K. Rowling said, “Rock bottom was the solid foundation on which I built my life.”

      You are at your own rock bottom. Maybe, as you said, below it. What’s positive is, you have nowhere to go but up!

      Now, about your split. First of all, don’t apologize for commenting here because your marriage only lasted a year and a half before your husband walked out. So what? You’re suffering a terrible loss just like those who have been married much longer. Pain is pain. It doesn’t hurt less simply because you weren’t married for decades.

      Secondly, don’t apologize for begging him to stay. We ALL do that! You really loved him! You thought you were the perfect couple. Who wouldn’t want to do whatever it takes to keep that? The problem is, of course, that begging never works. (Sorry!) As you know, it just makes you feel worse. It doesn’t change him one bit.

      Finally, for awhile now, be kind to yourself. You’re not okay. You WILL BE okay. But, that’s going to take some time. Sadly, there is no way around your pain. You’ve just got to go through it, live it, cry with it, and deal with it. Eventually, it will pass. Really.

      If you’re a reader, you might want to pick up a copy of “How to Survive the Loss of a Love.” It was a lifesaver for me when I was going through my bad breakup.

      Of course, therapy is a great option too. Just having someone to talk to can help a lot.

      I can’t say anything here that will take away all of your pain. I wish I could. What I can tell you, as someone who has been through it, is that life will get better.



  • I really needed to hear your words and what you was going through with him I was going through with her. This is the most pain I’ve ever felt. We was supposed to be getting married on June 15th 2019. She wanted the best and biggest wedding I worked hard so I could get that for her. She wanted a big ring I did that too. I just feel dumb and hurt. But I hope I’m as strong as you are.

  • Dear Karen, I’m a 57 year old I was with my partner for twenty two years we have a daughter who has now moved in with me , my partner has a step father who keeps kissing and holding her, he hasn’t long lost his wife and I felt simply for him, I’m disabled and in chronic pain all the time, so I had a bed in the small room next to the living room . I overheard him saying that she should get rid of me as I was a cripple, I confronted him and a argument broke out, she sided with him so the next morning I withdrew my money and left, I found a place straight away and moved in.then a few weeks later he came on to me threatened me with violence, like all of us it’s heartbreaking and I cry every day . You’re advice is I know is going to save me, I’d like to thank you from my broken heart, thank you ever so much, god bless you, I wish you health and happiness, day by day xxxxxxx

    • While I’m flattered that you think my advice is going to save you, the truth is I don’t have that kind of power. You, on the other hand, do!

      You may be disabled and in chronic pain, but you also sound like you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for!

      I highly recommend that you get yourself a good therapist so that you can deal with your heartbreak more personally than what anyone can do online. If you like to read, you might want to check out this book: How to Survive the Loss of a Love. It is one of the best books out there on surviving heartbreak. It can help you heal your broken heart.

      As for how you let go, that takes time. Give yourself the gift of time.

      I wish you the best.


      PS If anyone threatens you with violence again, no matter who it is, call the police!

  • Very impressive & effective guide to navigating painful breakup. Thanks for sharing this stuff & it will be very much helpful for many individuals like me.

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