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Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: How Do I Deal With the Past?

Dear E. Jean,
I’ve been married to my husband for almost five years. We’ve had it pretty rough, and I’m concerned about our future. I was unfaithful to him many times at the beginning of our marriage. Two years ago we got back together to work things out.

But now we fight a lot because he’s still hurt; it’s understandable. However, he’s very vicious to me. He tells me I’m a whore and that he’s never having kids with me. He knows I’m sorry for what I did, and I am not going to run away from this situation.

When I ask him if he’ll ever get over this and why is he still with me, he says, “I’m not leaving because we are married.” That is all I get. No “I love you,” no nothing. He just tells me to “deal with the past.”

My question: How do I deal with the past? And how do I deal with him in a constructive way? I am trying everything to make him comfortable with me. I guess I deserve the verbal abuse, but he makes me feel — well, he makes me feel like crap. He has not worked in two years, and I am supporting us. I am paying for everything and I feel he does not appreciate me at all.

He is 37 and I am 23. I think he’s trying to change who I am, and it hurts the way he speaks to me, saying “I don’t want to have kids with a whore.” It really, really hurts! About a year ago I got pregnant. And I miscarried. I was heartbroken, but I guess it is best not to bring someone into the world until we’re in a better situation.

I’m sorry this is so long, but I wanted you to get a little bit of the picture and the situation of what we are going through. Help! What do I do? — At My Wit’s End

To see E. Jean's answer,


My Dear, My Wit’s End,

Your letter smashed my heart. I wish I could drive to your house in a big red convertible, kick your husband in the shins, and then spin you away with me for a month of celebrations.

I do not wish to add to your pain, Miss Wit's; I’m sure your husband possesses sterling qualities (else you would have loved him less). But I must be frank: The man is a bum. But not simply a bum; he’s a lazy, shoddy, seedy, needy, double-dealing, bottom-feeding, wife-berating bum. As a human being, he is undistinguished. As a husband, he is a disgrace.

Yes, you made one of the biggest mistakes of your life when you were unfaithful (which, the more I hear about the guy, the more I understand); but you have tried for two years to make amends. He will never forgive you. He will not change. Pack your bags and leave. You cannot fix him.

P.S. Because he’s losing his meal ticket, he may become desperate when you inform him that the marriage is over. Therefore, before you make any overt moves, speak to an attorney. Get everything in order. Move all money and titles into your accounts. If you have a joint account, move all money into a new personal account. Secure all your important papers — passport, birth certificate, title to the house, car registration, tax returns, etc. Ask a friend, parent, or pastor to be with you when you tell him. Do not be alone with him — ever — after he’s been told the marriage is over. If he so much as raises his voice, phone the police. You may have to take out a restraining order.

Take care, Miss Wit's! I will be pulling for you! Let us all know at DearSugar how you are doing!

To see more advice from E. Jean, visit Elle magazine and

TwistandShout TwistandShout 9 years
By "numerous times", maybe she means it was more than one session with the same person. I'm rooting for you, babe, and I hope that you can find it in you to get away. PS- No one "deserves" verbal abuse. Ever.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
He sounds very verbally abusive. And NO ONE deserves to be treated and talked to this way. PLEASE, please do not have children with this man. You and your child will pay for it for the rest of your lives. I agree with someone else who said that if he is willing to talk this way to you, imagine how he would treat a future child? Obviously you married too young. I am suspecting he chose a girl as young as you because he thought he would be able to control you more than a woman his own age. You are still young and have many opportunities for happiness in your life. If you are absolutely determined to stay with this man then seriously consider marriage counsellling. But I really don't think you should stay with him. An individual capable of being that vicious and cruel to someone they are supposed to love is not, fundamentally a good person. Nor would they make a good parent. Run Run Run. Always think of your own safety first, as E. Jean suggests. He sounds like he could be capable of worse than he is already doing. Imagine for a moment if you had an 17 or 18 year old daughter. She is young and full of life, happiness, freedom and possibilities. Would you want her to marry an abusive man in his 30's? Where the hell were your parents when all of this was happening?
DarlingDA DarlingDA 9 years
This man is scum, but even worse he is a predator. Honey, you were in your teens when you got together with him - he already got to party with his friends and date a couple different people. He took that away from you, and you subconsciously tried to get it back. A lot of young women cheat, I know I did. Just because you made mistakes when you were younger doesn't mean you should have to spend the rest of your life being punished. You deserve better, and you also deserve your life back. At 23 you should be out with your friends or in school or starting a career, not supporting an abusive manchild. Call a lawyer, and they will help you. If need be, you can take out a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) to keep him away, and in the long run file a restraining order against him. Start putting together the life you want to have, not the life someone is forcing you into.
Nina_79 Nina_79 9 years
Some things cannot be fixed and I think this is the case here. For this relationship to work, both of you need to move on. If he cannot forgive you for what happend it will never work and I don' think anything you do can make him forgive you if he isn't willing to.
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 9 years
Cheating on him was a horrible thing to do, but you certainly don't deserve to be treated so terribly. This guy is going to hold that over your head for the rest of your life. I would bet that he was always an ass. (I assume you dated him prior to getting married at 18. That makes him a 30 something child molester. Great character.) If it wasn't the "you're a whore" abuse, it would just be something else he would use to keep you down. This guy is still a creep, who just happens to have something major to hang over your head. Please follow E. Jean's advice (stellar advice, by the way) & protect yourself. Getting cheated on is horrible (speaking from experience), but two years is plenty long enough to move forward from it. If he was a decent guy & he was unable to move past it, he would have ended the marriage. This guy is a user. You do not owe him anything, no matter what you did.
austerity austerity 9 years
Eeew, please don't compare this guy to Josef Fritzl. There's a world of difference between an old-guy-young-girl relationship and a sicko who rapes and tortures and impregnates his own daughter... OT: Frankly, I think most commenters here are being too soft on you. It IS understandable that he's still very hurt and tries to take it out on you. You've been UNFAITHFUL to him MULTIPLE times, and he's calling you a whore. The word is a little harsh, but don't you think what you did (and did before him) may have been just a tad harsher? He's just trying to hurt you back just as hard, because HE'S hurt. You cheat on him this much, and we conclude that this guy is a bum and a loser? I don't quite agree. He should definitely stop verbally abusing you and leave you (rather than staying just to hurt you), but you're not the heroine of this story either! You should be with someone who satisfies you enough not to cheat, and he'd be better off with someone who wouldn't betray him. So leave each other.
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 9 years
Wow, this is a bad situation! This is so complicated, I stopped trying to decide whose side to look at this from. I think this relationship is bad for both of you and it can't go on like this for either of you. Make him choose between working on it with you or ending it now.
Lovaajn Lovaajn 9 years
Boy, he sounds like a real winner. I don't mean to be harsh about your husband, but there is truly something wrong with an adult man being attracted to a teenager. I would be afraid to bring a child into that relationship for that reason alone! Hello Josef Fritzl. There is also something really weird about an adult man being supported by his 23-year-old wife for TWO years. Honey, I can already tell you're too good for him. Go out and find yourself a guy who can grow with you, and support you. You were 18 when you married this man - you deserve a clean slate! Losers don't deserve anyone.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
Regardless of what either of you did in the past, a marriage, or any relationship had to be WORKED on. Sounds like he is refusing to work on anything. Yes you made mistakes and they are not okay, but you also deserve to be happy. Obviously he's got some real control over you, so I can imagine this would be hard. If you were going to stay in the relationship I would DEMAND counseling. If he won't go, that's the last straw.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
You both have alot of growing up to do.
katiedid0985 katiedid0985 9 years
IF this marriage was going to work you BOTH would need to deal with the past, not just you. If he can't get over what happened then he shouldn't have gotten back together with you. I agree with everyone else, he is verbally abusive and you shouldn't stay. He needs to grow up and support himself ALONE. I also agree with E.Jean's advice about getting your money and important documents together before you leave so he can't use them against you or manipulate you with them.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 9 years
Omg Divorce the loser, noone deserves to be with someone like that, hes completely using you and belittling you so you say because he doesn't want to lose his meal ticket. The longer he remains in control the longer he can lay around and do nothing. I honestly don't think any form of therapy will work for this complete tool. Get out while you can and Do Not Look Back. Good Luck.
sugarbritches sugarbritches 9 years
If it's been two years and he's still that upset and angry then your marriage is already broken. You don't deserve to be treated that way regardless of what you did. You've already accepted that what you did was wrong and I think it's reasonable that he would have been hurt but clearly after two years he's not going to get over it. Don't accept abuse in any fashion and never tell yourself you deserve it. Cut your losses and run like hell! Believe me a few years down the road you will be so glad you didn't have kids with this guy. You will have no ties to him and you will be living a new stage of your life. A child with this guy will only make the situation worse. Good luck and please take care of YOU.
designerel designerel 9 years
Sorry, but it's time to end it. There are so many things wrong here. While you did cheat, you don't deserve to be verbally abused. It is clear he has not forgiven you for cheating and probably never will. It is also not fair on you to support the both of you. Good luck. You are young, and you need to spend some time exploring the dating world instead of staying in an unhappy marriage with a jobless 37 year old.
elizabethsosewn elizabethsosewn 9 years
Good luck. [also, you being 23 and he being 37? disgusting. i may have dated a 24 year old when i was 17 but he wasn't TWICE my age..]
secretallstar secretallstar 9 years
Hmm... so 2 years ago he stopped working and 2 years ago you got back together. Very suspicious. I agree with the other ladies - why would you want to be with him, let alone have kids with him? Yes, you screwed up by cheating, but if he's still that furious and unwilling to forgive you he's not going to change. Get your accounts in order, get some support and get out of there. Good luck.
jillerin457 jillerin457 9 years
There is something seriously wrong with this guy. He married a TEENAGER, then expected her to behave like an adult. Cheating on him was indisputably wrong, but also understandable. Most people date around and grow up *before* they're married, not *while*, but your timeline didn't exactly allow for that. The fact that he chose to stay with you is commendable in theory, but he sounds like such a bitter, angry person, that I can't imagine any reason why you should keep putting up with him. Like Sugar said, if and when you decide to leave, make sure you've secured all your documents and things first, and have a witness there when you break the news!
jaxon jaxon 9 years
He sounds like a vulture. While I dont believe all May/December romances are like this yours OBVIOUSLY IS: He is looking for someone to control, who is young and naive. You cheated you were dead wrong but he made a decision to work things out which means he needed to let go. What concerned me the most was a)you feeling that you desrve his abuse and b) you said you got back together two years ago and he's been out of a job for TWO years. It seems he just wants to be lazy and is USING you. Leave as soon as you can. You can Obviously support yourself (if you've been supporting TWO for so long). Do not wait any longer my dear. You DO NOT DESERVE anyone's abuse!!
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
Wait... He's 37 and hasn't worked IN TWO YEARS????? I could understand that IF you guys had children, and he was at home taking care of them. But honey, this guy is a world-class LOSER! Drop him ASAP! Yes, you cheated. You were 18 though! You got married WAAAAY to young. I can totally understand having curiosity and wanting to experience life at such a young age. But he has to forgive you if he wants to stay. Otherwise, he needs to just keep his trap shut. I agree with E. Jean.. Drop this bum. And don't ever look back.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
OMG E. Jean, thank you for speaking the TRUTH, that was the most on point advice EVER! I appreciate when people who give advice don't sugar coat anything and don't waste your time being politically correct. I agree with you 1000% and would have said practically the same thing word for word! YOU ROCK.
onesong onesong 9 years
you don't deserve this. people have two choices: forgive a cheater and stay, or don't forgive and leave. you don't get to combine the two. i know it will be hard, but if he verbally abuses you in this way for your transgressions, can you IMAGINE how he will be with your children, if you have any? kids are not always perfect little angels, and it sounds like this man has a lot of trouble letting go. just think what it would be like for a little 8 year old to be berated nonstop for a mistake he made when he was 6. time to go, darlin.
linb linb 9 years
You're a cheater, and he is verbally abusing, lazy (no job!?) and controlling. Just leave - you two do not need to be together.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
um, you are 23 and he is 37. You have been married for 5 years, so you got married at 18 and he was 32?!? Presumably you dated before you got married. why is a 30-something year old man dating a teenager? That is sick. It sounds like you weren't even legal when the relationship began. There are so many things wrong with this relationship. The age thing, the cheating, & the way he treats you. He has every right to be mad, but he should end the relationship if he doesn't want to forgive you and move on. I would recommend marriage counseling. You both need to be committed to working through this. If he won't do this, then unfortunately, it's probably over.
sorrowja sorrowja 9 years
Forgiveness is a very hard thing specially if the person keeps hurting you in the same way over and over again. Nevertheless, that does not give him the right to verbally abuse you. I also get the feeling that he believe you own him something which explains the reason why at 37 he doesn't have a job and have you taking care of him. You're still young so you can surely walk away. And a lot of the comments says that you'll be happier with someone else and while I do hope that you find love with someone else. Please keep in mind that sometime we a better off by our self. start saving your money and if it feels right walk away. P.S: Please don't leave (because people tell you to) if you're unsure and he comes begging, you might go back because your heart wasn't ready to let go. And then you'll have a even bigger issue on your hand.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
Maybe he's trying to break your self esteem down so you won't feel like anyone would want you, so you won't cheat. (I don't know if that came out right) Anyway, he's a lot older than you and I'm sure he is WELL aware of this and is probably very insecure to begin with and then it just made it worse because you cheated. it sounds to me like he's just trying to break you down with abuse so he can have control. I don't think this sounds like a marriage you should stay in, but that's not for me to decide. Ask him to go to therapy with you. But you are young and you have to decide if this is the right choice for you. It doesn't sound like he wants the same things in life as you at all.
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