I’m Living on Poverty Line Thanks to My Cheating Husband—What Should I Do?


Dear Newsweek,

I am a 68-year-old woman. While I was having surgery in 2022, my husband was notified by authorities that my 32-year-old son, who never missed a day of work, was found deceased at his home of natural causes. Because of the situation, he and my eldest son elected not to tell me until the next day.

My husband and I live almost 40 miles outside of the city. I stayed in town for another couple of weeks to bury my son and recover from my procedure. Before returning home, while at the doctor’s office for final clearance, I fell down the stairs at the office, severely broke my foot, and had to remain in town to recover for another 6 weeks.

I was completely immobile and stayed at the house I have kept since my children’s dad died in 2000, which is empty except for 2 old couches and a bar table.

Husband with younger woman
Stock image of an pensioner, and an insert stock image of an older man kissing a younger woman.
Getty Images

I am embarrassed to admit that my husband completely abandoned me for the whole summer after my surgery, after burying my son, and after breaking my foot, but that’s exactly what happened.

I had no money for food, meds, dr. appointments, and also had a broken car.

From April until August, I lost over 50 pounds. When I was able to have my car repaired, I called my husband to tell him that I’d be returning the next day.

The following day was the beginning of the end. He called before I left and told me he had changed the locks on house, that I don’t live there, and that if I showed up, I would be arrested.

He did all this to cover an affair he was having and he was unaware that I already knew about it. He was always a cheater, but this time I let it go too far.

We had been married for 14 years, and together for 20 years. He spent the summer with another woman, knowing he abandoned me physically, emotionally, and financially, at a time when I needed him most. We never had any problems in our marriage, I was completely devastated.

He has a big old country house, two cars, two boats, and enough man toys to furnish a warehouse. People get arrested for abandoning their children or animals, but what about a wife?

Since September, I have been living below the poverty [line], still living out of a suitcase, waiting and wondering how long it will be before any response about moving forward with divorce.

It is hard to believe or accept this is happening at this stage in our life, especially knowing he is sharing our life with another person and enjoying every moment.

Cindy, Unknown

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Find Something You Love To Do, Put Yourself First

Susan Leigh is a U.K.-based matrimonial and relationship counselor and co-author of ‘Your Divorce Handbook’.

This situation sounds devastating to you, but there are several things you would be advised to do. The first step is to get some legal support. The Citizens Advice Bureau [similar to a legal aid clinic in the U.S.] should be able to help initially, on whether your husband was entitled to change the locks on your shared home and keep you unsupported financially. Many family lawyers offer a free initial consultation, both options are worth exploring and will help you to feel that you’re taking control.

And whilst you say that there were no problems in your marriage, there were obviously issues that you ignored or went along with. He was having an affair and his actions toward you clearly indicate that he wasn’t especially happy in the relationship.

You’re 68, so you still have time to pick yourself up and start again. Maybe find an outlet where you’re appreciated, somewhere to gradually build your confidence and enable you to feel good about yourself. A part-time job or volunteering can enable you to freshen yourself up, meet people, maybe learn some new skills, and gradually reconnect with a new life.

Grieving the Future You Planned Together Is Normal, Take Your Time

Chase Cassine is a relationship expert and behavioral health specialist at DePaul Community Health Centers in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Many people believe that grief is associated only with death. Well, that is partly true because you can also grieve the loss of friendships, employment, and relationships with significant others. And, experiencing the stages of grief and loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Grief is not a one-dimensional and one-size-fits-all approach. It is a complicated experience that impacts us all with no exact timetable. With the loss of a spouse to divorce or death, you grieve the future that was planned with them and have to figure out life without them which is not an easy adjustment.

If you are angry and sad, learn to process these emotions and find constructive ways to work through them like gardening, yoga, cooking, and, connecting with a social group along with practicing mindfulness techniques to help alleviate the mental distress and ease the grieving process.


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