“My wife dumped me” – Dr Louise answers your burning questions

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In March last year my wife and I separated after 22 years of marriage. It was just after her mother died from cancer, and priorto that I had looked after her mom for 18 months, taking her to hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

I even gave up my job to look after her. After her mom died, she said she wanted a separation as she didn’t have any use for me anymore. I’ve sold my car and belongings and am living out of a suitcase.

My wife refuses to tell me where she’s living now but I know she lives a life of luxury. I survive on a government grant of R1 860.  

We are still married and I go to her place of work every month for coffee. But lately her attitude towards me has changed. I suspect there’s a third party behind all this but I can’t prove it.

What do I do? I love her to bits and she knows that but I can’t go on chasing her all the time and just hoping things will turn around.

Do I divorce her (even though I can’t afford it) and simply move on, filled with sorrow that we ended up like this?

The problem between us started a few years ago and it’s both our faults.

She wanted the high life, which I couldn’t afford to give her.

Not-so-happy Harry, email

Dr Louise advice

It seems as if your wife hasn’t only dumped you but has decided she wants a life without worries and commitments after the death of her mother. The way she has treated you seems like very poor payback after everything you did for her mother.

Perhaps it’s time that you move on because you’ve given up everything and have received nothing in return. Why did you decide to give up your job to look after her mother?

That couldn’t have been the only option open to you. There must have been other alternatives and choosing that option wasn’t a smart thing to do.

Not having an income means you can’t live the way you want to live – you merely exist, like you are doing now.Find another job – not only so you can live better but also to keep yourself busy.

Focus on yourself now, not your wife as it’s unlikely she is going to return to you. She is enjoying a life free of responsibilities.

It’s an unfortunate fact that life is unfair and we don’t always get the things we feel we deserve. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to build the kind of life we want and make the most of the life we have.

Consider filing for divorce so you can close this chapter and move on.


I’m an athlete and on the verge of going professional. Some of my colleagues have told me they benefit from seeing a psychologist while others say they do not.

I don’t feel I need a psychologist as I enjoy my chosen sport (swimming) and my coach and I are doing well.

What added benefit could there be to seeing a psychologist?

Anonymous, email

Dr Louise advice

Mental training can be of great benefit to elite sportspeople. There will be times when you’re in better shape than most of your peers and are in a good mindset, and it is then that what lies in your subconscious mind makes a difference and could give you an edge, helping you to perform better than the competition.

There are a number of reasons elite athletes use mental training. Firstly, it can help decrease performance anxiety, which tends to sap one’s energy.

It can also be used to reinforce input from your coach and correct mistakes in your thinking. It can help “embed” a way of thinking in the subconscious mind that allows you to get and stay in the zone (so that you are performing at your optimum level).

It can also help you take your focus off the people you’re competing against and instead focus on your own abilities and your own performance. It can also enhance your confidence in your abilities.

I have often found elite sportspeople can be vulnerable to things that are said about them in the media and this can also be managed with mental training so that it doesn’t impact negatively on their future performance.

The same applies when you make what you consider a mistake on the field or track – mental training can help you bounce back so you’re not thrown by it.


My husband has changed radically over the past year. He used to enjoy socialising with people and had a good sense of humour.

But as a result of lockdown, we lost our business and started having financial problems – something we’d never had to deal with before. He no longer laughs and just criticises everything.

When we try to socialise it ends in an argument  because he’s become bitter about life and can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I can’t live with this surly, depressed, aggressive stranger who has nothing good to say about anything. What can I do?

Lianne, email

Dr Louise advice

Your husband is probably suffering from major depression which has been triggered by the trials and tribulations of the past year. Losing your business and the fallout from that must have been stressful.

Aggression is often associated with depression and the inability to see any positive in life is typical of depressed patients.

Your husband needs intensive therapy with a clinical psychologist and will most likely benefit from consulting a psychiatrist as well. These professionals can help him address the problem and once again see some light in life.  

‘The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived’– Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

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