Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My husband "Steve" and I have been married for eight years, and together for a total of 12. He's 31; I'm 28. Five years ago I cheated on him with my best friend. My husband found out about it and I came clean about everything. I haven't seen or been in touch with the other person since then. For the past five years my life has been a living hell. Steve goes through my phone, texts, calls, emails, social media and mail. I just ignore this because I have nothing to hide. If I'm talking on the phone I'm instantly accused of talking to "my boyfriend." He has been emotionally and verbally abusive, and has been physically abusive twice. When I suggested marriage counseling he said I "wasn't worth it, never have been and never will be." He's "thrown me out" on numerous occasions and then once I pack up my personal belongings he becomes loving and caring toward me. Two weeks ago he sent me a text saying I had two hours to get home or he was throwing all of my stuff in the front lawn. When I got home he had all of my stuff packed. I moved out. Steve and I have talked, but he still refuses marriage counseling. He wants me to move back in, says he loves me and doesn't want me to leave. He said he will give me a month to move back in or he's filing for divorce. I don't know what to do. I've lost all but one of my friends and have lost contact with most of my family because of Steve, so I don't have many people to talk to. I know the easiest thing would be to go back to him, but I just feel in a few months everything will go back to the way it was.

Walking on Eggshells

DEAR WALKING: Please, stay away. Do not return to this relationship. Your husband has locked you into a classic cycle of abuse, manipulation, rage and blame. This will continue until you figure out how to stay permanently away from him.

If you give in to "Steve's" emotional manipulation and return to cohabit with him, he may likely raise the stakes during the next cycle. This is dangerous.

You have already lost friends and family members due to their frustration watching helplessly while you stay in an abusive relationship. Divorce and distance -- not couples' counseling -- is the answer for you two. You should definitely pursue counseling on your own.

DEAR AMY: I am one of those who gets tongue-tied and intimidated about what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. For too long I have procrastinated on writing a note to the point of doing nothing. I saved all the notes that I received when my Mom died and I sometimes refer to those for inspiration when I have to write a note to a friend who is grieving. You have discussed some of the bad, inadvertent things people say, such as "Don't feel guilty," "Everything happens for a reason" and "It's not your fault." I think readers need more concrete directions of real words to say. You have a terrific audience and if you asked them to provide the nice things that people have said when they are grieving, you will get some fabulous responses that the rest of us can use.

Reader

DEAR READER: Great idea. I will share "real words" from other readers.

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DEAR AMY: One thing you missed in your answer to "Waiting for the Dough," the legal assistant whose boss never paid her on time. She's acting as an administrative assistant and has been for 10 years. She isn't an independent worker and she has no other clients. It is absolutely illegal for her boss to pay her as an independent contractor. She's an employee and the boss owes all sorts of back taxes and penalties. If she ever wants to rock the boat, she can file a complaint with her local department of labor.

Evil HR Lady

DEAR LADY: Many responses echo yours. Thank you.