Miss Sharlene from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeMiss Sharlene was the 11th woman I’d interviewed. She invited me to sit in her living room and listen to her stories. For four hours, she described each and every marriage in detail. Here was a woman, old enough to be my own mother, outlining over 40 years of marriage to three different men: an adulterer, an alleged drug dealer and a drug addict. For much of our conversation, I sat with my mouth hanging open. The remainder included laughter and a lot of mmmhmmms.

Concept: With Miss Sharlene, I grappled with re-telling each marriage. Did readers need to hear about each man? Ultimately, I figured that’s what would make her story different. The book didn’t have the life experience of an older woman to demonstrate how one could fall in and out of love and continue to be unhappily married over and over again.

Like many of the women, Miss Sharlene sounded as if her husbands had done something to her. But surely, I thought, she must’ve learned something about herself with each of these unions. So, I asked her one question in order to prompt self-reflection. What advice would you give to younger women? That’s when Miss Sharlene provided me with lessons:

  1. You have to learn a person before you get married, but learning a person happens on a daily basis.
  2. Just cause you get pregnant from somebody does not make him your man or your husband. It makes him your baby’s dad.
  3. There’s no perfect person. We as women are not perfect. We have imperfections. But the thing is, we’re looking for perfection in a man. And that’s where we go wrong.
  4. We can’t be in a relationship when the person feels like we are his savior. You can’t save a person.

She actually gave me seven lessons. I wrote these verbatim in the book, but placed them at strategic points so that they seemed as if she had applied them to each of her marriages.

Commentary: At the time of our conversation, Miss Sharlene was two years newly wed to her fourth husband. I was shocked. Was she a hopeless romantic? Was it religion and the bible that kept her seeking marriage? Maybe it was her age? I didn’t ask her any of these questions because our interview was already lengthy.

But this came to mind. It’s easy to judge Miss Sharlene, or any woman for that matter. When we read about someone who’s been married 3-4 times, it seems obvious what the “issue” is, even when the men and relationships seem different. But none of our so-called challenges are ever apparent to ourselves. They can be though.

We have to be willing to look in the mirror and face what’s there. Change cannot happen without self-reflection. We have to be willing to admit our backgrounds have not only affected us in the past, but also shaped who we are in the present, including what types of relationships we attract. And ultimately, we have to take responsibility for the choices we make, whether conscious or subconscious. Otherwise, we’re doomed to be stuck in a cycle, same relationship, different man.

With that said, I included Miss Sharlene in the Detached Wife section because she seemed to be disconnected, not from her husbands, but from the reality of her self.

unhappy-wifeQuite a few readers have told me this story was their favorite. What did you think about Miss Sharlene?

Next month we’ll be discussing the last wife in this section, Pamela. Be sure to order your copy and catch up so you can join the conversation!

Side note: Many thanks to Mek over at 10000hoursleft.wordpress.com for the featured image.

35 thoughts on “Miss Sharlene from The Unhappy Wife book

  1. Sure got some attention with this essay. And let us not forget that many women were raised to believe that their ‘purpose’ was to be a good wife to a man.
    Excellent interview. You really listened. Thank you. All my best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Let me know if you check it out. I discuss a different wife the second Friday of each month. And yes, I so agree. Sometimes it’s because we’re to busy looking forward; other times it’s because we’re too busy looking back; and often it’s because we don’t want to really see what’s in that mirror 😉


    1. I’m glad you mentioned this. It was paradoxical. Also, I’ve personally struggled with a similar idea. Do you take advice from the person who’s lived with through things and still hasn’t figured it out, or do you take advice from someone who has no experience with what you’re going through?

      Either way, I totally understand what you’re saying and agree with what you’ve said.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think we all know what’s right or true whether or not we’re actually living it, but ‘advice’ in my opinion is not as powerful as observed action or ones own experience (failures and successes). I realise Miss Sharlene was only answering the question, but there was more to take away ftom her actions and their consequences than her words.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ehem stop short changing me that extra zero. You know when someone keeps pronouncing your name wrong and you let it slip snd then they keep doing it and you’re like hmmm should I say something? 10000 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The onus was on me to say it the first time, like when I get called Bec or Meg- although if it’s a low investment transaction like a coffee order at a cafe I rarely go to, I can let it fly- but I’m a fairly loyal visitor of this café – the barista needs to get it right 😂 oh, and a soy decaf flat white for this short black thanks Kathy…

        Liked by 3 people

  3. That point about not being able to “save” anyone is particularly true. Those who have been victimized often feel they must save others to have an impact on the world. That approach may work for the world at large. It is not though a good dynamic for relationships.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. How very profound Kathy and Anna! Your comments also resonate with me on Anna’s latest post about being ‘rescued’. I do think that subconsciously (and perhaps even consciously), there are many who spend a lifetime ultimately trying to save/rescue themselves through relationships, and particularly within marriage. The sad part though is that they don’t even realise this.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I like and agree with Miss Sharlene’s advice, “There’s no perfect person…But the thing is, we’re looking for perfection in a man. And that’s where we go wrong.”

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Grr…I just wrote a long comment and lost it as I was showing my son something! Here it goes again.

    The first thought that comes to mind is that Miss Sharlene could have a book written about her life and marriages. I agree wholeheartedly with the lessons she’s learnt and also feel the most important thing is to truly know oneself first. What you want out of life, marriage? Why you’re getting married? For family reasons? Society?

    Reading your blog and about your book has got me thinking about marriage a lot and I wonder if In many ways marriage isn’t an institution and I wonder if at some stage it will become obsolete, although at the moment it seems as popular as ever. I’ve been married 18 years soon, mostly happy, some tougher times but we are stronger now than ever in our relationships and a lot more mature, deeply happy and working together. Even without problems such as drug addiction/adultery etc it’s not always an easy journey.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re absolutely right Annika! She’s lived through a few different marriages and has plenty to say about each one.

      I’m glad to hear you’re thinking about marriage in this way. In fact, I recently wrote an article that describes how millennials are shifting marriage in the very way you’ve just described.

      Yes. Yes. Marriage, no matter what is going on can be challenging…just because, well…life lol

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Miss Sharlene reminds me a bit of my mom. Mom was married 4 times as well. The first time when she was only 16 and pregnant. He was a drunk and maybe worse than that, a mama’s boy. They had 4 kids before he left her to go chase skirts as was the saying then. She married my father after that. He was also a drunk and quite abusive to her and the 4 older kids. She got sober while married to him and ended up leaving while he was at sea. Number 3 was to a pretty good guy, but ultimately a control freak and womanizer. Number 4 is the guy I call my father. He came into my life when I was 15 and he turned out to be the love of her life and she his. They were married for over 30 years when mom passed away. They had their ups and downs like every marriage but this time there was true love and commitment. I don’t know what made mom keep trying, but she did get it right in the end❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. lol…Reena, I’m laughing because you said being a “mama’s boy” is maybe worse than being a drunk lol That just might be true.

      She DOES sound just like Miss Sharlene! I’m glad to hear there was a “happy ending” after all 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I did find it hard not to judge Miss Sharlene in terms of not seeming to “get it” and therefore making the same mistake, different guy, over and over. But I think that for people like her (and Elizabeth Taylor, and even men who are serial husbands) it’s the excitement of the newness and the possibilities of every new marriage/new spouse that they become addicted to. Maybe they even subconsciously choose people they know it won’t work with so they can keep moving on and starting over. It’s so hard to know what really drives people, as you pointed out.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Not having read the book Kathy [sorry!:)], I can’t comment in great detail about Miss Sharlene’s marriages, but it did occur to me that maybe she liked the ‘state’ of marriage. I have no real idea what she hoped to gain from her marriages or even what she hoped to give/share with the men concerned from what you have said so far. We are not limited to how many marriages we can have in a lifetime, Perhaps Miss Sharlene (consciously or subconsciously) didn’t see marriage as a long term commitment, but as something to indulge in, much like a takeaway meal – something which satisfies in the moment, but is not necessarily what you would like to eat for the rest of your life. And perhaps, for some women, this works for them – it doesn’t, to my mind, mean that they are particularly flawed in any way, because, who amongst us has the perfect marriage? Are those who have been married only once, better marriage partners/less flawed/less wanting than those who have multiple marriages?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Now Marie…I thought we agreed that you were to get the book last month lol – JUST KIDDING my dear! You are free to comment without having read it 🙂

      I tend to agree with you about her liking the “state of marriage.” I also like that you say “we are not limited to how many marriages we can have in a lifetime.” This is true. And you do raise a great question at the end about comparing one-timers to those who have multiple marriages. I suppose the book shows the answer too. You can have been married one time and be just as ‘flawed’ as someone who’s married several.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s