Mr Justice Nicholson, sitting at Belfast Crown Court, placed Roseanne Barry, 31, on probation and told her she had suffered enough and would be haunted forever by what she had done.
Barry was charged with murdering her husband Richard but her guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the prosecution on the grounds of provocation.
She stabbed him once in the chest during a row in the kitchen of their home in Belfast when he attacked her as she prepared a bottle for their baby daughter in July 1991.
The judge said he accepted she only meant to stab him in the arm. 'I am satisfied that what caused you to snap was not just one evening's ill-treatment, but the accumulation of six years of abuse.'
Mr Barry underwent a personality change when drunk and on the night he died had fought not only with his wife but also with a family friend, the judge said.
Barry reacted to the provocation but, being drunk herself that evening, did not know how badly her husband was hurt. When she realised the seriousness of his injuries she ran for help.
In the circumstances jailing her would serve no useful purpose, the judge said.