This isn't going to be easy for me, but sometimes when you are hurting, bottling things up will just make things worse. I set up this blog as an outlet for my feelings, but for too long I haven't taken advantage of this and felt censored. This is going to a long post, so strap yourself in!
Things haven't been rosy for me over the last few years, and there has been many times when I have wanted to put my feelings in writing, but have felt unable too, in case it upset my husband. When I have shared things about feeling unhappy, it has just led to grief so I have left a lot of things unsaid.
Thank god for my friends, and my colleagues, who have been a shoulder to cry on over this difficult time, and without whom I would have cracked up a long time ago.
The first cracks started appearing a long time ago, when my son was born. I love my son dearly but at the time, the new arrival did put a strain on our marriage as he wasn't planned, and financially we weren't really in a great place in order to support a new member of the family.
My husband, out of the blue, got diagnosed with depression, and signed off work, which meant that he spent the bulk of my maternity leave in the house with me. What should have been a lovely time for me, bonding with my baby son, turned into a difficult time, with my husband and I spending every hour of the day with each other, and generally rubbing each other up the wrong way. I was suffering with post natal depression at the time which also didn't help matters. When he went back to work about a month before I was due to return, it was a great relief, and I finally felt I was able to enjoy my maternity leave, but unfortunately I have always felt a little resentment about losing out on this precious time for myself and my baby.
Since then, life was a struggle, especially financially. It wasn't helped by the fact that my husband at times had been overspending, and running up large debts on catalogues, loans etc which only compounded the issue. I was forced to work lots of overtime, 7 days a week to keep our heads above water. At one stage, I was working overtime, and also writing content for a website most evenings, which brought in extra cash, but also nearly led to me burning out. Much of this financial burden landed on me, and I felt exhausted. It also meant that I was missing out on precious times with my kids, which made me feel guilty. Most of the work around the house also fell on my shoulders. The resentment started to grow, although I still loved my husband but the cracks were definitely appearing.
Things started to improve for a while when I got a new job doing something I felt passionate about, and our financial situation improved. I no longer had to work lots of overtime, and we seemed to be getting by. I was spending more time with my children, although my husband was still struggling with his depression.
There were still problems, however, as I found that he rarely took the kids out to places on weekends, preferring to have peace and quiet while I spent quality time with them, and when he was feeling low, he would quite often retreat to bed in the evenings when I was sorting the kids out, and then reappear, once all the hard work had been done and they were put to bed. This also led me to feel resentful about the situation, and generally I felt like a door mat.
Things started to decline dramatically, when my husband went on his annual trip with his friends. He has always done this, and I have seen it as a positive thing (apart from the amount of drinking he would do, but more on this later) as he has lovely friends, and I do think it is good for the soul to have time away from the family at times.
This particular trip was to Butlins, and I knew that there was also a group of girls going separately which I knew. Me and the husband had a bit of a running joke, as one of these girls (whom I considered a friend) had been a bit flirtatious with him in the past. We had a bit of a joke about this before he went, and I told him to be good!
When he came back, he was quite subdued, but this was quite normal, as a weekend of drinking to excess will have this affect. Anyway, a few days later, he woke me in the middle of the night to tell me he had kissed the girl that we had talked about. I was devastated but quickly forgave him, as I blamed a mixture of the depression, alcohol and I convinced myself that the girl had deliberately sought to do this, to get her own back on me for something I had done a couple of years ago. Again, he signed himself off work and started taking Anti depressants, and was off for an extended period of time. He seemed to get better, and took up exercise, and cut down on alcohol. He lost lots of weight, but this seemed to be down to his new healthy lifestyle.
Despite my forgiveness, my trust had now been damaged, and would never fully be regained. In fact it was slowly, and surely chipped away at.
At Christmas time, a new problem emerged when I noticed that he was drinking to excess. We had always enjoyed a drink, and I'm not denying that I frequently used to share a bottle of wine with him in the evening. At this time, I decided to make changes to my lifestyle, so cut down on my drinking, but this was not the case for him. I bought alcohol in advance of Christmas but was reduced to hiding it as he kept drinking it. He seemed to have no self control what so ever. After Christmas, he did have periods where he cut down as I voiced my concerns, but this never lasted long. He started going down the pub, and getting absolutely wrecked. One evening, he popped out to the pub straight from work, for 'one' and came back about four hours later absolutely falling over drunk. He went up to bed, where my son was sleeping at the time, and proceeded to be sick all over the bedroom carpet, in front of my sleeping son. This was on a work night, and I felt absolutely disgusted with him. It was clear he had a problem with alcohol, and the next day I asked him to leave. This was the first time in my marriage that I had asked him to do this but I felt absolutely exasperated.
He was extremely remorseful and admitted he had a problem with alcohol. He was using it to feel better about himself. He went to the doctor, and the doctor recommended some support groups but he never followed this up, despite me asking him on a number of occasions. This was a frequent pattern in our marriage and he finds it incredibly difficult to motivate himself to do anything apart from go to work. We set some ground rules, like no drinking in the week and no drinking when the kids were around, which seemed to work well for a period.
Some time after this, I started suspecting he was drinking again. Some times his eyes were glazed, and he was slurring his words. I started to find empty wine bottles and cans in his car, and hidden around the house. Again when I challenged him about this, he said he was only drinking in secret, because I was 'nagging' him about drinking in the house. This made me feel frustrated and angry as he didn't appear to accept that what he was doing was problematic and made it sound like it was my problem. As far as I know he stopped drinking in secret, although I may be wrong on this.
I also found out around this time that he had been borrowing money through pay day loans to buy things like a guitar. I couldn't believe he had been so irresponsible again, especially after the financial mess we had previously been in. I have never been a big spender, and the strain of constantly having to rein in his spending was also taking its toll.
Matters came to a head again, when one afternoon, after drinking a bottle of wine on a Saturday afternoon (not following the ground rules as the kids were around!) he announced that he was popping down the pub for one. He said had fallen out with his friends so just wanted to get out. Despite my reservations, I said it was fine. Anyway, he turned up many hours later and told me he had driven to a nearby pub. I couldn't believe he had been so stupid and selfish. I just felt so angry. The next day I again asked him to leave. Again he was very remorseful and promised to change. He went to the doctors and told them his medication wasn't working, so they upped his medication and also referred him again to some agencies he could contact with support in reducing his drinking. The doctor told him that he wasn't an alcoholic (which I agree with) as he wasn't drinking all day every day but he was abusing alcohol and had a problem with it. To be fair to the husband, he did ring a telephone support line for some advice. he was also going to go to some support groups but again this never happened. We also reinstated the ground rules, but it didn't take long for these to start slipping again. I got fed up of 'nagging' him so just put up with it.
The doctor signed him off work again as he needed time for the increased medication to kick in.
He had cut down on his drinking, which I was happier with, and had started helping around the house more which I did appreciate. Despite all this, I couldn't honestly say I wasn't feeling very happy in my marriage and did start to wonder if our marriage would stand the test of time. It just felt that it was one thing after another, and the strain on me and my mental health was taking it's toll. My self esteem was rock bottom, I felt unloved, un- appreciated, fed up and a bit of a dogsbody. Not great!
Anyway, the final nail in the coffin finally arrived on the weekend. I had just come back from a girls trip to Munich which I really enjoyed. Some much needed time away with my best friends, made me feel a bit happier, and also improved my confidence. I came back, and tried to make a bit more effort with my husband as I realised I had been a bit cold towards him lately, with everything that had been going on. Anyway, he was helping out more in the house, and things seemed ok. That was until I found the receipt.
Who would have thought a tiny bit of paper would spell the end of our marriage. I picked up a receipt which had been dropped on the floor. I don't know what made me look, but something did. It was for a £25 bottle of Champagne that had been bought on Friday night, when he was supposedly playing snooker with his friends.
He had been going out once a week to play snooker for a few months, which I thought was good for him, as he didn't drink and was socialising with his friends.
Alarm bells started to ring, so I asked him about why he had been buying a bottle of Champagne. He initially lied and said he had just bought it on a whim, and wanted to treat himself as we had just been paid. I was cross as we haven't really got the money to do this so told him so. As I took a few minutes to think about it, it became obvious that he was lying to me, so I challenged him again. Then it all came out... the affair. He told me that he had been having an affair and it had been going on for months.
I just couldn't believe it- after all the times I had forgiven him, giving him support, cut him slack, been patient, put up with his shit, he had betrayed me in the ultimate way.
He told me that he had met this woman (I have no idea of who she is and I don't particularly want to know) on a night out when he had been very drunk- no surprise there!, and she had offered the chance of sex to him and he had taken it. Since then, he had kept on seeing her. He tells me that he kept on seeing her, as she threatened to tell me, but I have no idea if this is the truth or not.
One of the most ridiculous things is that, he actually got me to drop him off to her on Saturday night and I had no idea. He said he was going out with one of his best friends, and staying over his house, so I dropped him off near his friends house. This women lives near his friend so obviously he was staying with her.
Since I found out, my husband has left and moved into his parents house. He is utterly devastated and full of remorse, but I cannot feel sorry for him as he brought this on himself. I know he suffers with depression, and I do think that he has made some very bad choices as a result. He also seems to have been worse since he started taking medication which may very well be a factor, but there is only so much hurt that one person can take.
When I look back, the signs were there. He was being secretive with his phone, he started buying the kids a ridiculous amount of toys (obviously out of guilt), our sex life had declined, and he had bought himself a whole new wardrobe from the catalogue, after Christmas which again pissed me off, as we don't have the money.
I am now taking some much needed time to clear my head and collect my thoughts. My friends and family have been brilliant. Unfortunately I have had to take some time off work, as I don't really feel in a situation to function at the moment. My team have been incredibly supportive and I have no doubt that I will be back soon, and able to function again.
One thing I know is that the impact of this on my kids should be minimal. They will still see their daddy regularly and I am determined to keep things amicable. There haven't been any stand up blazing rows yet, and I really want to keep it that way for their sake. My kids adore their father, and despite his faults, I do still care about him. His friends have been really supportive and I hope he can end this self destructive phase, and start sorting himself out.
I do have some financial worries, as I am not sure how I will get by on just my salary, but I know I will do whatever it takes to get me and the kids through this.
I don't know what the future holds, and I know my husband still loves me, and wants to reconcile. It will take me some time to decide what I want, but one thing for sure is, that I will no longer be a door mat, and I am going to take control of my own destiny..