“Oh what a complicated web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott
Around a year ago, i was feeling particularly bored with my life. i was frustrated that as i approached my 50th birthday that i was in a rut. To those looking from the outside in it looked as if i had everything; a stable marriage of nearly 28 years, a good job, nice house, son doing well at university. All of those things were true, but actually that marriage was built on rocky foundations, perhaps set in quicksand. Few people in my life are aware of the truth behind the relationship between my husband and me. They know that we lived close to each other in our home town. They know that we first dated when i was just 15 and that we married soon after i qualified as a nurse. He was my only serious boyfriend. The only man i had had sex with. We seemed to be just right together, we loved and cared about each other, so people weren’t surprised that we married so young (21 and 25).
Within 5 years though we were leading practically separate lives. He claimed he needed to work away from home quite a bit and at the same time i was working shifts, including nights, as a nurse. Our relationship was often volatile, as i tried to get him to be the kind of husband i thought i wanted (one who pulled his weight around the house mainly). Often when we were invited to go out with friends, he either didn’t want to go, or wasn’t around, looking back he was almost contemptuous of them (though not to their faces), so they drifted away. At some point i discovered he was seeing someone at work and after much consideration on both our parts he told me he had ended the other relationship. i was in love, i wanted our marriage to work, and so i forgave and i trusted. We told no one about what had happened, though i did go and stay with a friend who had recently had a baby and seem to remember hinting that things were not going well. It later transpired that when i was away, hubby had his lady friend to stay in our house, in my bed.
In 1990 i became pregnant with our son. i was oblivious to the fact that my husband was involved in a long term relationship with another woman. i was blind and deaf, wrapped up as i was in the world of myself and my son. Hubby worked away, that was what i and others knew. i remember a neighbour asking me if he still lived with me. i was mortified that they would think that, but looking back he was rarely home. On occasions we would go for Sunday lunch to my parents, meeting a few streets away in separate cars. We would then arrive for the family gathering together and later, leave together and then go our separate ways.
One day when my son was around 3, on a Saturday lunchtime, i was ironing in my dining room while my son played nearby. Hubby was apparently at work. A woman turned up at the door and i invited her in. She told me that she was in a relationship with my husband and that what was more, they were engaged to be married! I was incredulous; how could this be in any way true? He arrived home and shooed her away. i was in shock and for that reason can’t exactly remember the rest of that day or the next few. A letter arrived, telling me all that she and my husband did together. It told me of weekends away, holidays, family events even an engagement party. Much of this has been denied since. Hubby maintains that she was obsessed with him and that he was too weak to say no. Somewhere between the two is probably the truth.
I have spent a lot of time since that time wondering why i stayed with my husband then. i do know that i was very frightened, of facing people, of having to cope alone, of the financial implications. So despite the fact that i didn’t trust him. That every time he touched me, my skin crawled. That the time we were together was very difficult. We carried on. He ended the relationship (probably not immediately) and we carried on. We lived and worked. We did things together and apart. We settled down into a long period of relative stability.
i did tell one or two friends, but not friends who knew my family and certainly not my family. Though i was so miserable during that time i look back and wonder that no one saw how unhappy i was. i wonder that no one asked me if everything was ok.
So that is the story of my marriage. The deceit and the lies of nearly 20 years have probably led me to the place i am now. That is why, when i started this thing with Sir, after a few months it became impossible for me to continue to lie to hubby about it. That is why i really want to tell everyone i know that the long term relationship they know about it something of a sham. It is a warning that while you can paper over the cracks, you can’t actually prevent the whole thing coming tumbling down eventually.
There is a bit more to this, but i will leave it till later …….. To be continued.