About six years ago, Jane and I were good. She had started a new job and the kids were both settled at their new school. She had been busy a lot at the time, working late and leaving early, so we hadn’t chatted for a while. But we had been married for twelve years, and that was par for the course some months. We had a great dinner that Tuesday night and the kids went off to bed.
Then my wife dropped the bomb that was going to change my life. She said that she no longer loved me and wanted to leave me. At first, I was simply confused. She wasn’t having an affair. What did this mean exactly? Sure, we’d had our ups and downs, and for a few years when the kids were small, things got really rocky. But we were happily married, weren’t we?
Apparently not. She was miserable, she told me. Then it got worse. She told me that not only had she fallen out of love with me, but she ‘didn’t even like me’. She was upset and confused and I ended up apologising for myself that night. Neither of us knew what to do. The next morning I left in a daze to take the kids to school. Nothing had changed on the surface, but everything was different. I didn’t understand what was going on with her, and I stupidly thought it would pass. I told her to think it over.
A week later, she said she wanted a separation. It felt surreal to me, and we tried to explain it to the kids. I had no idea how to fix the problem – I didn’t even know what was wrong. I was numb, and I just carried on as usual, but now I was living in a flat instead of our home. Weeks dragged by. Then one morning I didn’t get out of bed. I stayed in bed for the entire week, and on Monday I resigned from my job. My company gave me a month’s leave and told me to come back when I had sorted things out.
During that time, my head started to clear a bit. Jane and I chatted a lot, and the kids came to me every few days. I started to look back at our relationship and couldn’t pinpoint when things had changed. For me, they still hadn’t; I adored her.
The divorce took two years to finalise. A month later, I met a fantastic woman, Theresa, through friends. She has two kids of her own, and we went on to buy a house together.
A year later, my children decided that they wanted to live with us. That was hard for Jane, but she has them on weekends and over lots of holidays. She has dated a few guys, but there hasn’t been anything serious over the years. A year ago, she hinted one night that she missed me and that she wanted to reconcile. I would have done anything to get her back for so many years, but now it’s too complicated to turn back the clock. I own a house and have a life with Theresa, who is fiery and feisty, and thinks I’m pretty cool.
Think twice about leaving someone because you’ve fallen ‘out of love’ with them, especially if they’re still willing to give it a shot. Let go of the idea that that heady, intoxicating, passionate love is going to last forever. Then you will have the space to find a new way to create passion without all those expectations, and a whole new world can open up to you.
Her story: Cocktails, cocaine and kids
The day we got married, we were both high. It was crazy. We were both crazy. We partied for two days and then crashed. We both did coke, but Rory would do anything. He was loud, hilarious and incredibly sexy. Six months later, I found out I was pregnant. Rory was ecstatic. He celebrated with a four-day bender. I quit smoking, drinking and drugs.
When Tegan was about six months old, I went out to a party. I had fun, but not as much fun as I used to. Rory was still living it up, though. I found a wrap lying on the kitchen floor one day when Tegan had just begun to crawl. If we stayed at home, Rory would drink; when we went out, he would take drugs. I didn’t even really know how often he did it, but it must have been a lot, because he lost job after job.
Still, he was the greatest dad ever. He did the school lifts and played all weekend (when he wasn’t high). But then he would go on benders, not coming home for days. Eventually, I gave him an ultimatum: it’s the drugs or me. He went into rehab and was clean for three months. Then the dealer arrived at our house to collect money one night, and I knew it was over. Rory was back on the drugs, and I kicked him out.
My heart was broken, but I had to accept that I was married to an addict. I may have accepted it, but I was scared even to leave Tegan with him. Another bout of rehab and Rory stayed clean for a year. I missed him so badly, and we decided to give it another shot. I was in heaven. And Tegan was over the moon to have his dad back.
Then the cycle started again. Friends told me he was using, but I didn’t want to believe it. He left Tegan at school a few times, then he didn’t come home for two nights in a row, and I knew. I finally went through with the divorce.
Now I see him when he comes to collect Tegan for a supervised visit, and my heart lurches every time. He is gorgeous, and most times I just want to leap into bed with him. I would take him back in a heartbeat if he was clean. He is the love of my life, but I can’t make a life with him.
If you’re getting into a relationship with your partner expecting love to make it work, then you’re probably heading for some kind of relationship failure.