family

'My husband was about to move in with the woman he left me for. Then the pandemic hit.'

Last night my husband told me he wasn’t in love with me but he thought he was in love with his girlfriend. We both went to bed angry and hurt and haven’t spoken much since.

This may sound awful but familiar… after all, marriages end all the time. But the truth is I have known about his girlfriend since February. I have known he has wanted a divorce since November.

He moved out at the very beginning of March – only for the worldwide pandemic to hit immediately after.

Watch: Robin Bailey and Bec Sparrow share why their first marriages were big mistakes. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

It played out as the perfect, chaotic-but-distant backdrop to the cycle of emotional decimation and resilience that was separating from my husband of 20 years, supporting our children through it, starting a new part-time job, consulting lawyers and keeping my stress levels as low as possible because I also happen to have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago.

I was finally on an even keel emotionally. With medication and support from a psychologist, distraction at work, emotional and wine-filled circling from my girlfriends far and wide and lots of at-distant communication in bite-size chunks with my ex, I was accepting.

That he had lied to me for the last time and that he wasn’t the right person to spend the rest of my days with, that I was facing the end of my happily ever after.

That he was better off with the interstate girlfriend who was giving up her entire life to move in with a married man she met on a dating app. He was to be her problem, him and his infidelities. I was getting stronger.

But by Easter, my husband had moved back in. Economic hardships, homeschooling and my dodgy immune system meant it made the most sense for our family unit. The psychologists had told me to tell the kids that we will always be a family of four.

'By Easter my husband had moved back in. Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

He has not unpacked all his bags. His coffee machine is in the study. He is not in my way. He has accepted the ground rules and the interstate girlfriend only gets communicated with from the spare room he is squatting in.

The landscape is different. The main bedroom remains mine, the ensuite clean. But the fundamental elements remain. The prickly subjects, the awkward pauses, the hurtful blows. The insecurities of a phone turned over, the reminder of how you were not enough.

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast The Split discusses navigating separation. Post continues after audio.


The children are living care-free in the middle of our ruin. Our emotional waste dripping off our brows unnoticed by kids just laissez-faire enough to accept another new normal, just for now.

And he and I drink wine together. And start deep and meaningful conversations. Communications that never happened in our 20 years as we co-existed happily but not deeply.

Careful with each other but careless with our own selves. We start analysing how we could have been so content but yet were so miserable all at the same time.

Does the fact that we still bump into each other in the passage and share a kiss, still even share desperately sad or even more desperately meaningless sex, that I still call him love, that he still rubs my shoulders, does this mean there is hope?

Or is it the extreme way we are living that has caused a very natural instinctual banding together?

The girlfriend hangs on by a thread. Her interstate move postponed indefinitely. Her insecurity ramping up. Her solitude stark.

Karma, I say to him. He isn’t happy. He has to barb me back. And so we argue, back and forth, with no safe space to retreat to.

No quiet time to rage, no friends to rant with over a cappuccino. It’s relentless, the hurt and the hope, but it’s false. A false sense of this world that is full of that same hope of a better, more peaceful, closer humanity when the pandemic passes.

But for some, the respirators will be turned off and life support switched off.

Still, it’s a death I look forward to mourning properly.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

Feature image: Supplied.

00:00 / ???