real life

'The first red flag my husband of 20 years was about to leave me.'

After being together for 22 years (married for 20 of them) and raising three beautiful kids together, my husband leaving was the last thing on my mind.

I thought we were going to be together until we died. I was wrong.

While I’ll never know the real reasons he sat me down one night and told me he was done, before packing his bags and disappearing into the night, I do know the first sign that something was amiss – something that played on my mind in the weeks before he left.

It sounds silly, but it was something as simple as his contact name in my phone.

For years, Jason’s* name in my iPhone was listed under ‘My Love’ with a string of three lovely smiley faces on the end. This had never so much as batted an eyelid until one evening over dinner Jason saw the nickname (for what must have been the millionth time) in my contacts list.

But on this one occasion something was different. Jason reached across his plate of chicken parmigiana and slid the phone across the glass to his side.

“We’re a bit old for these kind of things, aren’t we?” he said.

I didn’t know what to say. Before I had opened my mouth he had pressed the ‘Edit’ button, and was changing the name to Jason. No smileys, no emotion. Just Jason and nothing more.


LISTEN: Dr Ginni Mansberg shares the impact a divorce had on her. Post continues after. 

Over the next three weeks, I began to notice he was no longer calling me “Honey” like he always used to. Now, he’d refer to me only by my first name, and it had a cold edge off his tongue.

Aside from that… nothing changed. He still kissed me good morning every morning, he still cuddled me in front of the television, and complimented me every day. We went on our usual Friday night dates every week until the Friday he “couldn’t do it anymore”.

It may have been nothing. Perhaps he just felt it was juvenile to have such a nickname in my phone for the whole world to see.

Or perhaps he was just finding a way, any way, to distance himself from the mother of his children, the woman he promised to stay with forever.

I’ll never know. But I do know this was the first moment I thought to myself, ‘Maybe he’s not on the same page as me at all’.

And it just so turned out that feeling was devastatingly right.