My marriage was falling apart quicker than I’d expected, I’d only managed to save a few hundred dollars: it wasn’t going to be enough. How would I live on my own with my kids when I hadn’t been in regular work for years? One thing my husband and I had agreed on having children was that someone would stay at home.
“Do you want to get a house together?” I asked my friend, also a single mum. We sat side by side on my bed. My husband wouldn’t be home from work for another few hours. I wasn’t ready to tell him yet I was leaving.
“Yeah, I’d love that,” she said. “I’m glad you’re finally standing up for yourself.” I squeezed her hand in relief. Perhaps it would be okay.
Money should have been a red-flag from the start. His money-problems came out one day when we went to put furniture for our flat on an interest-free loan.
Watch: Mamamia Confessions: When I knew our relationship was over.
“We’ll have to put it under your name,” he said as we walked around the store, testing beds and couches. “I’ve got bad credit.” He was so open and honest with all of his flaws. I took it as a sign he wanted to change.
“Sure,” I replied. My credit rating was excellent. I’d been working for a couple of years and had always found budgeting easy.
“I’ve got debt from when I first moved out of home, for furniture and things,” he said. “I just kind of ignore it.”
“You mean you’ve never paid any of it?”
“No, they sent out letters but they never actually did anything, so...” We can fix it, I thought. No problem. It was one more area I could be supportive. No alarms sounded, and I signed the loan without hesitating.
Things progressed quickly and we were engaged within months, but wedding planning only made our money problems worse. Within a few weeks of being engaged, he quit his job and plunged into depression. He still wanted the big dream wedding we’d planned but in the end he was forced to compromise, and convinced his family to pay for the rest. We started married-life broke and still sinking in debt we couldn’t pay.
“Perhaps if you step back, he’ll step up?” my friend said. I sank into her couch and watched our babies play. I was working long hours three days a week, juggling the housework, and a baby who wouldn’t sleep. My husband had suddenly quit another job: the third in as many years and was slipping back into depression. I was exhausted and wanted to be home with my baby, but I knew he was struggling.
“I don’t know, he’s not doing well health-wise.” I didn’t tell her we’d had to get food parcels for the last few weeks, or about the deal I’d made with the petrol station so I could get to work.