Dear Natalie Joyce,
This letter’s not just for you, it’s also for any woman out there whose marriage has just ended not by her choice.
I want to thank you for being so honest. You’re angry, you feel betrayed, you feel ripped off. And you have every right to feel that way. Most women would. I did – even though I ended my marriage. I’ve had a few friends in your position. Some saw it coming, some were blind-sided. But all of them expressed the sentiment:
“I gave him the best years of my life.”
Like you, these women have invested everything in their husbands. Sacrificed careers, and maybe some personal dreams. Sure, that’s the deal you made – but now he’s reneged on that deal.
You’ve been married for 24 years, and he’s thrown that away. And now, you’re 24 years older, and the future you expected to have has been torn away from you.
“This situation is devastating on many fronts,” you said, in a statement published by The Australian. “For my girls who are affected by the family breakdown and for me as a wife… who placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life.”
It's true, your life would have been very different if you'd not married and had children, if you'd dedicated yourself to your career, rather than your four daughters.
If you hadn't had the misfortune of marrying a man who would disappoint you.
It's also true that you were in university when you met him, and so have spent most of your adult life with him. Given him most of your adult life.
But you still have the rest of your adult life ahead of you.
And that's why the best is yet to come.
That's not supposed to be a trite 'silver lining'. This isn't about "embracing the next chapter" and all those clichés you are no doubt sick of hearing.
This is practical advice, from a woman who's endured the end of a marriage. They were great years, the years of your young adulthood, the early years of child-raising; but they weren't necessarily your "best years." You've evidently had some very unhappy times in your marriage, and in your home. You've spoken about how your youngest daughter has never known "anything but politics. "
Barnaby wasn't the father you thought he'd be, or that perhaps you imagined for your children. You must have had times when you hoped for so much more for them. I know I did, for my son.
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I recall with clarity that sinking feeling of bitter disappointment. You'd made peace with the fact you didn't matter, as long as your children did.
And then there's the moment of devastation when you realise that you're not even getting that - that the only person he cares about is himself.
But you care about him, and your family, and the sanctity of marriage, and try to make it work. Until he suddenly decides he doesn't respect any of those things.
And then: cue blind rage.
One day, after the anger subsides a bit, there's the moment when you will see a future without that person. Where that person won't have the power to crush your expectations, or the opportunity to betray his commitment to his family.
And, eventually, you realise that without that person, there's hope.
Natalie, Barnaby has taken a lot from you - but he's now given you a chance to hope for better times, without it being dependent on anyone else but your glorious self. You'll make your own future.
The best is definitely yet to come.