My decision to leave my husband came when I read a text he sent when my son was two years old.
I didn’t see it coming, but I should have.
From the moment our son was born, nothing changed for my husband. He stayed in our marital bed whilst I moved into the nursery to do night duty with our son. He continued his long Friday lunches, that always turned into Friday night drinks, because they were networking opportunities. He had always played Thursday night sport – he didn’t ever even miss one week.
I supported him 100 percent in his role of breadwinner for our family – including happily giving him downtime – and asking my parents for money to support his business.
I’m not trying to sound like a martyr – I strongly believed that there were roles between the parents because we both couldn’t do everything, and this was a marriage and we had to support each other. I was too young at the time to realise the feeling, and respect, wasn’t mutual.
Because the real problem was, the one thing I really wanted from him, he wouldn’t give me.
He absolutely hated telling me what his plans were.
Would he be home in time for dinner? Could I book a haircut on a Saturday morning? Was he having drinks with his mates straight from work?
Who knew – because he certainly refused to tell me. He claimed he didn’t have to.
It was a weird shift in our marriage that I hadn’t expected – this stubborn reluctance to tell us when he was going to participate in our lives.
As a result of his disinterest in participating in our adjusted family life, our marriage, where we had once been ‘best friends’ and an equal partnership, floundered. We fought, and fought about it; I just needed something from him to show we made a difference.
Which is why, when I came across a text message on his phone one Friday morning, I knew I had to leave him.
Mamamia Out Loud discusses: does your relationship pass the loaf of bread test? Post continues after.
Want to hear to more? Subscribe to Mamamia Out Loud.
On that morning, he was in the shower, and his phone kept pinging. I checked it, to see if it was something urgent.
It was a group message between his sporting club mates about a “do over” that night, after a big post-match session the previous night.
I knew it had been big, because I’d heard him get in at midnight. This morning, he’d woken at 8am, and headed straight for the shower, without even checking in on me and the baby in the kitchen – meaning that we hadn’t seen him since the previous morning.
But evidently, my husband had made the time to send a few replies. I didn’t know what to make of his last one, which read:
“Don’t think I can make it tonight. SWMBO will say no.”
I was bemused – what did ‘SWMBO’ mean? It presumably alluded to me – but what did it stand for?
And also – he hadn’t asked me about that night, so I was annoyed he’d blamed it on me. I went into the bathroom with the phone and asked my husband what ‘SWMBO’ meant. He wasn’t mad I’d looked at his phone. He was totally unmoved by having to explain the message to me.
“It means ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’,” he said, casually.
I felt like I’d been slapped in the face.
It wasn’t a matter of ‘obeying’ me, or asking my permission, as he often complained. It’s not called ‘asking permission’ like he’s a teenager and I’m his mother.
It’s called respect. Courtesy in checking to see if you’re needed – to say what your plans are.
Otherwise, how is that a family?
After five years of marriage, this is what I’d become to him. The only thing I ever asked of him – some accountability regarding his whereabouts, was apparently too demanding. And he’d spoken about me like that to his friends.
What was worse – no one questioned him about it – so did that mean they knew what he meant, because he’d used the term before?
I was mortified.
And I knew in that moment, there was no coming back from that.
I was never, ever, going to kiss, let alone sleep with, a man who called me that after 10 years together – even after becoming the mother of his son.
This was no longer just about me: we deserved better.
It had taken me a lot to get pushed to the edge, but when I was there – I metaphorically jumped.
To me, I didn’t have a choice. Staying with a man who valued us so little wasn’t an option.
I took my baby and I left my husband the next week.
If you or anyone you care about is experiencing crisis, depression or suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For anyone experiencing domestic violence or abuse, please seek professional help and contact 1800 RESPECT on . If you are in immediate danger, call 000.