real life

'I had the perfect wife and family but I left it all for another woman. This is why.'

On paper I probably appeared to have the perfect life; a lovely wife, two beautiful children, a big house in a nice area and a good job – the suburban dream. But inside my marriage I wasn’t happy. I left my wife and gave up all the security of suburban life for someone ten years younger than me.

This may immediately trigger the stereotype about why men leave wives – that all men are cheaters who can never be trusted – but this is not my story. I’ve never strayed before, I’ve always been a very loyal person, I don’t see the point of being with someone if you’re not wholly committed to them. When I married my wife I was thrilled, she’s very genuine, attractive, laughs a lot and has a good sense of humour. We were a happy couple, the envy of friends who knew we were in love and loved each other’s company.

So what changed? As much as it sounds like a cliche, kids changed everything. Not immediately, it was a slow change, not even noticeable in any particular moment. My now ex-wife is an amazing mum, so loving, so dedicated, so in-tune with her children. This incredible love and dedication to her children, however, meant there was nothing left for me and we drifted apart.

Life with two small children is exhausting, the demands relentless. If we somehow found ourselves with a tiny bit of spare time whilst our children were having simultaneous daytime sleeps, conversation with me was not important, intimacy was not important. Instead of trying to enjoy some rare time together, my ex-wife would use the time to boil and puree vegetables so that the kids would have some healthy meals in the freezer, just in case. A weekend away for just the two of us was unthinkable, as it had the potential to cause far too much distress for the children to be away from their mum for two days and a night.

At work I started sitting next to a girl who was almost ten years my junior. At that point, leaving my wife had never crossed my mind. I always thought that as our children got a bit older the demands would subside and we’d find the time for each other to reconnect. There were many reasons to think that things could get better in my marriage, but they didn’t.

Watch: MM Confessions: When I knew our relationship was over. Post continues after video. 

Video by MWN

The girl I sat next to at work is incredibly genuine, raw and endearing (and yes, pretty). If I’d been single in this situation I probably would have desperately tried to impress her all the time, but I wasn’t, I was just myself. And we clicked. Not romantically at first, but as friends, and we developed a deep and trusting relationship. She felt comfortable telling me personal things, and in turn, I did also. After about a year and a half of this friendship, something changed inside me (it must have been the realisation that my marriage just wasn’t getting any better) and boom, I was in love with this girl. Add a work function and alcohol, and shortly after we were together.

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This girl gave me the emotional connection that I’d been craving, that feeling of being deeply connected to someone. We did things that I hadn’t done in years – we would stay up all night talking, stay in bed all day sharing our thoughts and life experiences. For her, just being with me was enough. This was not a feeling I’d experienced with my wife since our first child was born. The connection between us made me feel whole and when I thought about this girl, I could feel my heart swell and a warm glow inside my body. To feel connected – understood – are deep human needs and I couldn’t find this within my marriage.

Sadly, the relationship with this girl didn’t last forever. We spent a lot of time together, but unknown to me until the relationship ended, this girl suffers from anxiety, and it was incredibly challenging to have a relationship with someone with this added dynamic. If I’d known it was anxiety, and what anxiety is, we’d still be together. Instead, I spent my time trying to allay her worries, only to lose my confidence in the process.

Why am I telling this story? For a few reasons; firstly, the reason I left my wife was because I craved an emotional connection that she couldn’t give me. It had nothing to do with lust or a mid-life crisis.

Wives out there – your husbands have emotional needs. I know there is a lot of pressure on wives and mums, I don’t want to underestimate that at all. But mental health statistics are terrible for men in their 30s and 40s and I’m sure it’s because a lot of men feel lonely and isolated, during a time when there is a lot of pressure on them to provide. There are so many amazing mums out there, but ask yourself this question – what’s more important, making sure that every possible need or want of your child is attended to, or spending a bit of quality time with your husband where you’re completely present and you can switch off from children’s logistics for some time? In my experience, my wife was so focused on meeting any possible need of her children that she lost sight of having a harmonious family dynamic.

My story may be scary or confronting for many wives, but my marriage ended because the emotional connection I needed from my wife just wasn’t there. I take some responsibility in all this too, but I didn’t give up on it easily and made many attempts to save the relationship.

So please, wives, do your best to connect with your husbands at an emotional level. Many men might not open up at first, so be prepared to persist, be the one that’s vulnerable first if you need to be. We need to feel understood, we need to feel connected.

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