The thought of divorce on your wedding day is one that most people dismiss as crazy, however on mine it was there from the moment I said my vows. What the hell was I doing here, dressed like a penguin, family and friends the same? Deep down there was this queasy feeling of dread, “get me out of here!”
I was just too young. I wasn’t long out of my teens and suddenly I was going to be spending the rest of my life with someone I did not really know. We had never even spent a night together and here we were embarking on a life together.
We had a good start – we had rent free accommodation, although I had never looked after a property, and it soon became obvious that my wife was not really going to be interested in the mundane chores of married life, having been looked after by doting parents.
Another issue is that she wanted to try for kids and I still wanted to be out with my mates. In the end I felt completely trapped.
We struggled on, for a few years and soon many of our age group caught up and were getting married too. It felt like the normal thing to do to “keep up with the Jones’” have children and get a bigger house. My wife then gave up work and a few years later, had another child.
Over this seven year period, I began to feel hopeless and useless. I felt constantly undermined by her family for not being able to provide everything for my family. I had a sort of a mild breakdown where I started drinking and generally being unapproachable.
For two years this continued until in the end I couldn’t do it any more. I had provided a house, which was now worth a lot of money, I had furnished it well and it had all the white goods and other essential electrical gizmos for the modern young family. But it was never going to be enough for her and her family members.
I left one New Year’s weekend. I had a box of clothes and a car of which I owned the front left wheel – the bank owned the rest. It came as a bit of a shock to her and her family, but I’d had enough.
The divorce followed, I gave up any claim on the property and contents in return for not being chased for money. I didn’t have any. I wasn’t working at the time and left a four-bedroomed house for a bed-sit. I had a massive guilt trip when I saw the boys, and as they grew older contact was lost, so much so that now they have no time for me, which I suppose is fair enough, I was not cut out to be a father and a husband at that time in my life.
My main regret is the loss of my kids. This is still painful all these decades later and I feel angry to my ex-wife who I believe turned my children against me. I have tried to build a relationship with both sons but was unsuccessful. I found out that my eldest is married and has a child by reading the announcements in the local newspaper. We have not spoken for 19 years. The relationship with my youngest has been a little more successful in that I met with him for an evening, which went well, and we exchanged texts and e-mails for a time. But before last Christmas there was an angrier exchange of messages. I asked for a meeting but was politely told to go away.
My ex bumped into my mother by chance recently and said that the boys would love to see their grandparents. This however was not followed up but I still hope that this might represent a way of re-establishing contact.
I chose my course, the boys have grown up to be sensible well formed adults, if they had grown up in a bickering household would they have turned out differently? I don’t know. But I believe I had to divorce, otherwise I would have ended going mad. So either way, the boys would have had no father. At least this way, I have my sanity, a great wife with whom I have been happily married for 17 years, and so I overall, I don’t regret my decision to divorce. It was the right thing to do.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.