REAL LIFE

What was my husband hiding upstairs?

Julia thought her marriage was happy until her hubby dropped a bombshell...
that's life!

Julia Barrett, 46, Croxley Green, UK

The reno was complete! After four months, I’d successfully transformed the attic space in our home into an office for my hubby. Glen, now 55, worked in the aviation industry and often had work to finish in the evenings. I wanted to do my bit to give him the space he needed. With four kids, Sophie, Tasha, Max and Leo, family life was hectic, but wonderful too.

Glen and I had met 16 years earlier in 1986. Back then, I was 17 and Glen was nine years older at 26. He was the DJ at my favourite rock bar and my attraction to him was instant. Fortunately, my feelings were reciprocated and a year later, during a holiday in Greece, Glen surprised me by getting down on one knee in the sand. ‘Julia, I love you,’ he had beamed. ‘Will you marry me?’

Of course, I said yes, and after marrying in a fairytale ceremony in August 1991, I’d felt on top of the world. The kids were the icing on the cake and although things were tough at times, with a lovely three-bedroom home and a family to care for, I felt blessed.

That’s why I’d decided to do something nice for Glen and transform the attic into an office – complete with a desk for his computer, a leather chair and beer fridge. ‘Thank you,’ he said, wrapping me in a big hug when he saw it. ‘I love it.’

Soon my man was using his new office space every night. Gradually, his ‘man-cave’ became so popular he was in there from the minute he got home until midnight!

‘Why are you up there for such a long time?’ I sighed one night as he climbed into bed. ‘I’ve got loads of work to do,’ he shrugged. ‘When I’ve finished my work I like to play computer games to relax.’ I nodded, trying to understand.

(Credit: that’s life!)

But as time passed, Glen began locking himself away more and more.He seemed disinterested in family life, but I convinced myself things would get better. It’s just a busy stage at work, I reasoned. A blip.

Then, one day in March 2006, I got back from work to find that Glen had prepared dinner. I should have been pleased – Glen never cooked! But I had a feeling this wasn’t a romantic gesture. Sure enough, my man avoided my gaze as we sat down to eat. A feeling of sickness swirled inside me.

‘What’s going on?’ I said, hoping that my suspicions were all in my head.

Glen sighed.

‘Julia, I’ve been meaning to tell you this for some time, but I’m not happy – you must realise that. I’m not in love with you, I haven’t loved you for the last five years, I need to leave.’

In that moment, my world shattered into a million pieces. I knew things hadn’t been perfect recently. But this…?

‘Why?’ I stammered. ‘What have I done?’

‘You’ve done nothing wrong,’ Glen replied. ‘But I’m not happy, we’ve grown apart. It wouldn’t be right to stay.’

I begged Glen to reconsider, for me and the kids, but he just shook his head. He swore he’d see the kids as much as he could, and within minutes he was gone. Sitting alone at the table, I felt heartbroken and confused. I loved Glen and I’d thought he’d loved me. How was I going to cope on my own? I was 38. Glen and I had been together for two decades and married for 15 years.

Muddling through the next few weeks, I tried to paint on a smile for the kids. But everything had changed. Then, I got a strange text message from Glen saying he’d gone overseas with work at short notice. Suspicion prickled inside. He’d never been away like that before.

Where are you? I messaged him, but he didn’t reply. Days went past without a peep. I felt destroyed – I needed help with the children, I missed the man I loved, and I didn’t have a clue where he was. Weeks went by before I finally heard from Glen. He texted me to say he was back in the UK, and when I asked where he’d been, I was in for a shock.

Julia with new boyfriend, Peter (Credit: that’s life!)

‘I’ve been in Brisbane, in Australia,’ he said. ‘I met somebody on the internet and went over to meet her. She’s come back with me, and is now living with me.’ I was absolutely gobsmacked. It had only been seven weeks since we split. How could he be living with someone already? That’s when it hit me. All those nights spent upstairs on the computer… Glen hadn’t always been working, had he? He’d been talking to another woman!

Certain I’d rumbled him, I asked Glen to come to the house so we could talk, and when he did, he couldn’t meet my gaze. ‘Were you talking to her while we were together?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ Glen replied. ‘Vanessa* and I are in love.’

I felt sick hearing her name. ‘How could you do this?’ I asked him desperately. But he just shrugged.

Soon, Glen moved his new girlfriend into his flat and it was as though I didn’t exist. I tried my best to move on for the kids. But it wasn’t easy. Sometimes I felt like I was going through the motions. Throwing myself into nursing training and passing with flying colours, I slowly began to get back on my feet.

Socialising again, I soon met Pete, 52, a friendly landlord at one of the local pubs. He made me laugh and always knew the perfect thing to say to cheer me up. Eventually we went on a date and we’ve been really happy ever since. Glen wasn’t so lucky. His Aussie fling lasted for just six months. I don’t have any sympathy for him – he sacrificed his entire family life for a woman he had never met.

Our divorce came through in December 2013, and now I’m writing a book to help other women who find themselves in a similar situation. It took me a long time to recover from my husband’s betrayal. But life goes on, and I’m going to make the most of it.


Glen says…
It has to be emphasised that our marriage wasn’t going very well – it was on the rocks before this happened. I thought I was going to be married for life but it didn’t turn out that way. We had grown apart and I got sick of staring at soaps on TV. I was doing studies up in the attic, went online and the rest is history.

*Name has been changed

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