Five months after separating from my husband of 12 years I had a drunken moment of true remorse for the pain of caused him.
I admitted I had strayed.
I swore it was a one off occurrence, but I hadn’t been faithful since 2013.
He was right when he’d said he was still the exact same person that I married. Dead right. Four kids, three heart surgeries, two funerals, a failed and financially detrimental property investment, and an uncountable amount of ups and downs. He hadn’t changed an iota. Four kids had moulded me into a self sacrificing mothering machine, while every decision he actioned put his own interests above the kids and me.
We had married in 2003. At the time, 22 hadn’t seemed too young to us. I had been smitten with his handsome good looks and eagerness to love me until ‘death do us part’. The power of that brief phrase haunts me with sorrow – immense enough to choke me with more grief than an entire encyclopaedia of marriage breakdown couldn’t express. I don’t know why he’d chosen me. Maybe he saw a security in my adoration beyond my flaws. Maybe I made him happy at least for a while.
At my persuasion, my desire for a baby was fulfilled shortly after. Any void that existed for me before becoming a mother ceased to exist after her birth as I blissfully devoted my life’s purpose to her development. We were new, young parents with significantly less money, more responsibility and our little family as our only real social life. I didn’t ache for an outlet to escape, but a Peter did. He needed a hobby, an interest, something for himself to focus on that would help him to be less listless and more fulfilled. I wasn’t experiencing that same emptiness but I felt for him being so depressed, as he’d tell me, without a hobby. I’d tweak our already stringent budget to allow for the list of expenses he’d detailed would be a requirement for the necessary hobby. There was always a list that couldn’t be skimped on in an all or nothing approach. Unless I could make it affordable in our budget then he’d just have to scrap the idea and go back to being miserable. Spurred on by my wholehearted belief that I should prioritise my husband’s happiness over financial sensibility, I’d use economic wizardry I didn’t know I was capable of to stretch our budget as thin as needed to accommodate whatever was needed to ward off his misery. As our family grew so did financial struggles. Peter’s various expensive hobbies were prioritised even when we barely had enough money to pay the mortgage. If I couldn’t make the numbers work he’d just have to give up all hope of happiness and resign himself to suffer depression at the lack of a fulfilling life. I didn’t understand, he said, because I wasn’t missing out on fulfilment – raising the kids and working hard 6 days a week in my music business were my hobbies and it’s wasn’t his fault his hobbies weren’t free like mine.
He dabbled in fishing, then powerlifting, then hunting, via archery, then rifle shooting. Every time I’d question the necessity of a new expensive piece of equipment in light of our growing financial burdens, the onset of sacrifice induced depression would become a real threat to his happiness. As the budgeter, the decision always lay in my hands. We sacrificed a lot for his expensive happiness.
Eventually even the rifle hunting wasn’t sufficient to stave off depression. He needed a motorbike and the fact that with four kids we really couldn’t afford was irrelevant. I wore old clothes and hadn’t had a haircut in a year, or even time to have a haircut. I ferried the kids around in a shitty old Kia Carnival with no air-con and leaked 4 litres of engine oil per week but that was irrelevant too. He had always wanted a motorbike though, and he worked hard as the main breadwinner. He deserved some rewards for the efforts of his labour and needed it to avoid depression.
Peter sought himself a motorbike loan, bought a bike and joined a bike club.