Friday, April 19, 2024

The Divorce Diaries: ‘A Pocket Dial Ended My Marriage’

A very ill-timed pocket dial uncovered a major secret for Capsule reader Jane, and ultimately spelled the end of her marriage.

Welcome to the Divorce Diaries. In our past instalments over the last year we’ve covered everything from when you’re most likely to divorce to whether they’re contagious to whether being on the contraceptive pill can effect your chances! and have now spoken to dozens of women – including one whose husband announced he was leaving her to have an open relationship with a 19-year-old, another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband and one who discovered the real reason her husband divorced her was because he had a baby with her SISTER.

If you have a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected].

Jane didn’t think she’d get married, ever.

She’d had a disastrous relationship in her teen years and then got into a seven-year relationship with an older man who, it turned out, had another girlfriend (or two!) for the entire time.

“I’d ruled marriage out,” she says. “I was 25 and done with it! I didn’t need another one like that, so I figured I’d stay single from then on. Have some fun. But nothing serious.”

Jane says she’d always known that she didn’t want to have children, so it made the decision easier.

“I didn’t need a man to have a baby, so… I didn’t need the drama,” she says.

But, like many pledges we make in our twenties, that one went right out the window when, at her 35th birthday she met a man on the dancefloor and fell completely in love with him.

“It was ridiculous,” she says. “We said I love you on our third date. It moved so, so fast.”

Mark was everything she never even knew she wanted in a man.

“He was so much fun, but so smart and so empathetic,” she says. “Plus, he was ridiculously tall.”

Mark proposed on Jane’s 36th birthday. They’d found out five months earlier that she was pregnant.

“I’d truly never wanted kids, but – and I don’t want to sound anti-feminist here or do anything to be offensive to the childfree by choice community – but something changed when I met Mark,” she says. “The pregnancy was an absolute accident, but we never considered getting an abortion because it felt right. I wanted to have Mark’s baby.”

Jane loved how supportive Mark was. After six months of maternity leave, she felt like it would be good for her to return to work. Mark moved to working parttime for the next six months to look after their baby.

Then, as Mark prepared to go back to full time, they agreed to get a nanny. They both had high paying jobs and could afford to have someone come into their home and help out, rather than putting their child into daycare and felt that suited their lives best.

Mark’s youngest sister recommended one of her friends – she was just about to return from the UK where she’d been nannying for a few years. It seemed perfect.

“It wasn’t a live-in position, “ says Jane. “We just wanted someone to be there during work hours, but be a bit flexible.”

Katie, the nanny, was moving into a home close by. They video called a few times, then offered her the position.

“She had great references, plus, there was that immediate trust because she was one of Mark’s sister’s best friends,” says Jane.

Katie moved home a week before Mark went back to full-time. She popped over a few times so she and their son could get more familiar with each other before they were left alone.

“That first day I definitely cried leaving the house,” says Jane. “But I knew he was in safe hands.”

Over the next year, things seemed to be going wonderfully. Jane had been given a promotion – it meant she was away for a night every now and then, but had some frank and honest conversations with her boss, so she took half days every now and then to spend more time with her family. Katie seemed to have fit into their family perfectly and was flexible with her hours.

“She was great – she was really good with our son,” says Jane. “And, one of the things I liked about her was she wasn’t too intrusive. When I got home she’d quite quickly get ready to leave – she’d always ask if I wanted anything done first, but otherwise she’d quickly slip out and go home.”

Then, one phone call changed absolutely everything.

It was mid-morning on a weekday and Jane was heading to her office after being in a meeting. She decided to stop off at a café to pick up a coffee – her son had been up a lot during the night and she needed another hit of caffeine.

As she waited for her coffee she was replying to an email on her phone, when it rang in her hand. It was Mark. She answered immediately, but there didn’t seem to be anyone on the other line.

“I was saying, ‘Mark, Mark?!’ for a while,” says Jane. “All I could hear was kind of moving around noises – like something brushing up against the phone.”

Jane figured Mark had pocked dialled her by accident. It was far from being the first time. This was all but confirmed when she heard the sound of the car indicator going – the car was where he’d pocked dialed her from before.

She was just about to hang up when she heard a muffled voice.

“It was Katie,” says Jane. “I could hear her and Mark talking and laughing.”

It seemed a bit odd, but Jane didn’t jump to any conclusions. She did however, want to hear exactly what they were saying to understand why perhaps they were driving somewhere together when Mark should be at work and their son should be at swimming lessons.

“My first thought was that something was wrong with our son and Mark had come home to take him to the doctors or something,” says Jane. “But they were laughing, and I would have thought I’d be called in that situation.”

Jane ducked outside of the café so she could hear better.

Katie was speaking, but Jane couldn’t make out exactly what she was saying.

But then she heard it. She heard Mark quite clearly say:

“I know, I’m sorry babe. I love you.”

“Then there was more rustling and what I would swear was a kiss and a sigh,” she says.

Jane hung up the phone and walked to her car, forgetting about her coffee entirely.

She sat down in the car and called Mark. Eventually he answered.

“He picked up and asked if everything was okay,” says Jane. “I said, yes and that I was sorry to call him at work. He said it was no problem, so I said oh good, how is work today? And he said pretty busy, but ok.”

Jane then told him that she knew he wasn’t at work. She knew he was in the car with his lover, Katie.

“Mark said, “What?!” and then said something like, ‘What are you talking about, what do you mean my lover?! What’s going on’.”

He then agreed that yes, he was with Katie, but he was just giving them a lift somewhere.

“Then I told him I had heard their conversation because he had called me,” she says. “He still kept acting like he didn’t know what I was talking about and I was ‘scaring him’.”

The conversation going in circles, they agreed they would talk at home. Two hours later, they were both at home, with Katie out with their son. Then, Mark admitted that yes, he and Katie had been having an affair, but it had been a mistake and he would call it off.

“This was happening while my child was with this woman,” says Jane. “I couldn’t believe it. I wanted him out of my life immediately.”

Mark wanted to stay together and called things off with Katie, who, instead called Jane and let her tearfully know that she and Mark had been having an affair for six months.

“Those first six months, maybe first 12 were excruciating,” says Jane. “Just rebuilding your life, especially as a single mum is so hard. There was so much to navigate. I was so angry.”

Jane says one of the things that was the hardest to overcome was a sense of failure and embarrassment she felt.

“I enrolled our child in daycare, because I couldn’t afford – nor did I really want! – a nanny,” she says. “Even just those conversations about the child’s father felt humiliating. There were plenty of single parents there too, and I’d never think to judge them, but I certainly judged myself.”

But while she may have been in the lowest point of her life back then, now, several years later, Jane is in a totally different place.

“I just got married and had a baby,” she says. “I had a male best friend at high school, but we lost touch over the years. But then, out of the blue, he sent me a friend request on Facebook. He’d got divorced around the same time I did.”

Jane says the old friends organized to catch up for dinner and both were surprised when sparks immediately flew.

“He also has a child from his previous marriage,” she says. “And there are so many parallels in our lives. I didn’t think we’d be able to have kids together, but we thought we’d give it a try.”

Miraculously, it worked and the pair welcomed a new baby last year, shortly after Jane turned 43.

She says that’s what inspired her to share her story.

“Thirty-eight and 39-year-old me wouldn’t believe this,” she says. “I felt like my life was over. Like I’d failed.  I’d failed myself and I’d failed my kid. But, my life is beautiful now. My eldest is besotted with our youngest. It feels like a fairytale. I wouldn’t have believed it then, so I just hope that someone is reading this who just had their heart broken and thinks it’s all over. It’s not. There’s another act to come.”

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