Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries: Today, we hear from a Capsule reader whose husband decided it was important to have a “romantic break-up”. Yes, you read that right.
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].
If you were to sum up Nina in one word, it could very well be ‘romantic’.
“I’m a Piscean,” she says. “I grew up on Disney princesses and fairytales and honestly, I just love that world. I’m such a romantic. I daydream a lot. I nearly lost my job when we were planning our wedding, because it totally took over my life!”
Nina had met her husband, Daniel, when they were in their mid-twenties. He’d shown up on their first date with a bunch of flowers, and opened her car door, plus the door to the restaurant.
“I knew I wanted to marry him that first night,” she says. “The date was just so… romantic! And our relationship was full of date nights like that one.”
The night of her 27th birthday, Daniel proposed, while fireworks went off on the beach. It was a dream come true for Nina. Two years later, they had one heck of a wedding that, yes, Nina poured nearly every waking moment into for that time.
“The first year of our marriage, things were great,” says Nina. “I’ll admit, things weren’t as smooth in year two, but I thought that was normal. We were out of the honeymoon period. I expected it to change.”
But she certainly didn’t expect things to change in the way that they soon did.
Nina arrived home from work one evening and found the lights were on in the house, but her husband wasn’t home. On the dining room table was a bunch of flowers and an envelope next to them with her name on it.
Her first reaction was, “How sweet!”
But that quickly changed when she opened the envelope. There were eight handwritten pages to Nina, and as she began to read them she realised they weren’t a love letter. Her husband was explaining to her why he felt it was time to end their relationship. The thrust of the letters was that he loved her, but not in the same way anymore and it was clear to him that they’d both changed and grown in the years they’d been together.
“But rather than growing together, I feel we have been slowly growing apart,” he wrote.
Nina says she knew their relationship wasn’t perfect, but she certainly didn’t think they were headed for divorce.
“It came as such a shock,” she says.
She immediately started calling Daniel, and after an excruciating hour of no luck, he finally picked up. Nina immediately let rip at him, calling him a coward for leaving her a note rather than being man enough to tell her to her face.
What he said in return caught her completely off guard.
“He said it wasn’t cowardly, it was intentional,” she says. “He said he wrote the long letter and flowers and the beautiful setting because he still wanted it to be a romantic moment at the end of our relationship.”
Nina couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“He said – and I’ll never forget this bit – ‘I know how much you love that movie Dear John, so I wanted it to be like that for you.’”
If you haven’t watched Dear John, the gist of what you need to know about it is that it’s named after the lead character John (played by Channing Tatum, who stars opposite Amanda Seyfried) and yes, is based on getting a ‘Dear John’ letter. A ‘Dear John’ letter harks back from World War II when men stationed overseas would receive a letter from their love, letting them know that they had moved on with their lives and now had a new lover.
“I don’t think Daniel understood the part about another lover, because he said it wasn’t that he was interested in someone else, but I guess I’ll never know that for sure,” says Nina.
It’s one year on from the break-up, and Nina is now in a new relationship, but she often thinks about her marriage and ex-husband.
“I never expected to be 32 and divorced – well, I’m not even divorced yet, but on the way there,” she says. “And I never expected that I could find love again. My new relationship has already taught me a lot – primarily that I was chasing the wrong things in my marriage. I thought a good relationship was full of romance, but that doesn’t mean you have a strong foundation or a strong relationship.”
Nina says she still shakes her head when she thinks of that moment, arriving home, thinking her adoring husband had bought her flowers for no reason.
“The more time has gone on, the stranger it has become to me,” says Nina. “Who does that? Also, I only ever watched that movie once and it definitely wasn’t my fave. He’s in a new relationship now and I’m happy for him. Despite what happens, he deserves happiness too.”