Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. Today we talk to Emma*, who never wanted kids and had an abortion in 2018 and didn’t tell her husband. Here, she talks about her regret that not telling him, ultimately ended their marriage.
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 had been trying for a baby for a year when he finally admitted he’d had a vasectomy years earlier.
There are two times in Emma’s life when she’s watched two little lines slowly show up on a test and felt her stomach drop.
“But at least when I got Covid-19, it wasn’t quite so stressful,” she tells.
“The first time, it was a pregnancy test. My worst nightmare, basically.”
Emma had never wanted kids and never wavered on her decision. It was something that surprised some of her family members and friends, but they had finally come to accept after her 25th birthday passed, then her 30th and 35th and she still didn’t want them, despite everyone’s insistence that she’d eventually change her mind.
She and her husband, Kyle, had met when they were just in their early twenties and married quite quickly – and Emma said from the outset that children would not be in her future.
“Kyle said that wasn’t a dealbreaker for him,” tells Emma. “He said he’d rather be with me than have children.”
It was a sentiment that was tested multiple times over the years though, as the bulk of their friends also married, and had children. By the time they were 35, they only knew one other couple who didn’t have kids.
“We did have one or two fights about it,” says Emma. Kyle’s parents often asked when they were getting grandchildren, and on one occasion Emma overheard Kyle telling his sister that he would quite like them himself, but she was a hard no.
“Our fights were me saying, ‘You have to tell me if you want children now,’ and him saying, ‘I knew when I married you that we wouldn’t be having them’. That wasn’t an answer.”
Then, in 2018, Emma’s period was late, she was feeling exhausted and then one morning she noticed that the smell of her morning flat white made her feel ill. Sure enough, a pregnancy test showed she was pregnant.
“I’d always known I didn’t want children, but that was the moment I knew for sure that I didn’t,” she tells. “I felt devastated. And clammy. I cried and cried and cried.”
And then she quite quickly made a couple of decisions: 1. That she would talk to her GP immediately about scheduling an abortion and 2. That she wouldn’t tell her husband.
“Kyle would want the baby,” tells Emma. “Looking back, that’s terrible that I did that. I knew that it would be the end of our marriage, because either I would get the abortion and he would be upset about it, or I would go through with the pregnancy for him, so that he could be a solo dad. I loved him, but not enough to have a baby for him.”
Emma scheduled the appointment and her best friend took her. They booked a hotel in town and had a ‘girls staycation’ for a couple of days – which she told Kyle all about, just not the part about the fact she was recovering from an abortion.
Kyle was none the wiser until a year later. They were driving to his sister’s new house – Emma was driving, and as they took a couple of wrong turns, she handed him her phone to pull up directions.
It was that exact moment that her best friend text: “Hey, who was the GP we went to for the abortion? My colleague needs one and her dr is being an ass.”
But for a while, Emma had no idea what was going on – Kyle just suddenly demanded that she pull over.
Then, he asked her straight out: When did she have an abortion.
“Honestly? My first instinct was to lie, but before I knew it, I was telling him the truth.”
Kyle was, understandably, shocked and very upset.
“He very calmly asked a few questions, then got out of the car and told me to drive home.”
When Kyle returned, seven hours later, he told her that he wanted a divorce. “He said it wasn’t that I got an abortion, it was that I didn’t tell him about it – which, in hindsight is completely fair enough.”
Now, three years later, Emma does have some regrets. “I definitely don’t regret having the abortion, but I regret the way I did it,” she says. “I should have told Kyle. I was terrified at the time that it would mean losing him – but in the end it was the choices I made at that moment that meant I did lose him.”
She and Kyle are now legally divorced and have had nothing to do with each other since the ending of their relationship. But, in bittersweet news, Emma knows his life has changed radically in the last few years.
“That was March that we broke up,” she says. “What kinda hurt was that by Christmas he already had a pregnant girlfriend.”
“He got what he wanted in the end, so in most ways I’m really happy for him. It’s complicated, because I miss him and I miss our old life, but seeing his new life, sometimes I wonder if our old life was really real, or he was just living the life I wanted.”
Emma says she hasn’t given up on finding love again herself, but next time, she’ll be honest.
“I bet I’ll end up falling in love with someone who has 16 children or something ridiculous, but whatever happens, I’ll never hide something like that from the person I love ever again. It’s taken a lot to forgive myself, but I think I’m finally there.”