Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. In our past instalments over the last few months we’ve covered everything from the effect of lockdown on divorces to whether they’re contagious 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 and another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband.
If you have a story you’d like to share, or a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected].
This week we hear from a Guest Writer, Elizabeth* from 9Honey who made a shocking discovery about her husband. Elizabeth always liked the fact that her partner Tom was very attentive. But it didn’t take long before his attentiveness got out of control. He started to query her every movement until she couldn’t take it anymore...
Tom was always very possessive of me but, in the early days I didn’t find it annoying, I found it quite endearing. I saw it as a sign that he really loved me.
It didn’t bother me that when I left the house, he phoned me a lot and wanted to know where I was, who I was with and what time I’d be home.
I was a contract worker and would get jobs all over the city, so Tom would often organise to meet me for lunch at whichever part of town I was working in. At first, I thought it was because he wanted to be with me all the time, but then I realised he just wanted to check up on me.
So, I thought that was sweet at the time but his checking up on me started to get more and more intense.
When I got a job in an office three days a week, I’d come home and talk at length about my office mates, who were all really fun, nice people.
At dinner one night, I could tell Tom was agitated as he said, “You keep talking about Daniel. Do you have the hots for him?” I reassured him, laughing and saying ‘no Daniel is not my type, he’s over 60 and has grown up kids’. But it was like he didn’t believe me. I quickly stopped talking about Daniel and made a point of only talking about my female colleagues.
He started turning up out of the blue at lunchtime to take me out and, when I asked him why he hadn’t let me know he was coming into the city, he’d say: “I just want to surprise you.”
One time I was leaving the building to get a coffee with three workmates — two men and one woman — I was surprised to see Tom, waiting in the lobby. He gave me the ‘death glare’ and I knew I’d be in trouble. Why? Because I was with men.
That night he was yelling at me about how he can’t trust me, that I need to know that he is insecure so I must stop hanging around with other men. It was completely ridiculous but I was pretty scared of this new side of him that he was showing me, so I assured him I wouldn’t socialise with any male workmates from now on.
About a week later, one of my male colleagues asked me to go downstairs for a coffee and discuss a project we were both working on and stressing about. We spent about half an hour downstairs and went back to the office after our coffee and chat. That’s all it was.
When I got home that night, I was confronted by Tom looking ropeable and he asked me outright, “Did you hang out with any of your male workmates today?” I lied and said I hadn’t because it was just an innocent coffee. But he went ballistic and called me a liar.
He said, “I know you went out for coffee”. He didn’t tell me how he knew. I thought he was just trying to catch me out. So, I admitted I had had a coffee with my male colleague but that he needs to stop being so paranoid. I didn’t think that he’d been spying on me.
A few days later at breakfast he was really grilling me on my movements, asking me where I was going to be at certain times. So, I lied and said I’d be in the office all day, even though I knew I was going to be on the road a bit, visiting some clients.
It was just getting very tiring that he had to know my every movement, every day. My parents weren’t even like this!
This is how I knew my marriage was over: That night I got home and Tom had laid out a series of photos on the table — of me. He confessed he’d hired a private investigator because he ‘knew’ I was lying about my whereabouts.
There were photos of me having a coffee with my male workmate – totally innocent! Photos of me about five kilometres from the CBD when I had lied and said I’d be in the CBD all day. There was even a photo of me shopping for makeup in a department store in my lunchbreak and talking to a male assistant. It was ludicrous.
In Tom’s mind, the money for the PI was well spent because it confirmed for him that I, apparently, am a habitual liar.
But I wasn’t having an affair, I wasn’t doing anything he needed to worry about. He failed to realise that the reason I was lying to him about where I was or who I was having coffee with is to avoid his tantrums over me being in the presence of another man.
I couldn’t live with his paranoia any longer and after three years, our marriage was over. I’m still single right now but one thing is for sure: I will make sure my next partner is not the paranoid, jealous type.