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Deep down, divorce is an emotional and financial struggle, and I regret it for the children’s sake every day." • Alison got divorced in 1989 after a seven-year marriage to a US businessman. She is now 49, single and works as a PA in Brighton. I was 34 and it didn’t upset me a bit – it’s only in the past four years that I’ve come to regret it.
I married within nine months of meeting my husband.
The first year I was full of rage, anger, intense sorrow.
I had panic attacks, and lost my sense of identity – as well as lots of weight.
We went from leading an upper middle class lifestyle to living on income support. I was just trying to hang on to the house, but there were debt collectors in the bushes, private investigators spying on me to see if I had a lover. The children are happy and well adjusted now, but they have been damaged by it.
My husband checked out of marriage as if he was checking out of an hotel.
He’d been having an affair with a woman in her sixties (at least 15 years older than him), he wanted a new life without us, and thought he could just close off the old life and start again. Mine was very arduous and nasty: he threatened custody, resigned from his job, became self-employed, and went to live abroad to avoid paying support.
They come home from him in tears, upset, raging, because he argues constantly with his new wife, and the atmosphere in their house is so volatile. It sounds appalling, but I always felt we’d have made a quicker recovery if he had died.
I would have had some money and could have been nice about his memory, and he wouldn’t have been able to ruin it by reminding his kids on a weekly basis that the clay feet have a matching heart and brain." • Sophie’s husband left her 12 years ago when their daughter was three months old, after five years of marriage.