I contacted The Group Hug after seeing an appeal for stories from us men. I really want to share my story with the readers here as it does have a happy ending and I hope that if it helps and inspires others, well that’s good.
I am 65 now so this is a historic story.
I met my ex-wife in around 1970 when I was serving in the Navy in Portsmouth. We got married and went on to have three children. Everything was good until I came back from sea on one memorable occasion and the neighbours told me that things had been happening while I was away; things involving drugs and men. I found out that my wife was having an affair. My first reaction, along with the distress and emotion of it all was to get the kids out.
I not only discovered an affair.
I also uncovered that my then Wife had forged my signature and taken £5,000 from my bank account; that’s a lot of money today, in 2019, but in 1979/1980, it was a huge amount. There were random cheques missing from my cheque book. The Bank Manager had been in touch to alert me to strange behaviour on my account and I quickly realised it was her. I managed to get her into the bank by pretending that we were going into town shopping; I then had to “pop” into the bank. She did admit to her fraud. The Manager said that he could either call the Police or I would have to countersign the cheques she had signed in my name meaning that I would then be responsible for the debt. I did the latter and paid the debt. It took me a number of years to pay it off. To this day, I think she must have used the money for drugs, as there was no evidence of new clothes, furniture etc…
I knew I had to try and get full custody, which going back at least 35 years, for a man, was relatively unheard of. There was absolutely no way I was going to leave the children with her as there was drugs. I had to start a battle of my own, through the courts. Eventually, after a long hard slog, I got full custody and she moved in with her lover and away from our home town.
The agreement with my ex-wife was that she could see the children, but only at her parent’s home if one of them was present. It was the drugs which were the problem. On four occasions I took the children to see their Mother and she didn’t show up. It was heart-breaking to see the kids so upset and disappointed and I was left to pick up the pieces.
Time went by, and when the children were 7, 5 and 3 I had to go to the Falklands War. I had met someone else and she was great. My ex wife’s Mother helped out with the kids and my then partner (now wife) would visit them offering help and support. We got married and we are now celebrating our 35th Wedding Anniversary!
When I left the Navy, I was offered a job in Berkshire and I needed to leave the area where my ex-wife was. I thought that the fairest thing to do was to see my solicitor and at least leave a forwarding address. In my mind, it was only right for him to hold a forwarding address for me should my children’s Mother wish to see them. However, he said that she had no rights and there was no need for him to do anything as she was simply not bothered. My wife, the children and I left the area for a new life. My solicitor would not take an address. In those days, not so long ago, things were a little more abrupt and different.
My children are now 43, 41 and 39 and my ex-wife passed away 5 years ago. I found out in recent years that she had actually got married while still married to me!
The children all seem to be ok, they have their own lives now and my second wife and I went onto have a son together who is now 21. As I write this today, he has just returned to University.
Over the years of bringing up the children I did see my ex wife a few times. Her brother sadly committed suicide and I saw her at his funeral and again at another funeral when her Father died. My middle and younger children both got in contact with her when they were older and visited her. I never tried to interfere and left them to their own devices which I am so pleased about now. My eldest son always maintained that he didn’t want to see her.
When I look back I think about how I coped, but I just did. As I said before, my ex mother-in-law helped and my wife was on hand to offer support. I was in the Falklands for 3 months, so it was a big deal for the children. At one point I was getting divorced, fighting for custody and about to fight a war!
The children didn’t ask about their Mum when they were young. It was only when they were growing up that they started to have questions. When the youngest was 17 he asked about her. I got her address and passed it on to him. He saw her a few times, but not a great deal. I am still happily married and my children are happy. Through all the heartache, we survived.
I hope my story shows you all that there can be happiness through all the pain.
Written by a content and happy Group Hug Member
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.