posting under a pseudonym, but been around here for a while. apologies in advance if this goes on a bit...
my wife and I have been together for just shy of 10 years, 118 months to be exact. but in that time we've only actually lived together in what would be considered normal circumstances, I.e. both living under the same roof, home from work every day, for 11 months of that. otherwise, it's been weekly commuting at best, she for a few months but generally it's always been me away from home.
we got together after a blind date & something instantly clicked. I had been engaged but my fiancée had an affair and left me for him. she's 6 years older than me and had been married before - her ex-husband had mentally and physically abused her & had several affairs over their 7 year marriage, her mother had been an alcoholic and walked out on them when she was 12/13 so she became the mother in her family, looking after her younger brother & sister while her dad worked. to put it simply, her life has been pretty screwed up & as a result she's become very good at putting on a mask of strength whilst hiding her emotions and deep insecurity. when I met her, whilst by no means fat, she was not where she had been before or wanted to be, she dressed very frumpily - all baggy, shapeless tops & plain jeans - & didn't believe anybody could find her attractive, that was how much her ex had manipulated her, so she wouldn't want to leave him, he'd also got her heavily in debt. as a result she has also constantly believed my parents don't think she's good enough for me, despite their attempts to reassure her to the contrary. it took a lot of work, but I got her to start to believe in her beauty again and to regain some of her self esteem. all this whilst having been posted to Cyprus within a month of having got together. yes, we are in the forces - I wear green, she wears light blue.
we had a great time and both travelled backwards & forwards taking advantage of the opportunities on offer, particularly where I was. the sex was great, we were exceedingly happy even just being in each other's company. then I got a new co. she's an NCOs & I'm an officer, & that's where we met our first of many hurdles - the new co refused to allow her to come into the officers mess because of what she was & without even having met her, until we we're married. I proposed to her one week when I was back in blighty, 6 months after we met - I was smitten & deeply in love, so was she & accepted immediately. preparations went on while I was still in Cyprus, we then found out my regiment was going to move to Germany - no problem, closer to home & cheaper flights. 18 months after we met we were married in the parish church in patterdale, just over the hill from home, on a typical autumn lakes day - low, grey cloud & drizzle. but it was perfect, the happiest day of our lives. then I moved to Germany, fortunately only for 6 months as a new phase in my career was beginning & it was time to start flying a desk for a while.
this was the perfect opportunity as I managed to land a job working the raf regiment - good friends, riding in thetford with a great bunch of people but, more importantly, as an air traffic controller she got a post to marham, an easy commute from where I was, so we took a quarter & thought at last we were able to live together properly, after almost 2 1/2 years together. unfortunately the bad co had shafted me and I ended up on detached duty for 9 months, commuting weekly from East Anglia to Wiltshire. finally, that was over & the normality we wanted finally arrived, over 3 years after we met. by this stage she was expecting and the day after our 2nd wedding anniversary she gave me the 2nd of the 2 happiest days of my life - a wonderful son. then, 11 months after the normality came & 6 months after the boy was born, I was sent to Afghanistan for 6 months - I missed his first birthday, first steps & first words. not long after I got back I was posted to Preston, to try & stay close she got a posting back to the raft station near York where we'd first met.
we started in a quarter in Preston, she stayed in York for a few days at a time and did a 4 hour round trip the other 2 days. then, within months of my return she was sent off to Iraq for 3 months. she came back & we moved our family accommodation to York, got the boy in to a fantastic school very close by & I started the weekly commute thing again. my job at this point was stressful, demanding and emotionally intense - I was responsible for the co-ordination of casualty notification & subsequent support to the next of kin of soldiers across the north west; in the final 9 months in that post I co-ordinate over 200 notifications, including over 30 Kia. often the calls would come late at night & at weekends, I was on duty 24/7 for nearly 2 years. but, she was able to cope with that & was incredibly supportive, especially when the emotion sometimes got too much for me - some of the names crossing my desk were those of friends & soldiers I'd once commanded, she saw the value of what I was doing & the immense sense of worth I felt at helping people in their darkest hours, plus I had a fantastic boss. in the meantime, to carry on having unprotected sex but not have other children, for a number of reasons but largely due to the risks that a woman over 40 would face, we decided she would go for sterilisation - we talked for hours about sterilisation v vasectomy but in the end the final decision was hers. she'd had an emergency caesarean when our son was born, the scar was very tidy & discrete, we we're assured the sterilisation would be keyhole through the end of that scar. unfortunately things didn't go according to plan, the scar was opened fully & the aftermath was an ugly scar & what I can only describe as an "overhang" of body fat. this brought back some of the self esteem issues she'd had & she started to dress down again.
all too soon that ended & I was off to Afghanistan again, working with the afghan national army and, whilst not in as much danger as some, still at quite high risk. that tour passed without incident & I came home safe. things were still good. then I started a new post in Nottingham, the closest I could get to York - back to the weekly commute. then she was told she was going away again. this was going to be difficult - no option for him to be able to come stay with me for the short term. so, using a combination of accrued leave allowing me some extra time off and my parents & the father-in-law taking it in turns to do a week at a time for the rest of the time, she left for 4 months in Bahrain. she came home & found out she'd been selected for promotion. she was offered & accepted at post raf valley, on Anglesey. not ideal, bit further than York but still easily doable from Nottingham. we got the boy sorted with school, accommodation arranged & removals sorted. then a bombshell - the career management people had "forgotten" the post she'd been offered was to be civilianised to save costs, if she wanted promotion the only other post was to Lossiemouth, not far from Inverness... she was given a few days to think about it. we talked for hours & hours & made the decision she would accept, we knew it would be a challenge but the promotion meant job security for her as an NCO, while I was coming into the last few years of my career as an officer. reluctantly, but with adventure on the horizon, we made the move.
my boss at the time, recognizing the potential for issues, granted me the opportunity to work from home from time to time. this meant I was at home for a long weekend every 3 weeks, give or take. although we didn't realise it at the time this was were the rot started to set in, not significant at the time because we thought we had light at the end of the tunnel - the lifestyle up there really suited us & we'd quickly made friends so I began planning for a second career in oil & gas, the job I was doing in Nottingham was quite niche & gave me a very good platform to cross over. because of her working patterns, in common with a lot of raf families up there, we'd taken on an au pair, who was fantastic. in the meantime, the boss was replaced, the new bloke reviewed everything going on in the hq & decided he wasn't happy with my arrangement, so it was withdrawn. this was just over 12 months ago. the opportunities to get home drastically reduced & a long weekend once every 6 weeks became par for the course. trying to cram 6 weeks in to 4-5 days something had to give, not being selfish & wanting things for our son to be as best as possible that ended up being us. over the couple of longer periods of leave we were able to take, due to the unselfishness & detachment from family, we spent most of the time getting round family and friends around the country, this just compounded the issue that was starting to grow & the rot started to take hold.
in December last year I was then selected for promotion for the last 2 years of my career, this was going to mean 8 months on a residential course, drastically reducing the flexibility & opportunity to get home. recognising the impact this could have I approached my career managers informally requesting to be excused the course as I was so close to the end of my career & it was going to have a detrimental impact on our marriage. I was told to get on with it. not longer after that I had to submit a list of desired posts to see out my time after the course & before departure from service. once again, I made it clear in the justification that the reason I had primarily asked for jobs north of the border was for "family reasons", clear code for my marriage is in trouble, please help. unfortunately the board that decides these things decided I would be better taking a post in the south east, 600 miles from my family. I started this post in October, for a few months, before the course starts in January next year. this was not good news and was the point at which my wife started having doubts about our future. we knew we were in trouble and talked often when I was home about the changes we needed to make. unfortunately, her past prevented her from being as clear as she needed to be to make me grasp how unhappy she was becoming. I knew things were bad but I was focussing on the light at the end of the tunnel, thinking we'd be able to muddle through til I left & then we could begin work in earnest to rebuild our relationship with me being home all the time. over summer we had a new au pair who turned out to be more trouble than she was worth - the pressure on my wife, without me there to help, sky rocketed, suffice it to say, had we found out how poorly this girl had treated our son before she chose to go home to Spain, the police would have been involved.
the last weekend I was home we had one of those stupid arguments over something & nothing that culminated in us taking our rings off. the next morning mine went back on - we'd eventually ended up back in the same bed & had the best sex we've had for over a year (not difficult considering intimate contact had gradually been largely restricted to less than full sex because of the fallout from the sterilisation) when I got back on the train to head south again, I failed to notice she still hadn't put her ring back on... I thought this had been the slap in the face we both needed to actually act...
last Monday morning she greeted me by saying she wasn't sure if we'd make through the new year & at the moment she loved me but wasn't IN love with me. I went straight in to the unit welfare officer & said I couldn't do the course in January or the marriage would over. having formalised the issue and having a chain of command that actually concerned itself with the welfare of its unit members, I'd soon been excused the course and packed off for Christmas early. I wanted to head straight home & sort things out, the wording of her message suggested there was still hope. she was working nights & also had reports to write on her staff so it wasn't going to be conducive to talking, I stopped halfway with my folks back home until we'd originally planned for me to be home at the weekend.
when I got home and we sat down, it was clear from her demeanour that she was putting the mask on and simply told me there was no hope, she thought it was too late to get back what we'd had. the text had been a bit of a red herring - she'd wanted to break the news face to face. she'd expected that I would stay all the way through to after Christmas then we'd start making plans for me moving out. I just couldn't handle her matter of fact demeanour and, after taking my son swimming & then trying to explain to him simply what was going on (mummy loves daddy like sister & brother not girlfriend & boyfriend anymore so I couldn't live with them anymore) I made the most painful decision I've ever had to make & left that afternoon back to my parents in the lakes. I'll be going back up Christmas for a few days so he has some sense of normality but at the same time will be sorting through our stuff to move it out.
and so here I am now at my brother's in Manchester for a few days on his sofa bed. I feel strangely calm about it all, a sense of acceptance stemming, I think, from a deep seated unknown mental preparation for this day. I still have my moments of tears but Saturday night drained most of the emotion & tears I had out of me. I just have a deep sense of sadness for having broken the promise I made to myself to never let her be so unhappy in a marriage again that the only way she thought she could escape those feelings would be to end another marriage. that and that I've let my 6 year old son down and for the effect this going to have on him.
I don't know what I expect to gain from war & peace here, maybe sharing will help & we are still more than amicable - we have effectively been friends for a while now, we've had a few heart to hearts, although more me than her for the reasons above, plus, having made the decision to end it a while ago she's ahead of me in coming to terms with it. she has said she is in no rush us to formalise things and get divorced.
the inevitable offers of rides will be much appreciated but at the moment I just don't feel too motivated.
does the pain subside? can a separation ever be, or stay, on friendly terms?