Trying to rebuild a marriage

The next days and weeks did not form the sort of montage that would characterise a reunion in a film. Putting a shattered marriage back together is very hard work, with many balancing acts to consider at every turn.

Neither my husband nor I thought that I should come back to our home in any kind of hurry; we were not yet ready to share a bed, but then every night that I was alone at my own house made my husband anxious, fretting that I might contact X, or that X might visit me uninvited. The trust was entirely gone. Of course it was.

So we spent uneasy evenings together, at his house or mine, watching films with the children or playing board games with them, and then one or other of us would drive back to our own bed when it was time to sleep.

Weekends were particularly strange and disjointed. I had made countless plans with my friends during the time that I was on my own, my diary was full, and neither of us thought I should cancel these arrangements. But each meal or comedy gig or concert that I went to without him created a fresh opportunity for him firstly to worry about where I might actually be, and secondly to feel guilty and angry with himself for that worry.

He was so used to me lying, he almost expected it. I got it, I did, but it was a fretful and difficult time.

Shortly after my husband and I had tentatively decided to try again, I decided that I should tell X what I was doing. I wanted to be upfront and honest and decent, and I didn’t want him to hear about it from someone else and accuse me of any overlap that hadn’t happened. I thought that I owed it to him, to be calm and fair.

We spoke on the phone as I drove between appointments during my working day.

“I knew you were going to tell me that,” X said, with a bitter laugh. “And I can tell you how exactly it’ll go. You’ll have a honeymoon period now when everything feels all right, but it won’t last. What getting back into a marriage is like, and listen to me about this because I know, it’s like when you throw a jumper into the corner of the garage because it doesn’t fit properly, or it’s a bit itchy and you realise it’s not right for you. A while later you might spot it, think it looks all right, quite nice actually, and not really be able to remember why it drove you mad, so you get it back out and put it on again. It seems OK at first, you wonder why you got rid of it, but not only does it start to itch again even more quickly than it did last time – now it’s all creased and grease-stained from when you chucked it away before.”

He spoke from his own experience, he said. I told him that I didn’t think it would be like that for me. That I really hoped it wouldn’t. I apologised for the way things had turned out for us. I said that I hoped we would both be happy.

He became angry. “You’re fooling yourself, you know. You’re so much thicker than you ever portrayed yourself. So much more dependent and suburban. Have you picked out the Farrow and Ball for your celebratory bedroom refurb? I cannot believe I fell for your act.”

This went on for some time. I cried silently as I drove, mouth open, not wanting to give my tears away by breathing or speaking.

Then his tone changed; the call was coming to an end, and he was suddenly conciliatory. “Look. I love you. I will always love you and I won’t ever block your number. If you ever change your mind, give me a ring, won’t you?”. I was so startled by the change in tone that I laughed aloud.

And that’s what did it. “FUCK you,” he snarled. “Laughing at me, when you’d just kicked me in the teeth but I’d still extended an olive branch to you, still put you first like I always have. Fucking FUCK YOU.” He ended the call, across my plaintive protests, which echoed through the empty car and made me feel foolish.

As it turned out, that spat-out “Fucking FUCK YOU” would be the last spoken words he would utter to me in the whole of our affair.

Bitter sweet symphony - autumnal trees near home
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