My husband and I met online 13 years ago. There were no iPhones yet so "swiping" left or right was a way to swat flies, not look for a potential mate. In fact, internet dating was still quite taboo and considered for desperados. I was curious about it as a lady I worked with was doing it. I never in a million years thought I would meet the man I would marry.
To keep this pretty brief, as I don't really want to bore you with the details, we emailed for a couple of months, we met, realised pretty quickly we liked each other a lot and got married 6 months later. Now before you say we jumped in too early, we were both in our thirties, knew what we wanted and both very ready for the next stage of life. After realising exactly what I didn't want during my twenties, I had a very clear idea of what I did want and he ticked every box and more. I didn't really believe men like him existed. At my wedding I made a speech and explained how when I met my new husband, it was like someone had put two wires in my head and created a man, like the two pubescent boys in the movie Weird Science (only the other way around!) I genuinely felt like the luckiest girl alive.
He was already in the Army, I was a college lecturer. We got married, he was posted to Germany and I gave up my job to go with him. Over the next 12 years I discovered what it was like to be an Army wife. We moved five times from one side of Europe to the other and back again, he did two tours of Afghanistan, completed four months of Officer training and was sent for three months to Canada, Australia and Belize and a hundred and one courses and jobs in between all unaccompanied (meaning without his family). I had two babies during that time, spent a large majority of it as a single mum miles from extended family support and relocated my life every couple of years. After ten years of it, I had had enough. I was craving stability, a house I could connect with and decorate and friends that didn't move. My son was five and had lived in five houses. I was desperate to feel settled, to exhale and relax. At one point we had moved four times in four years and I was burnt out. Moving filled me with dread. Starting over again and again I had never been able to reach that grounded, deep sigh, content feeling. Every time I started to feel a bit relaxed, we would get notification of the next posting and I'd get all geared up to go again. I was exhausted with it all. I couldn't breathe. I did not want to move again.
I was also really disillusioned with the Army interfering in my family life. It was impossible to plan anything, we never knew where or when we would be going, my husband was very regularly sent somewhere with not a lot of notice regardless of anything else in our life. I'd lost count of the amount of times I had dared to organise something for myself for the Army to wade in and piss all over it! My spirit was also dying. I always managed to meet a handful of people I had really wonderful connections with, but starting again from scratch making friends from nothing, finding places to socialise, finding people I clicked with was getting harder and more tiring. I was finding the temporariness of everything tedious and disenchanting. I couldn't bare the superficialness of a lot of it. We did not belong to a regiment, so did not move as a group. We moved on our own. Starting from scratch every single time. Putting myself out there, saying hi, getting numbers, inviting people over, sitting around trying to make conversation with people you didn't know, may not even talk to if you were in "real" life and probably wouldn't know in a few months time. May sound harsh, but that was where I was and how I felt. I spent so much time beating myself up thinking "why can't I just be happy with what I had?" as we were hardly suffering in life and I really, really tried, but the truth was I was forcing myself to live a life which simply didn't align with who I was. I was slowly dying inside and miserable.
The solution was to buy our own house in 2015 and agree that the family would stay put and my husband would move with each posting and commute. Finally a chance to put down some roots and have a "normal" life. We found a wonderful house in the most amazing part of the UK I had only visited once before very briefly. Moving there literally fell out of the sky for us. We spent three years labouring completely from love on our beautiful forever home detaching ourselves from Army life. I cannot tell you how much joy it gave me asking my kids what they wanted their room to look like and shopping for paint, wallpaper, furniture, accessories etc. I bloody loved it! We lived in the most wonderful close nit community, walked to school every day and lived ten minutes from all of my kids' friends. My son played rugby and cricket, my daughter did gymnastics and dancing, I walked the dog every day on the beach and couldn't leave my house without waving at at least two people I knew. Very gradually, I felt myself relax. My husband got promoted and was able to stay in his job for a year longer. I began to build up a local reputation for my business and venture into more ambitious projects, one of which I was highly financially invested in at the time of the posting. I met a fantastic group of crazy, spiritual, grounded people just like me. I had options when my husband was away, people who looked out for me and actually started getting invited to Christmas nights out! It never once entered my head that the posting looming on the horizon would NOT be in the UK and I would be faced with the choice of leaving it all.
To not go to abroad with my husband was one of the hardest decisions ever, but it felt right for all of us. We discussed it and agreed as a family. The kids were settled and happy, we had our house, we didn't want to move. I didn't want to move. I didn't want to be without my husband, but for once, just this once, I made a decision that was right for me too. I just couldn't stand the thought of starting again, moving again, let alone to another country. Just the thought was so overwhelming after putting so much effort into being settled. I had no idea how we were going to make it work but I was convinced we could. He would come home whenever he could and we would go there for extended periods when we could. I remember talking it over with some really good friends of mine, also in the Army. My friend's husband's concerns were all about the temptations out there and opportunities for cheating. I dismissed the concerns straight away. It's just not something that even worried me. Not my husband, he wasn't like that. He would never do anything like that. I had no reason to think our relationship was susceptible. I vividly recall saying to him "Oh, I'm not worried about that. He would never do that. It's more about the length of time he'll be away from us."
He left in May last year. It was awful. I cried, the kids cried. They slept in my room for a couple of weeks. It was tough for all of us. In all the years we've been together I have never got used to him going away and he's been away A LOT! I still hate it, but I just hunker down and get on with it. He came home on courses at various intervals and we went out at the end of July to spend a month with him. During that time I was finding it so hard. I felt guilt every day. It didn't feel right being apart, but it didn't feel right moving out there either. Everyone we met was very interested to meet us, were all very nice and I'm sure they thought well meaning, but "so...., you don't fancy moving out here then?" or "so...., you're not tempted to join him then?" became the questions posed to me repeatedly. I felt judged. I felt pressured. I felt I had to explain and defend myself, when I didn't even know these people. I had no interest in going back to the life I had left no matter how sunny or beachy it was. I was wracking my brain for a solution. I wanted to fix the problem. One night I climbed into bed behind him, put my arm round him and whispered "just sign off, come home." Sign off means leave the Army, it takes a year. Again, to not bore you with the details we discussed our options, his requirements and intentions for his job and came up with a plan. A plan that could work. A plan we could both live with. A plan that gave us an end date to being apart. I came home from that summer trip a bit more resolved. We could do this.
It was a week after I came home that the affair started.