A memory from January 2018.
My partner had just confessed his infidelity and betrayal on December 27th. He was apparently entitled to carry on an affair with another woman he had started seeing again in the UK. He called her “his Wednesday girl” because obviously, she was his mid-week woman, while I was his weekend girl when we first met in 2009. I had no clue
We had been together for every birthday, and every Christmas and took numerous holidays together. I moved into his home in York, then moved into our first home together in Spain in 2016.
So while I was still suffering grief and trauma from his confession, he sat me down in January, a few days before he would leave me in Spain to return to the UK for his work and business. He had decided to start paying a monthly allowance into my business account. His idea, not mine. I never asked for that.
Red Flag, Suppression of Potential
At that point in time, I had invested my own money and used credit cards to buy into digital coaching and training in affiliate marketing. I did this in order to learn the skills to create an online business for myself. That was what I was working on through the final months of 2017. I was still hopeful that I would be able to secure an independent income, I really wanted to be able to contribute to the expenses and pay down a property I own in the UK. In order to help him retire sooner so that we would be able to spend more time together in Spain and do the things that we wanted to do. Only now I am not in a good place emotionally.
Now I was thrown into confusion. Did he still love me, did he still want me in his life? What was he expecting me to do? I didn’t have a clue. Why was he doing this to me? Was this just another way to devalue me and sabotage any of my attempts to do something to regain financial independence?
An Online Conversation With A Neighbour
One early Sunday morning I started an online conversation with a neighbour who lived next door to Phillip’s home in York (not my partner’s real name). I talked about how I thought that Phillip was trying to get me to push my self-destruct button. How Phillip knew that I had spent time in a psychiatric hospital at the age of 27 years after I had suffered a complete breakdown when my youngest daughter was only four years of age. (During 2021 I wrote that story as part of a collaborative book, Faces of Mental Illness now published.) I told him that I just wished that Phillip would make up his mind about what he wanted because this is killing me very slowly.
My intuition was telling me that I knew that Philip had childhood issues, I even said in my chat, that I fear Phillip has had just as poor an upbringing as me. Not much love in the parenting thing… I described how I grew up in a family with an alcoholic father and many times both parents would beat the crap out of one another. You see I was beginning to understand how Phillip could change after he has had a drink or was stressed.
Maximum Damage and Maximum Hurt.
At this point in January 2018, I felt unsure. I could see how Phillip was causing me immense emotional trauma, I think I actually I wrote “maximum damage and maximum hurt.” You see he would have these angry outbursts where I would be the target he would say things that hurt me deeply and got to the core of my emotional well-being. Which sent me into a gut-wrenching nightmare at times.
There were occasions when I had to hang up on video calls because I didn’t want to see him angry. I remember one day walking out of the kitchen door after hanging up a call with him, I threw my cup across the compound and watched it shatter on the ground. Of course, I did then have to go and pick up the pieces. I am not normally angry or confrontational, I prefer to get along with people, without drama.
Despite the fact that I knew his behaviour was toxic at that time I put it down to him having a mid-life crisis. I think I was making excuses for him again. I decided to fight for our relationship. By mid-2018 he decided he was going to end the affair he was having with this woman in the UK. I had worked on “Forgiveness” as a way through all that I had experienced.
It took many months before I was feeling more confident and started to enjoy my life again. Meeting people, going to art classes, doing yoga, and even dance lessons with the local Spanish women in preparation for the 2020 Cartagena Carnival. I believed things were coming together at last. Phillip had asked me to trust him, and so I did.
He told me he only needed to work a few more months, he wanted to save another £100,000 so that we would be secure together in retirement. He was going to work less time in the UK and spend more time in Spain. The plan was to start his business in Spain and work more from our home here.
2020 The Covid Pandemic
Unfortunately, we all know what happened in 2020. Yes, the Covid pandemic. Plans are on hold. Business closures. Lockdowns, flights restricted, countries across the globe thrown into complete chaos. This was also the year that my life was also thrown into “complete chaos.”
Two years ago this month, Phillip delivered his four-sentence speech that ended our eleven years relationship. It was totally out of the blue. I call this his abrupt termination speech.
It came at the end of the night on the 27th of August we had entertained friends at our home, and after our friends had left Phillip suggested a nightcap and sitting on the comfy seats on the porch. Once seated he said the first sentence, “I’ve got something to tell you” this was when my mind was jolted back to December 2017, the exact same sentence he had used to confess his infidelity.
In the second sentence, “I’m in love with another woman”
He then said, “We can remain friends if you want to remain friends”
And “We just can’t have sex anymore”
So the bombshell was dropped and I become “collateral damage, unfortunately,” a phrase he used later.
That very evening my mind went into some sort of download mode, I have no clue why I didn’t react angrily. I walked away rather than react in front of him. Did not cry, there were no tears, once I had gotten my initial anger out I came back and he was now sitting on the sofa.
I Was Going To Write My Story.
I talked and talked and talked some more. Actually, I told him that night I was going to write my story. I also explained to him that he was repeating mistakes of his past, but he never ever really listened to me. We didn’t go to bed until around 4 am that night he came into the bedroom with me and he fell asleep next to me, while I just lay there unable to sleep.
It was eight months before I felt emotionally strong enough to start writing my own story. It took me fourteen months of stop-start, procrastination and burst of writing and editing that kept me up until 3 am on occasions. Plus many episodes of sadness and tears, grief, blame, shame, anger and guilt. But despite living under the threat of his legal conflict and his emails that were telling me I would be “forcibly removed from the property” he would go to court and I would leave with just my personal possessions. That I was entitled to nothing from him and certainly no part of his house. The house that I had considered to be our first home together, the house that I had spent so much time alone waiting for him to be here with me.
I was determined to finish my book and I self-published it you can find it here on Amazon and on Digital Ebook Stores.
My past life
Growing up as a teenager I declared to my own father I would never get married. He told me I would, and I did, but my marriage ended in divorce and that was my choice.
Divorce and separation are never easy. People feel hurt and there may be grieving for the relationship lost.
In my own divorce, I left the marital home that we owned jointly. I moved into a rental with my two young daughters. My husband was not in employment. I was working 3 part-time jobs and studying for my Open University Degree.
At no point did I want to harm my husband. I told him we had drifted apart. I left him living in the home we jointly owned. In fact, I looked at how I might get a mortgage for myself and buy my own property. I didn’t even get legal advice for the divorce. I filed the divorce papers on my own.
Although we didn’t remain friends at least there was no legal conflict and fighting over who got what. You see the law is there for couples who are married if you need it.
Cohabiting relationships are not equal in law.
When the law is not there and there are no protections this can leave countless couples and mostly dependent women fouldering after the end of cohabiting relationships. Of course, it is fine if both parties can end things amicably with no arguments or animosity. When they can work things out between themselves.
However, when there is any element of emotional, psychological or physical abuse things might be a little more complicated. In a situation where there is an imbalance of power and there are issues of control and dominance, for example, there is more likelihood of legal conflict post-separation. Now in a situation where a couple is married, abuse and conflict can cause the divorce to be prolonged in the vast majority of circumstances. However, the Divorce Laws and the Courts have the power to make a variety of financial and property orders. But in the case of non-married or cohabiting couples when there is any element of conflict from whatever cause this adds further complications.
Upon separation, an abusive controlling partner can suddenly backtrack on promises. They can make you an offer that you provisionally accept then they can move the goal posts. Maybe, they can arbitrarily set impossible deadlines. They will pull the rug from beneath your feet and leave you in a form of limbo. You were already confused, left grieving the loss of the relationship and now facing the fight of your life. Women who are in cohabiting relationships with no proof of ownership or contributions to a property that they occupy can find themselves in a “precarious” position financially. They can end up facing legal action and being evicted by their former partner. No place to live. No financial settlement. Nothing. No entitlement to part of the pension. Nothing.
Despite the fact, that the law commission had concerns back in 2006 about the rise in cohabiting relationships and the difficulties that were seen at the end of the relationship where property and money claims were involved. There has been a lot of debate around the subject but no action to change the laws.
Statistics now show that the trend is for more and more couples to live together. Cohabiting couple families are the second-largest family type at 3.5 million, followed by lone-parent families at 2.9 million. (trend-monotor.co.uk Feb 2020)
Control, Power and Dominance
In cases of control, power and dominance (in what might be seen as an emotionally abusive relationship or one of coercive control.) What protection will a person (mainly women) have when the relationship fails? The answer sadly is not a lot. The reason is that if a woman does have the courage to file a domestic abuse complaint it does not often result in a positive outcome. The woman has to navigate the following organisations:
Solicitors, Legal support, Legal aid.
Social Services and Housing.
Domestic Abuse Charities.
Criminal, Civil or Family Courts.
In the UK an organisation known as CAFCASS
Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
My research also shows that women often walked away with nothing. They had no legal representation. They had no means to support themselves, and many ended up dependent again, on welfare and housing benefits. There are also women who are trapped in abusive relationships and are unable to find a way to leave. Lack of adequate housing and support is usually the issue. I have also spoken to women who have managed to escape an abusive relationship or situation. These women have been unable to access support and have become homeless. Other women who also lose their children in the Child Custody Court battles.
While in cases of divorce and separation where there is a property that has to be divided in a conflicted case. Very often the cost of the solicitors between the two parties wiped out any equity in the property. Both parties walked away lose: lose. The only winners were the lawyers who charged huge fees to fight the conflicted cases.
Law Commission Consultation 2006
There was a cohabitation consultation paper published by the law commission in 2006. This was followed by the “Living Together Campaign Research Report” in 2007. People surveyed felt strongly that the laws should be changed. Yet as I write this in August of 2022 little has changed.
There have been more debates since 2006/7. The Cohabitation Rights Bill was a Lords Private Members’ Bill tabled by Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames. (2019-2021)
There have been a number of events or Parliamentary inquiries into “The Rights of Cohabiting Partners.” In November & December 2021 then January and February 2022
You can read a full report here
House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee debated “The rights of cohabiting partners” there is a printed pdf July 2022. You can download that here.
Since 2007 how many lives have been destroyed or women who have been left living in poverty or reduced circumstances because of the lack of rights and obligations in law for cohabiting couples? What price is inaction?
Moral of the story.
If you are thinking of living together. It is not wrong to stop a relationship in the early days and to make a request to see a solicitor so you can make sure you are looked after if your partner wants to split, sell or die. You both need to know how any joint assets will be shared.
You never know what the future has in store. Personally, I have had three long-term relationships. One married and divorced. In another non-married relationship where my partner died suddenly at the age of 52 years due to a heart attack. And the last long-term non-married relationship that I think of as one of the best and also one of the worst relationships I have experienced so far.
I never ever thought he would be unfaithful to me. Never ever thought he would betray me twice over. I never ever thought that he would leave me floundering in a foreign country after the abrupt termination of our relationship. I never thought he would then wish to leave me emotionally, psychologically and financially devastated. Subjecting me to the further trauma of taking Civil Court action to evict me from the property that he originally offered to gift me a 50% share of. Read my Post-Separation Legal Conflict Article here.