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On the show today we’re talking to someone who has suffered immense emotional trauma but who has come out the other side stronger, wiser and ready to love again. Our guest really inspires those who have been through divorce, a partner’s infidelity, miscarriage or have been dealt an unfair hand, sharing openly about her two failed marriages, suffering multiple miscarriages and discovering her husband’s affair while pregnant in their first year of marriage.
To add to our guest’s array of disappointments, she poignantly tells us about the letter that ended her second marriage and which left her devastated and alone. Having a partner abandon her after what she believed to have been twelve wonderful years, she had to work through the difficult circumstances all on her own, including managing the business they owned together, while he effectively disappeared for weeks.
She talks about struggling with feelings of guilt and not being enough, and how therapy and support from friends and family restored her hope of finding love again. For more about how this woman conquered the many obstacles in her life, don’t miss out on this episode of the Bad Girls Bible Podcast!
Key Points From This Episode
- More about Susan’s background and being adopted into a wonderful family.
- How she met her second husband and their early days together.
- The age gap and her thought processes around it.
- Falling pregnant a second time and having a series of miscarriages following the first.
- Why it is so difficult for Australian citizens to adopt.
- Her unfulfilling first marriage and their lack of intimacy.
- Her gut feeling about her second husband’s infidelity.
- How her partner’s infidelity consumed her and realizing that she needed to forgive.
- The devastating letter that ended their marriage.
- Being concerned for her husband’s mental state and worrying that he might end his own life.
- The hardest thing about his abandonment and how it impacted her daughter.
- Struggling with feelings of inadequacy and feeling partly responsible for his decision to leave.
- Having to deal with her pain, their business and sharing the news with others by herself.
- Getting to a place where she is ready to pursue love again.
- The importance of not being reactive is such circumstances.
- And much more!
“I thought, hang on a minute, I’m pregnant, we’re in our first year of marriage and you are cheating on me? I was really devastated.” — Susan [0:15:56]
“I felt like he was my soul mate, that’s why it was just so soul-destroying when he left me in the manner that he left me.” — Susan [0:24:01]
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“I’m a hopeless romantic, I believe in love still, so, I’m willing to put myself out there.” — Susan [0:31:40]
[0:01:11.6] Sean Jameson: Today I’m talking to Susan about her marriage of 12 years to a man 10 years junior, how she found out that her husband had been cheating on her and what she went through losing a pregnancy, along with how she dealt with him ultimately leaving, her husband, that is. Susan, thanks so much for coming on the Bad Girls Bible Podcast to tell your story.
[0:01:33.0] Susan: Thank you for having me, I’m very happy to be here to share my story.
[0:01:36.6] SJ: Well, it’s great to have you, I’d love to start off with just with your background, maybe a little bit about where you grew up and what your kind of family life was like when you were a kid?
[0:01:47.4] S: Okay, well, I grew up in a small town in Bendigo in Victoria and I’m actually adopted and my parents couldn’t have their own children. I was the chosen one which was all very nice and yeah, I had a great upbringing, my parents were just wonderful, loving, giving parents, I couldn’t ask for a better upbringing actually and I did later on in life meet my birth mother and I actually have seven full siblings.
I was put up for adoption when I was obviously very little baby, only well, straight away, my parents got [inaudible 02:28] and then my birth parents got back together and married and had seven more children so yeah, I’ve got a lot of other siblings. Yeah, it is pretty interesting story, I should write a book, I keep threatening that I’m going to do that one day but I haven’t yet.
[0:02:50.8] SJ: Do you have a good relationship with your birth mother now?
[0:02:53.6] S: We met a few times when I first moved to Brisbane but we never both felt the need to have that connection, she saw that I had a lovely upbringing and was very content that I was happy and I didn’t sort of feel the need to continue that relationship either but I think you know, that’s nearly 18 years ago when we first met and I do kind of wonder how she is I suppose. I may be, I think I should put the feelers out and see and maybe reconnect because I think it would be nice.
[0:03:28.3] SJ: I totally get you. I guess at some stage, you kind of finished school and you met your husband?
[0:03:36.3] S: Well, I met my first husband when I was traveling around Australia, he was in military and we moved around a lot from Adelaide to Sydney, back to Adelaide then to Pako-Pano to over to Wodonga and then as a family wound up in Brisbane. We were a little bit rocky, we sort of like brother and sister ended up being – we sort of drifted apart and we’re both were young when we first were married and we divorced, I have a daughter from my first marriage and she’s lovely.
I was just not going to leave Brisbane, he was going to Darwin and I was like, I’m not going to Darwin, no way. I stayed in Brisbane and it was a very amicable situation and about a year later, I met my second husband online actually.
[0:04:29.9] SJ: How did you meet him? Can you describe it?
[0:04:32.0] S: We met through the Internet actually, it was sort of very early days of that Internet sort of dating, we sort of started chatting and then we met and there was an instant connection after we first met, we were actually quite inseparable from very early days. I think we were living together within about six weeks to two months. Yeah, we were really close very early on.
Just sort of grew from there and we got married within probably another 18 months and we decided that we were going to get married and then I found out I was pregnant.
[0:05:16.0] SJ: I’d love to get to that in just a little bit but I’d love to talk more about just those early days with your kind of, your soon to be husband at the time. What kind of messages did you send to him first or did he send to you first, can you remember?
[0:05:34.6] S: You know, I can remember very vividly, he instigated it, we just sort of started chatting and you know, it was very nice, it was very respectful because I would get lots of messages saying, hey, do you want to have cybersex and I’d be like no, bugger off, to other people and he was always quite respectful.
We just shared our life story and what our hopes and dreams were and what we were sort of into our, our interests, basically what we liked to do with our spare times. That was really good experience actually. I didn’t have any qualms with when he said let’s meet up, I’m like yeah, sure, that’s fine. We had a first date and we spent that first date talking for hours and hours. Everything.
[0:06:27.5] SJ: What kind of things did you talk about?
[0:06:29.5] S: We talked about my life and how I sort of came to Brisbane, a lot about my life and we talked about his life, he was actually – he wasn’t from Australia so he was from Singapore so he immigrated to Brisbane when he was probably 10 or 11 with his family, so he was an immigrant but naturalized Australian now when I met him.
He had an Asian background so there was a bit of a culture difference, I suppose I thought he was quite exotic and actually can even remember – when we first met I said to my mom, he’s so beautiful, he’s actually described him that he was a beautiful looking man. Not handsome, beautiful. It was kind of funny, yeah.
[0:07:19.5] SJ: That’s cool. What age were you guys when you first met?
[0:07:24.9] S: I was in my late 30s and he was in his late 20s, so 10 year age gap between us. Yeah.
[0:07:34.6] SJ: Was that ever an issue for you or not for you maybe but for your friends for some reason.
[0:07:41.3] S: I did think it was a little bit of an issue and I called him out on it quite early on, I said, hey, what’s going on here? I’m 10 years your senior, I’m divorced with a child, what’s in it for you? I was quite suspicious early on but he reassured me very early on that he was really into me and he really liked me. I’m like, okay, we’ll give it a go then. I wasn’t introduced, and my family and friends were really fine with it.
I didn’t actually meet his friends and family for, it would have been 10, 11 months but in the end, I called him out on that and said hey, what’s going on. Do people know that we’re together? You’re living with me and he assured me, yes, his parents knew about me. I did eventually end up obviously meeting them but it did take a while and so –
[0:08:47.1] SJ: Why was that? Was that like a cultural thing or what did he say when you called him out?
[0:08:53.0] S: When I called him out on it, he said, well I’ve never taken anyone home before so it’s a big deal for me when I do. I’m like okay, I accepted that and a lot of his friends were either interstate, so he didn’t have a lot of friends that he would catch up with on a very regular basis when they came into town, he would go out with them and it sort of never came about. You know, I did end up meeting them of course.
We had to, we got married.
[0:09:29.4] SJ: How did he propose?
[0:09:30.8] S: He proposed where we went on our first date actually. You know, if you’ve been to Brisbane, you’ve been down to South Bank, a rainforest garden down there. He took me down there and proposed there. It was quite lovely and yeah.
[0:09:51.5] SJ: Was it a long interlude, a long engagement or did you get married quite soon after?
[0:09:58.3] S: We did actually get married quite soon after because I was pregnant and we didn’t sort of – we were going to have a small sort of wedding anyway. It was quite soon but what actually happened was we were engaged in the October and we planned for a February wedding but we didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant until boxing day. The day after Christmas day because we wanted, it was very early in my pregnancy, we wanted to wait till I was three months in before we sort of told anyone.
We announced that we were going to get married at the same time and so that happened the day after boxing day and then within a week, actually had a miscarriage and I lost the baby but we still went ahead with the wedding because we both still wanted to get married, we were getting married because I was pregnant, we were getting married because we loved each other.
We still got married. But then I fell pregnant again straight away. I was pregnant again when I was married.
[0:11:04.0] SJ: Do you mind if we go back to the first pregnancy. Can you talk a little bit about that?
[0:11:09.7] S: Well, it was sort of an unexpected, it wasn’t really planned, we’d sort of thought we might try and have a family together because I only had the one, he didn’t have any children at all. I went off my contraception and I recon I was pregnant really quickly, it happened really suddenly and I was like wow, okay, that worked really quickly and the pregnancy was progressing along fine.
Then I didn’t feel quite right and I went to see my doctor and she sent me for an ultra sound and there was no heartbeat. I had to have a little procedure, sort of to remove the pregnancy unfortunately but those sorts of things happen and they do say that you know, if you don’t want to fall pregnant straight away, get back onto birth control but we sort of did want to try again. I didn’t go back on to the birth control and we did keep trying. I must have fell pregnant again pretty much straight away.
[0:12:17.6] SJ: I’m guessing then you had a kid?
[0:12:20.6] S: No, I actually had several miscarriages that first year we were married.
[0:12:25.7] SJ: I’m sorry.
[0:12:26.6] S: Yeah, miscarriages happen and a lot of people say, it’s for a reason. I’m like, obviously it is for a reason, harder losing a child but we kept trying. Yeah, no, we didn’t end up ever having any of our own children unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Did you ever think about adopting maybe?
[0:12:53.1] SJ: We did actually, we did look at adopting sort of later on in our marriage after some things happened but we didn’t end up going down that road because it’s really hard to adopt here in Australia. You have to go particularly go overseas and have a lot of money to adopt which is unfortunate because I think adoption laws would be – there are so many wonderful people out there who would love to adopt and can’t have their own children but it’s really tough here to adopt.
I’m hoping in the near future that I will relax those rules so that people can have the opportunity to be a parent because It is a lovely thing to be a parent, I’m very blessed a beautiful 24-year-old daughter.
[0:13:40.4] SJ: Absolutely, just before I came here, I spent the morning in the park with my brother and my nephew. It’s just so funny seeing how it changes someone.
[0:13:50.2] S: It does, it really does soften you, I think. I think because I’ve had such a lovely upbringing with my own parents. You know, I can only hope, and that’s actually one of the reasons why I left my first marriage was because I wasn’t being fulfilled and I’m thinking, what am I teaching my daughter staying in a relationship that’s not fulfilling for either of us?
[0:14:14.0] SJ: I agree with you there but then, part of me says, you know, sometimes there’s problems in relationships, and you have to work through them. Of course, you can’t be working through a problem for 35 years but –
[0:14:28.3] S: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, we’d been together for 13 years and it wasn’t getting any better and we did really work hard. We didn’t fight, we were just more like, there was no passion there, it had really gone, like the ship had sailed unfortunately, and I didn’t see him as my lover anymore, I saw him as just a friend.
[0:14:53.1] SJ: A roommate?
[0:14:54.1] S: A roommate, yes. You know, we didn’t have sex for eight years there. We’d have once a year, it was really bad.
[0:15:04.9] SJ: Did you ever feel like looking for intimacy elsewhere during that time?
[0:15:11.0] S: No, absolutely not. It was never my thing. Absolutely not. I was not that –
[0:15:18.4] SJ: Sorry for interrupting you but you mentioned in your email that your second husband from Singapore at the start of the marriage cheated on you? Can you talk a little bit about how you found out?
[0:15:30.5] S: Well, I had this funny feeling, I actually do have sort of a bit of intuition I suppose. I just had this really bad feeling in my gut, something wasn’t right. I looked through his phone one night and found all these pictures and messages from this person and I was just floored. I could not believe it, I thought, wait a minute, I’m pregnant, we’re in our first year of marriage and you are cheating on me.
I was really devastated. I really had to hold myself together because I’d had so many miscarriages, I didn’t want an upset to – so that I would have another. I confronted him and you know, there was tears and raised voices and all that. He was very apologetic in telling me how stupid he was and it was an opportunistic type situation. He wasn’t having a full blown affair with the person, it was just a once off sort of situation.
I believed him. We really had to work very hard to keep it together because – in the end, it was me – well, I want you in my life and if I’m going to do that and accept that, I need to forgive and let it go. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have stayed together because it can just consume you. If you’re so strongly feel for someone, and you think you can forgive them and move forward, you can do it and it can make you stronger.
I did and we stayed together for 12 years after that happening.
[0:17:21.7] SJ: That’s awesome. Did it consume you though for a little while?
[0:17:27.2] S: It did consume me for quite a number of, probably months I’d say. I was also trying to look after my health with my pregnancy and then in the end, I had another miscarriage. I don’t think my body’s cut out for having another pregnancy and in the end, we just decided, it’s just not meant to be. We stopped trying basically. That was fine too. But I just had to look after my own health at that point in time as well so.
[0:18:01.9] SJ: Absolutely and then you mentioned in your email that you husband became quite ill?
[0:18:08.5] S: That actually happened, it sort of coincided with a trip I went to Bendigo, to my hometown one Christmas. We had a Christmas apart that year and when I came home, we found that he had become quite ill with a parasite in his eye. He was a contact lens wearer and yeah, it was really furious and he lost his sight in his eye and he had to go into a really serious pain medication and that affected his libido and he was in constant pain all the time.
He couldn’t see out of his eye. He ended up having a cornea transplant to repair the damage that the parasite had actually done to his eye and that was successful to the point of he didn’t look like he was blind in one eye, but the actually cornea was not a great cornea but there was less chance of rejection and that at the time, we had to get the best result which was the no rejection because he’s got to be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life and so it actually means he’s going to have to go back and have another cornea transplant.
So go through that whole again and so that he hasn’t done that yet but I do know that he is going to go ahead and have that done at some point in time but I don’t know when because I don’t really see him or rarely see him or rarely speak these days. Not that we don’t speak, I just don’t feel the need to speak with him.
[0:19:53.5] SJ: Why is that? You mentioned something about a letter?
[0:19:57.4] S: Well, I came home to a letter one day. We had spoken on the phone at lunch time to find, we were discussing dinner plans, and it was Friday night and I [inaudible 20:11] and a letter on the hold stand and it was a “Dear Susan” letter and it was a letter, a page and a half of typed words that felt like it was from a stranger written to me. I was just brutal. It was: “Dear Susan, I can’t be with you anymore. I want to be on my own. I’m a broken man” this that and the other.
“You’re better off without me” all of these things, “You are going to hate me, your friends and family are going to hate me” it was just – I was devastated. I could not believe it. I was absolutely mortified and the worst thing of that was I was completely on my own because our daughter had moved interstate two weeks before this happened. So were looking forward to our empty nester life ahead of us and he’s just done a runner on me. It was just brutal.
[0:21:14.2] SJ: Do you think he waited until your daughter moved out?
[0:21:17.5] S: The little cynic me, yeah maybe he did. Maybe he thought I would just go running home to my parents and just give up but I am not that person. I don’t give up very easily and so I hung in there. There were certain instructions in his letter though that I wasn’t to contact his family or his friends and that he would deal with them when he returned and so I took him on his word at that. So I didn’t go blurting it out to the world what had happened.
And it just so happens I was seeing my therapist the next day because I was having some issues with my work and I thought I had gone and speak to someone, a third party to talk about that and I walked into my session with her and handed her the letter, burst into tears and she’s like, “Just let it all out, just let it all out” while she read the letter and she’s just going, “Um-hmm, um-hmm, yep he is deeply troubled. I’d be quite concerned about him if I was you” and I was.
And that was my initial concern, is he going to do something to himself. So that was my first main worry, regardless of how he has delivered this message to me that he wants to leave our wonderful life together. Yeah, I was blindsided.
[0:22:39.4] SJ: I think that says a lot about your character. That even in this horrible circumstance you are still thinking of his wellbeing.
[0:22:49.8] S: I had to think of his wellbeing because I was really concerned. He had actually lost a friend to suicide a few years before our marriage, before he left and from the day, this friend of his took his own life he felt really changed as a person. It really deeply affected him and I saw that. Well, my daughter and I, we both saw that he was deeply depressed but he wouldn’t really deal with it even though we encouraged him to deal with it.
He wouldn’t deal with it unfortunately and I actually do feel that has had some impact on the rest of his life and one of the reasons probably why he left me. I really do believe that.
[0:23:37.5] SJ: So he just closed up and didn’t talk about it?
[0:23:40.5] S: He just closed up shop basically. He didn’t want to talk about it became well within himself even though we had always been able to talk about anything with each other. We’ve always been really close like peas in a pod. We did everything together. We were very compatible in so many ways. We had many shared interests and you know I felt like he was my soul mate, that is why it was so soul destroying when he left me in a manner that he left me.
I honestly feel it would have been a kinder way to end things with me if that’s how he felt, if he’d faced me and said that to me, “Look, I am not in love with you anymore. I need to be on my own” but it was so cold and removed the way he did in the letter but I actually dragged that letter out and I read it a few months ago and I didn’t even shed a tear and I thought, “Oh I must be in a really good place now” but the saddest thing is that he’s let my daughter down and to me that’s the worst thing.
Because he basically raised her from the time she was six and so nearly her whole life. She called him dad and he abandoned their relationship which I felt was the hardest thing for me. Now, I feel like the hardest thing for me was that she’s missing out, he’s missing out but I can’t force that either.
[0:25:16.7] SJ: Can I ask you a tough question?
[0:25:19.0] S: Sure.
[0:25:20.0] SJ: Do you ever or did you at the time ever feel like you were the one responsible for how the relation turned out?
[0:25:29.1] S: In a way, I would sometimes say to him, “Am I enough for you?” and maybe he felt that I wasn’t enough and was maybe too afraid to say so but I would always encourage honesty and because if you don’t have the honesty in a relationship, and you know I just feel like he cheated in a way that he just skulked away in the night. That’s how it felt and I did feel responsible in a lot of ways but we did have a really good relationship and that was why it was such a shock.
And it was such a shock to all of my family, all of our friends, they just could not believe that he did what he did the way he did it. They really struggled with it and to this day, my closest friends are quite blunt and harsh when they speak about him. They have not forgiven. I have forgiven and let it go because I couldn’t let it consume me. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.
[0:26:40.4] SJ: But it does sound from – it sounds like what you are saying that he did skulk away. So I was wondering, is there anything that like kind of, his tail between his legs or something. It’s strange. Is there anything that indicated when you look back or when you looked back at the time and the weeks before that something was up?
[0:27:05.5] S: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were getting reading to go to a wedding the week after he left, we’re going into stay at Sydney for his sister’s wedding and we’d plan about our outfits, we have booked accommodation, our flights, everything was booked to go and neither of us went to the wedding. That’s how messed up in the head he was. He was just – and I felt terrible for his family. I felt really awful and my therapist was like, “Well do you want to go to the wedding?”
I’m like, “Well I would like to go to the wedding but I don’t think I can. I wouldn’t be able to hold it together” and then I would hate to make a scene at the wedding.
[0:27:49.2] SJ: I totally get you.
[0:27:50.6] S: Yes, so neither of us went and I was really upset for his sister that her brother wasn’t there and I know she was really, really upset at me for him not turning up but I couldn’t make him go. I couldn’t say get on the plane and go because I didn’t even know where he was at that time. He literally took off and drove around for a couple of weeks, staying in hotels all up and down the coast of Brisbane. Up the sunny coast, down the gold coast, I literally didn’t know where he was.
[0:28:23.2] SJ: That’s so crazy.
[0:28:24.4] S: It sounds so crazy and we had a business together and so in this letter of instructions, he’s like, “I have closed the business for two weeks”. His technicians we’re going to be running the show and he could be contacted only by email because he was switching his phone off. So it was a little bit bizarre and looking back now, I think yeah maybe if I had handled that a little bit differently, perhaps I should have called the police and sent them out looking for him.
But I was just like, no, I was hoping that it would just blow over, he would just come back and you know, we’d get some help together but that didn’t happen. I mean he came back but he moved in with his parents and I think he’s still living there now so.
[0:29:13.9] SJ: So did you have any contact with him then but first of all, it’s just saying so much that everything you did because honestly your lives are so interwoven. Everything you did together, I mean it sounds like it would have been easier if he just came to you and was honest like exactly like you said and you could have worked something out together. He sounds just like he was a bit cowardly.
[0:29:37.6] S: Well my mom actually said that to him. She was a bit brutal in the message he sent to him months down the track when this first happened. She said it was very cowardly the way you did this and look, it is cowardly and it would have been better if he had faced me because it was a lot of heartache that went on for months and months after the initial – my neighbor put it in an analogy that he’s had a grenade, he’s pulled the pin, he’s throwing the grenade and then he ran away and you have to deal with the fallout.
I’m like, “Yeah, that’s about right” I had to deal with the mess, all of them, my family, his family, my daughter, the business we had together. It was bizarre and really bad and so yeah I struggled but I did.
[0:30:35.3] SJ: Yeah but I got to be honest, you sound like you are doing great now. You sound in great spirits so how are you doing now? How is life treating you?
[0:30:43.0] S: Life is treating me pretty well. I had about six months of therapy after the initial, he left me and for the therapist to turn around and say, “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re fine. You’re absolutely fine” and it was a lot of tears and a lot of comfort and reassurance from my friends and family. You know everyone reached out to me and the best thing I did was thank everyone and accept everyone’s help and love and good wishes and concern.
I know I didn’t shut myself away. I felt my pain. It was harsh but I lived through it, which was really good and so yeah, I think I am in a good place. I am looking for love. I am putting myself out there. I am back on, I have been on a few dating websites. I am out looking for my next true love. I am a hopeless romantic, I believe in love still. So I am willing to put myself out there.
[0:31:47.9] SJ: That is great to hear. I think that is the attitude you need to have in life in general you know?
[0:31:52.3] S: I think so. Look, the old adages it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all and I’ve had two really good loves already but I am still a young woman. So I’ve got plenty of love out there, sort of ready to give it if only I can but I don’t have to have someone but I would like to have a special someone in my life because it’s nice to have a witness to your own life and for you to witness theirs.
[0:32:22.4] SJ: Yeah and to share their life and for them to share yours.
[0:32:25.2] S: Absolutely.
[0:32:27.6] SJ: So Susan this has been I think really instructive just hearing how you dealt with this whole situation and before you go, I just have one last question for you and that is, do you have any advice for listeners that are in a similar situation that you faced. What would you advise them to do?
[0:32:51.0] S: My advice I think was a really good advice that my therapist gave me was, try as hard as you can not to be reactive when it initially happens because when you react negatively or in a bad way, it can have an even worse effect on you I suppose. So take it all in, leave through the pain. You know it is not going to turn out in the end like actually feel it. Don’t numb yourself with alcohol and medications and things like that.
You really need to feel the pain and cry and all of those things but don’t be too reactive I think. That is the best advice I can give because I think trying to be a little bit calmer and also try and see it from the other person’s perspective I suppose. As much as he really hurt me, maybe that was his only way of doing it. Maybe he couldn’t face me, I don’t know. I’ll never know but that’s okay. I’m good with that.
[0:33:58.0] SJ: Well Susan, thanks so much for coming on the Bad Girl’s Bible Podcast to tell your story.
[0:34:02.6] S: It’s been my absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.