Like a beautifully fitting glove, My Husband’s Lies slips snugly into the ‘domestic noir’ genre. What are the ingredients of such stories? Well, they are generally set in homes or work places and there’s often a dark narrative and a sense of claustrophobic danger or unease between husband and wife or partners or friends, but I also think they’re about ordinary people (you and I) caught up in extraordinary situations. My novels explore deep love between people with complicated backgrounds. Unfortunately, this passion often results in deceit, lies and betrayal. If you’ve read Beneath the Skin, you’ll know this! And there’s more in My Husband’s Lies…
Where do these dysfunctional relationships come from? You might ask. From my imagination, of course, but I’m helped by having once been a divorce lawyer! My male and female clients were often at their lowest dark ebb. Like a counsellor I watched the raw emotion on their faces and listened to stories of perfidy, abuse, dishonesty; controlling behaviour, hidden vices, adultery; violence, sexual deviance and crime. As I qualified in my early twenties, it was quite an eye opener!
There’s no doubt that divorce is the best thing for many couples. Look at the Happy Divorce Day cards and parties out there! But perhaps it should have a health warning. It’s not for the faint-hearted! Coming head to head with a person you once loved can quickly become toxic, peppered by revenge, anger and bitterness, but most of all avarice, that inevitable brawl over finances!
We all know money is the root of all evil. It’s astonishing how millionaires have, well, millions, but still fight for every last penny. Then on the other hand, there are couples who simply don’t have enough to split one family into two and that can be extraordinarily difficult for everyone.
Fury and acrimony can appear in all forms, from secreting assets away to using children as pawns, from slashing spouses comics, clothes and cars to outing them on Facebook, to arguing over not just the photos and piano but the pooch. Then there’s the emotional cost, the loneliness, the effect on mental health and well being. And what about the poor kids caught in the middle?
With this knowledge, why on earth did I get married, you may ask! There’s a survey out there which shows the divorce rate in family lawyers is low compared with other specialisms. I doubt it’s because they are any better at choosing a partner. It’s more likely they know about that health warning! I met my husband on the day I qualified as a solicitor, the very day I began specialising in matrimonial work, divorce cases in particular. Though we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in May, both my friends and children often (humorously) say that I should have begun my very own divorce petition that first day!
Harsh, you may say, but here’s a small sample of the grounds so far:
- Before living together – slipping out of the house after watching a late night film (The Shining, as it happens), dutifully locking me in the house, but leaving the keys in the outside lock (keys handed back by friendly postman in the morning!)
- Living together – both working in Manchester City centre, but frequently driving home without me (people must have wondered why I was looking so cross on that cold windy corner!)
- Car related – borrowing my car and receiving a six month driving ban for doing 58 in a 30 mile limit.
- Car related again – borrowing my car but forgetting to lock it. £200 worth of Christmas gifts got stolen from the boot!
- And another – offering to get a valuation to sell my car, but ending up getting two quotes because he crashed it that same day!
- Oh, and another – reversing the holiday hire car in a underground dark Majorcan carpark whilst wearing sunglasses – guess what happened?
I haven’t included the farting or the burping. Or frequently chipping nice crockery, not noticing new clothes or hair, blurting out the secret you’d sworn him to keep, they’re a given, but now I’m wondering why we’re still married…I guess love must have something to do with it, but also humour. Don’t get me wrong, the funny side sometimes takes months to appear, but its cathartic. And though my marriage is far from Ken and Barbie perfect, there’s (eventually!) tolerance, forgiveness and communication.
For several years I was a volunteer mediator for the local council, dealing with arguments and discord ranging from neighbours to parent and school disputes, from parent and child to relationship break-ups. I soon discovered communication is definitely the key to resolving conflict! There was an astonishingly high rate of resolution, achieved mainly by getting all the parties to the fall-out around a table and talking it through in a calm and supervised way.
My characters are often not communicating. They are frail and flawed, they fall in love with the wrong people, they lie and deceive, they sometimes commit crimes! But actually they’re just ordinary people with wants, desires, motivations and secrets. Like you, me, the next door neighbour, the postman, the butcher and the baker, their stories are multi-layered and complicated. I want the reader to come with me and get involved too! I’m exploring a moral grey area, so my characters are imperfect, people under pressure, but that’s when they’re at their most intriguing!
None of us are saints, we’re all human. Sadly, divorce lawyers will always be in business. But one thing is for sure – having read through this piece – I’m certainly not lending my car to my hubby ever again!