I was convinced he was ‘the one’ and that we were going to grow old together.
What hadn’t crossed my mind was that Carol had an enormous head start in that department. He’d been married before and was reluctant to commit again.
Not only was I working flat-out to make a career for myself in a foreign country so I could pay our bills, I was also providing round-the-clock care for Carol.
His deteriorating health left me responsible for his most intimate needs. By now I was increasingly worried about our future. Would I have to give up my job and look after him permanently? The daily strain was unrelenting, and I was prematurely ageing.
And I — far from being the ‘hot young bimbo’ — was, at 45, more like his carer. He already had two daughters from his first marriage, who are now in their 40s, and even though I would have loved to have had children, I foolishly allowed myself to be bullied out of motherhood.
It was at that moment, ten years ago, I realised marrying a man more than two decades older than me was the biggest mistake of my life. I was 28 and Carol 50 when ‘that’ conversation first came up.
At the insistence of my husband — who is called Carol, named by his Europhile parents after King Carol of Romania — it had to be the largest in the village, and the garden grandly led down to the banks of the river.
He revelled in the praise his friends piled on him for enjoying the perfect lifestyle — a stunning house and, of course, the icing on the cake, a nubile young wife. I watched with morbid fascination as my husband — sporting a pair of comfortable loose-fitting trousers, calf-length brown socks and his favourite Velcro-strapped sandals — strutted about our terrace like a bantam cockerel.
There was a meeting which he had to attend the following day, but in his haste to get into the Hospital, did not bring soap or towel.From my hiding place behind the door, I was frozen with revulsion and disbelief.Not only at my husband’s betrayal — but because our marriage was nothing like the one he had described in such prurient detail.I really enjoyed his company: he was sophisticated, well travelled and interesting, and I was smitten within weeks.
While I didn’t give the age gap a second thought, everyone else was horrified.
We’d pulled out all the stops to impress one of his oldest friends, spending a small fortune on steak, prawns and foie gras.