Emma, 40. Two children, aged 5 and 22 months

“Before children, we both had similar daily routines and pressure points in life. We understood each other’s lives as our jobs were so similar. Now, we have very different daily routines. Mine is very domestic and child-orientated. My husband uses his brain to invent things.

I used to be financially independent with a good job that gave me ‘another life’, but now I depend on Ben for every penny. Getting my hair done or buying a new pair of shoes (that, admittedly, I don’t need) feels a bit like robbing the bank. But we have a fabulous family home and I understand we have to be careful.

Before children, we never argued and received all our affection from one another. But immediately post-birth of both our children we started to argue nastily and rather frequently. I must say we are just getting things back on track and are both making an effort to nip fights in the bud by biting our tongues. We now get our affection from our kids, which can drive a wedge between us as a couple. There are times when I’d rather have a cuddle with chubby little cheeks and a button nose, than with him.

Now that our youngest is nearly two, and in nursery, I’m back at work and that’s given me a bit of the independence I’ve been craving. Despite only working for the past eight months, it’s improved our relationship hugely. I feel like we’re on a level playing field again, and understand each other’s lives better.

Ben very recently realised that me going back to work full time would cost us loads of money. So full time just is not suitable for us. With a foot in both camps, I feel that modern career women really have had it all. Nothing has held us back professionally. Yet, we’ve lost regard for being a stay at home mum – even when I was in it, I felt that nothing was more important. Long term stay-at-home mums are looked down on – not commended. Why not? It’s an amazing job. But we’ve wanted it all and undermined the role in the process. I’d like to see it celebrated. I think we’ve undermined it in the minds of our partners, too. No wonder they don’t appreciate all that stay-at-home mums do.

I think the baby years have been a huge strain our relationship. But we are coming out of that phase and things are looking much brighter for our relationship. I’ve loved every minute of my babies. I miss those precious and fleeting moments. But the next phase is exciting and challenging too.”

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THE SECOND WOMAN

By , 4th February 2021
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My third book - the last of three connected, stand-alone novels - is now available for pre-order