Yes, my ‘job’ as wife and mother gave me every material advantage, but it didn’t give me the one thing I craved: love.
And that’s why I sat down and wrote a letter to my husband resigning from our marriage.
I went through the entire package. In painstaking detail I laid out every one of my duties and every perk. And I ended by telling him that I was giving him six months’ notice.
‘Dear Harry,’ I wrote. ‘I have been your wife for eight years now. I share your bed and make love to you. I shop for food and cook meals for you. I arrange regular dinner parties and entertain for you. I ensure your home is always spotless and your clothes immaculate.
‘I listen attentively when you tell me about your day at the office. I organise holidays and outings for you and the family. I remember family birthdays for you and buy suitable presents.
‘I look after your children. I keep them fed and clean. I oversee their education. I organise tea parties for them and ferry them to play-dates. I take them to play in the park. I bake cakes with them. I read them stories and play endless make-believe games.
‘In return, I have a generous pay package. I have the use — shared with you — of a three- bedroom apartment in one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
I drive a top-of-the- range car. I have annual membership of a country club and access to a swimming pool and to a gym. I have the daily services of a maid. I have a company credit card.’
Itemising each of my perks, I wondered how many other women would jump at the chance of stepping into my shoes.
Or would they — like me — realise that no amount of money can compensate for a loveless marriage?
So how had things gone so desperately wrong?
Harry’s parents had separated when he was just three, and he was sent to boarding school when he was seven.
The result was that he had grown into a loner — a man who found it virtually impossible to show his emotions.
We married in June 1986 in the chapel in the grounds of Prestwold Hall, a magnificent country house in Leicestershire — the ancestral home of my godmother.
As my father, John, a lecturer at Loughbrough University, walked me down the aisle, I felt totally blessed.
Of course, anyone looking in would think I had a charmed life: a handsome, devoted husband who was a wonderful provider (Harry was earning in excess of £100,000 a year) and two delightful little girls.
Harry’s income paid for a wonderful apartment overlooking Hong Kong’s Deep Water Bay.
I played tennis at my club, and swam in the private pool at our apartment block. We dined out at the best restaurants and, when we travelled, we always stayed in five-star hotels.
But I was desperately lonely.
While Harry had never been a chatterbox, we’d done so much together and I had been so busy working that I’d never really noticed. But now Harry never talked to me.
He never played with the children.
He’d come home from work to find me itching for an adult conversation. But he’d kick off his shoes and get out the latest copy of The Economist.
Now I can see that he was so distant, and so emotionally scarred from his childhood, that he simply didn’t know how to react. But I was convinced I didn’t matter to him.
That impression was hammered home a few days later when our closest friends came around for supper.
The wine was flowing and, as we passed around the chocolates, the conversation turned to relationships.
‘So why do you love Kate?’ my friend asked. Harry thought for a second. ‘I love the way she understands the chemistry of cooking,’ he said.
Looking at my friends’ shocked faces, I honestly didn’t know how long I could bear to stay married.
My marriage was so loveless it had become nothing more than a job. So that’s why, a day or two later, I sat down and wrote my letter of resignation to Harry.
I didn’t know how else to express myself. I wanted him to know all that I did for him and how unhappy I was.
I told him that I was putting him on notice. He had six months to show how much he loved me. I slipped the letter onto his pillow and waited.
Harry came in that night and, as usual, barely nodded hello before disappearing into the bedroom to get changed.
I held my breath and steeled myself for his reaction. Would he accept my resignation? Would he even care? The minutes seemed like hours. And then he walked into the room.
I was speechless. He was crying. He went down on one knee and took my hand.
Tears were glistening in his eyes. He dropped onto his knees in front of me — just as he’d done when he proposed. ‘Darling, I’m so, so sorry,’ he said. ‘I love you so much and I had no idea you were so unhappy. Please give me another chance.’
I was totally blindsided. I had never seen him so emotional before. We hugged and kissed and that evening we talked like we’d never done before. It was a turning point.
We realised we’d come within a whisker of destroying our marriage.
Harry now says that when he read my letter of resignation, he fell in love with me all over again.
It was the first time he realised just how much he loved me — and how much he wanted to make our marriage work.
Kate and Harry Benson adored their lifestyle in Hong Kong ¿ the wonderful food and the buzz of living in one of the most energetic cities in the world
If I’m honest, it took me a long while to forgive him and to stop feeling angry. Why hadn’t he been able to listen to me before? Why had it taken a letter of resignation to open his eyes?
Harry agreed to come with me to a counselling course where we both learnt to be more understanding and patient with each other.
Harry learnt to listen to me and to open up about his feelings.
I learnt to understand that, because it was so deeply ingrained in him to keep his emotions in check — first at boarding school and then in the Navy, he’s never going to be a guy easily in touch with his feelings.
But a few months after I wrote that letter I gave Harry a wedding ring. He hadn’t wanted one before. It sealed our commitment.
I won’t claim it’s all been plain sailing, and my heart was breaking when I explained to Stephen that I could never see him again. But we owe our now happy 26-year marriage to that letter, which Harry still treasures.
We now have six children. As well as Rosie, 21, and Polly, 19, there’s Grace, 15, Cicely, 13, Charlie, 11, and Johnnie, nine.
We moved back to England in 1997 and have established a wonderful life in Somerset.
I love my work as a cordon bleu cookery teacher and Harry, now 51, is frantically busy.
After taking a degree in psychology, he runs a very successful local relationship project, Bristol Community Family Trust, teaching practical relationship skills to thousands of couples.
It’s all because of the help he received to save our marriage.
He has also written a book about his Falklands experience — Scram — which came out in March.
Harry and I are chalk and cheese, but our love is unbreakable. I am so pleased that my job as Harry’s wife is for life — and I look back and shudder when I think how close I came to giving it all up.
– Daily Mail