In past generations, women would have put up with a mediocre marriage — but now our expectations are higher.’ Instead of confronting and discussing their problems, Sue and her husband had retreated into impenetrable silence.
‘We would just sit, night after night, mutely watching television together,’ she recalls. We had just reached the point where we were merely co-existing.’ She feels liberated by her divorce and — although she and her husband chose not to have children — she says her busy social life, and the freedom she now has to meet friends and go out at will, guard against loneliness.
By the time I reached the menopause I’d had enough of being a wife and mother, and by the age of 60 I was divorced.
Rita, who lives in South London, adds: ‘The irony is that men of this age are slowing down and looking forward to retirement, whereas women want to scale mountains and re-establish their careers.
‘The husband has often been working really hard to provide for his family and he feels unappreciated when he reaches the end of his career to discover his wife has found a fresh sense of fulfilment and an identity separate from her old one as a wife and mum.