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I knew our life would change

I knew our life would change

29 Oct 2020

Husband in trouble, Income Protection was Kate’s last island of safety. 
But a cancelled policy meant the dominos fell hard.

We were young. Happy. Life was good. 

In 2007, myself and my husband bought our first home. I worked in insurance and knew Income Protection was a must-have. I bought mine through work and made him do the same. 

He smoked and had asthma so, at £20 a month, his premiums were more than mine. But he still saw the value of having it. Then at least. 

Enjoying life

We had each other. We had security. We had a plan. As we climbed ladders in our respective careers, me in insurance and him in retail, he landed a responsible, well-paid job. 

Like I said, life was good. 

Every month we paid our mortgage and our bills – including Income Protection – with a chunk left over for fun. Which he always enjoyed a lot of.

My husband never got ill or depressed. He never missed work. The only red flag was his drinking. Of all our friends, he was the one who couldn’t stop; who always tried to keep the party going. 

But that was OK. We were in our 20s - isn’t that what you do? 

Different paths

Life trundled on. Soon we were 30. Before we knew it we were parents to our firstborn.

I was happy. I enjoyed being at home. I loved low-key evenings and weekends with my little family. Him less so. He still wanted to party. He still needed escape. 

His drinking escalated.

In 2017/18 several big life events mixed up into an explosive cocktail. We moved to a big house with a big mortgage, my husband suffered a professional setback, and I fell pregnant. 

Things reached a head on a family holiday. He got drunk, he got violent, he broke. 

The implosion

He was never the same again, my husband. From that family holiday on, he only lived to drink. Gone were happiness and hope. In their place were misery and alcohol. 

At first, he was diagnosed with depression; later bipolar. I thought meds and counselling might get him back on track, but we’ll never know because the drinking didn’t stop. Even after an expensive stint in rehab. 

Throughout this time his employer was massively understanding. During his six months of paid leave, they provided counselling and coaching. His colleagues regularly checked in. His higher ups seemed to genuinely care. 

Still he drank. 

I felt less and less in control as we hurtled towards catastrophe. When I reached my last trimester, his six months of paid leave were up. His Income Protection policy would be a lifeline. It’d protect us – our overheads and lifestyle – while I negotiated the mess. 

At the very least, it’d allow us to keep the stability of home.

Or so I thought 

With him in poor shape, it fell on me to call his insurer and make the claim. Income Protection is a safety net that pays out when you’re signed off work with, an injury, illness or, in his case, a mental health diagnosis. 

But when I called they informed me. His Income Protection plan was gone. He’d cancelled it, or let it lapse …

The detail didn’t matter as my life flashed before my eyes. 

My husband’s income was about to stop. We had a big mortgage, nursery fees, bills, expenses, a life. We had a baby due imminently. My maternity pay couldn’t handle the financial load. I couldn’t handle the emotional load. 

I pushed him to go back to work. He did, drunk. 

And he was sacked.

On my own

I’d had enough. This was the straw. With serious alcohol abuse some things are almost a given: he’d been unpredictable, violent and abusive. I’d had to go to appointments on my own. Scans on my own. Despite looming financial uncertainty baby would need a stroller, a crib, clothes, toys … 

I did it. I chose them. All on my own.

The inevitable was soon upon me. The house we’d worked so hard for - I had to sell it. The mortgage was too big a stretch for me on my own and him on Statutory Sick Pay.

This was goodbye. For me and him, sure. But also to what we knew. I moved myself and my two young kids back to my parents’ home; hundreds of miles away from the once-happy life we’d built. 

My husband schlepped back to his hometown and carried on drinking. He was kind enough to let me have the equity from the sale of the house. We divorced shortly after. 

Reflecting

I realise it’s strange - focusing on the Income Protection aspect of my story. Physically and emotionally, much worse happened to my family during my husband’s descent. 

But I vividly remember the moment they said his policy was gone. 

On some level, before making that call, I knew my marriage was ending. I knew big changes were coming and a period of uncertainty was overdue. 

But I was at least sure we’d have anchors in the ground: our home, nearby friends, and the familiarity of our routine.

Yet that phone call three years ago drew a line. Not only did the life we know change, it ended. 

Income Protection wasn’t the biggest or most important thing going on. It’d be ridiculous to claim it was. But it represented some sort of guarantee of stability. And in the chaos, stability is exactly what we wound up losing. 

And rebuilding 

We managed. We’re hundreds of miles away in an area we learned to call home. In fact, once again change is as we stare down a new chapter - a new house (of our own) in a new town. 

It’s a new adventure, this time powered by choice. Not by catastrophe. 

Thank you for reading my story,

Kate* 

*writer’s anonymity has been protected

 

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