Sadly, for many couples, the pandemic has tipped their relationship into the breakup zone. Stuck in lockdown 24/7 with a partner hasn’t been easy, even for the strongest of marriages, and it’s inevitable that separation and divorce would become a by-product of the last 12 months.
I am Alison March, the Founder and Managing Director of The Group Hug, an online Forum and Community providing information about the things which matter most to people as they go through life. Our online platform may now be sleek and organised but I never imagined it would be where it is today. The Group Hug started from humble beginnings.
For 14 years, I was stuck in a marriage which was controlled by my husband’s wealthy family. From the outside it looked like we were living an affluent lifestyle which many could only dream of. The reality was that the money brought with it a husband who spent the majority of his time on the phone to his family. He could literally be on the phone for six hours at a time, even on a day out with our children. I was very lonely. I had lost my financial independence and who I really was.
‘After I started divorce proceedings, I was pushed into poverty and ended up living in a garage for three months’
I started thinking about getting divorced two years after we married but then our children arrived and I kept putting it off. When things got really bad, I’d email a solicitor just to get advice, but then stayed for fear of what would people think if I got divorced. My then husband warned me he would make sure I was “in the gutter” if I ever left him. Then one day, I had a lightbulb moment and I told him the marriage was over and started divorce proceedings.
I found myself turfed out of our large home with the two children and was declared homeless by the local council. I was pushed into poverty and ended up living in a garage for three months!
Knowing I couldn’t be the only one going through this kind of situation I set up a local Facebook group – “The Ascot and Sunninghill First Wives Club”. Within a couple of months the group had exceeded 200 members. It was comforting to hear everyone else’s story and there was definitely the feeling of safety in numbers. No one was alone.
I walked away from divorce proceedings with nothing to show for the long marriage. He had fancy barristers and I was on Legal Aid fighting fire with petrol. I simply didn’t want to devote my 40’s to fighting him and his family. I wanted more for my life and to be a good role model for our children. it was at this point that The Group Hug was born. We are now in our third year and have seen audience numbers increase by 3000% since March 2020.
So how can www.thegrouphug.com help YOU?
- We can run a poll on an issue for you (we recently did this for a glossy magazine)
- We talk about divorce, separation and loss
- You can learn from my personal experience of financial abuse
- You can reach out to experts in our Hug Directory (counsellors, coaches, financial advisors, family lawyers, mediators)
To be honest, there is not much I don’t have an opinion on and recently I have spoken to the press on various subjects from the gender-free Mr Potato Head, why I wish I had given my marriage just one more chance to the trials and tribulations of running a business alongside home-schooling.
Would you like a Group Hug?