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A marriage in meltdown: What’s it really like to see your family unravel before your eyes?

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a marriage in meltdown whats it really like to see your family unravel before your eyes

Coming home from work late one evening last September, my husband Tim stormed straight upstairs to the spare room without so much as a hello.

I followed to ask what was wrong. Our relationship had been fractious for months, but there was no specific cause for fury that I knew of. He said we’d talk tomorrow. With an ominous sense of dread, I said I needed to know now. And so it was that he told me he didn’t love me any more.

Horrified, I couldn’t sleep. Yet that awful night was only the start of one of the most stressful years of my life, as the process of disassembling our seven-year marriage began.

I was prepared to run a gamut of emotions, from heartache and fury to relief — and, more recently, hope.

But, perhaps naively, I had no idea of the huge financial ramifications. Since I filed for divorce this March, the legal bills have added up faster than our arguments ever did.

£25 for an email. £100 for a 38-minute phone call. £550 for court fees. £300 for a financial consent order to protect any future assets. So far, I’ve paid £3,800 — but there’s hundreds more still to fork out.

And this, I should stress, is for a straightforward divorce, with no rows over custody of our six-year-old daughter or financial assets. Were the situation more acrimonious — and, given the circumstances surrounding our marriage breakdown, it could easily be — those legal fees may well be trebled.

A happier time: Natasha Smith with Tim on their wedding day in August 2012

A happier time: Natasha Smith with Tim on their wedding day in August 2012

A happier time: Natasha Smith with Tim on their wedding day in August 2012

The anxiety I feel every time an invoice turns up from a solicitor is at stark odds to the joy I felt when Tim and I married in the beautiful ballroom of a stately home in August 2012.

Then, I was adamant marriage would bring security with the man I loved. Now, aged 42, I believe it to be an expensive irrelevance, providing nothing but a piece of paper that costs a fortune to extricate yourself from. It holds no bearing on a couple’s love for each other.

Nor can it stop seething resentment creeping in, or serve as an impediment to infidelity.

I should know. A year before he announced he’d fallen out of love with me, Tim, now 44, had an affair. I took him back, only for him to cheat again with the same woman.

Of course, I was furious, but our relationship must remain civil for the sake of our daughter. Not only that, but we’re still living together while we finish renovating our five-bedroom home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, before we can put it on the market. Harbouring a constant grudge would only add to the misery.

And as painful as it is for me to accept my husband cheated twice, hindsight has taught me his infidelity was the symptom, rather than the cause, of our marriage breakdown.

We met in January 2009 when Tim, a plasterer, came to renovate my hallway. As we talked I learned he had moved back home to Chesterfield to look after his widowed father, who had terminal cancer.

I was struck by his obvious compassion, and thrilled when he asked me to dinner.

We had lots in common, including a love of dogs, renovating houses and Sunday pub lunches. That October, I left my home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and moved in with Tim and his dad.

Tim proposed on Christmas Day 2010 with a diamond solitaire ring I’d spotted while on holiday in Yorkshire. He’d driven there especially to collect it.

It wasn’t only Tim’s doting personality I coveted, but the sanctity of marriage.

A toddler when my parents split up, I craved stability — especially as we planned to start a family.

After our idyllic wedding, newlywed life offered simple pleasures, such as enjoying ten-mile walks on a Sunday. Of course, that all changed with a baby.

After our daughter was born in January 2014 she had reflux that stopped her settling for weeks. I was shattered, but Tim was brilliant, holding the baby until 1am every night to let me sleep.

But as months passed, we slipped into ‘parent roles’ and ceased to act like a couple. Tim would ask why we couldn’t get a babysitter and go for dinner; I didn’t want to leave my daughter with anyone else.

Perhaps he felt neglected. He started going out alone, stopping at the pub after work every night. I worked four days a week as a personal assistant and would pick our daughter up from nursery, put her to bed and make dinner before he was home.

Pictured:  Natasha Smith

Pictured:  Natasha Smith

Pictured:  Natasha Smith

Later in the evening he’d run me a conciliatory bath, but the following day he’d come home late again. Asking him to stop made no difference — he’d accuse me of nagging — so I put up with it.

As our daughter grew up we drifted further apart. He’d criticise the house for being messy, or infuriate me by asking if I’d enjoyed my ‘day off’ on a Friday, when I’d been on my feet with the baby for 12 exhausting hours.

Our house renovations (we started a two-storey extension before the baby was born) were taking longer than expected, compounding our irritation and exhaustion.

There were no wild arguments, but a tacit resentment grew. By 2018 Tim seemed permanently glued to his mobile. He used it a lot anyway, so I wasn’t suspicious, but he showed no interest in helping me plan my 40th birthday party that April.

On the day of the party itself, he didn’t help prepare the chicken goujon strips for the buffet or blow up balloons. By then, I think I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit it.

Two days later, he was out getting his Barbour jacket re-waxed when the postman arrived with his phone bill. It was addressed to me — I had taken a phone contract out for Tim when he had given up work while caring for his father.

I’d never examined his itemised bill before but, perhaps because of his behaviour, this time I did — and saw pages of calls and texts to the same number.

Heart pounding, I called Tim and asked if I should call the number. When he said he was driving home to see me I felt physically sick.

I instinctively knew he’d been having an affair. Standing in the kitchen that afternoon, he said he’d never meant to hurt me but it had been going on for ten weeks.

The woman was a married mother who lived nearby, worked for a bank and, like me, met Tim when he was plastering her house, I later learned.

I was too angry to speak before he walked out to stay with a friend. Yet perversely the revelation reminded me how much I still loved Tim and couldn’t stand to lose him. So when, five days later, he told me he’d made a big mistake and asked if we could try again, I agreed.

This time, we didn’t take each other for granted. We had date nights once a month. We spoke openly about Tim’s affair and I thought we’d put it behind us.

But within a year, he had started coming home late again. Last June, he said he needed to stay overnight on a plastering job nearby, and I asked if it was necessary.

He told me not to be paranoid, but the distrust and distance grew. Last August, writing Tim’s anniversary card felt weird. Over dinner a couple of days later he said, seemingly out of nowhere, that if I fell out of love with him I should leave.

Somewhere in my subconscious I admitted I was unhappy, but couldn’t bring myself to say so. It wasn’t until two days later that he finally admitted he didn’t love me any more. He agreed to move in with a friend.

I couldn’t eat or sleep for days, telling our daughter Daddy had moved out because he didn’t love Mummy any more. I put off filing for divorce, realising it would be expensive.

But last December, I received a Facebook message from a stranger saying I should know that Tim had resumed his affair that summer. On confronting him he admitted it and said sorry.

He said the affair was over this time, and I didn’t push for specifics. He has to live with the guilt, not me. I felt furious but conflicted. At first, I wanted to not only file for divorce, but fight Tim in court for more than 50 per cent of the house — which I’ve been told, given the circumstances, I could be entitled to.

But he was also the father of my daughter. Arguing about money would lead to bigger bills and, more importantly, more rows that would upset our little girl.

I filed on the grounds of adultery because my solicitor said proving irreconcilable differences would be harder.

Tim agreed — he didn’t have a choice. His solicitor’s fees have come to £900 so far. Perhaps unfairly, the person filing for divorce has to foot the bigger bill.

Days after initiating proceedings the country went into lockdown and Tim, no longer able to live with his friend, came to live with us — something I agreed to for our daughter’s sake.

She knows her daddy doesn’t have anywhere else to stay. He’s at the other end of the house in the spare room, with his own bathroom. We take it in turns to cook meals.

There are still heated moments, not least as our legal fees rise, but deciding to divorce has taken away some of the tension.

I think we’re both too shattered to be angry any more. Screaming and shouting would make me ill and upset our daughter. She knows that when our house goes on the market — next month, hopefully — she’s moving with me to her new home, although Tim and I have agreed to split custody.

Some days I can forgive him for his affair. Other days I struggle. But I’ll always care for him as my daughter’s father, and as someone I’ve shared nearly 12 largely happy years with.

I hope that our decree absolute, expected this autumn, brings us both a fresh start. And if nothing else, the heartache and expense of divorce has made me sure of this much: I’ll never marry again.

  • Tim gave Natasha his blessing to write about their marriage, but declined to comment.

Interview by ANTONIA HOYLE

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Former NRL star Daniel Conn threw rock and intimidated staff at Potts Point gym he once worked at

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former nrl star daniel conn threw rock and intimidated staff at potts point gym he once worked at

An ex-NRL star has admitted to throwing a rock through a window of a boxing gym he once worked at as well as intimidating staff.

Daniel Conn, 34, who once starred for the Canterbury Bulldogs, Gold Coast Titans and Sydney Roosters faced charges from three separate instances at the Hustle Boxing gym in Potts Point in Sydney.

Conn pleaded guilty to intimidation and stalking, destroying property and breaching an AVO, and on Friday was sentenced to an aggregate 14 month conditional release order.

Daniel Conn has pleaded guilty to damaging property and intimidation at the Hustle Boxing gym he used to work at in Potts Point in Sydney

Daniel Conn has pleaded guilty to damaging property and intimidation at the Hustle Boxing gym he used to work at in Potts Point in Sydney

Daniel Conn has pleaded guilty to damaging property and intimidation at the Hustle Boxing gym he used to work at in Potts Point in Sydney

Conn had quit working at the boutique gym last year and on December 8 he threw a rock through one of the glass windows, the Downing Centre Court heard.

Within days he returned to the gym only to be told by an employee he ‘wasn’t welcome’, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The 34-year-old then shouted: ‘You don’t know what you’ve done, you don’t know what will happen next’.

The owner of the Hustle Boxing gym then took an AVO out against Conn, which banned him from being within 100 metres of the fitness centre.

The retired NRL player then drove past the gym on a scooter on December 19 and waived to those inside.

Conn on Friday said he would cover the $4,520 cost of the broken window.

Magistrate Michael Antrum took into account that Conn had been receiving help for mental health issues but condemned his behaviour towards the gym’s staff.

The 34-year-old had also starred on the hit reality show Geordie Shore with Vicky Pattison

The 34-year-old had also starred on the hit reality show Geordie Shore with Vicky Pattison

The 34-year-old had also starred on the hit reality show Geordie Shore with Vicky Pattison

The pair briefly dated after Conn appeared on the show as a personal trainer while the cast filmed in Australia in 2013

The pair briefly dated after Conn appeared on the show as a personal trainer while the cast filmed in Australia in 2013

The pair briefly dated after Conn appeared on the show as a personal trainer while the cast filmed in Australia in 2013

‘We live in a generally peaceful community and while a boxing gym may not be an obvious target for intimidation, all persons are entitled to attend a workplace without fear of intimidation,’ he said. 

The conditions of Conn’s release order means he must pay compensation to the gym as well as continue mental health treatment.

The 34-year-old retired from the NRL in 2011 and became a personal trainer.

He also featured on the hit reality show Geordie Shore in 2013 and briefly dated star Vicky Pattison.

Conn was also once the face and global athletic director of the F45 fitness chain.

Recently the ex-footy star opened up about his struggles with depression and his attempts at taking his own life.  

Conn starred for the Sydney Roosters before retiring from the NRL in 2011 (pictured in March, 2010)

Conn starred for the Sydney Roosters before retiring from the NRL in 2011 (pictured in March, 2010)

Conn starred for the Sydney Roosters before retiring from the NRL in 2011 (pictured in March, 2010)

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Gary Ablett claims coronavirus vaccine will ‘change our DNA’ in bizarre rant

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gary ablett claims coronavirus vaccine will change our dna in bizarre rant

AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr has taken to YouTube to deliver a complex rant linking the coronavirus pandemic to ‘End Times’ biblical prophecies, and conspiracy theories about Freemasons and the Illuminati.

The 27-minutes long video filmed in his car and posted to YouTube on Friday provided a very rare insight into the state of mind of a man who many regard as the greatest to have played the sport.

Ablett, 58, who had seldom spoken publicly throughout his playing career and since, made up for lost time with an extraordinary video that linked COVID-19 to the ‘new world order’ and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Scroll down for video. 

AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) has taken to YouTube in a bizarre rant linking the coronavirus pandemic to a litany of conspiracy theories.

AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) has taken to YouTube in a bizarre rant linking the coronavirus pandemic to a litany of conspiracy theories.

AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) has taken to YouTube in a bizarre rant linking the coronavirus pandemic to a litany of conspiracy theories.

Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) is regarded as one of the greatest-ever AFL players

Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) is regarded as one of the greatest-ever AFL players

He kicked 1031 goals in 248 matches during the 1980s

He kicked 1031 goals in 248 matches during the 1980s

The normally reclusive Australian sporting icon is regarded as one of the greatest-ever AFL players with 1031 goals in 248 matches during the 1980s

‘It’s not natural. It didn’t come from bats. They’re lying to us and they have been for decades,’ Mr Ablett said of the virus.

‘It was man made in a lab. Deliberately designed and deliberately released.’

‘They don’t want a cure. Why? Because they want us to take their vaccines. And their vaccines are going to kill us. They want to wipe out billions of people.’

The 58-year-old says later in the video that the development of a vaccine is part of a ‘trans-humanist’ plot.

‘These vaccines they are talking about, they want to change our DNA and there are things in them… and they are trying to link us up with artificial intelligence so we can both give and receive messages.’ 

Ablett, who is the father of dual Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett Jr, said the virus is ‘camouflage’ for globalist agendas like the introduction of a one-world currency and the banning of cash.  

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) followed in his father's footsteps playing 352 matches for Geelong and the Gold Coast

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) followed in his father's footsteps playing 352 matches for Geelong and the Gold Coast

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) followed in his father’s footsteps playing 352 matches for Geelong and the Gold Coast 

‘They need to crash the global economy… [so that] cash will be gone and what they are trying to bring in is their global digital currency,’ he said.

‘A one-world money system that is going to lead to the mark of the beast.’

Mr Ablett repeatedly touched on religious themes in the lengthy monologue and said the rapture – when Christians are unified with God – was ‘imminent’.

He also argued the Victorian Premier was being used by those who were conducting the conspiracy.

‘Daniel Andrews is nothing but a puppet to a very corrupt establishment and Victoria is the test case for what they are wanting to do in the entire nation,’ Mr Ablett said.

‘We need to wake up and rise up and stand against this stuff and expose them for who they really are because it’s all satanic.

‘The only real answer for the world at this time is to repent of your sins and give your heart to Jesus Christ.’ 

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) won two Brownlow medals during his career

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) won two Brownlow medals during his career

Gary Ablett Jr (pictured with his wife Jordan and his son Levi) won two Brownlow medals during his career

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Sunscreen creator Jake Paterson busts five biggest myths about sun protection

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sunscreen creator jake paterson busts five biggest myths about sun protection

With summer fast approaching in the southern hemisphere, a sunscreen creator has busted the biggest ‘myths’ around the protective cream.

Former professional surfer Jake Paterson, 47, is the managing director of We Are Feel Good Inc, a sunblock brand that is free of parabens and preservatives.

Jake, from Dunsborough in Western Australia, partnered with skin cancer physician Dr Scott McGregor to ensure each of the products had a positive impact of the skin, were non-greasy, SPF 50+ and water-resistant for four hours.

Despite the average Australian broadly knowing how important sunscreen is, we still have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, just behind New Zealand.

So the Australian-made brand is working hard to dispel some of the ‘myths’ around using the life-saving cream.

A sunscreen creator has busted the common 'myths' around the protective cream

A sunscreen creator has busted the common 'myths' around the protective cream

A sunscreen creator has busted the common ‘myths’ around the protective cream 

‘The concern for us as a sunscreen company is that these myths stop people from properly protecting their skin,’ Jake told FEMAIL.

‘Some of them include sunscreen causes health problems, sunscreen causes a vitamin D deficiency and a tan is healthy. The bottom line is Australian sunscreen is safe and if you don’t use sunscreen you will prematurely age and increase your risk of serious skin cancer.’

MYTH 1: YOU DON’T NEED SUNSCREEN IN WINTER

You need sunscreen whenever the UV rating is over three, and the UV rating is over three in most parts of Australia all year long. 

If you’re based in or north of Margaret River, Adelaide or Sydney the chances of the UV rating reaching three on most days in winter is high. Once it hits 3, it takes less than 10 minutes for sun damage to occur, the We Are Feel Good blog reported. 

Even cloud cover only blocks out 20 per cent of UV rays. 

The free to download SunSmart app will tell you what the UV rating is on any given day, wherever you are.

You need sunscreen whenever the UV rating is over three, and the UV rating is over three in most parts of Australia all year long

You need sunscreen whenever the UV rating is over three, and the UV rating is over three in most parts of Australia all year long

You need sunscreen whenever the UV rating is over three, and the UV rating is over three in most parts of Australia all year long

Former pro surfer Jake Paterson (middle), 47, is the managing director of We Are Feel Good Inc, an Australian-made sunblock brand that is free of parabens and preservatives

Former pro surfer Jake Paterson (middle), 47, is the managing director of We Are Feel Good Inc, an Australian-made sunblock brand that is free of parabens and preservatives

Former pro surfer Jake Paterson (middle), 47, is the managing director of We Are Feel Good Inc, an Australian-made sunblock brand that is free of parabens and preservatives

MYTH 2: I WILL GET A VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY IF I WEAR SUNSCREEN

The sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D for humans but you only need 10 to 15 minutes a day to convert enough for a healthy dosage.  

‘Sunlight can penetrate clothing and sunscreen too so you will be surprised by just how much you are inadvertently gaining,’ the blog read.

‘No sunscreen can completely block out 100 per cent of UV light so you are absorbing UV light and converting it to vitamin D even if you expertly reapply every two hours.’

Ensure your sunscreen is applied 20 minutes before you go outside. This is the amount of time it takes to sink into your skin and do its optimal job.

'Sunlight can penetrate clothing and sunscreen too so you will be surprised by just how much you are inadvertently gaining,' the blog read

'Sunlight can penetrate clothing and sunscreen too so you will be surprised by just how much you are inadvertently gaining,' the blog read

‘Sunlight can penetrate clothing and sunscreen too so you will be surprised by just how much you are inadvertently gaining,’ the blog read

MYTH 3: SUNSCREEN MAKES ACNE WORSE

In a YouTube video Dr Scott McGregor said he gets asked this question ‘a lot’ by acne-sufferers who are concerned by the ‘greasy’ nature of sunscreen.

‘Sunscreens containing zinc can be a little bit thick and it might be thought that it blocks pores. But there is actually no evidence that it can cause pimples or make them worse,’ he said.

He recommends shopping around and finding a ‘thinner’ textured lotion that sits more easily on the skin, to give you peace of mind, but says the worst thing you can do is skip the step altogether.

In a YouTube video Dr Scott McGregor said he gets asked this question 'a lot' by acne-sufferers who are concerned by the 'greasy' nature of sunscreen

In a YouTube video Dr Scott McGregor said he gets asked this question 'a lot' by acne-sufferers who are concerned by the 'greasy' nature of sunscreen

In a YouTube video Dr Scott McGregor said he gets asked this question ‘a lot’ by acne-sufferers who are concerned by the ‘greasy’ nature of sunscreen

MYTH 4: TANNED SKIN PROTECTS YOU FROM THE SUN

While it’s true that there is more protective melanin in darker skin types, which is thought to diffuse UVB rays, they are still at risk of skin cancer, pigmentation and collagen depletion.

This is because melanin alone doesn’t counteract the affect of UVA rays, which penetrate much deeper into your skin and cause permanent damage to your DNA.

‘Everyone should be using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 50+,’ the blog read.

MYTH 5: I DON’T NEED MUCH SUNSCREEN

The average-sized body will require 35ml of sunscreen for every application. 

‘This means 5ml for the face [and] 5ml for each limb, front and back. Obviously this is a lot, so use protective clothing and a hat as much as you can,’ Jake said.

If you apply less than that you won’t be receiving the full SPF50+ protection, and the same goes for SPF 30+ and 15+.

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