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‘Our happiness came to a shuddering halt,’ she explains.
We’d spent months watching a crack in our relationship turn into a crevasse.’ In opting for a trial separation, did Jenny make the right decision — or would counselling have worked better? Instead she packed a case and announced she was going to stay with her mum and dad who lived five minutes away. Phil was my childhood sweetheart and I loved him too much to end up hating him, which is why I think we agreed on a trial separation before things turned sour.’Marc Hekster, a consultant clinical psychologist who runs Insight London Psychology Services, suggests a key problem in cases like this is the evaporation of the sexual passion.Within four months of him losing his job, we couldn’t bear to be in the same room as each other without having a huge row.We were bitter and angry, and neither of us would listen to what the other one had to say.’In March 2008, Lisa made a decision to leave, finding herself and the children a house to rent temporarily.The job was life-changing and involved trips away from home three times a week.Although Phil was delighted his wife had embraced new opportunities, their time together was eroded and when they could snatch a few spare minutes together they were exhausted.‘I knew things were going wrong between us, but there never seemed to be a right time to raise it,’ says Jenny.Phil agreed that a break would do them both good.‘We both thought a few weeks or months away from one another could recapture what we’d lost,’ says Jenny. ‘When Jenny reminisces about Phil she idealises him as a great person and a good friend, rather than a sexual partner.
‘I admitted I’d changed and Phil admitted he’d stopped making an effort too. I thought a few months out would make all the difference and we’d get back on track.’But though they remained amicable and Jenny saw her children regularly, distance alienated her and Phil further. It seems he’d turned from a husband into a father figure for her.’For Lisa and Stephen Briggs, parents to Iona, 12, and Lewis, six, the passion remained.
‘We agreed the environment at home had become too toxic and we both knew we were hurtling towards a divorce unless we took action,’ she says.
For Lisa, it seems, seven months apart was long enough to diffuse the hostility, but not long enough to drift irrevocably.
Yet for 25 years they had been extraordinarily content together. We worked together in the same bank and decided to get married after we’d been together for six weeks.
But we waited three years to marry.’ There was then a six-year interval until the birth of son Nick, now 22, followed by Aaron 16. The crunch point came, apparently, in 2004 when Jenny, who had given up work to raise their sons, resumed a full-time career.
However, hours after they made public their temporary split last month, Arquette was in danger of ensuring its permanence by admitting on air he’d had an affair with cocktail waitress Jasmine Waltz since separating from his wife.