It’s the punchline of jokes, and the stereotype that haunts wives all over the world, but one man’s wife’s nagging was apparently so intolerable that he went to extreme lengths to escape.
Malcolm shared his story with Emmaus Greenwich, the homeless charity that supports him 10 years on, and it’s pretty incredible.
Explaining that he had happy as a gardener before becoming married, Malcolm described how controlling his wife’s behaviour became after they were married, leading him to pack up and leave without a word to anyone.
“Before becoming a companion at Emmaus Greenwich, I was a gardener in Farnborough for 25 happy years. I loved the job and I still love tending to gardens now. It wasn’t until I got married that my life became increasingly unsettled. The more work I took on, the angrier my wife got – she didn’t like me being out of the house for long periods of time. The controlling behaviour started to get out of hand and she demanded that I cut my hours. After a long time trying to stay in the marriage, I decided to leave for good. Without a word to anyone, not even family, I packed up and left… I went missing for 10 years.”
After leaving, Malcolm camped in woodland for five years while maintaining the gardens at a local community centre for the elderly before hearing about Emmaus through a fellow ‘runaway’. After an interview, he was able to move in almost immediately. The charity was able to help him get in touch with his sister who he hadn’t seen for years.
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“One of the best things Emmaus encouraged me to do was get in touch with my sister,” he said.
“It had been a decade years since I’d last seen her, and in that time she had been to all of the Salvation Army hostels in the South trying to find me; I think she assumed I was dead. I wrote her a letter once I was settled in Greenwich and she phoned me up, in floods of tears. We now have a great relationship again.”
Malcolm now spends his days working in the Emmaus shop or driving the vans, and says he’s happy to be working. In his spare time, he raises money for charity through sponsored walks.
“I’d like the people who donate to Emmaus to know that I am grateful for being given a second chance at life,” he said.
“I have a lovely room, I am able to work and I can still lead an active social life – I love it here – my life is officially back on track.”
Have you ever been tempted to just pack up and disappear?