I was standing by the front door with a bag full of prezzies – and I was fast becoming impatient.
"Come on, Mum's expecting us," I called to my hubby Richard, 42.
"I wish we didn't have to go," he grunted.
"Cheer up, Grinch," I joked, rolling my eyes.
"Well, I'm not staying long," he grumbled, grabbing his coat.
Just like the Grinch from the Dr. Seuss books, Richard's Christmas cheer was in short supply.
He wasn't much happier the rest of the year, either.
Because of his moods, I'd given him the nickname Grinch when we'd met through friends 20 years ago.
In the past he'd apologise and we'd have a laugh about it.
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But these days Richard seemed less concerned if he had upset me with his misery.
We had Christmas lunch with my mum, but as soon as the plates were cleared away, Richard was nudging me to leave.
"Sorry we couldn't stay longer," I said to Mum, hugging her as we left.
Over the next few months, Richard was moodier than ever.
And that wasn't the only problem in our relationship.
He worked from home as a tattoo artist so he liked to get out to the pub in the evenings, whereas I worked in an office and preferred to flop on the sofa after a long day.
We were like passing ships in the night with our different routines.
Something else was bothering me, too. Richard had become secretive with his phone.
He kept taking it in the loo with him.
When I asked who he was texting, he told me it was his tattoo clients.
But then I saw him wrapping his clothes in a bundle and hiding it under the bed, I decided enough was enough.
"Are you seeing someone else?" I asked him.
"Of course not," he snapped.
"Well, why are you being weird with your phone?" I asked.
"Because you keep nagging me about being on it too much," he said.
I wondered if I was being paranoid and decided to push my concerns aside.
A week later, we jetted off to Portugal for a week.
It was the perfect opportunity to rekindle our romance.
But the opposite turned out to be true. Richard was on his phone the entire time.
"Can't you put that thing away for five minutes?" I sighed, frustrated.
"Here we go again," he said, rolling his eyes.
It was a terrible week and by the time we got off the plane back home, I was in tears.
A few days later, it was our wedding anniversary.
I cooked pasta for dinner and then Richard suggested we go to the pub.
I didn't fancy it, though.
"You go and have a drink with the lads," I said. "I'll pick you up in a couple of hours."
While he was out, Richard sent me a message, Love you.
It must be boring up the pub, I replied, chuckling to myself.
Later, I picked Richard up and he was a little worse for wear.
Soon he was asleep, and this time he hadn't hidden his phone.
I decided to seize my chance.
And as I opened his Facebook messages, my stomach lurched.
Immediately after he'd texted me, he'd messaged another woman.
I love you, he'd written.
I'd been right. He had been cheating on me. I felt sick.
I didn't recognise the woman's name or profile picture, but I had to find out more.
I typed out a message: So was I any good?
The reply was instant: Do you really need to ask?
She must have realised it was me: I think if you've got issues you need to speak to your husband, she wrote.
Furious, I threw the phone across the room and slept in the spare room.
I tossed all night.
How could Richard do this to me? The next day, he came into the spare room.
"What've I done?" he asked.
"Who's the woman you've been seeing?" I demanded.
"I just tattooed her," he said.
"You did more than tattoo her!" I shouted.
He stared at me, then said, "You've been on my phone."
Finally he came clean. "I'm in love with her," he said.
He admitted he'd been having an affair with her for a year.
I worked out the dates and that meant he'd been seeing this woman since just before that Christmas lunch at my mum's.
"Get out!" I yelled.
Then I texted his mistress.
Put the kettle on, he's on his way. You're welcome to him!
After that I sat on the bed and sobbed.
Richard's studio was at the house and he needed to use the washing machine, so for a few months he'd come and go.
I could not believe we'd ended up like this after 21 years together.
I sank into a depression, trashing all of our wedding pictures.
I even contemplated suicide, I was feeling so desperate.
But finally, I decided Richard wasn't worth this anguish. It was time to get on with my life, not end it.
I threw myself into work and started going out with friends more.
I soon realised how much happier I was without that miserable Grinch in my life.
One day I came home to find Richard's clothes in the dryer, including a pair of Grinch pyjama bottoms.
"Did she buy you these?" I asked when he came to get his clothes.
He just shrugged.
"She thinks you're as miserable as I do," I laughed.
Soon, I found my own place and now life is good.
This year I'm looking forward to a Christmas without the Grinch ruining it.
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Australian Women's WeeklyYesterday 11:49am