As the plane touched down in the Brazilian city of Natal, I swallowed to hide my nerves and gave my three-year-old son Victor a beaming smile. ‘Here we are, sweetheart. Our new home,’ I said. I looked to my husband John*, then 30, for reassurance, but he was busy gathering up our luggage.
It had been his idea for us to move to his native Brazil, where his family still lived. We’d met while I was at university in London in 2008. We’d married quickly and had our son Victor in August 2009. We’d been happy in the UK, but now, three years later, after months of persuasion, I’d finally agreed to relocate here for five years. Although I was nervous about moving, I could already speak Portuguese and I did really like the thought of Victor growing up in such a beautiful place.
But as the months went on, John seemed less satisfied. He struggled to find steady work and became a bit hot-tempered at home. Still, I was delighted when we had a second son, Luiz, in June 2015. By now, we’d been in Brazil three years, and support from John grew less and less. He left all the childcare to me and would snap at the slightest provocation, shouting at Victor and once pushing me during a disagreement. ‘He’s just stressed,’ I reasoned.
Then, in 2016, I told John that I wanted to move back to the UK. But that made things between us even worse.
Raising two boys alone and juggling my customer-service job overwhelmed me, and I often felt I barely knew my husband at all anymore.
Finally, in 2017, me and the boys flew back to the UK and found a new home in Bristol. After six months apart, eventually John came to join us.
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