Derry business woman Brenda Shankey has revealed that she has been separated from her husband Jason for the past six months.
The couple who have been together for 18 years and married for 14, and have a son and daughter, run four salons in Belfast.
Brenda, who is also a mindfulness coach has now moved out of the family home and the couple’s children spilt their time between their parents.
“I went through three months of sheer hell when I did all the stages of the grieving process,” Brenda told the Belfast Telegraph.
“First, there was absolute hysteria and shock. I thought I could fix things and we would get back together again.
“Next, there was anger and blame and I worried that I should have done more to make it work.
“Then I went through the feelings of loss that comes with being with someone for 18 years and realising that you are not with them anymore.
“Finally, reality hit me and I started to accept the situation. And when that happened, I went into the stage I am at now, which is looking after myself and preserving my own life.”
“I think we’d both known for a few years that things weren’t right, but we tried to hang in there and cling on because of the children and the businesses,” she explains.
“Then one day about six months ago we were rowing and I just put my hand up and said, ‘No, I can’t do this anymore. I am not going to do this for the next 40 years and live half a life’.”
Brenda says she and Jason have worked hard at remaining friends as they know they still have to work together, running their impressive business empire.
Brenda will share her story tonight on BBC Radio Ulster at 10 p.m.