Man slept rough in the woods for 10 years after fleeing his wife's controlling behaviour

Man slept rough in the woods for 10 years after fleeing his wife's controlling behaviour

Relationships are hard work. In the beginning stages of a relationship, love is that terrible thing that consumes your thoughts, turns you into a veritable ball of nerves and alienates your friends as you're no longer capable of talking about anything other than your sweetheart.

However, give it a few years, and things will inevitably start to run a little dry.

It starts off innocuously enough; you begin to quibble over who's turn it is to do the dishes, their jokes suddenly aren't so funny, and in some cases, it can even start to feel as if the "spark", that is the glue of passion and romance that binds long-term relationships together, is starting to disintegrate.

Yes, the honeymoon period is called "the honeymoon period" for a reason: you can't expect things to remain as fresh and exciting as they were at the beginning. In fact, it's when the going gets tough that you really realise whether you're meant for that person, or not.

One man's reaction to realising that his wife wasn't the one for him, however, was rather dramatic. Gardener Malcolm Applegate ran away from his home and lived in the woods for ten years to escape his wife's demanding and often controlling behaviour.
While the 62-year-old is now safely housed in Emmaus Greenwich, a shelter for the homeless, he chose to sleep in the woods next to his workplace, rather than live in his familial home due to his wife's unreasonable behaviour. Malcolm stated that his wife's behaviour had steadily got worse after his working hours increased:

"Before becoming a companion at Emmaus Greenwich, I was a gardener in Farnborough for 25 happy years," he said:

"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 from them for ten years."

Malcolm continued to work as a gardener in a community centre for the elderly, and returned home to the wilderness every night before he discovered Emmaus, which is located in South East London.

"I enjoyed my life, but when I heard about Emmaus through a fellow 'runaway', I knew that would suit me better.

"I went to Emmaus Greenwich for an interview and moved in almost immediately."

Now, Malcolm is trying to rebuild bridges with his family members, who haven't heard from him in over a decade. He was recently able to contact his sister, "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," he said, adding that they "have a great relationship again".

Malcolm ensures that he lives life to the fullest now. He keeps his days occupied by helping out at Emmaus and by doing a number of philanthropical acts:

"My day-to-day involves working in the shop or driving the vans, I'm not fussy what jobs are given to me as long as I'm working.

"In my spare time, I enjoy doing sponsored walks for other homeless charities.

"My recent walk through London raised almost £300 ($394) for Street Souls, not bad for a man in his sixties."

The 62-year-old also wants to make it known that he's incredibly grateful to those who donate to Emmaus for helping to provide him with a "second chance at life". "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," he said.

Well, I don't know about you but my heart is exploding. The power of a second chance can, as we have just seen, be life-changing.