Advertisement

Being unfaithful to my husband is the best thing I ever did

Katie*, 41, is a pharmacist and lives near Warwick. She was with her now ex-husband for 12 years and married for six, before having an affair. Here she explains how it shook up her entire life...

Katie had been with her husband for 12 years when she bumped into an ex-boyfriend at a party. Posed by models. (Getty Images)
Katie had been with her husband for 12 years when she bumped into an ex-boyfriend at a party. Posed by models. (Getty Images)

Far from feeling wrong, the first time I cheated on my husband with another man was like everything suddenly falling into place.

Of course there was guilt, regret and a large amount of shame mixed in with the curious sense of this illicit affair somehow being right. I hadn’t ever been mistress material, but only when I fell into the arms of another man did I finally realise how unhappy I’d become.

Loyal, dependable and true to my wedding vows, I could never have imagined myself cheating on my husband Dan*, who I’d met in a bar when I was 27 and he was 29.

I hadn’t really wanted a boyfriend at the time as I was enjoying my freedom and forging ahead with my career but we got on so well, always laughing and joking, that I quickly changed my mind and we fell in love. Within a year of our first date at a restaurant we’d talked about marriage and how we wanted to have kids together. I aspired to a lovely, settled family life just like the one I’d had growing up with my parents and brother.

As a result, I was thrilled when Dan proposed on holiday in Greece in summer 2016 and we wasted no time in planning our wedding for the following spring of 2017.

Everything was just as I’d hoped for a few years. We bought a house together and just months before embarking on my affair, we started trying for a baby.

Feeling ignored

But despite the illusion of a happy life, something was niggling me. Dan was always working, rarely paid me any attention, didn’t offer compliments when I’d made an effort to get dressed up and would always choose a night drinking with his friends over taking me out to dinner. Birthdays and anniversaries were being forgotten, and I’d always have to instigate affection and intimacy and say 'I love you' first for him to reciprocate.

Despite appearing to have a good life, behind closed doors Katie* wasn't happy in her marriage. Posed by model. (Getty Images)
Despite appearing to have a good life, behind closed doors Katie* wasn't happy in her marriage. Posed by model. (Getty Images)

For a while I consoled myself that this was what all marriages must be like once the honeymoon period was over.

That was until an invitation to a friend’s engagement party arrived in spring 2022 and altered the course of my life forever. Dan and I went to the party together and it was there that I bumped into an old boyfriend from senior school – we’ll call him Matthew*.

We hadn’t seen each other for around 15 years and we chatted away, catching up on each other's lives. He was just in the process of separating from his wife and although there was absolutely nothing untoward about our conversation at the party that night, I knew I wanted to stay in touch with him this time and be friends. We swapped phone numbers and a few days later I texted him just to say how much I’d enjoyed bumping into him after so long and that I hoped he would be okay, given his marriage break-up.

We both felt terrible as neither of us had cheated on anyone before. But it didn’t feel wrong, which told us it must mean something.

Confiding in each other

A month later he texted me – just a polite message asking how I was. This soon escalated and after three weeks of daily texting, we met up five times in one week in coffee shops and country pubs. Because we were just friends at that point we had really open and honest conversations about his marriage break-up, my own unhappiness with Dan and how connected I felt to Matthew in contrast.

By the end of that week of meeting up we’d kissed, and a week later we slept together at his house – his wife had already moved out.

We both felt terrible as neither of us had cheated on anyone before. Even though Matthew’s marriage had ended by then, he was consumed with guilt that he’d slept with me before I’d broken up with my husband. But it didn’t feel wrong, which told us it must mean something.

Katie* knew life would never be the same again, once she'd slept with her ex. (Getty Images)
Katie* knew life would never be the same again, once she'd slept with her ex. (Getty Images)

Matthew, who works in finance, was the first person I’d ever slept with when we were 17 in high school and we’d dated until we left a few months later to go to university. It was as though all those intervening years had never passed. We likened ourselves to magnets, drawn together once again decades after the first time.

I worried about being found out or spotted going into Matthew’s house, and was always careful to delete text messages.

Still, consumed with guilt, I was trying to decide what to do and wasn’t sure. I worried about being found out or spotted going into Matthew’s house, and was always careful to delete text messages.

As soon as I’d slept with Matthew I knew I could no longer have sex with my husband until I’d decided whether I would end my marriage or not – we were rarely intimate anyway. Deep down I knew I wanted Matthew and I to be together and that my marriage to Dan was over.

A big decision

After several months of cheating with Matthew, I told Dan I was leaving, though not why at that stage. I wanted him to learn from the mistakes he’d made with me so he didn’t repeat them with anyone else. Telling him I’d got someone else would have been like letting him off the hook, giving him a reason not to acknowledge all those times he’d failed to show love, thoughtfulness and affection.

I moved in with Matthew immediately but I was still burdened with guilt. So, six months after I’d first started my affair, I went to see Dan and told him everything. He deserved to know and I wanted to start my new life with Matthew knowing everything was out in the open.

Dan calmly told me he’d suspected I must have been having an affair, yet he wasn’t angry or upset, which told me that he can’t have been happy in our marriage either.

Although it felt shameful at the time, I’m so grateful now that we had the affair – not all infidelity is sordid.

A year on from confessing everything, I can honestly say that having an affair was the best thing I ever did. If it hadn't happened, I’d have stayed with Dan. We’d probably have gone through the motions of having a baby together and then ended up divorcing 10 years later.

After meeting Matthew again so many things became clear to me, including that one of the reasons I’d been increasingly unsettled with Dan was that I didn’t think he’d make a good parent – and yet there we were, talking about trying for a family.

Meant for each other

Katie* started a new life with her ex and has never been happier. Posed by models. (Getty Images)
Katie* started a new life with her ex and has never been happier. Posed by models. (Getty Images)

Matthew and I are deliriously happy. He's thoughtful and kind every day, getting up earlier than he needs to just to make me a cup of tea before work, and always planning lovely date nights and weekends away for us. Our relationship is always about making each other happy and we talk endlessly about hopes and dreams, the sort of home we want to live in, the places we’d love to travel to, and how we’ll raise our children if we’re lucky enough to have them. Everything is aligned.

Family and friends were surprised by my affair, saying they had no idea I’d been miserable in my marriage, but nobody took sides or said it was wrong.

Although it felt shameful at the time, I’m so grateful now that we had the affair – not all infidelity is sordid. Matthew and I constantly look at each other and pinch ourselves that we’re together again over 20 years since we first dated in high school.

No regrets

Katie* is now divorced and planning to marry her lover. Posed by model. (Getty Images)
Katie* is now divorced and planning to marry her lover. Posed by model. (Getty Images)

Even five years ago my view on affairs was, 'Why bother, why not just leave if you’re unhappy?' I didn’t understand how people could cheat especially when they’d taken their marriage vows. But if I hadn’t had the affair I wouldn’t have left my husband. If I’d just cut off those initial feelings of curiosity and warmth towards Matthew after the engagement party and said "No, no, we’re not texting or meeting up, I’m a married woman, I’m absolutely not doing this, goodbye," then I’d never have known how much was lacking in my marriage and what I longed for from a relationship.

Even five years ago my view on affairs was, 'Why bother, why not just leave if you’re unhappy?' I didn’t understand how people could cheat especially when they’d taken their marriage vows.

Both our divorces are now complete and we can’t wait to get married in a simple and inexpensive ceremony abroad next year with our closest family. We both had big hotel weddings before, but when you’re with the right person you realise you don’t need – or want – the big shebang of a showy, costly occasion.

Family and friends were surprised by my affair, saying they had no idea I’d been miserable in my marriage, but nobody took sides or said it was wrong.

It turns out that cheating on my husband was the only way I knew how to be happy and it led me to the love of my life.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.