Erik*, 49, found his wife Ginny, 47*, wouldn’t stop talking about her new best friend – but all wasn’t as it seemed.
Ginny and I had moved to a new town at the other end of the country. She’d been apprehensive about the move, but agreed to uproot our lives as I’d been offered a brilliant new job. Happily, she seemed to settle in quickly and soon found a new job herself, as a receptionist at the local hospital. She formed a new friendship group quickly and was obviously enjoying herself. Life was great, I thought. In her mid-forties, Ginny seemed to have blossomed. I felt happy and proud that we’d managed the big life change so well.
My wife had become especially close to Mandy, one of the other receptionists. They started going out together regularly and even booked a week’s holiday in Spain. By the end of our first year in our new town, Ginny had had her light brown hair coloured blonde – like Mandy’s – and lost a shedload of weight.
Of course, this necessitated the buying of lots of new outfits. I was delighted to see her so happy and confident. It seemed like a golden time for us.
A less than romantic date
Things started to feel less golden when Ginny’s new life – particularly her friendship with Mandy – started to get in the way of us. First, she announced that she couldn’t come to a family reunion. She and Mandy were going away on a road trip, she said.
Things started to feel less golden when Ginny’s new life – particularly her friendship with Mandy – started to get in the way of us.
Then on Ginny’s birthday I took her out for a special meal and booked us into a hotel for the night. I’d hoped it would be romantic, but she was wrecked from partying with Mandy the night before. She just sat there in the restaurant, all pale and wan, and was asleep in our hotel bed – or, I suspected, pretending to be asleep – by 10.30pm.
I started to resent playing what I felt was second fiddle to Ginny’s new mates, and Mandy in particular. It being all Mandy-this, Mandy-that – like a teenage girl’s obsession. Occasionally, we’d socialise with Mandy and her insufferable husband Gavin, but it felt forced and certainly wasn’t any fun. I found Gavin to be terribly pompous and he was barely civil to me.
There was definitely a feeling of 'let’s drag the husbands along', and I knew we’d never gel as a two-couples group. Better leave Ginny and Mandy to it, I decided. But it wasn’t just a case of them having fun and everything being fine at home – because soon I suspected that things weren’t fine at all.
Out of character
Apart from seeming preoccupied, Ginny had begun to neglect our garden. As she’d created it from nothing, and tended it lovingly, that seemed so strange. As the weeds spread, I wondered if something else was going on. Was she depressed, or could this be the menopause happening?
Whenever I broached the subject she’d reply, snappily, that everything was fine. Then one day she came home from work, her face chalk-white. "I’m leaving," she announced. "I’ve rented a cottage. I can’t be here anymore." I was utterly shocked and distraught. It felt as if 20 years of marriage had been blown apart.
Then one day she came home from work, her face chalk-white. 'I’m leaving,' she announced. 'I’ve rented a cottage. I can’t be here anymore.'
Ginny was adamant that she wasn’t leaving me for someone else. "I’m just unhappy," she said. "I need to live by myself." A whopping lie, as it turned out – because three weeks after Ginny had left me, Mandy phoned me in a state of anguish and rage.
The truth emerges
The rented cottage hadn’t been just for Ginny, as she’d said – but for her and Mandy’s husband. Ginny and Gavin were an item now, and starting a new life together, seemingly without a thought for the lives they’d destroyed.
Mandy had no idea when their affair had started. But obviously, it had been bubbling away for some time. It was such an act of betrayal, and now I realised that explained the weight loss, the glamorous new outfits and sudden 'blossoming' of my wife.
She’s just happy, I’d thought. But it’s obvious now that she was in love – not with me anymore, but the man who happened to be married to her new best friend.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
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