I was 40 and absolutely miserable when I started my extramarital affair. Three kids, a wedding, when we were too young to get married — I was starting to feel like one of those old couples you see in nurseries or going out to dinner on birthdays, the ones where the conversation has already dried up.
It didn’t hurt to see them because I remembered when my husband and I first started dating and we used to joke about these silent couples. “We’ll never be,” we would say. “I’d rather be put down than become like this.” But suddenly we were like this. And we hadn’t even realized it had happened.
After we had children, things started to unravel for us. The pressure of being a housewife where before I had a busy job in a bank; my husband works away more and more often. He had never been the type to “play away” – on the contrary, he was absolutely devoted. I was the problem.
I couldn’t put up with the busy life I had before I became a mom — cocktails around town after work, weekends with girls, big glitzy events with our corporate clients where I could dress up and wear skyscraper heels and entertaining and flirting — versus suddenly putting on sneakers and sweatpants, tying my hair in a messy bun, and waiting at the gate on the school run.
I loved being a mom, I lived for all the drawings and special meetings and sports days and concerts at the local church—but I was also bored.
I was bored and frustrated and started looking at the couple of dads doing the pickups at the end of the school day and fantasizing about them just to get myself a little upset to keep me going.
But I also didn’t plan on having an affair so close to home and risking ruining what I had. I had to keep it separate. But how?
Then I read online about a website called Ashley Madison that offered a way for people to explore “married dating.”
It had been involved in a massive data breach. Although I shuddered at the idea of being “discovered” like this, I was also excited.
I hadn’t thought about what it might be like to meet someone who is looking for exactly the same thing I am: some excitement to make domestic married life bearable, but one in which neither of us would want to risk our happy lives.
Our other halves wouldn’t get hurt because they wouldn’t know about it – so it felt like the perfect solution. The nicest solution.
I knew Rob* would be devastated if I left him, but I figured this way I could be happier at home and in myself when I met someone online — outside of our mom and dad social circle fathers and neighbors.
Also, and I know this may sound strange, but I loved Rob. I didn’t want to hurt him. I just couldn’t take life at home the way it was. i wanted more And I wanted to give something back to myself – I thought I deserved it.
I had sacrificed my whole life to take care of our children.
I’d sacrificed my body, carried them inside me for nine months each – almost back to back because we’d had them so close together – and then given up my career as well. Rob still had pretty much the same life as ever – plus a wife who now stayed home all day and cooked him a hot supper in the evenings.
It felt like he couldn’t even begin to imagine what I had gone through and what I had given up. It was easy for him. And I admit I resented him.
On those nights when he came home late and drunk after a networking event or a drink with clients, I wanted to yell at him for being so selfish.
I would lash out at things in hopes that he’d wake up so I could try it on him. Really, I was just jealous. And I didn’t like the person I’d become.
So I joined an extramarital dating site – not Ashley Madison, but a very similar one – and met Dan*.
He was also unhappily married — two kids and a wife, he said, which made him feel “like he didn’t exist.”
He said they stopped having sex and he spent most nights on the sofa.
But he couldn’t imagine leaving because of the children. Fathers often have fewer custody rights, he reminded me, and he loved his sons.
On my first date with Dan, I was as nervous as I used to be when I was single and in my early 20s.
I had butterflies all day and arranged for a babysitter to come to the kids much earlier than I needed her so I could get ready.
And yes, it felt a bit cliché to put on new silk underwear and expensive perfume (although I didn’t even assume Dan and I would be doing anything other than drinking and having awkward conversations), but it was amazing exciting.
I felt like “me” again – not just “mom”.
If I could bottle this feeling alone and sell it to married women like me, I would make a fortune.
The trouble was, Dan and I got along—too well. We met at a bar in town and he was everything I dreamed of: tall, handsome, commanding without being controlling.
He ordered us champagne and never once mentioned his personal life, and neither did I. We talked about all the things Rob and I hadn’t talked about in a decade—our gap years from university, time abroad.
We talked about our current individual interests… television, literature, films. We didn’t talk about our spouses or our children. It was perfect.
At the end of that first night we kissed and it was only a few weeks before he booked a hotel room. We’ve been together ever since and I’m madly in love with him – but I live each day with a mixture of dizzying devotion and crushing sadness.
It’s both the best and worst decision I’ve ever made. I’m in love with someone who must remain a secret, someone I can never walk down the street hand in hand or introduce to my friends.
Sometimes the guilt I feel when I’m at a school concert, or at a dinner party with friends Rob and I have known for years, breaks me down.
But then I get a text from Dan and the adrenaline rush reminds me how worth it it was. I could die tomorrow and at least then I would have this exquisite feeling.
Being with Dan has made me feel “alive” again and allowed me to rediscover the forgotten parts of myself that I thought were gone forever when I became a wife and mother.
But I also know that our relationship is a ticking bomb. It can’t last; One day something will happen and it will implode. We could lose everything. But it still feels worth it. I’m just counting the moments we have together until they’re over.
Nobody is harmed at the moment. Except me – but that’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make.
*Names have been changed
https://www.independent.ie/news/i-joined-an-extra-marital-affairs-website-it-was-both-the-best-and-worst-decision-of-my-life-41830208.html I joined an extramarital affairs website – it was both the best and worst decision of my life