‘I had an affair’

These are words no woman wants to hear. Yet they tumble forth every day, wreaking havoc and crushing hearts wherever they land.

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Published in Best Health in January 2015

Sandra Barrett* had what she considered to be not just a good marriage but a great one. She and her husband, Bill, laughed together every day and had two kids they doted on. Bill shared the chores and childrearing, planned trips for the family and often wrote her poetry.

After 17 years of marriage, they still had sex regularly.

But earlier last year, things suddenly changed. Her formerly attentive husband started going on more business trips and, when home, was becoming emotionally distant and spending an inordinate amount of time texting.

She suspected he was having an affair and confronted him repeatedly.

He denied it - repeatedly.

He accused her of being paranoid, which led her to seek counselling to deal with what she assumed was misguided jealousy. "He had me convinced it was all in my head," says Barrett, a 51-year-old nurse practitioner in Ottawa.

Then she found the love letter; penned by her husband to a woman he'd reconnected with from his past. Finally, her husband confessed: He'd been having an affair for six months. He loved the woman, who was also married, and wanted to be with her just as soon as she left her husband.

In the meantime, he suggested he live in the basement until they sorted things out. "He wanted to keep the affair a secret and tried to convince me this would be better for the kids." But Barrett wanted none of it. She asked him to leave. He did.

The next three months were agony. Barrett could barely eat or sleep. The fallout of infidelity, she soon realized, is that it chips away at you incessantly. "You question your whole marriage. It eats away at your sense of reality."

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