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'I forgave my husband when he cheated on me. A year later, I got my revenge.'

I walked down the aisle at the ripe age of 20. 

I know it was young, but I couldn't have been surer about the man I was marrying. He was 'The One' and no one else could or would be. 

At least, that's what I thought. 

I'd met Joel* on holiday when we were both 18.

When I first chatted with him in a bar, I was surprised but taken by his shy demeanour. The friend he was with exuded confidence, but Joel seemed happy to let him take centre stage. He seemed more interested in chatting with me than anyone else around him. 

Though I was confident and chatty, I was surprised. My friend Lisa, who I was with, usually got the guy's attention. Still, Joel didn't seem interested in her — only me. We eventually went for a walk away from the others and I made my move and kissed him. I knew Joel would have been too scared to try. 

Watch: Woman discovered partner cheating through literal receipts. Post continues below. 

Video via TikTok. 

Things continued over the rest of the holiday, and then we stayed in touch and visited each other. I lived on the Gold Coast, and he lived in Sydney, so things were tricky, but we made it work.  

Both of us were virgins, so were each other's first, and I hoped last.

 "I can't imagine wanting to sleep with anyone else," I told my friends. 

"How do you know that if you've never been with anyone else?" one asked me. 

"I just do," I replied. 

I was sure I already had everything I needed and wanted, and so did Joel.   

So, when Joel proposed a year later, I said yes.

The first couple of years of our marriage were blissful. Then, at 23, I fell pregnant with our first child. We had a daughter, and I was completely obsessed with her. I'd never felt love like it. Joel was a great dad and very hands-on. 

"I feel so lucky," I told my best friend, Tina. 

"That's because you are," she replied. 

Tina had two young children of her own. We met at a Mum and Babies group and hit it off. I'd moved from the Gold Coast to Sydney to be with Joel and had struggled to make friends, so I was so happy to finally have one. 

We spent a lot of days taking the kids out, and she and her husband had come over for dinner a few times, and Joel and I had gone to hers. We confided in each other about everything; it was such a relief to have somebody to talk to. 

When our daughter was one, I started working part-time in the evening at a call centre. Joel and I needed the extra money, and if he worked during the day and I worked at night, we'd save on childcare. It meant that we rarely saw each other during the week but we still had the weekends to spend as a family. 

And it wasn't going to be forever. 

Then, one evening at work, I felt unwell and left early. 

As I pulled up to our house, Tina's car in our driveway and wondered why she'd be there so late at night. I worried something had happened. The light in the living room downstairs was off, which was strange.

I let myself in and shouted that I was home as I walked upstairs. As I reached the top, I saw Tina walking out of my bedroom, looking flustered. "Why are you up here?" I asked her. And then it hit me. 

Before I could work out what to do, Tina ran past me, mumbling apologies. I was too frozen in shock to do anything. At that moment, I realised my perfect life was a lie. 

I made my way into the bedroom in what seemed like slow motion and found Joel on the end of the bed with his head in his hands. I screamed at him. By now he was in tears, apologising and telling me it hadn't been going on for long. 

Before I could ask any more, our daughter started crying in her room and I told him to sleep on the lounge. 

I went to bed devastated. We'd only been married for four years. 

The next day, Joel and I sat down and talked. "Why did you do it?" I asked.

"I didn't feel like you were giving me any attention after the baby," he said. 

It was a pathetic excuse.

Although I was hurt and seething, I loved Joel, and I didn't want to throw our marriage away.

I was willing to work through it – but on one condition. We had to move to the Gold Coast, to be away from her and near my family. 

"Whatever it takes," he agreed. 

We started putting our plans into place. Tina tried to call me, but I blocked her number. I had nothing to say to her. As far as I was concerned, the quicker my family were away from her, the better.  

I never told my family the truth, just insisting we wanted a change. 

I was sure it was the fresh start we needed, and we could move forward as a family. But it wasn't that simple. No matter how hard I tried, the trust was gone. 

Whenever we were out, I noticed women looking at him. It had never bothered me before because I didn't believe they stood a chance, but now that felt like an idiot. My self-confidence plummeted. I was still carrying baby weight and had limited time to make an effort with clothes or make-up. 

Then, one evening, I was with one of my girlfriends and told her how I felt. She was among the few people I'd confided in about Joel's affair. 

"You need a holiday," she said. "Why don't we go away for a week? Joel can look after the baby." 

Thinking she was right, I agreed and we booked a trip to Thailand. 

Lying on the sunbeds by the pool on the first day was the most relaxed I'd felt in a long time. I missed Joel and my daughter, but I knew I owed it to myself to have a good time. 

Later that afternoon, we chatted with a guy on the bed beside us. His name was Michael, and he told us he was on holiday alone after a recent divorce. The conversation flowed easily between us all, and we ended up inviting him out for dinner with us. 

At dinner, he was highly complimentary. "Wow, you're stunning," he told me when we arrived at the restaurant. "Your husband is a lucky man." 

He made me feel beautiful — something I hadn't felt in a long time. So, the next day, when he was at the pool again, I was excited to see him. 

That night, we had dinner with him again. Afterwards, my friend returned to the room, but I stayed out for a few more drinks. Alone with Michael, the flirtation between us ramped up. Before I knew it, we were kissing. If Joel can do it, so can I, I told myself. One thing led to another, and we ended up in his room. The sex was amazing — better than I'd ever had with Joel. It seemed like perfect revenge. 

Michael and I continued to sleep together for the rest of the holiday, and I told myself it was fine as it was no worse than what Joel had done to me. When I told my friend, though she warned me to be careful, she agreed.

"Maybe you need to do this to get it out of your system and move on," she said.  

But on the plane home, with reality kicking in, my excitement and vengeance turned to guilt. What had at once made me feel better now made me feel a whole lot worse.

Back home, I slipped into my normal routine, and Joel seemed none the wiser. 

Both of us carried on presenting ourselves as the perfect couple.

We even started trying for another baby, yet secretly, we were strangers, never knowing what the other was capable of. 

We've now welcomed another baby and I have never told Joel what I did. 

I look back to our wedding day, when we were full of love and hope for our future together and wish I could return there. 

But at least I know I got my own little revenge...

This author is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. 

*Names have been changed. 

Feature image: Getty. 

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