real life

'My wedding day was perfect. But a few months into my marriage, I wanted to cheat.'

I looked up from my egg and bacon breakfast just in time to catch him entering the resort’s crowded restaurant. 

As if sensing my gaze, he immediately found my eyes across the room and smiled. 

Liquid-fire pulsed through my veins, temples to groin. I blushed. I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I thought. I’m married. Newly married even. 

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I held his gaze and smiled back. My wedding day had been perfect. Now, barely a few months in, I realised it was the only perfect thing about this marriage. 

I’d expected a honeymoon period where everything was blissful and easy, but it hadn’t been that way before marriage: he’d been unwell with mental health issues, restless and stressed. 

We’d been together less than a year when we got married. His intensity and intelligence attracted me. Surely the rest was temporary? 

It would change after we got married, I thought. We moved a few times, hoping a different place would help him feel better, but it only made him more stressed. Coming home from work, I never knew what mood I’d find him in. 

Occasionally he’d be full of energy, wanting to take me on a romantic dinner date. More often though he was sad and grumpy. 

I found myself in the role of therapist: listening, encouraging, and hoping I could love him to happiness. If we ever disagreed on any issue he got upset, so I added peace-keeper to my repertoire too. 

"Mmhmm, that’s a good point," I’d nod in agreement, shoving my opposing opinions deep into my gut. 

It felt like a small death, especially when he spouted racist remarks, but it was better than fighting all the time with my new husband. 

My new job came with an unexpected perk. Every year they would fly all the reps to a resort for a long weekend. Two of the days were filled with meetings but one whole day was for sightseeing. 

My new husband and I hadn’t been apart for even one night so I thought I’d miss him, but I bounced off the plane into an unfamiliar town, light and excited.

Early in the conference, I found myself seated next to a guy a few years older than me with blonde hair and a huge smile. 

He’d clearly worked for the company for a while because he seemed to know everyone. He wasn’t the kind of guy I usually found attractive but his sense of humour and positivity was magnetic. I couldn’t help feeling drawn to him — he was the polar opposite of my moody, intense husband. 

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"Want to head to the theme park today?" Greg asked, sitting opposite me at the breakfast table. 

I hoped my makeup hid the redness in my cheeks. The business part of the conference was over and Greg and I had gotten to know each other quite well. 

He’d placed himself next to me at most meetings, introducing me to other colleagues. Perhaps he was just looking after me as the "newbie" but his eyes hinted at more. During meetings and meal breaks he held my gaze a little too long, a little too often. His look was a soft caress, a hand down my face, an intimate secret in a room full of people. 

Usually I’d be the one to look away first. Cheating wasn’t okay in my rule book, but Greg now consumed my thoughts.

Across the table waiting for my reply, Greg held my gaze again. In the tiny pause, I could see the answer he wanted and was happy to give it. 

"Of course." Our other colleagues at the table nodded and added in their plans. "Let’s head for the rollercoaster first," one of them suggested. I didn’t notice who’d spoken, my eyes were still locked with Greg's. 

I’d never been on a rollercoaster and as we approached the front of the line, my chest tightened. "You okay?" Greg asked. "A bit nervous," I laughed. He smiled at me and held out his hand to help me into one of the small cars. 

With his other hand, he took my drink bottle, predicting my needs as if we’d been a couple for years. 

Guilt and joy rushed through me in the same instant. I was always the one predicting my husband’s needs and here was someone doing it for me: giving me their full attention as if I was the only person there. A deep longing roared inside me — this, this is what I needed. This is what I was missing out on. 

I knew my husband loved me, but our relationship flowed one way when it came to attention and meeting needs. 

Greg jumped in next to me and pulled the safety bar down over us. Our linked hands lay on the armrest. We stared straight ahead at the track, saying nothing, but neither of us let go. 

Afterwards, Greg and I walked around the park, more focused on each other than the attractions. "You’re married, right?" he asked, sounding nervous and young all of a sudden. 

"Yeah, but I think it was a big mistake. I got married so quickly. Less than a year. It was stupid." We stood looking at a pool of turtles. I gripped the rail in front of me, thinking about how much I wished I wasn’t married. 

"It’s not stupid," he said. "You’ll be okay."

I felt something shift between us. He’d made up his mind. I wanted him to sweep me up and claim me. Tell me to leave my husband. I wanted him to give me no choice but to have an affair. Then I’d have a reason, a person, to leave for. I wanted the choice taken from me: to be rescued. I didn’t feel strong enough to leave on my own. 

But when I looked at Greg and his soft, kind eyes, I knew he wasn’t going to cross that line. And I knew then, I wasn’t going to either. I was going to have to make my own choices, and an affair wasn’t one of them. 

The image used is a stock image from Getty.