real life

'My husband had an affair with his secretary. It's the best thing that ever happened to me.'

In 2013, I reconnected with an old boyfriend.

We'd first met years earlier and had dated for just over a year. It just hadn't worked out… but I was 30 now.

It felt more meaningful. It must be "meant to be", right?

It certainly seemed that way. This time we were engaged and married within nine months, and just weeks after that I fell pregnant with our first daughter.

Watch: The emotional versus physical affair debate. Post continues after video.

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We moved out to a property my partner had bought just before we got back together. We were four hours north of the city now, the only home I’d ever known, and with hindsight I can say it was with this decision that I lost myself.

I wanted to be with my partner and raise our family. But I didn't want to be so isolated. I felt stuck.

Fast forward to May 2020. We had two girls by then. After facing a horrific bushfire season the previous year, we were now in the early months of the pandemic.

My partner had changed in the last few years; I'd started to worry we were growing apart.


He'd become close friends with a woman in our small, remote community who was working as the secretary for his business. She was married – but I didn't like the way my husband looked at her.

She also had a habit of making me feel terrible about myself. She was very 'country Australian', which made me, a city girl, feel alien.

She'd roll her eyes when I'd talk about my work in the medical field and make fun of me for not being able to change a tire.

Years earlier, my partner's dad had had an affair with his secretary, leaving his mum for her. I had a horrible feeling history was going to repeat itself.

I tried to talk to my partner about it. He told me I was "crazy" and that this woman was simply "good for his business".

"Your insecurities are ruining our relationship," he told me.

But I couldn't shake my suspicions that something was going on between them.

I even had nightmares about it.

Or perhaps I should call them premonitions.

Because just months later, the affair I had predicted came to light. After going away, supposedly by himself, for the weekend, my husband came home and asked to talk.

He told me our marriage was over. That he was in love with her – the secretary, of course – and that he wanted to give their relationship a go.


I was beyond devastated.

As I tried to get my head around the news, I went to confront her. "You wanted my life so badly, didn't you?" I said to her.

She shrugged. Then she puffed out her chest and turned away from me.

I moved to a new town with the girls to start a new life. My ex agreed to this, even funding it with a pre-settlement payment, to ensure a 'quick move'.

Starting over, parenting alone, none of it was easy. I had family and friends cheering me on, but some of those months were the darkest of my life.

Admittedly, I also thought he would 'come to his sense'; decide to do what was best for our daughters.

But he didn't.

While I had many supportive friends, there were others who said there were four sides to the story – mine, my ex-husband's, his new lover, and her ex.

I found this to be glib and grossly unfair.

Out of respect for my daughters, I won't say much – but a couple of years on, there is still ongoing conflict around custody, and she – his new partner – continues to insert herself into these conversations. I can never forgive her for the impact this has had on my girls.

I'm not angry about the affair. I'm angry about the 11 months he spent denying it, gaslighting me, making me feel like I was going crazy, before he finally admitted it.


And I'm angry about his change in behaviour towards our daughters and how confusing it has been for them. I'm angry about his lack of financial support, and his insistence on fighting this at every turn.

The man I married was a good dad. The man I married would have done anything for his daughters.

I don't even recognise him anymore.

Listen to Sealed Section where Chantelle answers three anonymous questions from listeners, who are cheating, or being cheated on. Post continues below.

One good thing that has come from this, I’ve met someone new. He's my best friend, my guy, everything I've ever wanted in a partner.

He's smart, funny, kind, and calm. He has two sons the same age as my daughters.

It's been a wonderful 18 months together, and I feel so lucky. My ex-husband's affair led to this new life. But I still hurt, almost every single day. And so do my two girls.

My reason for writing this is with the hope that it might help others. So here are some of the lessons I learned:

1. Get a prenup. You get car insurance right? This is even easier than that. Prenups are created at a time when you (hopefully) both respect each other and want the best for each other. It’s a good time to make sure you both agree on what is fair–and lock that in. I promise it will save an endless amount of cost and hurt.


2. Leave a bad marriage - I mean marriages have ups and downs, but if you’re laying in bed with a pit in your stomach wondering if this is it, or wishing to be elsewhere, leave before it gets worse, and you end up with a story like mine.

3. Let go of friends who do not have your back–or know your own moral compass. Pick friends who will support you no matter what. 

4. Wait for your perfect person, wait for you best friend. You would rather be 40 and single with no kids, than 40 and going through the worst divorce in the world with a guy who is trying to rob you of your children and the wealth you thought you two created together.

5. Do not wait for yourself ‘to heal’ to find happiness – healing is not linear and can take years, decades even. Live your best life while you're hurting, it will help. 

6. Affairs suck. You know all those hot and steamy movies about scandalous affairs? Well, they forget to dive deeply into the trauma these affairs cause the other parties, especially any children involved. How hot and steamy and sexy is traumatising children? You like keeping secrets? Plan a really funky surprise birthday party for your best friend.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature Image: Getty.

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