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'When I found a hotel key in my husband's pocket, I feared an affair. It was worse.'

As told to Ann DeGrey 

I fell madly in love with my husband, Joel, when I was 30 and, 10 years later, I still loved him very much. But our relationship was rocky and we argued about everything, from finances to how we were raising our two kids. There was a growing distance between us, and I could feel him literally slipping away. He spent less time with me than he once did, and there were times he barely looked me in the eye, let alone wanted to have sex with me.

I began to suspect he was having an affair. There were so many little things that didn't add up. For example, he’d come home late from work, saying he had to stay for meetings that I knew didn't exist. I knew this because I’d become very friendly with his PA who let me know when he was working late, and when he was probably lying. 

One night, I smelled a strange perfume on his clothes, yes, that old cliché. And then there were the secretive phone calls he took in the toilet or laundry, whispering so I couldn't hear. He often took off in a big hurry without explanation; there were just lots of strange behaviour.

One evening, as I was hanging up his jacket which he’d flung onto the sofa in his usual lazy way, a hotel key fell out of the pocket. 

This was devastating for me. It felt like confirmation that he was having an affair. Why else would he have a hotel room key? I didn't want to believe it, but the evidence was right there. I tried to confront him, but he brushed it off, saying it was for a work-related event. His explanation didn't sit well with me. When I spoke to his PA the next day, she said there were several work events on the calendar, so he wasn’t lying about that. But I still felt very uneasy. I felt quite desperate for answers, so I decided to hire a private investigator.

Watch: Drugs. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

It was easy to find one, through a friend who’d hired one during her divorce. The PI, a quiet and serious man in his 60s named Alan, listened to my fears and promised to find out the truth. It was a nerve-wracking time for me. I was feeling very anxious, torn between wanting to know if something dreadful was going on, and fearing what Alan might uncover. Days turned into two weeks, and the waiting was torture. Finally, Alan called me with his findings. What he told me was shocking, but not in the way I expected.

Joel wasn't having an affair. Instead, he was meeting his drug dealer at the hotel every week. Alan had followed him and witnessed the transactions – he also showed me photographic proof. I felt a very weird mix of relief and devastation. He wasn't cheating, but this was something equally, if not more, damaging; he was using our hard-earned money to buy drugs to support his habit. I remember thinking, what an absolute selfish arsehole!

I was in shock. My mind had been racing with images of him with another woman, a secret love affair. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this. My husband was battling a drug addiction. The thought of him sneaking away to a hotel to meet a dealer shattered me. It felt like a betrayal on a different level – what if he’d been caught and imprisoned? Not to mention the awful waste of money on drugs. And this was at a time when we were struggling to pay the mortgage. 

I didn't know how to confront him about it. One evening, after the kids were in bed, I gathered my courage, took a deep breath and showed him the hotel key. “I know all about your drug habit and your drug dealer,” I said.

His face went pale, and he wanted to know how I knew. He didn’t even bother to deny it. He sat down, and whispered that he was sorry, that he didn't know how to tell me, and that he didn't want to lose me and the kids.

I started to cry and asked him why he didn't come to me. We used to be so close and I’ve always had his back. He explained that he was ashamed and that it had started as a way to cope with stress at work. He never wanted to hurt me, but it had spiralled out of control.

I felt a wave of anger and sadness washing over me. Our family was falling apart because of this. He promised to go to rehab and get clean, saying that he didn't want to lose us.

For the sake of the kids, I agreed to support his rehab, but I couldn't stay with him. Not now, not like this. I stayed for another year and when I knew that he was going to be okay, I left him. 

I knew I just couldn’t love him the same way I used to, as the trust had been broken. Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I know I’ve done the right thing for myself and our kids. Joel’s journey to recovery was his own to take, and I’ve helped him through it all. But now it’s my time to find myself again and I just pray he continues to have the strength to overcome his demons.

Feature Image: Canva.

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