real life

"I love my husband, but here’s why I want to cheat."

I’m one of the lucky ones: I’m married to my soul mate.

The first time I ever saw Nige, my heart caught in my throat and my stomach dropped faster than you can say ‘love at first sight’. I was captivated, awed and knocked sideways by the depth of my attraction to him.

We met on a life-changing workshop. He was an assistant, I was participating. Having clawed my way to life over the previous two year from a disorder that ravaged my soul and filled me with shame, I had learned to practise radical honesty — especially when I didn’t want to.

Secrets keep you sick”, my mentors said. I didn’t want to be sick, so I went against all my instincts and told Nige and the group members in the therapeutic community he was co-leading of my attraction.

There was never an agenda for me, other than to feel better.

Somehow, my honesty made way for love to enter. Four years after that first moment, we went on a date. 8 years after that first encounter — almost to the day — we got married.

My commitment to honesty means that I share the secrets and dark thoughts that would otherwise quietly eat away at my sense of self-trust and integrity.

Today my secret is this: I love my husband, but I often want to cheat.

“A fellow dog walker asked us if we were married. Alarm bells went off. I thought of Nige and a quiet guilt nagged at me. This had become a secret.”

Recently, I met K whilst walking the dog. We just… clicked. The conversation flowed easily, we shared doggy jokes, and I walked home a little taller, a little bit excited. I checked in with myself: Do I fancy this man? The answer was a resounding ‘No’. I wasn’t physically attracted to him.

Yet I was happy when we bumped into each other on the field from time to time. I lingered longer than I normally would. He seemed kind of troubled, unclear about his life. His dissatisfaction with the world, his relationship and himself leaked out through seemingly innocuous comments. I wasn’t attracted.

Then, one day, we spent two hours together. The evening was chilly. Normally I would have gone home, but I didn’t. Neither did he. We just… stayed. Talked, joked, hung out.

A fellow dog walker asked us if we were married. Alarm bells went off. I thought of Nige and a quiet guilt nagged at me. This had become a secret.

Over the following days, I obsessed over K, wondering whether I’d see him. I was confused – I wasn’t attracted to this man physically, yet I was getting off on the idea that he liked me.

Here’s what I don’t want you to know:

I started walking Molly past his house, hoping to ‘accidentally’ bump into him.

I ‘coincidentally’ walked the dog at the time he walked his – 6pm. I felt disappointed each time I didn’t see him.

I thought about him a lot. At work, on the way to work, on the way home, at home, in the morning, whilst walking, while spending time with Nige.

He even came to mind while my husband and I were having sex. I mentally ejected him from my thoughts – I wasn’t even attracted to him, after all, and I had never fantasised about anyone else while being intimate with Nige.

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The cumulative impact of these behaviours – these secrets – on my sense of integrity was indubitable.

I felt guilty and ashamed of myself.

I also felt scared: Taking the next step felt so… easy. So close. I knew that I could up the ante just a little bit and find myself in deep waters.

“It frightened me that my hunger for a cheap thrill had the power to overshadow the vows I took on March 16th 2012.”

It frightened me that my hunger for a cheap thrill had the power to overshadow the vows I took on March 16th, 2012. To throw away the trust, intimacy and love that we’d worked so hard to build felt unnervingly easy, so easy to throw away.

Part of me was actively fuelling the obsession. Part of me wanted to cheat.

What was happening in my marriage, that this might be sparked?

Little things. Things that simply needed communicating about. Nothing drastic – honestly.

What was happening in me, that this might be sparked?

Ah. Here is where the juice was.

I was afraid of love. I know it might look like I was looking for love, but I was really following what A Course in Miracles describes as “the ego’s dictate”: seek and do not find.

What drove this attraction, as it has done many others before, was a hidden belief that love is dangerous. That if I fully dive into my love for my husband, it will engulf me, swallow me whole. There’ll be no ‘me’ left. Just like when I was a young girl and my mum’s alcoholism drowned the whole family in her sorrows.

What drove this attraction was the possibility that I might be deeply, unwaveringly loveable. That it might actually be possible to be in love, on purpose and successful.

What drove this attraction was a subconscious drive, handed down through generations of women in my family, to sabotage happiness and push love away. I’m one of the lucky ones, married to my soul mate. This cannot possibly last. I must create trouble at base camp.

The work I live by and teach reminds me daily that I have a choice about who I want to be in the middle of my struggle. Deny what is happening inside of me, and I set myself up for a fall.

Tell the truth, and I make way for love.

So I shared it with Nige. All of it. It was hard. I felt swamped with shame. But I did it anyway. I probably saved my marriage in the process, and I’ll do it again if I have to.

I want to cheat on my husband some days.

But I want to know him, and to be known by him, more than I want to prove my fears right.

And that, my friends, is why I tell the truth.

Elloa Atkinson is a facilitator of truth who helps women and men navigate their internal and relationship struggles with love, honesty and a willingness to be transformed.

Join her at elloaatkinson.com and grab a free copy of “22 Ways to See Things Differently”.

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