Let’s call her Anita. She is a jewellery designer and one evening, over wine she told me about her marriage. And like Americans tend to be when they do decide to open up, she was candid and fiercely honest. She had been married for 16 years when she met her lover.
He had come to pick an anniversary gift for his wife. Ironic, isn’t it? It felt like love, maybe it was. The sunrise seemed prettier, flowers smelt sweeter and I could not wait to wake up in the morning to see if there was a message from him or a voice mail. We were exchanging pictures, sometimes ten a day. He made me feel wanted and beautiful. He appreciated everything about me, my designs, my dressing, my lips… I was hitting the gym with the precision of a clockwork mouse, getting fitter, toned and I loved the person who looked back at me in the mirror. I was in love, not just with him, but myself and life. I was incredibly happy. You know they say that one of the things one should be careful about is flashing their own joy when in a relationship. My stupid grin and I-am-in-heaven stares gave me away.
Anyway, you can’t really hide an affair for long. When my husband found out and confronted me, I confessed. Told him that I was in love and that I would be moving out with my girl the next day. I was one hundred per cent convinced of my decision. My lover and I had discussed such a situation and had charted our course of action and the day had come. My husband, too angry then, did not stop me from leaving.
Related reading: My husband had an affair, but it’s me who can’t forget
I filed for divorce. My lover’s wife, however, refused to do the same, but he moved out and we began living together. I was sure that in time she would come around too. We started our new dream life, and in the beginning, it was magical. We could talk for hours without worrying about our backstories, we cooked for each other, every dinner was like a date and we were magically happy. He visited his kids whenever he could and my girl spent her weekends with her dad. Four months passed in this blissful state and then, it began.
His remorse over not being able to spend enough time with his kids, overseeing his grief-stricken wife (she showed no signs of moving on), or the abandonment he felt as many of his friends and family severed connection with him. Since my daughter lived with us he felt that he had somehow ended up with the rough end of the deal. And then he began to miss his wife too; maybe he missed her more as a friend than a lover, but miss her he did.
Did I miss my husband? Not really, or maybe I wouldn’t allow myself to tread that path. I had to make this work, you see. But yes, I could see that it was not going to.
When the novelty of ‘how beautiful it would be to wake up in each other’s arms’ wore off when the sex turned routine when we began discussing what/who would be cooking dinner instead of which cheese to order with which wine in bed, our ‘dream life’ began looking like very much the quotidian marriage we had both left behind. Passion, the exciting secrecy, the rebellion of forbidden pleasures, all the riders of our love were dying a fast death.
He moved back to his family before the first year was up. To be honest, I was relieved too, for the heaviness between us had become oppressive. My husband did not have a steady relationship then but had moved on. We did try to give living together with another shot, but it did not work out. Today I am happy to say that we are at least good friends.
I have had some serious relationships, some fleeting ones, but nothing worked for the long haul. My daughter lost a dad who would tuck her into bed every night and I lost a companion that I could always count on. To be honest, I do feel like I made a mistake.
I had read somewhere that often people begin to see what they want to preserve at the moment that their affair is about to come out of hiding. In my case, I understood it after a few years. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is also when I realised that my lover was meant to be exactly that: a lover.