Last month, Jayne Warwick revealed the torment of her secret affair. The latest twist? Her husband found out raising the most painful question of all, Can ANY marriage survive the ultimate betrayal?
The one-line message, sent from my husband’s email address, stopped me dead in my tracks: ‘I know you’ve had an affair.’
Feeling sick, I forced myself to think rationally. He couldn’t know, he couldn’t possibly know. The eight-week affair happened last summer and I’ve had no contact with my lover since he deleted me from his life as though I had never existed.
I’d wiped all incriminating messages from my usual email address, and the private account that I’d set up for illicit communications was secured with a password that nobody could ever guess.
Jayne Warwick, 49, shared the tale of her summer affair in last months Inspire. She is now faced with the possibility of divorce after her husband discovered the secret (file image)
How best to respond? With a confession? A plea for forgiveness? No. He was calling my bluff. The best thing was to deny everything, just as he had done throughout our 12-year marriage, even when faced with irrefutable evidence of his one-night stands and extra-marital encounters.
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,’ I responded lamely. To my horror, cut-and-pasted segments of emails between me and my ex-lover started pouring into my inbox.
It turned out that I hadn’t been quite as careful as I thought. The affair may have long since finished, but I couldn’t resist occasionally logging into my secret account to re-read my lover’s messages.
Three weeks ago my husband found this email account open on a computer we rarely used. My life had blown up because I’d quite simply forgotten to log out.
There it all was, in unsparing detail: the breathless desire for the younger man (me 49 and him 41) who had turned my life around and then broken my heart.
We’d met by chance at our children’s cricket club and had flirted under cover of kids’ play dates. In a matter of weeks, the relationship turned physical. There was no denying any of it. These were my words, written by me to a man I’d loved and whom I thought felt the same way.
Jayne’s husband had previously also had extramarital relations (file image)
I stared at the computer screen and at the family photographs of my husband and I looking like we were happy, keeping up the pretence for our four children.
My stupidity — if not for having an affair, then in failing to conceal it — had just changed everything. Now my husband had evidence that I had committed adultery more recently than he had. I, not he, would be named as the adulterer in our imminent divorce.
Until that point, he had no choice but to agree that I was the wronged partner. His infidelities, stretching back at least a decade, had been numerous — sometimes he hadn’t even tried particularly hard to hide them. But, crucially, they’d always happened in hotel rooms on supposed ‘business trips’. Over the years I learned — mostly — to steel myself to them, to pretend they weren’t anything to do with me.
Then I made the shocking discovery that he’d invited one of his ‘dates’ to our family home when the children and I were away for a weekend.The fact she’d backed out at the last minute was irrelevant. I was so sickened by the thought of what he’d hoped would take place in our bed that I’d immediately started divorce proceedings. He’d been sleeping downstairs while he looked for a flat.
Until now, my occupation of the moral high ground had put me in a strong position for him to agree to my terms for a settlement. There was never any danger of him discovering my affair. I’d covered my tracks, or so I thought.
I had always justified my affair to myself as being a symptom of a bad marriage, not the cause of it. I had been subjected to years of humiliation and neglect as my husband spent his nights away from home, his phone switched off, leaving me alone and bewildered with our children. In the months leading to my affair, he was particularly critical of me and withdrew from the family. It was as though we didn’t exist.
Her husband threatened to show her family and others the evidence he had found related to her affair (file image)
When the email stream finally stopped, my phone rang. My husband was irate, demanding answers, threatening to forward the emails to my parents and siblings, and even the children’s school, if I didn’t provide him with my ex-lover’s address.
I assume he wanted to confront Charles, my former lover, because his pride was wounded. He wanted to punish the man who had cuckolded him, as much as he wanted to punish me.
I felt excruciating shame at being exposed, coupled with the fear that he would carry out his threats. But more strongly, I felt defiant that my privacy had been invaded in this way.
These were my deepest feelings, my secrets that were being trampled over by a man who’d repeatedly cheated on me while starving me of love and affection.
He had wrecked the memory of a wonderful, if painful, chapter that had been all mine, and that I would revisit in my head when things at home became unbearable. While he was understandably furious, I felt no obligation to explain myself, and so I didn’t. I hung up on him.
Jayne feared that she would be revealed as a hypocrite and asked her solicitor to change the grounds of their divorce from adultery to unreasonable behaviour (file image)
Terrified he would forward my emails, I phoned my brother and sister, both married with children of their own. Telling them I’d been unfaithful to my husband and that our marriage was a sham was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.
My sister was shocked. ‘How could you do this to the children?’ she kept asking. She was right. There was no justification for my actions. I’d been selfish and now others would suffer because of me.
I then put myself through the indignity of emailing Charles a formal, brief note telling him my husband had discovered our affair and was threatening to sue me for adultery — and name him in proceedings.
I wanted to protect him by giving him the heads up. It briefly occurred to me that this might bring us back together, but he maintained his icy detachment and I heard nothing.
Finally, I got in touch with my solicitor and told him that I wanted to change my grounds for divorce from adultery to unreasonable behaviour. I didn’t want to be revealed as a hypocrite, which is what he could now see I was.
Jayne realised that their divorce could take months as her husband decided to fight back in court (file image)
My husband came home from work in the evening, stony-faced, slamming doors and banging cupboards. He went for a long drive before returning to confront me once the children were in bed. He goaded me to confess everything, but I stayed silent, just like he had every time I confronted him with a new liaison I’d uncovered.
I’d spied on him, too, accessing his phone’s security settings to see his frequent locations and checking out addresses he’d visited. I’d read several flirtatious conversations with his clients, including suggestions to meet outside working hours with one of them. I’d also found out about the rendezvous that very nearly took place in my bed.
Without each other’s knowledge, we’d both turned detective. We were at war, albeit a cold, calculated, information-gathering war. What angered me most was that by digging around like this, he’d stalled my chance of finally breaking for freedom.
Just as a new, hope-filled life was in reach, he’d snatched it away from me. I’d suffered so much, and now he was going to make things even harder for me. The divorce could take months to go through now that he’d decided to fight me in court.
Her husband told their 12-year-old daughter the details of the affair. Jayne says she would never have another affair because of the amount of people who were hurt (file image)
With the children asleep, he taunted me about how I’d been rejected. He laughed spitefully at how Charles had suddenly stopped replying to my emails and then vanished. He revelled in reminding me how I’d been used and then dumped, no doubt for another desperate woman. Or perhaps someone younger, better-looking, more of a prospect. He went into forensic detail about how the sex must have been terrible for him not to want to come back for more.
I was distraught, but wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I spat back: ‘If you had been a fraction of the man Charles was, maybe I wouldn’t have looked elsewhere.’
That was the first time I’d used my lover’s name in front of my husband and he was incensed, flying into a rage. I tried to diffuse the situation, telling him the relationship ended because I chose my marriage over my lover.
‘Liar,’ he screamed. ‘You would’ve taken the children to live with him if he’d have had you.’ Then he followed me into the hallway and up the stairs, waking the children as he shouted: ‘Children, your mother wants to live with another man. She wants to take you away from me and make you live with her lover.’
Our 12-year-old daughter emerged in tears at her bedroom door. ‘Please stop,’ I begged my husband, but he didn’t, he kept going, telling our daughter that I had had an affair.
Seeing the distress of our child, he finally agreed to leave the house for a few days while he calmed down. Any shred of hope of an amicable divorce was in tatters.
Jayne and her husband agreed to put their divorce on hold to give their marriage another chance (file image)
He called a week later and asked if we could meet on neutral ground at a pub. He was sitting at a table by a window when I arrived. It had only been a week but my husband looked shambolic, almost unrecognisable.
When he spoke, his words shocked me as much as his appearance. He apologised. He accepted that he had some responsibility for the affair.
He told me he’d spent a sleepless night rereading old emails from me, emails that I’d sent pleading with him to show me some affection, to stop being so distant and secretive. They were often sent late at night when — once again — I couldn’t get him to answer his phone and was stuck on my own with the children.
At the time, he continued, he’d dismissed them as ‘needy’ and ‘demanding’ but now had begun to see them as the precursor to my affair. He asked me if I would be prepared to give our marriage another go, if we both agreed to wipe the slate clean and start again. I was touched by his words but couldn’t bring myself to believe them.
I told him how I’d been in survival mode for years, keeping the marriage together for the sake of our children. I told him I didn’t regret what I’d done. I explained that, at times, I’d felt as though I’d go mad if I had to spend the rest of my life without kindness or intimate conversation with a like-minded adult.
It was a deeply distressing conversation, but wholly cathartic, and as I drove away I felt closer to him than I had in years.
We agreed to meet regularly, making a pact there would be no more secrecy. No matter how harsh the truth, there would be no more lies. After years without meaningful communication, we picked over the events that had pulled us apart.
Although he understood the hurt he had caused and was bitterly sorry, he also had things he was angry about. He blamed Charles for moving in on a married woman. He blamed the friends I confided in as he felt they had influenced me. He blamed me for letting myself fall.
We agreed to put the divorce papers on hold and he moved back into the family home. We still sleep in separate rooms, but are slowly coming back to each other, gradually building up the lost trust and respect. I am beginning to see the man I fell in love with before it all went wrong.
We’ve a way to go, but now I can see my husband’s commitment to making amends, I’m giving our marriage my best shot.
Has my affair saved my marriage? It’s too early to say. What I do know is that, even if our relationship doesn’t survive, I’ll never have another one. Too many people, particularly my children, have been hurt. I can’t take that hurt away, but I can make sure it never happens again.