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Relationship diaries: 'Coronavirus made me end my affair – the sneaking around is now too risky'

The i logo The i 2020-03-23

a person standing in front of a sunset © Provided by The i As part of a new series called Relationship diaries, i is sharing people's stories about connections and issues that matter, from family to friends to dating, marriage and divorce, and all the ups and downs involved.

Amy*, 42, from near Edinburgh, tells Claudia Tanner how social distancing due to the coronavirus outbreak has made it almost impossible to see her lover. She is now going to work on her marriage but says now will be make or break time.

Over the last couple of weeks, with the coronavirus situation worsening, I've been having panic attacks. Not because I fear the disease or I'm worried about food shortages or civil unrest, but because I knew I had some tough decisions to make about my love life.

And now that more restrictions on our way of life seems highly likely, I know I cannot carry on with my affair.

I've been seeing Alex*, my colleague, for almost a year. We are both married. We've so far managed to keep our fling secret. We had rules: tell nobody, never communicate electronically, and pay for everything in cash.

Gallery: 12 science-backed facts about cheating that all couples should know (Business Insider)

It had run so easily. We would make our arrangements to meet in person at work and so there was never any incriminating messages for our partners to find. I had invented an old school friend who was my alibi when I went for a meal or drinks with Alex. He did something similar.

When we spent the night or a weekend together we fabricated business trips in other cities. My work did take me away for business now and again so my husband John* didn't question it at all.

And I've had the most exciting and erotic time of my life, while being able to relax that I wasn't blowing up my life or hurting anyone. I have two children and I don't want to break up my family.

But now it's become too risky – in fact near impossible – to carry on seeing each other. I'm devastated and not sure how things will end.

Feel 'trapped' in marriage

I'm not proud of what I've been doing. But I'm not a bad person. I never took my marriage vows 10 years ago expecting I would ever break them. I'm cheating because I feel desperately unhappy and trapped.

My husband is fundamentally a good person but for a long time now it's felt like we are living divergent lives. We've been in a battle for empathy and neither of us feels heard, and neither of us really listens to each other. All we have in common is our children. We run our family life like a tight ship: meal times, school runs, house chores, days out and extra curricular activities for the kids all run like clockwork. But there is a lack of intimacy and affection.

a person holding a flower © Provided by The i I love him and I've tried to make it work but I feel at a loss as to how to do that. I don't know if it's worth saving anymore. For no real good reason I just feel like punching my husband in the face. I've felt like my soul was dying.

'My affair with Alex gave me the strength to carry on and has given me my spark back'

I've been so unsatisfied and frustrated I've wanted to leave John, but I'm heartbroken at the thought of my kids coming from a broken home and I guess I'm also afraid to start again.

I know it's a cowardly thing to do, but with Alex I got swept away. I met him when he started at my workplace at the time I was at the peak of my despair about my failing marriage. He flirted and paid me attention and I felt like a giddy schoolgirl with a crush. One thing lead to another. It's just always flowed so naturally with Alex. Perhaps even more exciting than the sex (which has been mind blowing) has been the build up: getting dressed up, laughing, getting to know someone.

My affair with Alex gave me the strength to carry on and has given me my spark back. I've never thought through where it was all going to end up; I just knew for the time being I felt alive again and I was going to figure it all out at a later date.

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More challenging to meet

Two weeks ago our employer told us all staff will be working from home for the foreseeable future. This meant Alex and I had to start talking by text and email. We couldn't help but flirt and be warm but it made me feel on edge in case the messages were seen. I deleted everything but it only takes you and your partner watching a funny video on your phone and your lover to reply for it all come falling down.

All face-to-face client meetings were stopped and were taking place via video conferencing. That meant we couldn't spend the night together.

We met a couple of times a week. Initially I had said I was going to meet my old school friend but John started a heated debate with me over whether I should be socialising given the health risks.

And now pubs and restaurants have closed, the only good reason to leave your house is to go to the supermarket or go for a walk. I tried to go out to meet Alex but John said "I'll come for a walk with you" as he was bored staying inside. I ended up walking past Alex standing at the end of my road with my husband in tow.

I started to suffer with insomnia and I snapped at Alex when he called me out the blue as I sat next to John at dinner. He texted me that he missed me. I told him my nerves couldn't take anymore of this and we should stop seeing each other, at least until this pandemic is over.

© Getty

Working on marriage

Amy says social distancing may help her and her husband to work on their problems or it may intensify them (Photo: Luis Tosta on Unsplash)

'As we sit there, night after night, just the two of us holed up together, depending on each other for all our needs, it could make us take a good hard look at our relationship'

It's been a few days since I ended it. Alex hasn't texted me and I'm pining for him. I also feel guilty for what I've been doing.

I  feel even more frustrated with John: I don't have my distraction in Alex and I'm stuck in the house with him all the time.

Although something unusual happened yesterday. John turned to me after the kids had gone to bed and said "What would you like me to do more of to make your life better?" I felt quite emotional and couldn't immediately respond. I detect he's noticed how unhappy I am and it's his way of acknowledging it and trying to make it work.

That's the thing about this social isolation business: as we sit there, night after night, just the two of us holed up together, depending on each other for all our needs, it could make us take a good hard look at our relationship – the good, bad and the ugly. It could go two ways: it could help us address and sort out our problems or it could intensify them and our marriage could implode. These are uncertain times in many ways and we shall just have to see.

* Names have been changed.

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