Why I’m counting down the hours to Affair Day: Hotels are open again from Monday — and cheating spouses can’t wait. Here, a married mother says she’s longing to be with her lover. Shocked? Before you judge, read her story
- Illicit afternoons with married lovers will return with the reopening of hotels
- A mother of three, who lives in the UK, has been married to Martin for 16 years
- She met her lover Tom, 50, an IT consultant, at a conference in Dubai in 2013
- Says they are both committed to their marriages, despite their ongoing affair
Sinking back into the vast hotel bed, my lover and I carelessly allow flakes of croissant to fall on the sheets — someone else can clean that up — as we interrupt breakfast for a kiss.
As a married mum of three teenagers, with all the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and general dogsbodying that comes with that role, it’s during illicit moments like these when I am happiest and most carefree. I have been seeing Tom for the past eight years.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that I am literally counting down the days until the hotels finally reopen next week — by which time it will have been 16 long months since I last saw Tom, an IT consultant who lives 300 miles from me and, at 50, is six years my senior.
Sylvia Turner who has been married to Martin for 16 years, began an affair with Tom, 50, an IT consultant after meeting at a conference in Dubai in 2013 (file image)
Lockdown has been cruel to people like us with unsuspecting husbands, wives, and children at home. We are wholly reliant on anonymous hotels to steal precious evenings and weekends together. It’s a wonder I haven’t gone crazy, cooped up at home with my husband of 16 years, whose best shot at romance these days is occasionally remembering to put petrol in the car and a son and two daughters so attached to their phones I can’t remember the last time they looked me in the eye.
For years, the prospect of my hotel trysts with Tom every few months were the one ‘carrot’ getting me through the day-to-day drudgery of domestic life. My most precious memory is from the spa in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, one of our favourite haunts — and a world away from my suburban existence.
Thanks to Tom’s work sometimes picking up the bill, we stay in grand hotels — sometimes we get upgraded to a suite, which would cost thousands of pounds a night.
While my husband, Martin, hasn’t bought me flowers in 12 years, Tom always requests a bouquet of roses for me in the room.
It will come as no surprise to learn that, as in many long-term relationships, there is a lot of unresolved hurt and bubbling resentment in my marriage and that’s the reason I feel little guilt, or remorse, for having led this double life for eight years.
I had no idea, almost two decades ago, when we moved to be near Martin’s family in the South-West that his mother would feel entitled to interfere in every single aspect of our lives — and criticise everything I do.
It caused endless rows in the early years, not least because he would always take her side.
Sylvia who is mother to three teenagers, said she has no desire for her children to grow up as victims of divorce and so has no plans to leave her husband (file image)
So, while you might imagine I’d feel guilty for cheating on my husband, what I actually feel is fury with him for not standing up for me — and that rage drowns out any remorse.
I have no desire for my children to grow up as victims of divorce, to lose their home and comfortable lifestyle, so I have no plans to leave my husband, but I think I am entitled to some happiness too. Difficult though it may be for some to understand, while I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s an act of revenge, I do feel my affair is justified.
You might imagine it’s hard for me not to spill the beans, to want to unburden myself to my husband, but I’ve become an expert at keeping it secret.
I’m used to biting my tongue with my mother-in-law. Now, when she criticises me I simply detach and relish the thought of how furious she’d be if she knew I had a wealthy lover who took me to fancy hotels.
It wasn’t always this bad, of course. For several years I tried to improve our relationship, suggesting couples’ counselling, but Martin, who is quite old-fashioned, wouldn’t hear of such ‘navel-gazing’.
Then along came Tom, who never tires of telling me how beautiful and clever I am and makes me feel cherished and special. When we check in at our hotel, the first thing I do is take a long bath with a mound of bubbles — a luxury I rarely get at home — and Tom will sit on the edge of the tub while we sip champagne and catch up on one another’s news.
Then we go to bed and I can feel his entire focus is on me, on the pleasure we give one another. Afterwards, I’m careful not to moan about my husband and children, as Tom doesn’t want to hear about the humdrum of my home life, any more than I want to hear about his wife and adult kids.
Sylvia who is a freelance business consultant, said before the pandemic she didn’t have any difficulty coming up with excuses to join Tom because her work involves travel (file image)
But the past year has been hard. I work as a freelance business consultant from our spare room, while my husband has a successful company in the financial services industry, run from the office until March last year. For too long, he has been working from home, invading my space, his booming voice on endless calls reverberating around the house.
Before the pandemic, my work involved a fair amount of travel, visiting clients and attending conferences, so I’ve never had any difficulty coming up with a ruse to join Tom on his work trips. We were first introduced at a conference in Dubai, back in the spring of 2013. He made me laugh. He’s great at impersonations.
We were flirtatious all evening — there was an obvious attraction between us — but the closest we got on that first night was befriending one another on Facebook.
It didn’t feel like a line had been crossed at that stage. Soon after, however, Tom sent me a direct message saying he was going to Italy for work and would love it if I came, too.
With a bubble of excitement and nerves in my stomach for the first time in years, I booked a flight. As I put in my credit card details, I was shaking. Not so much feeling anxious about Martin finding out — I honestly felt he deserved to have his feelings disregarded the way mine are. But my children, who have done nothing wrong, were a different story. We mothers feel perpetual guilt.
I told Martin I was off on a work trip and he didn’t question it for a second. His eye is not on the ball and, sadly, he trusts me.
I banished any thoughts of my kids from my mind as I boarded the flight. Over the past eight years I’ve become a master at compartmentalising my emotions — when I’m with Tom, I’m not a mother, nor a wife, I’m just me.
It’s only what a million men before me have done — husbands travelling on business have long had affairs and blind eyes have been turned all round. Why should it be so different for me?
Tom was at the airport in Italy when I landed. The thrill that ran through me as our eyes met was exhilarating.
Sylvia said she still has sex a couple of times most weeks with her husband, but Tom makes her feel attractive (file image)
He was tanned and, although at 5 ft 10 in not exactly tall, he towered over my 5 ft 3 in, while the T-shirt and shorts he wore showed off his well-muscled body. My husband was good-looking when we married, but has let himself go over the years and has a typical ‘dad bod’, complete with beer gut and moobs.
It may surprise you to learn that we’re still intimate. We have sex a couple of times most weeks.
I think it’s an important part of any marriage and we have ‘needs’. I’ve always gone to the gym and run 10km (six miles) a week, not that my husband notices any more. Tom does, though, and when I’m with him I feel attractive again. When Tom and I arrived at the hotel that first time, there was a beautiful table set for dinner on our balcony.
The mood was so relaxed and our chemistry so electric that climbing into bed with him felt entirely natural, despite the fact he was the first man, other than my husband, I’d slept with in 15 years. The sex was fabulous.
Not because he was introducing me to anything I hadn’t experienced between the marital sheets, but because it was exciting being with someone new — the feel and smell of him were unfamiliar and that was a huge turn-on.
Also, there was no danger of teenage feet bursting in to disturb us. It had been so long since I’d been totally ‘in the moment’ like that. I realised that night this was something I could no longer live without. I made it clear to Tom I was happy to be his plus-one on any future trips and he seemed thrilled.
Some might think me selfish for pursuing this personal pleasure, cheating on my husband and lying to my children.
I would argue, however, that it has benefited us all.
A few times a year, pre-pandemic, I got to indulge my own needs and desires, for between two and five days at a time — any longer is tricky to explain — and this much-needed boost enabled me to be the best wife and mother I can be when I am at home. Because I would never contemplate leaving Martin for Tom.
When I married, like my parents who have been together over 60 years, I fully intended it to be for life and never imagined I would be the sort to cheat. Tom has no intention of leaving his wife either. Despite the affair, we are both committed to our marriages.
Sylvia said she intended to be married for life and never imagined that she would be the sort to cheat (file image)
How to tell if your other half is having an affair — and what to do about it
Marital therapist Andrew G. Marshall reveals the key signs to watch for. How many do you recognise?
- Your partner is normally lovely, but now it feels like you’re about to have your head bitten off.
- They guard their phone like it’s the Crown Jewels.
- They couldn’t stop talking about someone at work. Now they don’t mention them.
- They have opinions that seem to come out of nowhere.
- Excuses just don’t add up.
- You have defended them to your family and friends, who all think your partner might be having an affair.
And here’s what to do…
- Do listen to your gut instinct.
- Do turn detective. It’s fine to give them a chance to come clean, but gathering evidence is best — and there will always be evidence, whether it’s credit card records or text messages.
- Do pick your moment to confront them. You need time to thrash things out.
- Do lay the evidence out calmly. If you’re calm, they will be more inclined to tell you the truth. If they start blustering or aren’t prepared to speak, say: ‘I would much rather you told me than I had to discover it myself.’
- Don’t expect them to tell you everything in one go. You’re going to want a level of detail that will surprise them, but they’ll be too ashamed to answer in full.
- Don’t make any decisions straightaway.
- Don’t forgive them in the first five minutes. That will stop them giving you information. But don’t throw them out, either. If you do, they will spend time ‘thinking things over’ with the other person, and take the information you want to know with them.
- Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to know it all. They may say: ‘How can we move forward if you can’t forget?’ But learning the truth is part of the healing process.
- Do be kind to yourself. Try to tell as few people as possible because you can’t untell them. Don’t confide early on in your children, even if they are grown up. Sometimes I counsel couples where one has forgiven the other, but their teenager hasn’t.
Andrew G. Marshall is author of How Can I Ever Trust You Again?
For a start, there’s so much at stake: houses, mortgages, joint finances and, of course, our children and the impact it would have on them. Yes, I’ve fantasised about an idyllic, five-star life with Tom, far away from my husband’s family, and, of course, on bad days at home I do long to run away with him for ever. But I’m old and wise enough to know that the grass is rarely greener elsewhere.
Without the luxury of room-service dinners, and hotel maids turning down our bed at night, I would soon undoubtedly discover things about Tom that would drive me equally insane.
The irony is not lost on me that one of the things I love about Martin is his strong moral compass, which means I’ve never had to worry about him being unfaithful. I would be upset and angry if he was.
Unlike Martin, I’ve been a good spouse, tolerating his family and doing everything in my power to keep our family unit happy and together. I am a great mother and I don’t deserve to be cheated on.Tom’s wife must surely know about me, though. He says not, but we women have a sixth sense for these things. I suspect she turns a blind eye because this is not the first time he has strayed.
You would think I would worry about us getting caught, but it’s strange what that heady feeling can do to you.
When we book into a London hotel, we prefer to stay in our room, to make the most of the limited time we have together. And I would never want to risk bumping into someone I know.
Sylvia said she doesn’t worry about her family reading messages to her lover because her phone is password locked (file image)
I imagine telling Martin about the affair one day. I believe he will forgive me. But the thought of my children finding out and hating me — the potential looks of disgust on their faces makes me wince — is the one thing that brought me very close to ending the affair three years ago. I didn’t tell Tom. I honestly don’t want to dump domestic stuff in the midst of our carefree carry-on, and my reluctance didn’t last long.
Before you jump to judge me, I’d like to point out that I’m far from alone in needing this escape. I know a number of mums at my children’s private school who have what they refer to as ‘Friday Boys’, men they met at the gym who they check into hotels with, when they’re open, for a bit of Friday afternoon delight. And they’re looking forward to next week, too.They’re lucky their lovers live close by, as I haven’t even seen Tom’s face since our last hotel trip, to New York, in January 2020.
We text one another regularly. No one ever looks at my phone, which is password locked, so I don’t worry about my family ever reading the messages, but I’d be too worried about someone walking in the room to risk FaceTiming him.
And, as much as I miss him, there is nothing to talk about. We have both been on ‘sleep, work, eat, work, repeat’ mode and I don’t want him to think I am now this boring person, leading a dull life. Besides, I don’t rely on him for emotional support. It would bore him senseless if I discussed the issues I have to deal with.
Our relationship works because it is light and fun. Everything with him feels different, fresh, exciting, and I’d hate to change that.
In the coming months, once travel abroad gets the green light, we hope to go to somewhere fabulous to celebrate Tom turning 50 last year.
We have a five-star London hotel booked for next week.
As my client meetings haven’t really got off the ground yet, I can’t use my usual excuse, so my husband thinks I’m meeting up with girlfriends I’ve known since university whom he’s never likely to bump into.
So come next Friday, I shall be off, suitcase in hand and a huge grin on my face, all too ready to swap languishing in lockdown for sensuous suite living, once again. I simply cannot wait.
Names and some details have been changed to protect identity. Sylvia Turner is a pseudonym. Interview by Helen Carroll.
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