'I found out my husband was cheating when he accidentally sent me an email meant for the other woman'

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Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • Julia* found out her husband was having an affair when he accidentally sent her an email that was meant for the other woman.
  • The email read: 'Thinking about your beautiful blue eyes. I miss and love you. Steven* xo.'
  • Julia's eyes are brown.
  • Steven denied it when Julia confronted him that night but eventually the truth came out and they decided to try and salvage their relationship.
  • Julia tells Rebecca Whish why she stayed and why their therapist advised them to keep the affair a secret.

He panicked and tried to tell me he was referring to our daughter's blue eyes when I first asked about the email. I knew that wasn't true.

So the next day, I went through his inbox, found out who his the other woman was.

I discovered that her name was Jessica and that she was an old school friend he'd run into at his father's funeral. They slept together when he visited his grieving mother.

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I also learned that he was talking about moving back to his hometown to be with her. Blind rage doesn't begin to describe it.

I called Steven and told him he had five minutes to come home. Then I took all his clothes into the front yard, covered them in turpentine and set them on fire.

When he arrived, I was smashing our framed wedding photographs on the driveway. I shredded my wedding dress with scissors, dumped cat litter all over it and threw it in the bin.

I took my wedding ring off and hurled it at him. I was hurt and crazed beyond belief.

At first, he tried to tell me they were only friends. Still, when I recounted all the things I now knew, he broke down sobbing, clutching me and saying, I'm begging you to forgive me. It was the biggest mistake of my life'.

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I demanded that he immediately break it off with her, organise counselling for us - and for himself - and that he go straight to the doctor for an STI test. I had one, too, humiliatingly.

Steven and Jessica hadn't used condoms, so we were lucky both results came back clear.

For the first four months, I was just numb and hardly spoke to him. I spent a lot of time looking at Jessica's Facebook profile, wondering what she had that I didn't.

After that, I felt incredibly angry for more than a year. I'd scream, break things, tell Steven I hated him.

I put two conditions on us staying together: he couldn't contact Jessica, and he couldn't cancel a counselling appointment.

He mostly slept on the couch, and when we did have sex, I was cold. Images of him and Jessica would pierce my thoughts and I'd find myself thinking, 'Did they do this? In this position? Did he touch her like this?'.

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Our relationship counsellor advised us not to talk to friends and family about Steven's affair. She said that if we did, people would start casting blame on all sides and we'd have an even harder time patching things up.

Keeping it a secret made me feel alone.

Steven and I married young. He was 21 and I was 19. I decided to stay with him because he's a good man who made a terrible choice in a moment of weakness, and he's the father of my daughter.

We've had too many great years to let one bad decision ruin everything.

READ MORE | 'Oh, here’s a bunch of flowers for your forgiveness' – What women really think about ‘apology’ gifts

Steven assures me that he loves me and respects my emotions and that he'll try to be the best husband possible. And I believe him.

It's been two years since the affair, and I only recently feel like our marriage might survive.

When Steven slept with Jessica, he was deeply distraught about his dad's death, and she made him feel like he could escape those bad feelings.

Our marriage will never be the same, but we've decided to love each other despite our flaws. Before Steven's affair, I thought that women who stayed with unfaithful men were weak. Now I know it takes superhuman strength to rebuild a relationship after infidelity."

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Jo Lamble, relationship psychologist and author of Answers To Everyday Questions About Relationships, looks at the pros and cons.

"Many women say, 'If my partner strayed, I'd leave him'. Then it happens and suddenly, things aren't so simple," Jo says.

You need to ask the following questions, Jo advises:

  • Is he remorseful?
  • Does he accept responsibility for what he's done?
  • Is he willing to commit to your relationship?
  • Will he cease contact with the other woman?
  • Will he support you through your pain by answering questions about his affair for some time?

If the answer is 'yes' to all of the questions above, consider the following:

  • Are you willing to recommit to the relationship?
  • Will you be able to stop asking questions about the affair after three to six months?
  • Are you happy to work on any problems in the relationship?
  • Can you resist the urge to throw the affair back at him during future fights?

Unfortunately, friends and family may not be the best support system at this time because they often have their own agendas. Instead, seek advice from a counsellor or support group.

Have you taken a risk on love by forgiving a partner who cheated? Tell us here

* Names have been changed

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