The signs I didn’t see

Brett’s affair lasted 3 years.  At the time that it started we had been together for 19 years, married for 10 and had 3 children aged 5, 3 and a new born only about 2 months old at the start of the affair.  He breaks the affair into distinct phases and the signs that I can now see in hindsight align with these phases and how he was feeling at the time.  This is all about hindsight - at the time I can honestly say I really had no idea. Phase 1 approx 4 months  – the “intense” part of the affair.  Brett was travelling weekly usually from Tuesday morning coming home Thursday night, therefore spending at least 2 nights with his affair partner each week as she lived in Sydney where he travelled to.  The signs I missed:

  • Our connection was low – I was so busy with the kids and health concerns after the birth that although I think a part of me noticed I was too tired to care;
  • He regularly bought me my favourite flowers on his way home from the airport on Thursday evening;
  • I used to collate his expense receipts into an excel spreadsheet for him to claim – he took the job back saying I wasn’t doing it fast enough (he didn’t want me to see all the meals for 2).  I was relieved as I was too busy to do it anyway;
  • He used to be open to swapping travel around to be part of family or community events but he started fighting me on this and I started not going or going alone more often;
  • I remember sensing an urgency in him to be back in Sydney and asking my friends at lunch one day how would you know if your husband was having an affair but never followed it through;
  • I wondered how I would find evidence and began searching his bag (he would leave it for me to unpack his dirty washing) for careless condoms - just wondering on a feeling not really thinking I would find any real evidence.  And I recall thinking I should leave the kids with his parents and surprise him in his hotel room but the logistics of doing this and taking a fully breast fed baby were too daunting to contemplate so I pushed the thought away.
  • I also opened up the discussion of affairs with Brett a couple of times that he remembers with clarity as fear surged through him - but never got past hypotheticals.
  • Sex had always dropped off for us in the 6 months following the births of all our children but was always back on track by the end of the first year – the birth of the third child was no different but there was no time while he was having the affair that we didn’t have sex.   I remember thinking it strange though that when we did have sex he only really wanted to be in a position where I couldn’t see his face.

Around the 4 month mark things had cooled considerably for Brett and he had actually made a mental decision to avoid her and not see her again.  He had planned out the whole of January to not have to go to Sydney and make a break from her.  It was at this time that she stalked him from Sydney to the seaside place where our family was having a holiday in Victoria and just happened to be sunbaking on the really quiet beach right near our holiday house (for her to be on that beach she must have looked up where the house was and gone there deliberately as it is far away from the main beach which you could pass off as a coincidence) when Brett took the girls down for a play. The sign I missed:

  • The girls came back and told me how they had seen someone from Daddy’s work on the beach and she had played with them.  I thought it strange that she had been there all alone and wondered who she was.  Brett was very vague with his answers.  He was rattled by the fact that she had been there at all. I let it go.

2 weeks later she kept hassling him about coming back to Sydney and when he said he wasn’t she told him over the phone that she was pregnant.  He made arrangements to get to Sydney as soon as he could. The sign I missed:

  • Brett rushing off to Sydney after telling me he was not travelling during January.

The next few months for Brett were hell.  She had made plans seemingly before Christmas and she was not going to be influenced by Brett and his opinion.  The signs I missed:

  • Looking back Brett was boiling with rage at her and himself for letting it happen and often he took it out on me.  A typical evening went like this: He would come home to a lovely meal and he would pick a fight with me and storm off to his shed his dinner uneaten.  I would watch tv and go to bed totally bewildered by what was going on.  He would creep into bed later so we didn’t talk.  When we did talk he would blame it on work stress.  I should have known it was something more.

Once Brett accepted his new reality, the next stage was what he saw as just providing her with support and trying to make up for his massive mistake.  For the next 14 months this was done while she stayed living in Sydney and we were still in Melbourne and then later moved to Brisbane.  The signs I missed:

  • Our relationship actually improved.  We started going out and having fun again and he even took me away on a conference to Hamilton Island with him.  We started looking differently at our future and made the decision to move to Brisbane.  Brett says he knew I would find out what he had done one day and he wanted me to be able to see he had been the best husband and father in the hope I would forgive him.
  • His travel schedule changed and he was only in Sydney every two to three weeks with Canberra and Brisbane on the other weeks.

The last 12 months of the affair became harder and harder for Brett as she followed us to Brisbane and for the first time they were living in the same city.  He had lost what little capacity he had to control when and how he would see her.  They were actually working in the same office.  After about 6 months of seeing her deceptively he decided that had to stop and so invited her to a bbq at our house.  From then on she would come over to our house a number of times a week to “hang out”, eat the meals I cooked and get me to look after her child while she worked. The signs I missed:

  • From the first time I met her it was fairly clear she had no friends in Brisbane and it had struck me as odd that a single mother had moved to a city where she had no support;
  • The first time she came to our house for the bbq she let herself in the back gate which is only used by people who know us well - everyone else that day had come in the front door and I remember thinking it strange.  I asked Brett if she had been to our house before and he said it was possible dropping something off for work or something;
  • She was very vague about the father of her child;
  • I saw and acknowledged evidence that she was in love with Brett and while I spoke to him about it (and he vehemently denied noticing) I did not put in place any additional measures to protect our marriage;
  • She was at times very proprietorial or had a kind of you owe me attitude towards Brett  – hard to put a finger on, things like one night we shared a babysitter and she didn't offer to pay her share, asking to borrow money or getting things bought for her when we were out and not paying it back or even offering - that I remember thinking was strange but I brushed it off.
  • I didn’t like her (there were a number of small incidents that made me feel she was taking advantage of me and I guess the uneasy feeling that she was infatuated/in love with my husband) and told Brett I didn’t want her coming around any more.  He gave me a sob story about her being lonely and he couldn’t ask her not to come.  He was very insistent that she still be welcome in our house.
  • She seemed to always be there – turning up at events (even BBQ’s with friends in parks) on the weekends that Brett claimed he hadn’t told her about. Always "popping in" at times when she knew I would be up at school or out and I would return home to find her there.
  • A dear friend of mine asked me if Brett could possibly be the child's father and I was adamant that Brett would never do anything like that.  I gave her the line that Brett was feeding me - that she was lonely and he was her only friend in Brisbane and he wanted to help her because he felt sorry for her.

Brett's plan to merge the two worlds failed as she still put pressure on him to spend time with her away from me.  It all came to a head not long after when Brett went to a conference and had a one night stand with someone there.  He came back and told her (not me) and she was angry and betrayed and stopped speaking to him.  Sign I missed:

  • after seemingly always being in our home she suddenly stopped.  After a few weeks I said to Brett that I noticed I hadn't seen her in a while that it was a relief she must have found some new friends.

Little did I know that my whole world was about to come crashing down and I didn't even see it coming.