A few years ago, my housemate, who I’ll call Kaya, confessed to me that she was having an affair with a married man I’ll call Phil. When I first heard about it, I didn’t really know what to think. More than anything I was a little intrigued about the details and Kaya quickly filled me in.
Phil was a friend of a friend who Kaya had met at a party. She knew he was married as she had met his wife at that same party — and at first thought nothing more about him. Kaya didn’t see Phil again for six months, but then they met at another friend’s party by chance. One his wife wasn’t at. The chemistry was intoxicating.
They arranged to meet for a “friendly” drink a few days later, and the same chemistry tantalised Kaya all night. She was 36 at this point, had had a lot of relationships before, and described this as being a connection like no other she’d experienced. Still, she knew he was married and knew it was wrong to start an affair. They called it a night and didn’t speak for several months.
In that time, Kaya thought about Phil constantly, obsessively even. So when he sent her a message out of the blue one day, she no longer felt capable of denying the inevitable. After another evening of intense conversation, they went to a hotel together.
For the next few months, Phil would tell his wife that he was going to football matches, out with his mates, or that he had to stay late at the office to continue seeing Kaya in snatched opportunities.
Kaya justified this by telling me that Phil’s marriage was an extremely unhappy one: him and his wife slept in separate bedrooms, hadn’t been intimate in years and could barely stand to be in the same room as one another (Phil’s version of the story, of course). I had to ask — “So why are they still together?” and Kaya replied, “For two reasons — he doesn’t want to live away from his daughters and he can’t afford to start again right now.”
They continued the affair for two years and I became one of the few people that Kaya could talk to openly about it. I didn’t judge her for having an affair. Maybe you will. But I thought that it was her life, her choice and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. I doubted that he would ever leave his wife and worried that my housemate would end up heartbroken.
But two years later, Phil did actually leave his wife. I couldn’t believe it. He was officially starting a relationship with Kaya. They were going to move in together. He was going to meet all of her family. She was going to be introduced to his daughters.
All of this time, I had left my value judgments out of the conversations that Kaya and I had had, until one day she made a comment that was just too much. By this point, she had been officially living with Phil for six months. Even though Phil’s marriage had been unhappy, his wife was still devastated when he told her that he was leaving, wanted a divorce, and worse, that he was moving in with another woman. The wife wanted to try and save the marriage, for them to go to counselling, but he flat out refused. Phil complained to Kaya that his wife was making things complicated: she didn’t want to sign the divorce papers, she kept calling him in tears, said she was depressed. And this is what Kaya said to me: “I wish she’d just hurry up and get over it. It isn’t fair to make him feel guilty like this.”
I was gobsmacked. I paused for a while and then let it out: “How can you say that? You and Phil have been planning your lives together for almost three years, all the while deceiving his wife. If you’d have told her three years ago, she might have been ‘over it’ by now. But you denied her that choice. No wonder she’s devastated.”
Kaya stayed pretty quiet after that and before long we stopped seeing each other so much as our lives diverged and we no longer lived together.
Sometimes I look back and wonder if I should have done something differently — confronted Kaya sooner, found the wife’s contact details and told her the truth, taken photo evidence. But I didn’t. I didn’t think it was any of my business. What would I have wanted if I had been Phil’s wife? Definitely not to have wasted three years thinking that I was in a marriage that my husband had already checked out of, but to have been confronted by a stranger with the truth of his football matches? I’m not sure I would have believed a stranger, even with photos.
What would you have done?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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