“I was perched on a bleacher in New York, sharing a hotdog with a handsome colleague. Our eyes were locked on the baseball game in front of us, and as we each took a bite from either end of the hotdog, our noses touched briefly. I could see in his eyes he’d felt something, too. Even though we never really got together, my relationship with this man almost ended my marriage.
My office distraction
It was 2003. I was 28, and was in New York to meet my company’s affiliates. When Andreas* walked into my hotel lobby to give me a ride to the office, I thought he was too good-looking to be real. He was 33, and had a boyish face, but possessed the confidence of an older man. He was tall, with dark hair and piercing blue eyes. Even the way he uttered my boring name sent my heart aflutter. Andreas was Greek and his accented English was intoxicating. I reminded myself I was a married woman who was here for work – and only work. Once I snapped out of my twitterpated state, the small talk during our 90-minute drive to the office was easygoing. I let my guard down as he seemed like a pretty decent guy.
Mixing business with pleasure
Every day, Andreas would pick me up at the hotel and drive me to the office, and after a full day of meetings, would drive me back to my hotel. During these car rides, we chatted about everything. It was so easy to talk to him. He empathised when I told him of my troubles with my husband David*, 31, who disliked the long hours I worked, even though he worked even longer hours. And he laughed at my anecdotes of my four-year-old son Lucas*. I learnt that he was married, and that his wife, who was in Athens, would join him in New York the following year.
My American colleagues teased me, saying Andreas ‘only had eyes for me’. I hoped I didn’t show I was infatuated, too. I decided then that working lunches were fine, but politely declined to have dinner and drinks alone with him after work – it would be too much temptation.
I was slated to be in New York for 10 days, and Andreas offered to be my tour guide over the weekend. What started as him offering his arm as we walked, turned into us holding hands by the end of the day.
I’d been with my husband since I was 18 and was never an outrageous flirt, but here I was, giggling with Andreas. Our banter was playful, romantic and sexy. I felt like I was in an episode of Sex And The City, without the sex.
Andreas made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He would ask waiters if they’d ever seen anyone as pretty as me. But I told myself it was just in his culture to be that expressive, chivalrous and complimentary.
As the day progressed, I decided to block out the voice in my head that kept telling me this was wrong. I told myself I’d been neglected as a woman for so long, I should let myself be loved, just for today. No one would know.
We spent the next few days shopping and sightseeing. Andreas was just the opposite of David, who would never go shopping with me.
Show me a little love
In the span of a year, I would visit New York another three times, and every trip would last for about two weeks. Each time, I would get butterflies in my stomach with anticipation by the time the pilot announced we were beginning our descent to JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport).
In between work and meetings, Andreas would wine and dine me. We strolled along the beaches in the evenings, and he took me to Providence and Long Island, the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Although we never went further than holding hands, we both knew we were more than just colleagues or friends. We spent hours cuddled up on a blanket in a park or on the beach, talking. We felt like we were soulmates. When I was back in Singapore, we talked on the phone and chatted via instant messaging.
We never exchanged sexy pictures, never had sex and never talked dirty. We didn’t speak about leaving our spouses for each other. Perhaps that should have indicated to me where my heart really was.
The beginning of the end
My last trip to New York was in 2004. Andreas drove us up to Boston to show me his alma mater. While strolling the grounds, he leaned in to kiss me. It was a kiss I would remember for a long time. It would be the only kiss we would ever share.
When I returned to Singapore, I locked myself in my bathroom, giggling like a schoolgirl on a call with Andreas. I thought I was alone at home. But as luck would have it, David had come home early and was hovering outside the bathroom door. I don’t know how long he stood there, or how much it must have hurt him to listen to my enamoured chatter. I only realised my relationship with Andreas was no longer a secret when I heard the front door slam shut. David had stormed out.
I had never been so scared. My first thought was that David would take Lucas away from me. I waited five hours for my husband to come home. He was still fuming when he walked in. We argued and cried all night and the next day; neither of us went to work. He was crushed that I’d been with another man. I told him repeatedly that we hadn’t slept together, and that we had only kissed once. He was devastated that I had shared my laughter, dreams, and daily grievances and joys with another man, and said he wanted a divorce.
I went from pleading for his forgiveness to blaming him – for leaving me alone, for not being affectionate enough, and for working long hours. He threw it back at me saying he felt lonely because we hardly ever made love anymore.
Over the next two weeks, we barely spoke to each other.
Saving my marriage
I half-expected David to serve me with divorce papers, but they never came. I did some soul-searching and the answer came quickly: I loved David and Lucas, and I wanted to save my marriage and my family. Despite the fun I’d been having in New York, I realised I wasn’t happy with the long and stressful working hours. I also realised I had missed out on Lucas’ first four years of life, and that my family needed me to be a mum and a wife. I took the first big step to save my marriage – I quit my job.
The day I resigned, and after a month of silence at home, I quietly went up to David to apologise again. I told him I loved him – I wanted to be with him and no one else. I also said that I wanted our marriage to work and vowed to do anything it took. To my surprise, David said he would give me another chance.
Working hard for my honey
We laid down the ground rules – we were not to judge, blame or bring up any baggage. And if things got too heated, we would call a timeout. We also promised to never go to bed angry with each other. Then we started talking. Our long, honest heart-to-heart talks about what we wanted from each other and why we were together in the first place made us realise that we both had to shoulder the blame for the rut our marriage was in.
We have since made big changes in our lives and the way we relate to one another. I always make it a point to tell David who I’m going out with and where we are headed. It’s not really reporting, but we both feel it’s best that I tell him, rather than he finding out from someone else later. That would be a catalyst for worry and suspicion.
I also became less of an alpha female. I leave the big decisions to David and support them. If I disagree, we will discuss it. But ultimately, I let him, the head of our household, have the final say.
Falling in love again
David shows that he appreciates the effort I have put into making our marriage work.
He started asking me out on a date once a week and would hold my hand, hold open doors and pull out chairs for me. He tells me he appreciates that I make an effort to look good for him.
I don’t know when it happened, but David and I fell in love and lust with each other again – even more than when we first got married. We cuddle, hug, kiss and hold hands unabashedly. David now pays so much attention to me, our relatives often joke: ‘Oh, get a room!’
It’s been 13 years since my almost-affair. And even though David still flinches every time someone suggests a trip to the US or even Greece, I believe he knows I am committed to our marriage. I no longer think of Andreas. But when I think back, it feels like something that happened a lifetime ago, to a different person.”
This article was originally published in Simply Her June 2012.