'He had a whole other family.' (Getty)
Jennifer was married to Mark for five years. They seemed like the ‘perfect’ family with their twin girls and a very comfortable lifestyle. But Jennifer's world was turned upside down when she realized Mark had been living a second life.
"I knew before I married Mark that he traveled a lot for work so it’s something I always accepted. There were a couple of years when our twin girls were born that he spent most of his time at home but when they were four, he got a new job and started to travel more and more – mostly to London, sometimes to South Africa. Or so he said," Jennifer said.
"I thought our marriage was good. Mark was very supportive of me, he always praised me, told me what a great mother I am, and when I started my own business from home, writing content for websites and some logo design, he was great. So I felt very supported emotionally and financially."
But Jennifer's life was turned upside down when Mark returned from an overseas trip and went to bed early. He'd left his luggage on a table and Jennifer decided to put some of his clothes in the wash.
"So, I went through his luggage and that’s when I found, stuffed amongst his clothes and toiletries, a small photo frame with a picture of a woman in her mid-30s with a boy aged around 18 months. What did I think when I saw this? I thought, at first, maybe he picked the wrong luggage off the bag carousel at the airport," Jennifer said.
"But when I checked the rest of this stuff, I could see they were all his clothes and toiletries. My gut told me something was off so I spent the night on the sofa and in the morning I waited until after I’d taken the girls to school. It was over the breakfast table I confronted him, I held up the photo frame with the picture of the woman and boy and said, ‘Who are they and why was this in your suitcase?”
'He got a new job and started to travel more and more.' (Getty)
"He looked at me for a few seconds without speaking then he just put his face in his hands and said, “I’m so sorry. I knew you’d find out one day, I’ve been dreading this moment.”
Jennifer was horrified as Mark explained that he had an affair with the woman in the photo, she fell pregnant and now he has a son called Max.
"I couldn’t stop crying, I said, “How could you do this to me and the girls?” He told me he never stopped loving me, he just got himself in a situation he couldn’t get himself out of."
But then he dropped another bombshell. I assumed that his second family must live overseas, after all, Mark was constantly traveling overseas – or so I thought.
It was his second confession that made me realize I need to leave him as soon as possible – he told me Max and his mother live just six miles away from us!
Looking back, Jennifer says things make sense; she would often see letters addressed to Mark but with an address in another suburb.
"He had left a paper trail in our house! I asked him about this and he said something about a post office address to make things easier for work but I don’t recall ever seeing a post office box number, it was always the address of an apartment," Jennifer said.
"I went a bit crazy, I kicked him out of the house, knowing that he would go straight to his other family. So all those times I would kiss him goodbye when he went to the airport for his overseas meetings, he was just using those work travel trips as an excuse to move into his second family’s house! Also, he insisted that his other partnerknew about me and the girls, but I call BS on that – I cannot imagine any woman being OK with her partner having a second family."
'I have a lot of healing to do.' (Getty)
Jennifer said, at this stage, she has no plans to meet "the other family" but she does want her daughters to meet their half brother someday.
"I have a lot of healing to do. We are legally divorced now and he has told me he is still with his other partner. Luckily, our girls are used to their dad being a ‘part-time’ father because the only way I can explain this to them at their age is that Daddy is away for work. It’s not like I can explain to my four-year-olds why their father doesn’t live with us, it’s difficult enough to explain to all my family and friends."
Family lawyer Marie Fedorov said it's important to grieve the loss of a relationship and seek help when you need it, as it's the emotional scars that will linger.
Emotionally disentangling yourself from another person is never easy and you can’t move on from your relationship instantly. You are letting go of a part of your life and your family and it’s going to take time to readjust," Marie said.
"Venting to people close to you can be helpful or you may also consider seeing a therapist. If speaking about it to someone you know seems too daunting, call a Relationship Counsellor as they are trained professionals who are willing to listen to you and help you through the emotional rollercoaster."