"When my husband and I first hired *Maria as our helper, we thought that we had picked the best person for our children, and for our home.
Our 3 kids were super attached to her, and our not-so-friendly dog was warmed up to her too.
She was a great helper- patient, meticulous and hardworking. I never had to reprimand her or teach her things a second time. We even passed her a spare iPhone because we trusted and loved her like one of our own.
Looking back now, I should have known something was up the day I was in desperate need for a massage, and asked my husband to rub my back and shoulders.
He told me that Maria gave the best massages, and I asked him how he knew. I shrugged it off when he said that she had told him about it. I know I sound stupid for saying this but I trusted her and didn't think that she could ever try to seduce my husband of 17 years (who was 20 years her senior).
After a year working with us, I noticed she started soaking herself in perfume even when she was at home, doing her chores. And it usually only happened in the evenings (the time he would come home from work). They hardly spoke, but I would catch her secretly looking at him, and entering the kitchen to 'clean up' whenever he went in to get something.
I asked my husband if he had observed her unusual behaviour, but he brushed it off, telling me that I was looking too much into it. We didn't have much sex that year either, but I dismissed it as him being stressed at work (he had just gotten a promotion, and had his hip practically attached to his laptop).
One night, when he stepped into the shower, I did something that I told myself I'd never do - I checked his phone. It was just this instinctive feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me do it. And I thank God for giving me that moment of doubt. This was a life-changing moment for me.
At first, everything looked fine. His messages were from his colleagues, friends, boss and me. Though I felt relieved, there was still a lingering feeling of uneasiness. I took a deep breath and opened his photo gallery... and my jaw dropped!
To my horror, there were hundreds (and I am not exaggerating) of photos of Maria in lingerie, posing suggestively. MY LINGERIE! As I scrolled through the photos, it felt like multiple stabs to my heart. Telling myself to hold it all together, I reached out for my phone and snapped a few of these pictures as evidence (in case he were to delete them).
Filled with rage (the hurt had not set in yet), I stormed out of my room and barged into Maria's room to confront her with my husband's phone. She denied it at first, but was left speechless when I showed her the photos. She kept apologising but I didn't want apologies, I wanted to erase it all from my mind! I wanted her out of my house, away from my kids and I wanted the same from him too.
My husband soon came in and asked why I was yelling. I told him to get out of the house because I never wanted to see him again. Seeing his phone in my hand, he figured what had transpired, and told me to move into our room so we could talk.
I composed myself and started spewing out the endless stream of questions I wanted answered.
How long had this been going on for? How did they hook up? Where did they have sex? Were the kids aware of this? Did he use protection? Why did he not think of me and our kids?
He admitted to it (of course he had to), giving the lamest excuse in the books. Due to my late nights at work, he took comfort in *Maria because she would stay up late to listen to him, and comfort him whenever he had a rotten day at work.
He blamed me for not sexually satisfying him. To add more salt to my wounded heart, he had the nerve to tell me that she was willing to satisfy him whenever he wanted, in whatever way he wanted. How sick of a man and father could he be?
I was hurt, needless to say. I felt betrayed and humiliated. How could the man that I loved for the past 17 years say this? I couldn't recognise him anymore. How did he turn into this dirty little monster? I told him I wanted a divorce, and to my surprise, he said he had been thinking about it for the past few months himself.
I packed my stuff and told our kids that we would be heading to their grandma's place to stay for the night. I was not ready to explain the details, nor did I want them to hate their father. This was between him and me. I simply told them that grandma was missing them, and we should visit.
When we got there, I told my mum everything. I cried like I had never cried before. She was supportive and gave me the best advice.
"Do what is right for you and the kids. This is not the time to think about him. He did what he wanted to, and never thought about what his actions would do to his loving family. He broke you. And your home. So now you have to pick yourself up and fix it."
I focused on those precious words and got a hold of myself- for my children. They needed their mother, strong and functional. They didn't deserve this.
A week later, I informed them of my decision to divorce (they were 10, 12 and 16 at that time), but I never told them the real reason. I said that mummy and daddy had differences that we could not solve decided that going our separate ways was best.
At first, they questioned if we could just try and be a family, but soon asked nothing more when I told them that I would tell them the details when they got older.
It's been 4 years since my now ex-husband shattered all our dreams. Our plans to build a family, to travel the world, to give our kids everything they asked for. But I have no regrets. Zilch. Because I know had I stayed, I would have been leading an insecure life, even if I had forgiven him for that one incident.
*Maria left our home that night itself. I sent her back to the agency, and all I got was an apology with the reason that she was lonely and he was "a kind-hearted man". My husband begged me to stay, tried to get my parents to convince me to take him back, but after digging up even more from our mutual friends, I found out that *Maria was not the only one he was intimate with.
My kids now know what happened that night that led to the divorce. They live with me and my parents, and see their father on the weekends. I choose not to restrict their time with him as I feel that they're old enough to make their own decisions. I am not seeing anyone at the moment, and I'm not sure if I ever will. But I do know that my kids are all that I need in my life now.
I continue working hard to support my family, and we are doing great without him. We make it a point to spend dinner time together, sharing stories of our day, and we do normal things that normal families do. We are each other's pillars and nothing can break the bond I have with my children.
To the women who have been through a similar horrific incident in their lives, moving on was the best thing you did - for you and for your kids. Good riddance, I say!"
*All names in this story have been changed to protect the identity of those involved