A woman has opened up about the shocking way in which she discovered that her husband of five years had not only cheated on her with a mutual friend the night before they got married but fathered a child as a result.
The anonymous woman shared her lengthy tale in a Reddit post (which has since been deleted) in hopes of gaining some advice on her predicament, explaining that she still loves her husband but doesn't know what to do.
"I (28F) have been with my husband 'Josh' (29M) for almost nine years, married for five," she wrote.
She met Josh through a Christian society at university and the pair dated for a year then broke up, got back together, got engaged and married before they turned 21.
The woman, who is training to be a vicar, went on to say how she's always been 'proud' to be a part of such a 'strong Christian couple'.
"I've felt as though we were role models. We waited til we got married, [Josh] has supported my career, I have had such huge respect for him as this loving man with whom I had an equal relationship.
"I thought we had a perfect life."
Their 'perfect' life came crashing down a few weeks before the woman's Reddit post when she and her husband unexpectedly came across an old friend while out on a walk.
'Alice,' as the woman called her, started attending the church she worked for just before Josh proposed. Alice, now 27, was 'lonely' so the woman welcomed her into the church social circle and took her out for coffee.
"We were friends. Not super close friends but friends," the woman wrote.
Before long, she noticed a connection between Alice and Josh who had taken to 'buddying up' after church events to do the washing up in the kitchen just metres away from her office.
"I talked to a separate friend about it and we prayed together about my insecurities. We agreed that Josh would never cheat and that Alice was a nice girl," she wrote.
The woman recalled teasing her husband about Alice having a crush on him, but he shut down the suggestion and scolded her for gossiping.
She would later find out that Josh had delayed proposing to her because, on his way to hide the ring at the proposal spot, he'd bumped into Alice who was upset about a family matter. He stayed to comfort her.
Groom's 'freak out'
When it came to their wedding, Alice wasn't given an invite and Josh 'didn't press' his future wife's decision.
The night before they were set to say 'I do,' Josh, who was staying with his groomsmen, 'had a freak out' and disappeared for 12 hours.
"He didn't show up again until less than an hour before our wedding. His family were all freaking out but they completely hid it from me.
"I didn't know a thing about it until the next day. And even then Josh downplayed it and said he'd just been feeling the pressure and the hyperactivity of his groomsmen and he just really needed some peace."
The woman said Josh told her that he'd slept the night in his car and accidentally drained the battery so had had to get a taxi to the church where his parents were waiting with his wedding suit.
"On our honeymoon, he admitted that it had all just got overwhelming and that he was very sorry. It didn't feel like a huge thing to just forgive him," the woman added.
That's until they ran into Alice in the park.
"She seriously looked as if she'd seen a ghost. I had basically forgotten about how she used to make me feel insecure so I said hi but Josh looked really uncomfortable too.
"[Alice] had a little boy with her. And I looked at him and it was just...obvious."
The boy, it turns out, was born nine months to the day after their wedding.
'Old enough to know better'
Instead of Josh's 'first time' being with his wife on their wedding night, it was with Alice the previous night. He explained that he'd driven straight to her house after leaving his groomsmen.
"He was 24. She was 22. Both old enough to know better. It was her first time and his and he said that she just opened the door and 'events escalated rapidly'. I don't really want to know any more.
"He said that no, they didn't use protection because they weren't thinking and because they hadn't premeditated it.
"He said that he had been fighting it for months. He said that he had held her once while she was crying in the park. And that he kept telling himself that he only cared about her as a friend but that it got harder and harder."
On the morning of the wedding, Josh said he was 'still freaking out' but neither he nor Alice wanted him to abandon the life he had planned with his future wife.
After their tryst, Alice reportedly cut off all contact with Josh 'to help them both get over their feelings'. The newlyweds never mentioned her and got on with married life.
"We've been happy I think but now I'm questioning everything.
"I actually think that if he'd been having an affair with her, I would find this easier. But he wasn't."
Now he knows he's a father, Josh wants to be in his son's life but Alice is hesitant after keeping the boy a secret for so many years.
"[Alice] has explained that she made the choice to keep the baby because of her religious beliefs and that she made the choice to keep his existence to herself because of her remorse at sleeping with someone who was as good as married.
"She says that she and the little one are happy together as a unit and doesn't want to confuse the child."
The woman says that she and Josh were going to try for a baby later this year.
Picking up the pieces
Josh insists he still loves his wife and doesn't want to leave but the woman doesn't appear convinced.
"It's like my life has crashed down and my husband suddenly has this soulmate and it's not me. How can he still be drawn to her when he barely knows her?
"They had one night and a lot of moony eyes - we've been living together for five years, how does that not compete?"
While she is angry at Alice, the woman knows that Josh is just as responsible for the affair.
"I am not some idiot who puts all the blame on the girl - Josh is the one who lied to me.
"But I don't want our marriage to be over - nine years is a third of my life. I love him. The life I have with him is the life I want. I don't want this to be over."
The woman said she'd been praying for guidance but is still unsure about what to do and battling feelings of shame.
"I am really ashamed of myself for how embarrassed I feel - as if it's a failure in my 'personal brand'. That I'm not as good a Christian as I thought I was," she explained.
There was no shortage of advice from fellow Reddit users, some who urged the woman to leave while others encouraged her to rebuild her life with Josh.
"I mean, this is a huge betrayal, not just of you, but your marriage and your ideals and religion. It wouldn't hurt to try counselling for this if you want, but I honestly don't know how I'd come back from this and continue building a life with this man," wrote one int he comments section.
"Some people think all cheating is equally bad and to an extent I agree, but I have to say that cheating right before your wedding, having unprotected sex when cheating and having a secret love child for years as result of your cheating definitely feels like a step above other kinds of cheating. Especially when one subscribes to Christian moral beliefs," added another.
"I think it’s important to mention (and I very much liked this answer) that people can come back together to rebuild a relationship, but fundamentally it will be a different relationship from before and that Josh has to own up to what he’s done," wrote a third.
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