Many women joke about their husbands running off with a nanny, help or assistant but for some it becomes a heart-breaking reality.
So what does it feel like to be betrayed by the man you married with a woman living under your own roof? And what kind of man behaves in such a despicable way? Here, in a startling account, a scorned wife shares her despair, while her husband confesses to the claims/
Abigail Shepherd, 38, is a project co-ordinator and mother-of-two from Farnham, Surrey. She says:
For the first time in my married life, I stretched my arm out to feel an empty space next to me in bed. It made me shiver. First came a deep pang of sadness, followed by a sudden burst of anger.
Just days earlier, Ben had left me for another woman. And not just any woman, but our nanny of 15 months, who was 23.
And, worse still, I knew he was, at that moment, ensconced with her in her room just across the landing.
Yes, he'd moved a few feet from our room to hers. You might think the fact I allowed such a thing to happen was the most surprising thing of all. But we have two young children - Joseph, six, and Grace, four - and the last thing I wanted was to cause a scene.
Your husband leaving you for the nanny is the kind of cliche you think will never happen to you. Even though I'd long had doubts about our relationship, I never thought Ben was the type to stray or betray me.
When we first met 20 years ago - I was 18 and Ben 20 - it had been Ben who chased me. It was three months before I agreed to go on a date with him. It was our shared love of music and gigs that brought us together.
Within six months we were living together; a year later Ben proposed; and the year after that we were married and had bought our first home.
We went on to have children: our son in October 2008 and our daughter two years later. But I must admit there were nagging doubts: I never had an overwhelming attraction to him. Although I loved him, I was never in love with him. I craved affection - but not from him.
In August 2013, shortly after we had a holiday without the children in Prague, I advertised for a live-in au pair on the small ads website Gumtree. Ben and I were both working hard - me as a project co-ordinator, he as an IT manager - and, ironically, we thought a live-in nanny would help us spend more time together.
Anna, a New Zealander, applied with a lovely email in which she explained that she was 21, a trained dancer and eager for an opportunity to live in England.
We interviewed her over Skype and she arrived at our five-bedroom home a month later.
She wasn't the stereotypical blonde au pair who makes most wives nervous. She was slim and quite ordinary looking, with long red hair which she usually wore in plaits.
Most importantly, she was fabulous with our children. She taught my daughter ballet steps and would plait her hair before school.
She and Ben shared an interest in music and went to gigs together, which I didn't mind. If anything, it took the pressure off me - ever since having the children I had been far too tired to stay up all night dancing.
The first hint they were more than friends came last December when all five of us took a day trip to Belgium and, suddenly, I felt like the outsider.
I noticed a look from Ben to her as they sat in the front of the car that seemed loaded with affection. I was in the back, with one sleeping child each side of me. I sobbed silently.
My instincts were right. The very next morning Ben ended our marriage - by text message.
Back home, I'd awoken to find the house empty. Ben had taken the children out. I couldn't believe it when I read his message: 'I don't love you any more, I don't think you love me either. I think we should end our marriage.'
Stunned, I re-read it several times, thinking it was a mistake. Then I texted back: 'Is there someone else?'
His reply almost floored me. He said he was in love with Anna.
I was furious. Yes, I'd had my doubts about our marriage, but Ben was still my husband - we'd been together nearly 20 years. And I had thought of Anna as a friend. The sting of rejection felt physically painful.
I kept texting Ben, pleading with him not to do this, but he seemed resolute. I went to meet him and the children at the craft shop where they were buying Christmas decorations.
We shared a sad, knowing embrace in the car park - that might sound weird but it was a sort of acknowledgement of an ending and all that had gone before. Bear in mind, I was still in shock at that point.
Ironically, after years of recoiling when Ben offered me affection, suddenly I needed to feel his arms around me. But we didn't get the chance to talk until the children were in bed that night.
I was in denial and shock - and mindful of not causing a scene when the children were in the house. So when Ben suggested I stay with my parents nearby for a few days, I agreed. My parents had known for a while I'd been unhappy.
As I packed my bag, Anna came home - she'd made herself scarce during the day - and I followed her to her room. Again, I couldn't shout because of the kids, but she sat quietly on her bed wearing a look of shame as I hissed questions at her. How long had it been going on? Had they kissed or had sex?
I pushed them each for answers but they were adamant they hadn't shared their first kiss until two days before when I'd gone to bed early. And I believe them: why lie when there was nothing left to lose?
Two days later, I moved back into our house. Why should I be the one to be separated from my children?
By this point, I'd realised that part of me was relieved our marriage had ended. I was feeling stronger, more stoical. I told Ben I'd be keeping our bedroom and suggested he sleep on a camp bed in his office in the house.
Instead, he brazenly moved into Anna's room the same evening and confessed they'd slept together in her bed when I'd left on the Sunday.
I was disgusted. Still, somehow, I managed to remain calm.
We didn't explain to the children what was happening for another four weeks - until Ben and I had worked out that I would move out and he'd stay in our family home.
As for them noticing the unusual sleeping arrangements, Ben would get up before the children each morning and go into the bathroom so that they didn't see him leaving Anna's room.
We did that for four months before I found a new flat five minutes away. I didn't want to stay in the house with all the memories there.
The children are too young to make much of it all and seemed content that they would have a new bedroom they could help me decorate, and that we were going to buy them a kitten to keep at my place.
Why didn't I sack Anna and throw her out? Perhaps I've been extraordinarily charitable towards the pair of them, but the simple fact is that I like her and she's been part of my children's lives for two years.
I know they adore her and she them. If she disappeared it would mean more upheaval for them.
And In many ways it's easier that Ben fell for our nanny rather than, say, a work colleague I'd never met. At least I know Anna is terrific with my children.
Don't get me wrong, there have been moments I've felt like cutting up Ben's clothes, and others where I've cried sentimentally over pieces of jewellery he bought me during our marriage.
Many nights I've fallen into bed feeling lonely and resentful that they'll be snuggled up on the sofa he and I chose together. Not because I want him - I don't - but because I want someone special, too.
I have been on a few dates and I would absolutely love to find a special relationship of my own. At 38, I won't settle this time: I want butterflies and burning desire, all the things I never felt with Ben. The way I see it, Anna wasn't the reason we broke up: she was merely the catalyst.
Perhaps this, coupled with a desire to make this as seamless for the children as possible, is why we've all managed to remain so civil.
Despite it all, I wish them well.
Husband Ben says:
I know people will assume that, at 40, I've had some sort of mid-life crisis. But my feelings for Anna are anything but frivolous. And I didn't do this lightly. Our marriage was breaking down, and falling in love with Anna just speeded things up.
I don't feel guilty because I didn't go out looking for love. And it certainly hasn't been easy. I've worried about absolutely everything and the impact it will have - not just on the children, but also Abi and Anna. The person I was least worried about was me.
People may well wonder why I'm putting my head above the parapet like this, but, if I'm honest, it's cathartic.
Everyone tells Abi and me that they are amazed at how calmly we are dealing with the situation.
Abi has been extraordinarily generous in her understanding and I know she could have reacted so differently.
It's true I was the one who chased Abi. She was singing in a local band the night we met. I thought she was gorgeous.
Looking back, I think there was always an imbalance in our affections. In our 20s, it wasn't as noticeable: you don't think about those things when you're having fun. But these sorts of cracks are amplified as you get older and have children.
It was very obvious in the past few years, since we had our daughter, that Abi's heart wasn't in it when we had sex. It was more frustrating than hurtful. We bumbled along fine as friends but we didn't connect any more as a couple.
I was fairly logical about the whole situation and even wrote a pros and cons spreadsheet last August when I was first considering suggesting we went our separate ways.
As for Anna, I liked her from the moment we met, but I didn't find her attractive. In fact, I thought she was geeky. But we'd often stay up late listening to old vinyl records. In hindsight, I enjoyed having the company and sharing my enthusiasms with someone again.
As Abi and I started bickering constantly - over our finances and her unwillingness to help with the domestic chores - I felt the need to confide in someone.
Like most people in that situation, I turned to the person I saw most often. The fact I work from home meant that was Anna.
It didn't feel disloyal because Anna had been privy to the atmosphere between us. She remained entirely neutral: I just wanted to offload. By May 2014, I was seriously doubting my marriage. The arguments were non-stop and I was worrying about the effect on the children.
Last October, Anna told me she was thinking of moving out to give Abi and me space to resolve our differences. I was overcome by an unexpected feeling of sadness. I knew it wasn't normal to feel like that about my children's nanny.
Thoughts of Anna began to consume me: how happy and at ease I felt in her company, how much fun we had together and, yes, how wonderful she was with the children.
Did I want to be with her or was this just a reaction to feeling unhappy with Abi? I wasn't sure. I felt stuck, and didn't want to hurt anyone.
As my feelings for Anna intensified, I came up with what I thought was a plan to resolve the situation: I'd tell her I was falling in love with her, she would laugh at me, or possibly slap my face and tell me I was a sad, middle-aged man - and that would be an end to it.
I would have to lick my wounds and move on. I felt that would be the preferable outcome, because anything else would complicate matters hugely.
But it backfired monumentally. Home alone with Anna last November, I went to her room and told her how I felt. I don't remember my exact words, but she became tearful and said she had feelings for me, too.
Far from feeling elated, it put me in a blind panic because I knew this meant we were now in an impossible situation.
We'd had no physical contact and spent the next few weeks talking about our feelings, how confused we were. Was this just an infatuation? Neither of us wanted to hurt Abi or the children.
Last December, the night before all five of us went on a holiday to Bruges, we shared our first kiss. The feelings were so powerful that I knew I wanted something to happen between us - but not behind Abi's back.
I had discussed with Anna what I was going to do. Delaying the inevitable any longer would have made matters much worse.
I know it was cowardly to end my marriage by text. I panicked and handled it badly.
Abi was incredibly upset, and for the first time I could understand why sometimes people go and throw themselves under trains.
It would have been easier not to have to deal with any of it. There was no way to end the marriage and start a relationship with Anna and avoid anyone being hurt.
I worried about explaining the situation to the children, too.
I can't deny that it was weird at times sleeping in bed with Anna under the same roof as Abi. But I didn't feel guilty. The children did notice - one of them ran into Anna's room one morning to get me up to fix a toy - but they seemed unperturbed by the scenario.
In a way, the children would have thought it worse if I'd been sleeping on the floor in the office. And if either Abi, Anna or I had moved out at that point, it would have made things more difficult.
As for Anna, I know she was worried that people would see her as a scarlet woman who'd moved in and wrecked a marriage. One of my friends reacted badly to the situation when we told people what was going on.
But she's not to blame - and nor is anyone else.
Culled from Daily Mail