*Jessica, 42, left her husband of 12 years in 2021 after falling in love with *Sarah, another woman. She had never had a same-sex relationship before. Jessica has two children from her marriage and now hopes to have a child with Sarah.
I remember the first time I saw *Sarah. It felt as though, for a moment, everything had stopped. She was standing at the bar with a group of colleagues from my office, tipping her head back laughing. I went over and we immediately started chatting. We both kept interrupting each other and then laughing. We spent the whole evening talking, mostly about people we both knew.
Sarah had worked in the same department as me but left a year or so before I joined so I knew her name but had never met her until that evening. I remember her touching my arm to help steer me to the right table and it was literally as though an electric current had passed through me. Our eyes met for a moment and then I looked away.
At first, I thought I must just really like her and want to be her friend. I’d never been sexually attracted to a woman before and didn’t even know what it felt like. I’d been married to *Ted for 12 years and with him for 18 years since meeting at university. We had two young children and life was busy. I’d never for a moment thought I was the sort of person to have an affair and if anyone had asked, I would have said I was happily married.
Excitement and anticipation
Sarah and I had swapped numbers that night and she messaged me the next day. 'On a scale of 1-10, how hungover are you feeling today?!' she had texted. We arranged to meet for coffee the following week. I was so nervous and excited about it and remember trying on about three different dresses before I could decide on one I liked. Sarah is six years younger than me and I wanted to make a good impression.
I remember sitting down and smiling as she leaned over to touch my new scarf. As we talked, we discovered how much we had in common. We both loved going to the theatre, had both ridden horses when we were younger and both loved the same reality TV show.
When Sarah* leaned over to kiss me one night after we had been to watch a film, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Over the following months, we met up once a week or so and got into the habit of texting each other most days. Nothing about it ever felt wrong and, in some ways, it felt as though Sarah had always been part of my life. Ted just thought I’d made a new friend and, for those first few months, I tried to convince myself that was all it was too.
Apart from kissing a childhood friend in my early teens when we were practising how to kiss boys, I had never had any gay experiences at all. Sarah mentioned, quite early on, that she was bisexual and I knew she was dating on and off but I never really asked her much about it as I didn’t want to pry.
When Sarah leaned over to kiss me one night after we had been to watch a film, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. That was in September and we’d first met in the June. I went over to her flat a week or so later and I knew, after spending the night with her, I would have to leave Ted.
Breaking the news
The next six months or so were really difficult. Ted was devastated when I told him I wanted a divorce and none of my family and friends could accept that I was serious about Sarah. 'It’s just a silly phase, a crush,' one said. 'It’s not worth leaving your marriage for.' Another couldn’t accept the fact that I had never known I was gay. 'How do you even know you really are?' she kept saying.
Ted* was devastated when I told him I wanted a divorce and none of my family and friends could accept that I was serious about Sarah*.
Ted eventually accepted that our marriage was over after I kept repeatedly telling him I wasn’t going back but seeing how heartbroken he was made me feel like an awful person. I moved into Sarah’s flat but, for the sake of the children, we agreed that they would stay in the family home during the week while Sarah and I looked for a bigger house.
The children were five and seven at the time and it felt terrible leaving them but I would go round first thing to take them to school and pick them up a few days a week from the after-school club. I just wanted to minimise the disruption to them as much as possible.
Now, over a year on, life has resumed some sense of normality and Ted, while still hurt, has accepted that Sarah is my life partner. The children have been great and taken it all in their stride although it was such a wrench for all of us when I moved out of the family home.
With some savings and a bit of help from our parents, Sarah and I bought and moved into a new house last year and we have never been happier. The children divide their time between Ted and I, and usually spend four nights a week with us.
If anyone had told me I would ever leave my husband for a woman before I met Sarah, I would never have believed them.
Sarah is brilliant with them and would like us to have our own child too, to complete our family. I thought I was done with all of that. It took me a little while to get used to the idea but we are now looking at options and Sarah would like to carry the baby. The kids love the idea of having a little brother or sister and we have had a few colourful conversations about sperm donors and how babies can be made in lots of different ways.
If anyone would have told me I would ever leave my husband for a woman before I met Sarah, I would never have believed them. Ted and I were the typical 2.4 suburban sort of family and my feelings for Sarah took me by complete surprise. I am grateful to Ted for giving me our children and for accepting Sarah into all of our lives.
I have learned that, with the right person, life can change in an instant and that love is love, regardless of someone’s gender.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.