Hilary Boyd: The issues made my marriage stronger

Wedding day: Hilary and Don Boyd married in 1973

Wedding day: Hilary and Don Boyd married in 1973

Wedding day: Hilary and Don Boyd married in 1973

One night, when I had just left the bathroom, Don, my then 22-year-old husband, appeared in the bedroom. "We have to talk," he said. My stomach turned into water.

& # 39; I have fallen in love & # 39 ;, announced.

I felt sick from the shock as he explained to me. He had met her recently, on a work trip abroad. But she was in London now and he wanted to be with her. He was in love: a coup de foudre was as he described it.

I cryed and cryed. It felt like the end of our marriage. Don moved, and for a long time all I could do was cry.

We were at the age of 40 on that fateful night in 1995 and we still had not discovered that extramarital affairs did not always mean the end of a marriage.

It's a theme that is currently being explored in the controversial new BBC drama, Wanderlust, which exploded on our screens this week.

Nicknamed the hottest drama in history, tells the story of the middle-age relations consultant Joy Richards (played by Toni Collette) and her husband, teacher Alan (Steven Mackintosh), who accept to fall in love in an attempt to revive their decadent sex life.

It's not that Don has discussed the option to deviate before going ahead and doing it. But it certainly shook things up.

Looking back, I even dare to suggest that it was beneficial for our marriage. Eventually, that is. There is no denying that the road to recovery was long and difficult.

And there were times when it was by no means certain that we would ever rekindle the spark that attracted us more than 40 years ago. We met in 1972, at a party in the West End of London. My cousin, who had taken me, pointed to Don. "There's Don Boyd," he whispered reverently. & # 39; It's a film director & # 39;

They introduced us, but it did not impress me. Later in the year we met again, at a May Day party, and this time it was an instant attraction.

His first words to me were: "I wish I had brought a lighter to light your cigarette." Which sounds a bit mild, especially because he has never smoked and hates it, but he says he was desperate to talk to me.

He was already married, with a little daughter named Amanda, but that did not diminish our feelings.

Mature love: Hilary and Don have survived 45 years together

Mature love: Hilary and Don have survived 45 years together

Mature love: Hilary and Don have survived 45 years together

Our courtship was difficult for everyone, and very painful for his wife. None of us was proud of that. In fact, I decided at one point that I should stop it.

I was on vacation in the Lake District at that time. Don knew he would return on a certain day, and instinct took over. He stopped on the platform in Euston, finding train after train, until finally I arrived. If he had not, he probably would never have seen him again.

Don got divorced and we got married in 1973, with a chorus of disapproval. No one thought it would last.

Our daughter, Clare, was born in 1974, followed by Kate in 1977. We moved to a terrace house on King's Road, Chelsea. I was a nurse, but I left work when the girls were small. It quickly became clear that Don's work as a film director / producer was exhausting.

In those days he was constantly away, his job was his obsession. I loved his crazy energy, but it had a high price for the family.

My own father had died when I was nine years old, so he was used to a house he faced without a man. And most of the time, he was practically a single father.

But things were not all condemnation and darkness. We enjoy a glamorous life together: sailing on a beautiful yacht in Cannes; Living in Hollywood in the early eighties, Muhammad Ali smiled and told me & # 39; Hello & # 39; once while driving his golden Rolls-Royce open to the gated community where we both lived.

There were rehearsal dinners at the Oscars, where I shook hands with Kirk Douglas; dinners with Stephen Fry, Charles Dance, Helen Mirren and John Hurt. But despite these highlights, the family's time with the girls was rare.

At the time of our first division in 1995, when Don admitted that he had fallen in love with someone else, he had known something was wrong for a while. We had just returned from a miserable vacation in France, where he had been very distant with me.

It's a theme that is currently being explored in the controversial new BBC drama, Wanderlust, that exploded on our screens this week (pictured)

It's a theme that is currently being explored in the controversial new BBC drama, Wanderlust, that exploded on our screens this week (pictured)

It's a theme that is currently being explored in the controversial new BBC drama, Wanderlust, that exploded on our screens this week (pictured)

Shortly before we left, Don had confessed that he had been mistreated for years by the French teacher at his Scottish boarding school. A man he had met, a man for whom he had made lunch, for the love of God!

Don did not want to talk about it or get help, so I thought that was the reason for his uncommunicative mood.

When he admitted the real reason, I collapsed.

When Don left, our youngest daughter, Kate, who was then 17 years old, was still at home. I had to hear myself crying every night, which made me feel so guilty and furious with Don.

I found a brilliant therapist, and it was still working, alone. But all I wanted to do was cry.

Named the most heated drama of all time, tells the story of Joy Richards, middle-aged counselor (played by Toni Collette) and her husband, teacher Alan (Steven Mackintosh), who accept to fall in love in an attempt to revive his life decadent sexual (in the photo)

Named the most heated drama of all time, tells the story of Joy Richards, middle-aged counselor (played by Toni Collette) and her husband, teacher Alan (Steven Mackintosh), who accept to fall in love in an attempt to revive his life decadent sexual (in the photo)

Named the most heated drama of all time, tells the story of Joy Richards, middle-aged counselor (played by Toni Collette) and her husband, teacher Alan (Steven Mackintosh), who accept to fall in love in an attempt to revive his life decadent sexual (in the photo)

That explains in large part why, six months after he left me, I welcomed Don with open arms.

Their new relationship had not worked. "I love you, I have always loved you," he said, an image of repentance.

I was so happy I took it automatically. You might think that this was weak and stupid of me, but I still loved it.

We were both injured and we did not fall into each other's arms immediately. But, little by little, we reconnected, remembering how much we had loved each other.

The fact is that affairs, or one's desire, are usually a symptom, not a cause of marital problems. And, without being impertinent about the pain involved, couples sometimes need to look at each other differently, to re-evaluate their relationship.

If you are prepared to be completely honest with each other after an infidelity, there are positive things you can get out of it.

Our mistake was that we did not do that, and we prefer to brush things under the carpet.

Five years later, in May 2000, we parted again, after another period of difficulty. This time the separation was due to my adventure.

The fact is that affairs, or one's desire, are usually a symptom, not a cause of marital problems

It was not for love, honestly. But it was an accident waiting to happen.

Having sold our apartment, we were living one on top of the other in my sister's house while we found another home.

I met the man in question at a friend's dinner. He was not married, nor was he looking for a relationship, but he appreciated me in a way that Don had stopped doing.

At this time I was writing non-fiction books about health. Don was depressed and going through serious work problems. It was like a bear with a very painful head, but it did not talk about what was wrong.

Don discovered my link when, solving a technical problem on my computer, he discovered the damn emails. He quickly went crazy. And then it came down.

He moved, lost weight, started doing exercises maniacally and found a therapist. I never planned a future with the & # 39; other & # 39; man and soon I finished the adventure. I assumed that my actions had already marked the end of my marriage. Happily, I was wrong.

Because, crazy as we are, we miss each other. Don's apartment in Covent Garden became our "love nest". We saw each other once a week, sometimes I stayed. Cautiously, we fall in love again.

It was an exciting, passionate and fun moment. I would make delicious dinners that I knew I would like, with elegant white wine, lovely cheeses, tomatoes, salads and fruit.

Don was angry about my adventure. But I knew I could not talk, since I had been unfaithful first.

I apologized for lying, but I felt no remorse for the adventure. Don and I had been struggling to connect for so long and it had been important to find confidence in myself as an attractive woman.

But underlying everything, we had so much shared history and so much love for each other. We had lost sight of him.

We had the best intentions when we rekindled our relationship after our two issues. But we had not solved our problems. And although everything went well for the next few years, we were proud to have survived another trauma related to the relationship, the unexamined past haunted us.

Don had not fully recovered from my adventure and was often jealous and possessive.

We should have talked more, to have been honest about why the issues had happened in the first place. But we went back to our marriage. And the past was scared.

Cut in early 2006 and we reached a point where we could hardly be respectful among ourselves. At this time it is not a matter, but by mutual agreement, I moved to Highgate, around the corner from our daughter, Clare, and her husband, Simon. Don moved to a place in Soho.

I felt relieved to be alone and free of the endless disputes, I needed to be independent. "It really ended," I told myself. But then something magical happened: Tilda, our first granddaughter was born in September. And Don had a moment of light bulb. Suddenly he realized how important his family was.

He apologized to his daughters for not being a better father. He apologized for being a garbage husband. And we started our third round of falling in love.

This time things were more real. There was no love nest, no special dinners, no great romantic gestures. Only a silent acknowledgment of our love.

I insisted that we talk openly about our marriage, about how we really felt about the issues, warts and everything, about all the accumulated bitterness that we had never dared to express. About what would work and not work for us in the future.

It was painful, facing all those resentments and failures in our past, reminding us of what we had passed on to the children.

But we exposed ourselves, we shouted and we cried, then we set new parameters, firmly focused on honesty and respect. The effort was worth it just because we knew that we still had that connection with the soul.

I had a stroke of luck eight years ago and I wrote a very successful novel. We moved to West Sussex, and we were never happier.

After decades in a roller-coaster marriage, I feel that Don is now completely on my side: we are finally an adequate team.

The rancor of the past was long gone; we no longer blame each other for what went wrong.

It's great to be able to talk about it without feeling pain and resentment. Now that we've been married for 45 years, none of that matters.

I would never recommend separation as a solution for a rocky marriage. But sometimes it is important to have a perspective, to discover who you are as an individual again, especially in a long association.

Being unfaithful is dangerous and falling is extremely painful for everyone involved.

But it can also make you realize how much your partner means to you. It can give you space to recalibrate your relationship.

I firmly believe that an adventure can survive, if those involved are willing to be honest about why it happened in the first place. I also think that if you really love someone once. . . Then, why not again?

n Hilary Boyd's novel The Anniversary is published by Michael Joseph on September 20 at £ 7.99 or in eBook today from amazon.co.uk. To pre-order the paperback for £ 6.39 (before September 14), visit mailshop. co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Free P & P on orders over £ 15.

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