And for 12 long, frequently torturous months we painstakingly made it liveable and lovable. I had a husband, a home, yet I was missing something, intangible but palpable. I still loved my husband, but I wanted adventure, excitement, a reminder I was still alive. I began chatting to men online in private chat forums, concealing any obvious indentifiers of who I was but talking about my life, problems and thoughts.
And then it was finished: our nest, our empty nest. I became addicted to the attention and craved contact with the men I thought I had come to know. But I found out it wasn't as easy as I had first thought. I quit decisively at first, then slipped up, then quit again, craving some kind of patch.
And I did, pretty much, and I was perfectly fine - until suddenly I wasn't.
There were redundancy problems at work; my marriage was showing strains; and there was something large and unnameable missing from my life.
Taking my online affair offline was my big mistake, a transgression too far.
We had agreed, early on in our relationship, that we wouldn't have children. Several friends, however, were convinced that our lack of children created a vacuum.
I was convinced I wouldn't make a very good mother and didn't want my son or daughter, in 40 years time, to dread calling me, fearful I'd berate them for some emotional crime or other. I'm not sure I entirely agree with that, but it is true that when we bought our first house together, we somehow conspired to buy a wreck that required a lot of our attention and focus. I didn't want an affair, nothing grubby, nothing seedy.
He was young and beautiful and I couldn't believe that he wanted me.
From the very first meeting, the guilt racked through me.