I Almost Cheated On My Husband—And, Ultimately, It Saved My Marriage

My heart was racing and my head was faint. Don’t touch me, I thought. This inner voice was a stark wake-up call when I came home from a work trip to Indonesia and recoiled from my husband’s embrace. At the time, I was reeling in sadness and confusion because I was contending with the inner turmoil of almost cheating on him. Even though I was now in his presence, I felt more distant from him than ever before.

But first, let’s be kind and rewind: I’m a freelance journalist who was tasked to fly out to Southeast Asia to write about a wellness resort. I was drawn to this assignment because I myself have a two decade history of mental health issues that include depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder—so, naturally, I was curious about this resort’s methodologies and immersive on-site workshops. While this was a place of self-care and therapy, I met a man who was one of the guests there (we’ll call him “Bali Man”)—and yes, I’m totally aware of the irony here.

Over the next week, there was a magnetism and undeniable attraction between him and I. The other guests would go as far as tease him about how he had a crush on me. I also couldn’t help but notice how he would steal glances my way, blush, and smile at me in a playful manner. Our bond was immediate, and I admittedly enjoyed every minute of his company. His wit and boyish charms mirrored my husband’s personality, but the ante was upped in this particular scenario because he had an accent (like so many others, I’ve always had a thing for men with accents). Because I was here for work, I certainly wasn’t seeking this kind of interaction—but since I had been on the road for two and a half weeks (I had just flown in from Hong Kong), I latched onto his kindness and familiar demeanor. It was innocent at first—I was lonely, overworked, and missed my better half—but soon, it evolved into something more.


The Place Retreats resort in Bali, where Leigh stayed.

Courtesy of Tiffany Leigh

Our mutual attraction culminated the night before my flight back home. I spent the twilight hours talking to him while strolling on the beach and enjoying the symphony of the ocean waves. We took a break to sit on the soft sand, and as we glanced up at the stars, he whispered to me, “If you weren’t married, I’d kiss you right now.” I responded with an awkward laugh. I could have shut it all down right there and then by calling out his inappropriate remark, but I didn’t. Deep down inside, I knew it was wrong—but I couldn’t help but be drawn into the heat of the ultra-romantic moment. I felt an adrenaline rush and flood of dopamine course through my body that I hadn’t experienced for a long stretch of time. We left it at that and walked back to the resort. He then asked if I wanted to go to his room for a drink and “chat some more.” We wound up sitting on his bed, and he asked if I wanted to try an eye-gazing exercise. I suspect he suggested this due to his own wellness studies, as well as being an ardent disciple at the property (he had been there for about six months with plans to extend his stay). I think it was also a tactic to see where our journey would take us—perhaps a sort of “whatever happens, will happen” scenario—because this method and its intensity has also been used to heighten foreplay and sexual pleasure.


So we put our hands on each other’s laps and stared deeply into one another’s eyes for two minutes straight (which is a lot longer than you think). It was deep, intense, and, perhaps expectedly, I became aroused. I immediately and visibly blushed, then quickly retracted my hands and shifted eye contact. I giggled to break the tension, but he looked at me earnestly and asked if I would like to try again. We did, and the connection was palpable, with desire pulsating through the air and almost enveloping us. In those moments, it was obvious we were both tempted to take it further—but now I can say with certainty that I’m glad that neither of us made the first move to something I would regret later. Before I knew it, the sun started to rise, and I still hadn’t packed my bags. So I said my farewells and departed. The guilt did not set in until I saw my home city on the horizon as the plane began making its descent. If my husband did this to me, I rationalized to myself, I would feel numb and perhaps devastated, but not broken. Instead, I think I would try to figure out why he felt the need to do something like this, see if our relationship could be salvaged, and whether or not we could rebound and rebuild.

almost cheating

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Back at home, the incident continued to weigh heavily on my mind. I landed around midnight and the guilt crept up on me instantly when my husband tried to give me a kiss the next morning. In the following days, I became even more physically distant. At the start of the weekend, when he attempted to make sexual advances, I freaked out. I had been consumed by my thoughts and obsessively replaying every detail in my head with Bali Man. I ultimately confessed what had happened, which was a necessary evil because my husband felt I was being cold to him (giving him curt responses, turning my mouth so he could only kiss my cheek or forehead). I reassured him that this indiscretion wasn’t intentional, and that I still loved him. However, putting him through such a painful situation was unfair, and I told him I needed time to unpack all that had happened. We took a break with some physical distance; that same weekend, he went golfing, and I stayed home.

With some deep introspection and much-needed therapy, I realized I was drawn to Bali Man because we both shared a unique kinship: we were two broken people venturing on a path of healing. He was contending with the shreds of his abusive relationship with his ex-girlfriend and a high-stress job that became unfulfilling to him; and me, with my diagnosis that stemmed from enduring abuse as an adolescent. Still, in my case, neither was an excuse for the hurt I caused the man I love.

In fact, I came to the realization that Bali Man echoed many of the same qualities my husband had—and why both men were irresistible to me: they’re both intelligent and keenly perceptive, work in finance, and are off-beat in a quirky yet endearing manner. But the one distinguishing factor was that Bali Man was more communicative, non-verbally expressive, and sexually exploratory. My husband certainly wasn’t devoid of these elements, but because I’m on the extreme end of expressiveness and sexual experimentation, it created friction in our relationship that I subconsciously bottled up. We had been married for two and half years with no kids; while we were content, our love life was stagnant. Oftentimes, it felt like we were preserving the status quo: the date nights and sex were predictable and routine, without any spontaneity, which was something I craved and missed.

So much so that, during this time, I still DM’d with Bali Man on Instagram almost every day. One of the last times I messaged him was to muster up the courage to ask him about what he said about kissing me that night. There was a long pause and a “seen” note followed by his response: “You know, I don’t know why I said it—it was an inappropriate thing to say, and I’m sorry I said it. I didn’t mean to disrespect your marriage.” It was precisely the clarity and closure I needed. After that, our interactions have been purely platonic, and the messages are few and far between.

almost cheating

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Instead of taking this information and self-sabotaging my potential for happiness (i.e. falling into a rabbit hole of denial and seeking instant gratification with Bali Man—who was essentially a close acquaintance, at best)—I interpreted this epiphany as a blessing in disguise. It was a sign that while no relationship comes easily, it was worth the effort for my husband and I to work on rebuilding and strengthening our bond. The first step was to reach out to a trustworthy sex and relationship therapist to help guide us on our journey.

It’s easy to say, “Just communicate more!” But, in actuality, this means actually having an open discussion about sexual preferences (everything from positions to toys and even scheduling sex via Google calendar) with the same level of normalcy as asking if you want milk and sugar with your coffee. It’s curious how I could do that in my dating days but become shy when talking to my own husband about it, probably because I care so much about what he thinks. When you knowingly (and willingly) enter a relationship, it becomes a symbiotic ecosystem where the foundation is grounded in supporting and nurturing our collective needs and desires. It’s so important to remind ourselves of this, because it can be all too easy to forget.

No relationship is picture-perfect; you have to put in the work.”

It was a breakthrough to hear my husband tell me about his comfort levels as well—what he was willing to try, what he was definitely not—with compassion and understanding as to where I was coming from. From there, I could function within that framework to better our marriage, rather than bottle issues up and stew in resentment. In this process, I remembered how much of a compassionate and patient man he was. His non-verbal expressions aren’t obvious, but he was definitely in pain (I could tell because his eyes were glassy and inflamed). And yet, despite all of his suffering, he still gave me a chance to redeem myself: he loved me enough to listen to me and put in the effort to make us work again. It likely would have been easier—not to mention cathartic—for him to get angry and blame me. But he didn’t. He is beyond understanding—and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t have come to this realization without Bali Man, so, in a way, I thank him for helping me learn how to better love and appreciate the man I know I’m meant to be with. No relationship is picture-perfect; you have to put in the work. The key is to not perceive the effort as tedious, but rather as a journey that you’re embarking on together. Whenever we find ourselves at an impasse, we commit to shelving our concerns until we can address them in therapy, where we still go once a month.

I hope nothing like this will ever happen again, but not without fighting for our relationship every day. In our fifth year together, with a pandemic baby who’s turning two in July, the future looks brighter than it ever was. Parenthood has kept us busy, but in learning from this past experience, we still ensure we make time for us as a couple to reconnect. Pro tip: spontaneous sex, lingerie, and surprise date nights work wonders—although not necessarily in that order.

Headshot of Tiffany Leigh

Tiffany Leigh is a BIPOC freelance journalist with a background in business and communications. Her expertise is in food and beverage, travel, fashion, beauty, and wellness. Her work has appeared in publications including Bon Appétit, Vogue, Forbes, Departures, Shape, Travel + Leisure, and more.

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