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Mercifully, the kind and complicated man I was married to focused too.

I'd always heard that you have to work at a marriage.

I was a latecomer to counselling, having previously considered therapy a largely American pursuit. By the time I reached that landmark age, without children and in a marriage that was beginning to lose its fairytale glow, my daily life was beginning to feel not unlike a soap opera.

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Soon, I was spending hours in the parallel universe of cyberspace, often through wonderfully wide-awake nights, uninhibited in a way I never could be in reality.

I told no one, immersed and isolated in my secret life. In moments of fleeting clarity, I wanted to understand what was happening to me. Was it just my marriage problems, or was there something deeper causing me to behave that way?

When the time was right for both of us, we would work through our problems and come back to one another. I shed my regulars and concentrated on just one, a man younger than me by almost two decades.

And it was harmless, until I fell in too deep and wanted more than his messages.

Bringing it to life brought only complications, albeit occasionally exquisite ones.

After a couple of months I had to end it – and it was after I had made this decision that my husband found out.

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.

My husband worked hard at his job and, to alleviate its accompanying pressures, developed his obsession with horseracing, gambling and drinking. These conversations quickly developed into cyber-sex, each message becoming more adventurous and racy and allowing me to live out fantasies I would never contemplate doing in the real world. My husband and I became strangers, our lives by now distinct entities. I told myself that what I was doing was essentially harmless.

There were redundancy problems at work; my marriage was showing strains; and there was something large and unnameable missing from my life.

I ignored it until I could do so no longer, until eventually, for what felt like the sake of my sanity, I resolved to do something about it.

As I have come to learn, most of those who grow up in a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. In adulthood, I had become a rather complicated girlfriend, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly.

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