I need to stop myself from remembering the early days; the days when we fell in love and the days before our marriage was dictated to us by a third. I close the distance between my writing desk and I and glance down at the inked perpetrator lying incongruously between my personal belongings. I pick it up and reread the letter, though I am not sure what it is I am looking for.
... just as you once asked me for a favour...' it is the most subtle of phrases but I know exactly what favour she is referring to, and I questioned my right to have asked it of her for decades. But with time I have come to terms with what I did and though guilty, it only meant I levelled the playing field for myself as I sunk to her level.
Bernadette Cynthia Healy. I mouth the name silently to myself and get a feel for the woman whose life was so intertwined with my own for so long. I knew how they had met - when I accepted that the affair was not just a delusion nor idle rumours spread by the gossipmongers, it was the first question I had for Jonathon. He at least had the decency to look ashamed, but I think it was more because he'd been caught out, not because of the affair.
Did my heart break? I'm not sure, and I think that signifies no crucial heart-breaking moment. I know I could have divorced him and even though divorce was still considered highly scandalous in my social circles of the 1960s I thought it better to stay by my husband's side – for better or worse.
And for several years it certainly felt like the worst.
Mrs MacIver, the wonder that she was, often took the children away for afternoons to the zoo or even to her own mother's, who was like family to us, so that Jonathon and I could argue out the situation.
I was stupefied when Jonathon refused to end his affair. I thought once I'd shown him up for the adulterer he was, his shame would make him regret his decisions and he would come crawling back. But no, that's not the outcome Jonathon had calculated.
After I had ranted and raved, screaming blue murder and questioning the sanctity of our marriage, he left me. He left me standing alone in our home, with the fleeting words 'tell me when you want me to come home'.
I know he went to hers. Bernadette Cynthia Healy. And she must have thought she'd won him there and then. But I wasn't about to lose my husband to some hussy, and our family meant far more to me than she would ever be able to understand.
I let Jonathon stew for a week, but it was Polly and Jack who kept asking for their father, who forced me to make a decision. It was a decision that would affect the rest of my life, and my children's life. I let Jonathon return home.
This time I did not want to let my emotions get the better of me and I had a speech prepared. But when I saw him open the front door my heart soared at the sight of him coming home. He knew I would never leave him, and he was right. I was strong enough and perfectly capable of surviving without him, but the thought of never touching him again was more than I could stand.
Jonathon apologized for keeping the affair from me. He surmised that it was a callous thing to do and he should have been upfront about it from the start. He told me he still loved me and would never leave me, but the affair too, meant something to him. I sat in silence, swallowing the words he fed me, and wondered how to react.
There was nothing in me that I could control. Yet there were no tears, no shouts, no cries. I had exhausted myself and knew that I would never leave this man, and that he would never leave me. He was a lawyer and showed me both sides of the argument all the while spinning out this ideal situation for him. When I think about it now, I can completely understand why Polly could never comprehend why I stayed with her father. No twenty first century woman would have stayed under those circumstances.
And I do have to admit that for the first year after I found out about the affair, I felt like I was treading on eggshells around Jonathon. It took us years until we were on an equal playing field again, and it gladdens me to say I have my ingenuity to thank for that.
I do not regret my decision to stay with my husband. I have friends who have left their husbands for less, and I too have persuaded clients of my own to leave their philandering spouses for the sake of one night's mistake. Yet I stayed with my man, even though he loved another woman, almost as much as he loved me.
As I think about why I stayed with Jonathon, I cannot quite find the words to explain and I know there are no words, because I stayed with him purely based on feelings. I loved him and knew that I came first, even though there was another woman who came close second. I only ever asked Jonathon to leave her the once, and then never again.
But leave her he did. Eventually, and of his own accord, which must have stung her more than knowing a pushy wife got the better of her husband. I had wanted to get the better of her, and two things solidified that in my mind; the little favour I asked of her and knowing that Jonathon chose me and our family over her and whatever little she had to offer.