M Relationships: I Tracked Down My Husband's Lover and Ended Up Falling for Her Man; When Joanne Slinn Turned Detective to Track Down the Woman Who Had Wrecked Her Marriage, She Didn't Bargain on Falling in Love Herself

Article excerpt

Byline: JILL FOSTER

Silently leaning over the banister, Joanne Slinn held her breath and strained to hear her husband talking on the phone downstairs.

It was a cold evening in early January 2000. Joanne had gone upstairs for a bath, leaving Andrew, then 33, and their two sons, Aaran, 11, and Christopher, 9, in the living room. While she listened, she played over in her mind a phone call earlier that evening.

The family had been eating Sunday dinner when Andrew, a supervisor at a chilled foods company, received a phone call. As he spoke to the person on the other end of the line, Joanne noticed him blushing.

"I asked him who it was and he said it was someone at the office who wanted him to go in. He'd told them he couldn't," says Joanne, 34, from Stoke-on-Trent.

"His work never called him at home. I thought it was odd but didn't say any more.

"After dinner, I went upstairs and dialled 1471 - the call had been from his work. I felt silly and

relieved but couldn't help wondering why he had blushed.

"As I was running the bath I heard him talking to someone quietly downstairs. I crept to the top of the landing and listened in." Joanne could just make out that her husband was trying to reassure someone.

"He was whispering: 'Yeah... What did he say?... Are you all right?' "I knew straight away, by the tone of his voice and the fact that he was trying to keep quiet, that he was having an affair. "I felt sick, my stomach was churning and I was in shock.

"Suddenly, someone came out of the living room and headed towards the stairs. I raced to the bathroom and sat in the bath in silence - my head was pounding." For the rest of the evening, Joanne put up a pretence, not knowing what to say to her husband.

"As we got into bed I asked him if he had someone else. My heart was beating so hard because I was frightened of what he might say. "He insisted there was no one but never mentioned the second call. He said everything was fine, that the call from work was nothing to worry about, then turned over and went to sleep.

"That was the worst night ever. I knew he was lying. I hardly slept. I kept getting up in the night and heaving into the toilet. He slept soundly through it all."

Joanne had another reason to suspect that Andrew was having an affair. Married for almost 12 years, they had recently moved to a new house in Stoke, and had what Joanne describes as a normal marriage.

But a few days earlier, at a New Year's Eve party, an incident had sown a seed of doubt in Joanne's mind.

"We were at a friend's house playing a game. We were asked questions about our life and had to write downour answers. One of the questions was, 'Who would have an affair and not tell their partner?'

"The game was interrupted as midnight struck and everyone went outside to watch the fireworks. I peeked at Andrew's answer, which said, 'I would'. "I was shocked. I said: 'What do you mean, you would? I can't believe you've put that, you've always said I'm the only one.'

"He simply answered: 'Well you would, wouldn't you?'" As the fireworks exploded and the champagne flowed, Andrew and Joanne got caught up in the celebrations.

"We'd had a lot to drink and I thought it wasn't the time or the place to question him. But it seemed a strange thing to write.

"The next day I just let it go. Looking back, I was naive but it was just a silly game. I would have trusted Andrew with my life." Joanne and Andrew met in a local pub when she was 17 and he was 21.

"He asked me to marry him two weeks after we started going out but I said we should wait until my 18th birthday," she says.

"He was in the Royal Engineers so we could only grab weekends together but we were mad about each other.

"By the time we got engaged the following August, I really loved him. …