Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. Today we talk to Amber*, who found out that her husband of four years was cheating on her, in a very unusual way. “I caught my husband cheating on Instagram,” she tells us.
In our past instalments over the last year we’ve covered everything from when you’re most likely to divorce to whether they’re contagious to whether being on the contraceptive pill can effect your chances! and have now spoken to dozens of women – including one whose husband announced he was leaving her to have an open relationship with a 19-year-old, another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband and one who had been trying for a baby for a year when he finally admitted he’d had a vasectomy years earlier.
Amber had a secret little guilty pleasure she hadn’t shared with anybody. Most afternoons she would sneak out of work for half an hour, get a coffee and trawl through different influencers’ accounts on Instagram.
Meanwhile, it seems her husband John had quite a secret of his own – albeit a much less trivial one – and unfortunately, the two were about to intersect in the strangest way possible.
It was a regular Tuesday when Amber hit the 3pm slump and slipped out of the office for her normal little afternoon ritual. There, as she waited for her flat white, she scrolled through a few influencers – a couple she followed and a few she didn’t want anyone to know she followed.
“A few of my friends have quite harsh things to say about Simone Anderson, but I can’t help myself looking at her stories every day,” shares Amber. “She has good cleaning tips! She’s always so upbeat, it puts me in a good mood! Plus, she lives in a whole other world to me, it’s great escapism.”
She was partway through her coffee, and the last 24-hours of stories by Simone (who, for those who aren’t familiar, is a Kiwi influencer with more than 315,000 followers) when she saw Simone was in a park that she knew quite well.
As she heard her name being called out for her coffee and made a beeline for the counter, she thought she saw something in the background at the park that also looked very familiar – a distinctive dress.
It’s one she’d seen a colleague of her husband wear on a couple of occasions. Amber had remarked on it before, and the woman – Lisa – had told her she’d bought it from a little shop in Venice. Amber had never seen the pattern anywhere else.
So, was it Lisa in the background?
Amber decided to go back and take another look, just out of curiosity.
“It was definitely Lisa,” she tells
And, intriguingly, there was someone else with her.
“I can’t believe I recognised her first, and not my husband,” tells Amber. “He was with her. They were walking. Like, next to each other. Like, right next to each other. She was in under his armpit and he had an arm around her. You could see his hand on her waist. I caught my husband cheating on Instagram.”
Amber scrolled forward and back and forward and back, in disbelief, taking screenshots as she went.
“Then I text my friend who is good with phone stuff and asked her how you record something on your screen,” she tells. Within a few minutes her friend had sent instructions and a YouTube tutorial and she quickly got the gist.
“I’m normally really quite private about my marriage and stuff – I think I was in shock,” she tells. But after she made the videos, recording what she saw on Simone’s stories, she opened up a WhatsApp group she had with two of her closest friends and uploaded the video.
‘Do you see what I do? What the f*** do I do now?’ she wrote.
A few minutes later the messages came in… “Is that… JOHN?”
“Who is he with?” “Are we sure it’s him?”
One friend refused to believe it was evidence of John being up to no good. Or that it even was John.
‘Her face doesn’t look happy,’ she floated. ‘Maybe she just found out her dad has terminal cancer and he’s comforting her?’
‘Maybe,’ the other friend wrote. ‘But why wouldn’t they just go for a walk around the block? Not drive to the other side of town?’
The story had been uploaded to Instagram that morning, so Amber decided to just send her husband a text: ‘How is your day going?’, figuring that if something awful had happened, he might mention it.
At 4.30pm her phone lit up with a message – it was from John. ‘All good. Pretty busy! What do you feel like for dinner?’
Suddenly feeling sick, Amber headed home – all the while thinking of different scenarios as to why her husband and his co-worker might be walking around a park arm-in-arm that morning.
When John finally arrived home, she immediately asked him what he’d done that morning. If he’d left the office?
“He looked rattled, so…. That wasn’t a good sign,” she says.
John denied everything – even when Amber showed him the video.
“He said it could be anyone,” she tells. “I would have been 75% sure it was him, but it was Lisa’s dress that made me 100% sure that it was the two of them.”
For three months, John and Amber stayed together – he continued to deny it was him in the video, or that there was anything going on with Lisa. Amber tried to forget it as best she could and would bury away the thoughts whenever they rose up – normally in the middle of the night.
But their relationship had changed and was strained.
“We argued lots, which we didn’t use to,” Amber tells.
And then the first lockdown happened and the pair were stuck at home together, where their issues only seemed to be more amplified.
When the lockdown lifted, they agreed to separate, and John moved out.
“It just wasn’t working,” she tells. “Every now and then the video would gnaw at me, and I’d bring it up and he’d fly off the handle. Like, ‘Not this again! How many times do I have to tell you that wasn’t me?!?’”
“I was right though,” says Amber.
Because six months later she got word about where John was now living: Lisa’s house.
“It was both a huge shock, and not a shock at all,” she tells.
“But now everything is an insane mess,” she continues. “We’re in the process of divorcing and it’s all turned very nasty. He’s playing nasty and I’m really pushing back.”
Amber says the fact that John has not once addressed the fact that he is in a relationship with Lisa – and that it was obviously them in the video, having an affair – has made the situation more difficult.
“But I don’t think it’s completely clouding my judgement,” she says. “He’s gone too far.”
Amber says she and John didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, but when they married she had inherited her grandmother’s home and a substantial amount of money.
“We were in love and I assumed that everything would work out, and if it didn’t, that John would be reasonable and not expect to take half of my grandmother’s house.”
But, unfortunately that hasn’t been the case.
“The idea that he could cheat on me, lie about it and then get a divorce and think he can move the woman he cheated on me with, into my grandmother’s home is… unthinkable.”
Amber says it’s why she wants to share her story.
“Nobody knows how I found out that he was cheating on me, except my two best friends – thankfully no one really asks, so this story will be easy to be kept anonymous. But hopefully people will click on it. Then I want women to know two things: One: Trust your gut – and your trusted girlfriends who tell you that your husband is cheating on you. Two: For God’s sake get a prenup! No one goes into marriage thinking they’re going to need one, that’s the whole point. You might think you can trust your fiancé or husband to do the right thing, but there are no guarantees in this life, that’s for sure.”
Amber is hoping her situation will be resolved soon, but in the meantime, she’s – quite understandably – furious about the money she has spent, trying to keep full ownership of her grandmother’s house.
“Oh, can I add a third thing?” she asks. “If you do need a divorce, get a good lawyer. But not too good. Too good is too expensive. Just get one who feels your fire and is willing to fight hard for you.”
Do you have a story you’d like to share for the Diaries series? Email [email protected]