I was over the moon when I finally married the love of my life. But my happiness wasn’t to last…
By Michelle Hoffman, 29, from Andover, Hampshire
As I opened my eyes, a sense of excitement washed over me. I stretched out in bed and smiled.
Today is the day I become Mrs Hoffmann!
Although I was a little nervous, I had waited a long time for this day. Alan, 36, and I were finally tying the knot after being engaged for seven years. We had been together for eight years in total, after meeting in January 2005 when we were set up on a blind date.
Ex-army, Alan was loud and proud, while I was much more shy and retiring – but we got on like a house on fire.
It wasn’t long before we moved in together and when Alan proposed a year later, at Christmas 2006, I was over the moon.
When I saw the ring – a beautiful gold band with three diamonds – I almost cried. I was so happy – I couldn’t wait to marry my hunky hero.
It was six years before we finally set a date and I spent a whole year excitedly planning my dream wedding.
We decided on Bournemouth Town Hall for the ceremony and booked a local bowls club for the reception.
We invited 70 of our closest family and friends to the event and I made everything myself, including the invitations, table decorations and the wedding favours.
I chose a beautiful sweetheart neckline gown, and my work colleagues helped to make me a wedding cake.
Alan was a shelf stacker at the local Sainsbury’s, and often spoke about his work colleagues as they all got on so well.
So when he asked if he could invite a group of them to the wedding, I instantly said yes.
‘It’ll be lovely to have them there,’ I smiled, and gave him a squeeze. I thought it was nice that he wanted them to be part of our big day.
‘Cool,’ Alan smiled back. ‘It’ll be good to see them – it’ll be good to have Gemma there too.’
Alarm bells rang in my head but I tried to ignore them. Gemma was a brunette bombshell who had recently started working with Alan at the supermarket.
He mentioned her name a lot, and often spoke about how they went for coffee and breakfast together before work.
I thought it was a bit strange that he spent so much time alone with Gemma, but I told myself that it was fine because he was always honest with me about how much he saw her.
Besides, I was far too busy with the wedding plans to dwell on it.
Our wedding day in September 2012 was absolutely perfect. Seven bridesmaids and three page boys walked me down the aisle and Alan and I exchanged vows in front of everyone who was important to us.
‘I love you babe,’ he whispered to me as we took our first dance, which was Something Right by Westlife.
I’d never been happier but I couldn’t help but notice when Alan kept disappearing to talk to his colleagues, including Gemma, who kept glancing at me.
I tried to push any worries out of my head. He was probably just checking they were having a good time. Besides, he’d just married me!
But the ink had barely dried on our marriage certificate, when Alan changed. Within a few weeks he became distant and less interested in sex.
At first I thought it was because we worked alternating shifts, but soon he started dropping Gemma into conversation more and more.
‘Gemma popped over for a catch up while you were at work,’ he said casually one day.
My instincts told me that something wasn’t right.
‘Why would she come here?’ I asked, but Alan just shrugged.
‘Why not?’ he said.
I didn’t want to make a fuss, but I felt threatened by Gemma.
She was younger, slimmer and prettier than me. And I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of her and Alan being alone together in my flat.
‘Is there something between you and Gemma?’ I asked tentatively, but Alan just laughed.
‘Of course not,’ he retorted. ‘Gemma and I are just really good friends that’s all, we work together. Besides, she has a boyfriend.’
Although Alan always insisted there was nothing going on between them, I couldn’t help feeling jealous by their friendship. But I trusted Alan, so I tried to bury my feelings about it.
But in January 2013 – less than four months after we married – Alan came home from work one day and said he needed to talk to me.
He stood by the sink, pretending to wash some dishes, when he blurted out the horrible truth.
‘I don’t love you anymore,’ he said quietly, and my heart shattered into a thousand pieces.
‘I can’t carry on like this Michelle – things aren’t right and they haven’t been right for ages.
‘We hardly see each other and when we do it just isn’t the same. You feel more like my little sister than my wife.’
His words hit hard – but I knew he was telling the truth, I could tell it in the way he spoke. But I also knew there was more to it than that.
‘Are you seeing anyone else?’ I asked, tears filling my eyes.
‘No,’ he replied. ‘But I do have feelings for somebody else.’
‘Is it Gemma?’ I asked, already knowing the answer.
Alan nodded, and devastation engulfed me.
‘Does she know?’ I asked, and Alan nodded again.
‘We’ve spoke about is, she feels the same and I want to see where things lead with her,’ he confessed.
I was heartbroken. We had only been married for a few months and already Alan was leaving me for somebody else.
How could he do this?
Alan insisted that nothing had happened with Gemma, but he claimed the feelings between them were too strong to ignore.
I wasn’t sure if I trusted him – how could you just leave your wife and partner of eight years for your work colleague who you had never even kissed?
It was made worse when friends of mine admitted they had seen Gemma and Alan out and about together on a few occasions – they obviously couldn’t keep away from each other.
Despite my heartbreak, I decided to take the dignified approach and tried to keep on good terms with Alan – even offering to move out so he didn’t have to.
I moved in my best friend Toni and tried to get over the betrayal. Meanwhile, I kept in touch with Alan.
Within a few months, he admitted that Gemma had broken up with her boyfriend and they were seeing each other. I was gutted – it meant my marriage was well and truly over.
Now, two years on, Alan is still with Gemma, while I’m still waiting for our divorce to come through.
I’m moving on but when I flick through my wedding photos, and look at all three of us smiling for the camera, it still breaks my heart.
I can’t believe my groom ran off with our wedding guest!
Alan says: “Before we were married it was pretty much over between us anyway. I was just too scared to not go through with it (the wedding). She had spent so much time setting it all up it just felt as though I couldn’t back out of it. I liked Gemma before the wedding, but it wasn’t until after the wedding that we realised how much we liked each other. Around the Christmas period it felt like it was all a big farce really, I realised that even though I was married to Michelle, I didn’t want to be with her because I had feelings for somebody else. I just remember coming back from work one day and standing at the kitchen sink and telling her that I didn’t love her and didn’t want to be with her anymore. She said to me: ‘Is there someone else?’ and I just said yeah.”