When receptionist Michelle planned a holiday in Greece with her husband Gary, they were hoping for two weeks of R&R in the sunshine.
But not long after touching down she realised something in their relationship had changed, describing the break as an “absolute disaster”.
Speaking about their trip to Zante last year, Michelle, 34, said: “We ended up like one of those sad couples you see in restaurants all the time – sitting opposite each other saying absolutely nothing.
“It was two weeks of torture and exposed all the weaknesses in our relationship.
“Normally we could paper over the cracks by having great sex but even that didn’t work this time because we had been so bored during the day.”
So when she got back to their home in Plymouth, Devon, Michelle decided something had to change – and went looking for a bit of excitement.
She joined IllicitEncounters.com, a dating website for people who are married, and met Paul.
She said: “I came back from Kavos and knew I wanted to make a change.
“I wasn’t ready to walk out on my marriage but I knew I had to do something drastic to kick start my life.
“Another married friend had been having a lot of fun on Illicit Encounters and suggested I give it a try.
“A lot of the men were rich and older but then I got messaged by Paul, who, like me, was stuck in a rut with his marriage but wasn’t yet ready to walk out.
“We met up and it was like being a teenager again.”
They met up for their first date and things went very quickly.
She explains: “We got drunk and then went back to a property Paul had just developed for sex. It was the first time I have made love in a ‘show home’ – one of the new properties they had furnished to make it attractive for new buyers.
“After that, I would see Paul every couple of weeks throughout the autumn.
“I work irregular hours at a hotel so it was easy to sneak off and see him without raising any suspicions.”
Michelle says the affair changed her entire life, improving things across the board – including her marriage.
She said: “I was like a new woman and all my confidence returned. And that impacted positively in my marriage.
“We had always had a great sex life but things had got a bit stale in the run-up to the holiday in Kavos.
“But my sex drive went through the roof after I started seeing Paul.
“So while I was having great sex with Paul, I was also reconnecting with Gary, too, who felt like he had got the old me back.
“After six months of seeing Paul, the affair fizzled out but I had got things back on track with Gary.
“I told him about the affair and he said that he had also had a fling with a barmaid. “We were equals as far as cheating and were able to get our marriage back on track.”
Michelle is sharing her story after new research showed a 23% rise in affairs in September.
In fact, it’s the peak month for married people to search for a new lover, with many blaming ‘boring sex’.
Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert at IllicitEncounters.com, said: “Welcome to Sex-tember!
“There is always a huge surge in cheating right at the start of autumn as many of us return from our summer holidays and realise we want to turn over a new leaf.
“Two weeks sat at dinner with the same partner, having the same conversations exposes all the weaknesses in a failing relationship and makes people look elsewhere for fun and excitement.
“The autumn cheating boom is set to be even bigger this year because of the Covid crisis.
“Couples have been stuck at home together for the last six months and they are longing to meet someone new.
“If they have been lucky enough to have a summer holiday, it was likely to be stressful with the quarantine restrictions being imposed on a string of popular destinations.”