I got married young at 19, to someone I had been with for a year but friends with throughout school. The marriage was not the best thought out idea (we were both quite immature teenagers who absolutely believed we were the most mature two people on the planet. Hindsight.) though we got along really well, he is a great person.
We had our daughter a couple of years later, when we were both at college and went on to university, so stuff was intense and hard work. A few months after I had began dating him I met one of his friends and felt an instant connection, a kind of "Jesus, I've never felt like this before" connection. Put it to the back of my mind but had on/off discussions with this person over the following few years about how we felt (turned out the connection was mutual). I felt like I had been emotionally unfaithful by having these conversations and attempting to pursue a friendship, which sucks just as bad as being physically unfaithful and I have learned to accept that.
When my daughter was two I reached a point of thinking, "Am I delaying the inevitable"? I've had these feelings for years, they don't seem to be going away even through periods of absolutely zero contact with the person, even when investing all my energy into making my relationship work. Is it better to leave now whilst my daughter is young enough not to have any memories of me and her father together, or leave when she's older and risk fucking her up completely.
The person I had these feelings for had always said "focus on your family" and never tried to push me into any decisions, but would be honest about his own feelings (and how much they were fucking him up too I guess). So I came clean and told my husband that I was unhappy because of these feelings that I couldn't overcome and I felt like staying in the marriage would be denying him the opportunity to find someone who is 100% devoted to him. I felt like I was wasting his time. I should reiterate that my husband (soon to be ex) is a really good person, he has loads of positive qualities and is a fantastic father too. I respect him and I want him to have all the happiness he deserves, he deserved more than what I was able to give him. We were living like good friends, after my daughter's conception we were no longer intimate (he went pretty much two years without sex). That isn't the way a successful relationship should be.
He took it really well, I think he knew deep down all along. We had had conversations throughout the relationship about this other person and our friendship, so it wasn't a surprise to him. We manage to completely share our daughter equally and even when things have been rough we've managed to put her needs first. We are amicable, mainly for the sake of our child. Me and my now S/O live together and it's as I expected, which is really well. He gets on great with my child and she adores him, though the boundaries are clear in that she doesn't need a second dad or step-father figure, her real dad is brilliant so we would never enforce that.
My ex has found someone else too, she seems lovely. I've become a better partner because of this too, I'm better at communicating (which was a massive issue in my marriage) and have a complete honesty policy. If I have an issue, I don't just bottle it up and hope it will go away of its own accord. I spend more time thinking about decisions rather than just acting on impulse. I'm not sure if that is down to learning from the previous relationship, or just generally growing up a bit.
With hindsight, I shouldn't have rushed into my marriage so young, I should definitely have been more open and honest at the time, when me and husband were dating before letting it get to the point it did. That was really shitty of me, I guess I just thought I needed to ride it out, that the feelings would disappear over time if I just buried them really deep. Obviously, continuing sporadic contact with the person was never going to aid that, so again that is something I have accepted was not the right way to go about things. At the same time though, I don't really regret anything because I have a beautiful daughter out of my previous relationship, and my husband and I did have some really good times.
Feelings cannot be helped but it is the way in which we deal with them that counts. I should have dealt with them better. There are no excuses for that, being a dumb teenager doesn't excuse it, being a coward doesn't excuse it. On the whole, the situation was a lot less messy than I thought it would be. I'm lucky in a lot of ways. It does feel rubbish knowing that I left my husband for another man, it isn't a nice label to have and the negative things that happened because of it (losing friends, disappointing family) are probably well deserved. I have to own that, but I don't want it to define me.