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Friday, Feb 5, 2016
At the age of 36, I'm proud to have a successful career as an investment banker. I also have three kids, a loving family and we lead a very comfortable life. But all this did not come easy, I had to work hard for it, especially during the earlier years when I first started out as a rookie in the banking world.
It was at my first job that I met my husband Jeremy*, who was one of the company's directors handling a major corporate account; other than being one of the nicest and kindest men I'd ever met in my line of work, he was also very capable and successful.
One thing led to another, and Jeremy and I became a couple. Soon, word got out that we were an item and that set tongues wagging at work. You see, Jeremy was more than 10 years older than me and he was in a senior position, whereas I was just a newbie.
Also, Jeremy was far from good looking - he was short, overweight and bald - while I was slender, tall and many people even said I looked like a model. It was no wonder that people talked about us, due to this disparity.
Despite all that, I got married to Jeremy and we had three wonderful children. I was happy and had nothing to complain about… well, except one thing. This is something I've kept to myself and never told anyone.
In the world of investment banking, we attend many networking events. Most of these are glitzy parties and gala dinners where everyone turns up dressed to the nines. I've attended several of these with Jeremy, both before and after we got married.
No matter how many times I attended such events, one thing never failed to get to me. I felt uncomfortable whenever I was introduced as Jeremy's girlfriend or wife. Even though I could see that others tried to be polite, I could sense what they were thinking by observing their expression.
I love Jeremy very much, but I could not help but feel slightly ashamed of his looks. Moreover, I'm pretty sure many people talked behind our backs, probably saying I must have married him because of his money. The truth is, I got to where I am not because of him, but through my own hard work.
It was at a gala dinner in Korea, which Jeremy could not attend, that I decided to hire a "husband" to accompany me. Jesse* was a professional social escort I found online - his profile stated that he was open to playing any role that his clients wanted, whether it was as a boyfriend, fiance or husband.
Tall and handsome, Jesse could also speak several languages fluently as he's half Korean and half American-Chinese.
He was my perfect "husband"! That night was the best experience I'd ever had; even though it was all make believe, I felt comfortable and proud that Jesse and I were holding hands. I especially loved the envious looks I caught many people giving us as we glided from one table to another.
Even though I enjoyed Jesse's company, it was the only time I hired him.
My industry is small and I didn't want to risk anyone talking about me behind my back. I was lucky this time around but I might not be able to get away with what I did again without someone finding out. But I'm so tempted…
I don't think there was anything wrong with what I did, since technically I was not cheating on my husband.
It was an act of deception, but in my line of work, image and status are important - it's everything! Perhaps one day I'll get over my uneasiness with Jeremy's looks. After all, we will all grow old eventually.
This story was originally published in the December 2015 issue of Singapore Women's Weekly.