Question #1 - I found out that my husband continued his affair. I phoned the other woman. She was relieved to speak to me. Not only do unfaithful spouses manipulate the wife they manipulate the other woman too. She says she has never had feelings like that for anyone ever. What do I do with that? Why would he keep coming back to me, she says, if he has all this wonderful life at home? Should I meet the other woman face to face or not? She says she is sorry and wishes it had never happened and wishes never to go down that road again.
Question #2 - I am obsessed with the thought of phoning her (the other women) and tell her things about him that she does not know (I'm convinced he did not tell her) and will make her see him in a different way. Should I meet the other woman? What do I have to lose?”
What do I do with the fact that the other woman has very real feelings for my husband?
This is a harsh reality that one must face. Certainly this is one of the reasons affairs are so wrong, as you rightly observe the other woman has also been manipulated and will also be hurt. This accentuates how selfish the unfaithful spouse’s actions have been. No matter what choices they make from here, people get hurt. Period.
If there is to be hope for rebuilding your marriage, your husband must sever all ties with this other woman. This will neither be easy on him or her, but obviously a continuing threesome is unacceptable, so he must make a choice. If his choice is you, you cannot be responsible for the other woman’s hurt feelings (and these are inevitable anyway – because if he pursues her, the chances of the relationship lasting are very slim). Since he’s already been unfaithful, she would find herself unable to trust him if she one day were married to him.
How you play your cards during this time of getting him to sever all ties with the other woman is very important. If you have a copy of my book, you’ll see how I successfully handled this on pages 190-193.
Also James Dobson’s book “Love Must Be Tough” has invaluable insight in how to deal with severing ties with the 3rd party effectively. It’s essential that it be done, and in the right way at the right time.
Why would he keep coming back to me she says if he has all this wonderful life at home?
My other woman said this to my husband also. The question is based on the commonly believed myth that affairs happen only as a result of problems in a marriage. That it is not possible for someone who is genuinely happy and in love with their spouse to have an affair. This is false. You can be in love with your spouse, have all your needs met perfectly and still be enticed by the flattery, seduction and smooth talk of another. Why is he there? Because it feels good to have an affair … for a brief period of time, like eating chocolate cake when you’re on a diet.
Can you say that if you’ve had a very satisfying and fulfilling meal, that you are immune to the temptation of a desert or 2nd helping? This is ridiculous logic. Every married person needs to protect themselves from the temptation of affairs, first of all by being aware that that they are not immune, and then by learning the truth about affairs, and the subtle ‘letting down of walls’ that can lead you down their deadly path. When it comes to affairs, what you don’t know DOES hurt you.
Should I meet the other woman?
Most experts agree that it is not a wise idea to meet the other woman, yet in my case I had quite the opposite experience. I did meet the other woman and it was a very healing experience. I’m not sure if I would be healed today if I had not. “Meeting the Other Woman” is one of the chapters I receive most comments on from readers of my book, My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.
But what is different is my motive. My motive was not to tell the other woman off or to be mean to her in any way. Quite frankly the only reason I went to meet her is because she was a stranger to me, and I wanted to see what she looked like. It could not remain a mystery to me for the rest of my life: What was this woman like who could steal the affections of my husband after 18 years of marriage? What did she look like?
There is something to be lost from meeting the other woman if it’s not done right, and that is your own self-respect. If you go with a motive that is anything less than positive and productive, you’re putting yourself at risk. And this is where most people go wrong when they meet with the 3rd party. If you’re going because you think that the other woman/man is going to hear your side of the story, change their minds, leave your spouse alone, or say they’re sorry, you will most likely be disappointed.
The danger of telling the other woman/man bad things about your spouse in an effort to get them to not want to be with them anymore, is that they likely will be defensive and only see you as a weak person who is trying to manipulate the situation. After all, they’ll think if he/she is so bad, why do you still want to be with them?
Before I went to meet my other woman, I had already dealt with my own negative emotions towards her, and my sincere motive was to satisfy my own curiosity, to be kind, and to bring the best outcome about for my husband and myself as well as for her future. (Well, I wasn’t totally innocent. I did want to intimidate her a bit … but subtly.)
Today I look back on that meeting with a sense of humor and I do feel proud of myself. I’ve got to be the only person who would show up at the home of the woman who was planning to marry my husband with construction paper and glue for my visual aids so I could teach her a little lesson on relationships!
For me one of the greatest healing moments came in just seeing her physical appearance. I was expecting a big busted sex goddess with long flowing dark hair (like in a shampoo commercial). To my amazement and shock I was met at the door by an average looking, flat-chested brunette who looked as if she were suffering with a serious eating disorder. The betrayed spouse always thinks the 3rd party is going to be this amazingly sexy and beautiful individual, yet this is rarely case. My first thought when I met the other woman was an astonished and bewildered, “her?”
Affairs are simply not about the 3rd party being better than the spouse. They are about the 3rd party being a 3rd party. Affairs are a fantasy world. That’s why they usually fall apart when the affair begins to replace the marriage. In fact some people who leave their marriages go back and have affairs with their spouse!
Half way through my meeting with the other woman I began to feel compassion towards her. I saw nothing but a broken, hurting woman sitting in front of me. My kindness was my greatest weapon against her. She was no match for the dignity I was showing her. Had I been angry or mean, I believe I would only have fueled my husband’s affair with her.
Later my husband told me that the kindness I had shown the other woman had really impacted him, and caused him to love, admire and respect me more than he already did.
So whether or not to meet the other woman or man is an individual decision. It is not the same for everyone. In most situations, it is likely not a good idea, but if you can go in kindness, and if it’s important to you, by all means go, and don’t let anyone else who isn’t in your shoes dictate to you what you need to heal.
If you do decide to go, be sure you are prepared to handle the worst case scenario with dignity. When facing difficult interactions like this, I always ask myself, what would I do right now if the whole world was watching? Would I be proud of my actions? Or will I later feel ashamed of the way I behaved? Two wrongs really never do make a right. And a bad reaction only serves to make a bad situation worse.
The question to ask yourself is what is your motive? If it’s to build up, encourage and to heal, by all means go. If it’s full of hatred, bitterness and revenge, to “give him/her a piece of your mind, it’s probably not going to benefit you. Remember, whatever you feed in life grows.
©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.