There are a lot of sticky and difficult issues in the aftermath of an affair and I sometimes get emails asking for advice on how to handle them. One of the more common is “should I confront the other woman?,” or “should I meet with my husband’s mistress?” These are loaded questions. It’s understandable to want answers and to doubt that your husband is giving you the honest responses to all of them. It’s common to want to know who this woman is, what’s she like, and just what your husband sees in her. But, there are several negatives that can occur following such a meeting. I’ll discuss them, as well as some other things to consider, in the following article.
Why You Probably Want To Talk To “The Other Woman”: Many wives want to confront or talk to the other woman because doing so will take a lot of the mystery out of the image of her that you have in your mind. You fantasize that meeting her will allow you to see just who you are dealing with. Perhaps you can let her know without question that she needs to back off of your husband. Perhaps you can make her understand that her callous actions are destroying a family. Perhaps you can get the “real story” from someone who has no reason to lie. All of these things seem perfectly reasonable when they are still only in your mind, but the reality of the situation almost always turns out quite different. Sometimes, meeting with her can be a disaster and can make your situation far worse. This is a potentially seriously unhealthy situation for you, which I’ll explain more below.
Why So Much Can Go Wrong If You Confront Your Husband’s Mistress: Believe me when I say that I understand what you are feeling right now. I once camped out behind the dumpster at my husband’s office laying in wait for her to walk by. (I chickened out when it came time to confront her, though.) But, let’s think about this for a second. I’d be willing to bet that you are thinking about confronting her because you think that it will make you feel better or improve your situation. But, how likely do you think this really is?
Unless this woman is gracious, apologetic, and trustworthy, it’s very doubtful that you are going to have a positive experience. I dialog with women in this situation on an almost daily basis and I can tell you that it’s extremely rare that this turns out OK. It almost always makes the wife feel worse. Because what typically happens is that the “other woman” is not receptive, forthcoming, or empathetic. No, she’s often only too happy to lay out in full detail how you were deceived. She’ll place all the blame on your husband and attempt to paint herself as the innocent party. She’ll insist that your husband came on to her without any encouragement. And, she’ll try to insinuate that your husband is giving you a deceitful account of how things currently stand.
I fully realize that if the affair is still fresh, it’s very likely that you do have doubts about the story that your husband is telling you. But, you aren’t likely to get a truthful account from this woman. She’s been deceiving you with ill intentions all along. You have no history with her. It’s in her best interest to paint yourself in the most positive light while kicking your husband to the curb. Or, sometimes she’ll try to paint the relationship as a storybook love story, that they’re too people who just can not be apart. Perhaps this is how she sees it, but your husband may see it entirely differently.
Who Do You Really Want To Get Your Information From?: Let’s think about this rationally. The reasoning behind your wanting to talk to your husband’s mistress are probably the following:
1. You want to tell her to stay away from your husband.
2. You want her to understand the hurt she has caused.
3. You want to size her up and see what she looks like.
4. You want to hear her side of the story.
5. You think that it will make you feel better.
6. You hope that she’ll back off from your husband.
Well, a few of these objectives are best completed by your husband. You have a history with him, whether you want to save your marriage or not. It’s a better choice to allow him to make clear to her that the relationship is over and the pain that it has caused. And, here is what is going to make you feel better. It’s not seeing and sizing up the other woman. It’s repairing your own self esteem and restoring the trust and intimacy in your marriage. It’s making your marriage stronger and better, so much so that she no longer crosses your mind. She can’t do these things for you (and she wouldn’t want to.)
I understand that you sort of want revenge on her. That’s perfectly normal. But, you know what the best revenge is? For her to be nothing more than a momentary regret. Don’t allow her into your life any more. Swat her away like the troublesome, momentary little gnat that she is and don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing how she’s affected you. Because at the end of the day, what she doesn’t want is for the man that she has carried on with to become happy and fulfilled again with his wife. She doesn’t want for you to reclaim this role. How sweet it will be when you do. Your happiness and mental health is the best revenge. While she’s left with regrets and shame, conduct yourself with grace and dignity and worry about your own health and happiness, without giving her more concern and interest than she deserves.