Many conversations about infidelity are intiated by someone who is trying to maintain their marriage. It’s rare to hear from someone who has no part in the marriage, but it does sometimes happen. One occasionally hears from “the other woman” who is feeling some sorrow or remorse. Some of the time, she stops short of wanting to reach out to the wife. She is just wanting someone to listen and she has no need for that person to be the wife.
There are times though when the other woman claims to feel this overwhelming need to communicate directly with the wife to give some sort of apology. Here is what you might hear: “I can’t say that I had an affair with a married man. I do not consider it an affair. I had sex with a colleague when we were away at a conference. It happened twice over the course of a weekend and never happened again. I feel strongly that if we hadn’t been together in such close quarters with drinking involved, it would have never happened. I’m not even attracted to the guy. And I avoid him at work. I am married also. So I know how devastating this would be if it were my spouse who cheated. I feel so awful about this that it is sometimes all I can think about. I’ve met the other man’s wife briefly at work get-togethers and she is very sweet. I can’t stop thinking about her and how sorry I am. I am Facebook friends with her, but we are not close friends. Based on some of her posts, I’m pretty sure that her husband either told her about the fling, or she found out about it from other co-workers. However, I’m happy to see that based on her current posts and photos, it appears that they are trying to work it out. I yearn to apologize to her, but I am not sure of the best way to go about it. How should I do it?”
I am going to try to say this in the most gentle way possible. But as a woman who has been on the other side of this fence when I was trying to rebuild my marriage after cheating, I do not think that you should do it at all.
Why? Because I can not see it helping the wife at all. I do not see any up-side for her. You say that it appears that she is trying to move on. So what would your suddenly cropping up do for her? It would bring back bad memories. It might thwart her progress. Sure, it might make you feel better to get this off your chest. But your concern is for her, right?
If that is true, and you really and truly want to do what is best for her, my suggestion is to do nothing. I know that this is not what you wanted to hear. But I think it is best for her if you step back and to leave her and her husband alone. If she feels a burning need to talk to you, then she will reach out. But I think it’s best to respect her privacy and her marriage and to leave this in the past, where it belongs.
I can only speak for myself, but if the “other woman” had suddenly cropped up and expressed that she just wanted to tell me how sorry she was, I would not have welcomed this. I would have seen no point in it and this intrusion would not have helped me or offered me anything other than frustration or awkwardness. Of course, every one is different but I so rarely see encounters or interactions between the wife and other woman go well. I almost never see this scenario accomplish anything positive.
It may make you feel better if you journal about why you are sorry and what you are doing in your own life to make this right. What you may really be after is to be able to release your feelings. There is a way to accomplish that without bringing anyone else down or involving anyone else. Your sorrow is really yours. And there is nothing wrong with expressing it to yourself.
Because I suspect that what the wife wants is not your pity or your apology. She likely wants to move on with her life. And when you suddenly pop up, she’s not allowed to do that. She suddenly has to stop her momentum and revisit the past. I can only speak for myself, but this sort of pause wouldn’t be welcome or healthy in my view. I suspect that if she wants to communicate, she will let you know. Other wise, it is best for both families to try to move on and to deal with the people inside of their own homes.
You’ve said that there is nothing between you and the other man and that there never will be, so why dredge up something that is long over and wasn’t anything to begin with?