By: Katie Lersch: It’s almost inevitable that the faithful spouse is going to compare themselves to the other person in the affair. This can be true even when they are otherwise confident and sure of themselves. It’s very normal to ask yourself what the other person had that you didn’t. This is compounded (and even more painful) when other people who you know and care about have their own opinions about the other person, especially if those opinions are positive ones.
A wife might say: “not only did my husband cheat on me, but he cheated on me with a well-known woman in our community. She has a very high-profile job and she is well liked. Frankly, my husband’s family is very socially and politically connected. And, when they found out about the affair, they didn’t scold their son or tell him that they were disappointed that he would cheat on his wife. Nope. Instead, they acted like he’d landed a great catch who could greatly improve his career. They’re almost supporting the affair. Even my own sister asked how in the world my husband could attract ‘a woman like that.’ So now I feel doubly devastated as if everyone thinks that my husband would be much better off with her. How do you handle it when your family respects and admires the woman your husband is cheating with?”
I will admit these are tough questions, and I would suggest posing these questions to a very good therapist, as that person is much more qualified to give an opinion on this than I am. Having said that, it’s my opinion from my own experience that when you are trying to heal after an affair, you can not let anyone else’s non-professional opinion matter more than your own and more than your therapist, if you have one.
I know it hurts to hear people express respect for the other woman when her actions are anything but respectable. But, I think what matters most here is your own experiences and your own healing. Who the other person is can’t and shouldn’t affect your process. She could be a complete unknown and she could be so famous that every one knows her, but the process of healing is the same either way. You have to go inside yourself and you have to understand that you can not let anyone else define who you are and what your own worth is.
That includes your husband. And your family. And the other woman. Only you get to decide who you are and what you are worth. I know that this situation is going to make it potentially more difficult. You may have to keep reminding yourself that this is about you internally and not external forces vying for your attention and threatening to put you off track.
I’d like to make a point that may or may not bear out to be true. Sometimes, a strong or powerful woman isn’t as alluring in this situation as she might first appear. Sure, she may seem appealing now. But when your husband gets a taste of how it feels to always defer to her career, or to play second fiddle, he might find that this isn’t as cool and wonderful as it first appeared. Also, appearances can be deceiving. She may look one way, but be completely different (and less impressive) in reality.
Not only that, but there can be problematic circumstances that come with two people in the same careers (with both in positions of power.) Many couples are able to navigate this with a lot of compromise and hard work. But if you add on the additional stress of the relationship being an affair, then navigating it might be more difficult.
It may or may not make you feel better to respond back to people when they make comments that indicate that they are impressed by (or respect) the other woman. But I would try to limit this. Because when you get defensive, it just diminishes your power. If you find someone commenting that the other woman is such a catch, you might say something like: “you can have your own opinion about that, but I’d rather not hear it. We’re talking about my life and my marriage and I believe that I’m a pretty good catch also. I’d like to leave it at this and not discuss it anymore.”
Try to keep your tone even and calm so that it is clear that the conversation is over and that you don’t intend to discuss it any longer. Hopefully, you will only have to say this once and it will blow over. Because frankly, the sooner that you put her out of your mind and begin focusing on your own healing, the better off you are going to be.
I can’t predict what might happen with this husband. The wife hadn’t explained what his intentions or behaviors were like. But I don’t think you can ever go wrong with starting with yourself and your own well being. At least this was my experience. Sometimes, it felt selfish – focusing on myself. But this turned out to be time very well spent. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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