By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who have been cheating on their spouse and who are in a bit of a panic. And there can be a couple of reasons for this. First, they are beginning to realize the full brunt of their mistake. They are realizing that their fantasy or hope of “no one getting hurt” just wasn’t realistic after all.
Often, they are dealing with pressure from both their spouse and from the other person in the affair. Ideally, it would be great if the other person would be willing to bow out gracefully. The ideal is that the other person accepts that the affair is over and moves on without causing any additional damage. This is not always what happens, though. Many times, the other person in the affair wants to “talk” to all parties involved. They want to explain. They want a face-to-face meeting where everyone (including the faithful spouse) is present. And when you are hoping that you might salvage your marriage, this can be difficult. Sometimes people in this situation ask me if there can be any upside to this.
The comment might go something like this: “the other woman wants to sit down and talk to my wife. I have told both of them that the affair is over. But the other woman feels the need to ‘say her peace.’ I will admit that my wife has been bad-mouthing the other lady all over town. And so the other woman believes that if they can both sit down as human beings, she can explain that she didn’t think that I was married initially and that now that she understands that, she is willing to walk away. She wants to stress that she’s not a bad person and never intended to hurt anymore. Frankly, I never hid my marriage from her and I’m not sure that I believe what she is saying. But she says that this is for my wife’s benefit, not for mine. And she seems to strongly feel the need for this meeting. I do not think that my wife would be opposed to such a meeting, if for no other reason than she would relish the opportunity to ‘tell off’ the other woman. Is this ever a good idea? Because no one seems to be willing to drop it?”
This article will be discussing a face-to-face meeting between two women. But, this dynamic can also happen with men who feel the need to “hash it out – man to man” after an affair. Either way, it almost never goes well. People only need to “hash things out” or “have a meeting of the minds” when they are going to work together in the future. If the affair is truly over, there is really no reason for this to need to happen. Once it’s over, by definition, the other person is officially out of your lives. This does not include meetings with third parties. Having meetings is not moving forward. It is not letting go. There is no good reason for it other than to heighten the drama or to hang on.
I know that the other woman can talk a good game about needing closure or about getting things off of her chest. But guess what? When you are an adult, not all conflict concludes wrapped in a neat and tiny bow. Sometimes things get left unresolved and so you have to make a conscious choice to let go of the guilt on your own. This may not be ideal. But this is real life for well-adjusted adults.
If you truly want to save your marriage, your first priority is your family. It is not getting the other woman or the other man closure. It is not allowing the other woman or the other man to have the last word. It is not forcing your spouse to listen to what they have to say. Very little good ever comes out of these meetings. All these face-to-face meetings do is enflame and hurt.
So no, I would not encourage you to pursue this. I would instead tell the other woman that moving on means just that. Insist that your wife can make up her own mind about what happened and that she doesn’t need to hear it hashed out over and over again by a stranger. Tell her that from now on, your focus is on the future and not on the past. It’s your job to protect your spouse from future injury from the affair. And if you subject your spouse to this “meeting,” then you wouldn’t be doing that job very well.
After an affair, every one has to take responsibility for their own healing. The other woman can go to counseling or find other ways to ease her guilt. She doesn’t need to talk to your wife in order to do that.
As the faithful spouse in my own marriage, I am admittedly biased. But I would not have appreciated it if my husband had encouraged ANY type of meeting. I would have not only refused, but I would have questioned his motivations. If your marriage is at all important to you, then you must prioritize your spouse. Healing is possible. But you have to have your priorities in the right order. You can read more about my own healing on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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