My Husband Is Now Friends With The Other Woman. How Am I Supposed To Handle This?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who desperately want the other woman out of their lives. The affair is supposedly over. The husband supposedly wants to save his marriage and to move on. So, when he maintains friendly contact with the other woman, the wife can be left with a very difficult situation. Because often, she too wants to save her marriage. She too wants to move on. But she just can’t ignore the fact that her husband is maintaining a relationship with this woman. Sure, he says that they are just friends. But the wife wants no contact whatsoever. She just isn’t sure how to go about enforcing this.

An example of a comment that the wife might make is something like: “my husband cheated on me with a woman who he met in a support group. His father has a devastating disease and this support group is for caregivers of ill family members. They apparently bonded because of their similar situations. This really hurts me because I have tried very hard to support my husband through his father’s illness. When I found out about the affair, my husband asked for a little time to break it off. He said that he felt that he was an emotional support system for the other woman and he didn’t want to just take that support away all of a sudden. I wasn’t happy about this, but I tried to understand it. Eventually he agreed to end the relationship and he said that we would save our marriage. We have been to counseling a couple of times, but I’m not a big fan of our counselor. The other day at counseling, my husband let it slip that he and the other woman were still friends. I blurted out that he told me he was ending it. He said that he had ended it, but he doesn’t feel that he can stop being her friend because she needs his support. I was so angry. I told him that this was not the deal that we made. He insists that he can be friends with her without anything inappropriate happening. He says that it’s not fair to pull his friendship away from her. How do I handle this? I want to save my marriage. I want to hold onto what we have. But I am always going to be worrying about him being friends with her. I am always going to be worrying about what they are talking about or doing. I just feel like this is going to impede our progress, but my husband says that I am overreacting.”

I didn’t think that this wife was overreacting at all. Granted, I see this from the point of the wife, since I too was a wife who was cheated on. With that said, I know from experience how challenging it is to move on after the affair. The other woman was out of the picture immediately in my case and yet there were still plenty of challenges. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been if my husband had insisted on being friends with her. I probably would have questioned his motives and I am not sure if I would have been willing to navigate this unless he changed his stance and broke up the friendship. With this said, I don’t think that you have to just accept this. You can renegotiate this and attempt to show him why this is so very important to you.

Frankly, I’m surprised that the counselor hadn’t already done this. I would think that many counselors wouldn’t endorse the husband maintaining contact with the other woman. If this wasn’t happening, I might bring this up in the next session. I would also try to address it on my own, at home.

A suggested script might be something like: “we need to talk about your friendship with the other woman. I know that you want to be supportive. But I need for you to be supportive of me and of our marriage. She is in a support group. There is a whole bunch of people there who can support her. She doesn’t need to be dependent on you. And frankly, if there is no future for you and her, then she should find a man to support her who can actually offer her more than friendship. I want to heal our marriage. I want to move on. But I am going to have a very hard time doing this if I am always worried about her. I need her out of our lives. This isn’t too much to ask. Just for a second, put yourself in my position. If there were another man, would you want for me to continue to have him in my life as a supportive friend? I’m sorry, but you have to make a choice here. Ending the affair and prioritizing our marriage and making me your focus means that you have to end your relationship with her. We both know that this wouldn’t be your typical friendship. You’re asking me to accept something that is just never going to be acceptable. I need for you to do better. Will you?”

Then, just wait and see what he has to say. Hopefully, he will do the right thing. If he does not, you can try again or you can tell him that you can not begin the process of saving your marriage until he makes that choice. If he won’t, then you will have a choice to make. However, hopefully once you make it clear that having his marriage and being friends with this woman is just not going to be possible. It needs to be one or the other. And your counselor can probably help you to get this message across.

As I alluded to, healing can be a challenge when your husband does what you have asked.  But I believe it’s much more difficult when she’s still in the picture.  If it helps, you can read about my own recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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