My Husband Still Feels Sorry For The Other Woman.

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with an additional problem concerning their spouse’s affair. As if their spouse’s infidelity wasn’t bad enough, their spouse is still somewhat invested with the other person because of pity or empathy. And it’s not unheard of for the other person to try to play this to their advantage.

An example of this scenario is something like: “my husband cheated on me with a woman who were both trying to help. This woman is a single mother who started coming to our church. Our entire congregation rallied around her. She lost her husband in an accident and she’s struggling to raise her children on her own. So yes, both my husband and I felt sorry for her. But the problem is that he still does and I don’t. She knew that we were married. She knew about my family. And even with this knowledge, she started up a relationship with my husband and she told me and several other people lies in order to keep their a secret. Only a handful of people know about the affair. Most people in our church do not know and they are still reaching out to this woman. I don’t intend to tell everyone. I still want for her children to receive help. But I feel like I have to draw the line. Part of me even wants to leave our church for a while. I don’t want to see her. It hurts me to even have to look at her. And if I express angry thoughts toward the other woman, my husband will recount her sob stories and stress that she really doesn’t have anyone. Well, that’s awful sad. But let her find someone  to help her besides my husband. How do I make him stop feeling so sorry for her?” I’ll try to address this below.

It’s Important That You Take The Focus Off Of Her And Back Onto The You And Your Marriage: It’s very normal to want to come down on the other woman in the hopes that your husband will jump in and agree. It’s normal to want to direct your anger onto her.  Many of us try to engage our husbands in a conversation that outlines all of her flaws. But what we often do not realize at the time is that it really is in our best interest to turn your attention away from her as soon as is possible.

And when your attempt to point out her faults or her shortcomings to your husband, you run the risk of him trying to defend her, especially if she’s down on her luck as this other woman was. Plus, if you seem uncaring, unfeeling, or even petty, your husband may compare you unfavorably to her when none of this is your fault and when your feelings are absolutely normal. That’s why it’s in your best interest to move back toward placing the focus on yourself and on your marriage as soon as you possibly can.

Know That You May Need To Step Away For A Little While: I hesitate to encourage anyone to back away from a place where they receive comfort (like their church.) But in this instance, I didn’t believe that it was in any way beneficial for the wife to have to face this woman on a regular basis. And since it didn’t seem as if the other woman was going to back away (especially since she was receiving so much help,) then perhaps it would make sense for the couple to go to another church or to back away for just a little while. It’s difficult to heal after an affair. But it’s even more difficult when you are constantly confronted with the other person. If there’s anything that you can do to limit your access, then this is usually worth doing.

The wife was concerned that her husband would resist leaving the church. He may well be resistant, but if she backed away and made it clear that she wasn’t changing her mind, then he would have to make a choice as to whether he wanted to go to church alone and bring attention to himself or if he wanted to follow his wife’s lead.

Making Him Understand That Empathy Is Virtuous, But He’s Crossed The Line: No one could deny that the other woman was in a tough situation. I believe that most people would empathize with her, at least where her children and finances were concerned. But that doesn’t negate her behavior in terms of the affair. And that doesn’t give the husband a valid reason for cheating. Her situation should be considered to be completely separate from the infidelity.

Regardless of her situation, the husband needed to make a decision about his marriage and about how he wanted to proceed. If his marriage were important to him and he wanted to attempt to save it, then he needed to cut all ties with the other woman, even considering her tough situation. The fact was, an entire church was rallying around her. She didn’t need the husband’s support. She had plenty of other people to help her. And the husband had enough problems of his own.

So to answer the concern posed, I understand that the other woman was someone who elicited sympathy from others. But, at this point, this couple both needed to leave her problems behind, as they had plenty of their own. And healing their marriage after the affair was an entirely separate issue from the other woman’s problems.  Healing was what needed their undivided attention right now.

I understand that there are two sides to every story.  And I understand that this woman was legitimately struggling.  But I didn’t believe that this should keep the wife from making herself a priority.  The wife was struggling and hurting too. And she too was deserving of some kindness and understanding.  Sometimes, we are more considerate of others than we are of ourselves.  Now was the time for the wife to turn that on kindness onto herself.  If it helps, you can read about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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