By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who feel as if they have been betrayed more than once because of their husband’s affair. It is bad enough when you know that the person you love more than anyone betrayed you. But, it can be multiplied if you know that other people (especially friends) also knew about the cheating and didn’t tell or warn you. And this whole process can make you feel very isolated and quite lonely.
I heard from a wife who said: “I found out five weeks ago today that my husband had an affair with a woman at work. I am very close to many of his coworkers because we work in the same industry. In fact, I would consider many of those women my very close friends. We have lunch together at least a couple of times per month. The other day, my husband and I were once again arguing about his affair. And I asked him who knew about his affair. Turns out, numerous people knew, including my friends from his office. I felt as if someone punched me in the stomach. I valued the friendship of these women and yet they never even tipped me off or gave me any warning. In fact, at a recent lunch we were talking about our marriages and I told them my husband had been distant. I was actually hoping that one of them might pipe up and tell me about a problem that he was having at work or something similar. Well, his problems were related to work all right because of the affair, but no one said anything. All of these women remained silent and ensured that he continued to cheat. Now that the affair is out in the open, a couple of these women have called me and left messages of apology. I don’t even pick up. I don’t want to talk to them. And yet I feel so alone. What do I do?”
This is a tough situation that many women go through. After all, many affairs happen in the work place. So it’s rare that no one but the two people involved are aware of the affair. So many women deal with the fact that their mutual friends knew about the cheating and said nothing. The wife often wonders if all of these people were looking upon her with pity and of course, this hurts her even more. I believe that it’s very important to put this into the proper perspective so that you are not continuously hurt.
Understand Why People May Remain Silent: I truly am not trying to excuse this behavior. I’ve had to deal with this myself and I know that it hurts. But if you were to talk to coworkers who are caught in the middle of an affair, they will often tell you that they hesitated to get involved for multiple reasons. The most common reason is that they don’t want to hurt you. They will also say that they hesitated to insert themselves into the business of someone else’s marriage. And, many worry about how this might affect their jobs. So, understand that there are valid reasons that people will want to stay out of someone else’s marriage.
Understand That You Get To Decide How You Want To Address Each Person: I want for you to understand that you get to make the decisions as to how you want to live your life. It is your right to evaluate the betrayal by each person and to respond accordingly. After some time has passed, you may well decide that you can have a relationship with some of them but not with others. You might decide that it is more healthy for you to just cut your ties with every one. And, if you have a support system outside of this, then that can certainly be an option. But, my concern is that many wives completely isolate themselves because they feel as they have no one with whom they can confide. They can almost feel as if the other people were almost condoning the affair by not talking about it.
Although I can understand why she might feel this way, I don’t agree that people who didn’t speak up were condoning the affair. They were often caught in a difficult situation where they weren’t sure what was going to spare you pain. It is your right to ask them why they may have done this or to tell them how you feel if this will make you feel better, but I would suggest that you don’t cut people out of your life who might otherwise support you or offer you comfort or strength. Dealing with the aftermath of an affair is painful and lonely. You need friends right now. And sometimes, it is difficult to confide in others because you aren’t sure what is going to happen with your marriage. These women already knew about the affair so that dilemma was over. They know exactly what you are going through.
As I said, it truly is your right to be the one to decide what will come of these relationships. You might decide that it is more healthy for you to leave them behind. Or, you might decide that it’s not in your best interest to isolate yourself and to ditch people who have been friends. Both decisions are valid. It truly does depend upon what you feel will be healthier for you. But I would suggest that if you are going to distance yourself with these friends, make sure you have someone else to offer you some support. The worst thing that you can do is to completely isolate yourself.
I had a couple of people who I confided in after my husband’s affair. But I made a deliberate decision not to tell every one because I had no idea if my marriage would survive. And I didn’t want to constantly have to talk about it later. This turned out to be the right call, since I firmly believed that my marriage was no one else’s business. Today we are very much together and happy and I’m glad that I don’t have to keep reliving it with friendly conversations. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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