By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are caught in kind of a love triangle between their husband and someone else. Often, they never suspected that they would find themselves in this position. But when the choice is to allow your husband to walk away from you after all of the time and effort you have put in your marriage, the lines that have you have previously drawn are sometimes not as clear cut now.
I recently heard from a wife who said “last year, my husband developed a relationship with his assistant. He has known this woman for years and, if I’m being honest, I have always liked her. Last year, one of her children became ill and my husband went out of his way to support her in every way that he could. This was the right thing to do but unfortunately as the result, their relationship turned romantic and an affair began. I found out about their relationship last month. My husband insists that he loves me and doesn’t want a divorce. So I told him that he had to fire the other woman and cut off all contact with her. He did not hesitate to tell me that he could not do that. Not only would he never let her down when her son is ill, and he admitted that he has come to love her like family and he depends on her so much. I told him if that is how he feels then he should just let me go, but he won’t. He’s constantly sending flowers and buying me gifts and begging me to go to dinner with him. He doesn’t hide our relationship from the other woman. It’s become quite the mess. I don’t want to lose my husband. But I can’t participate in this love triangle forever. What is a wife supposed to do when her husband can’t chose between her and the other woman? Should you give him an ultimatum? Should you try to break them up? What is the best course of action? I’m sorry that her life is so tough and her son is sick, but I’m not ready to hand over my husband.”
This is a very tough situation. It’s one thing if you hate the other woman or she is evil. Because then, it’s easy to want to banish her from your life and never look back. But when you know her personally, have liked her, and know she is facing a tough personal challenge, then all of these things make a difficult situation even worse.
Even so, I have a definite opinion on how I feel it best to proceed in this situation. This opinion is based on my own experience and on the experience of many who comment on my blog.
It Is Truly Best If Your Husband Makes His Own Decision When He Chooses Between The Two Of You: I have to tell you that I dialog with many women who have given their husband an ultimatum and then have celebrated when their husband begrudgingly chose them over the other woman. But what you often do not think about is what happens after he comes home and the two of you try to pick up the marriage where you left off. Because things sometimes are not so easy then. Although the husband might have chosen the wife, he can sometimes still have feelings for the other woman. And the result is him moping around and pining for her. Needless to say, this can make his homecoming and the marriage less than happy because he’s always going to know somewhere in the back of his mind that he made a forced decision. As a result, he may not be a full participant in the marriage.
That’s why it’s preferable to allow him to come to his own decision. I know that I am asking a lot. I know that this is a very scary thought. Because you worry that if you give your husband even a little room, the other woman will push him toward her instead and, ultimately, you will lose him. But to be honest, if she makes the mistake of pushing him, then she might be on the receiving end of the scenario that I just described, which would not be the worst thing for you or your marriage.
A Suggested Script For When Your Husband Cant Decide Between You And The Other Woman: Since I’ve already suggested that you allow his husband to make his own decision without your offering ultimatums or threats, now I’m going to suggest a conversation that you might want to have to draw a line in the sand. I think that is very unhealthy for you to participate in a love triangle. It’s degrading and it laughs in the face of your marriage vows. So a suggested conversation might be something like: “it’s clear that you are having a hard time choosing between me and her. And I’m not going to add to your burden by giving you an ultimatum or throwing a fit. I’m disappointed that we are in this situation. And I can’t respect myself and continue to live this way, but I know that you need time. So I am going to take some time for myself while you are deciding that you want to do. When you come to a decision, let me know. But I can’t participate in our relationship when there is someone else in it. I want to save our marriage. But we can’t do that while she is still present. So when and if you decide that our marriage is your priority, you know where to find me.”
Many wives tell me that this strategy feels risky. I know that it does. But with this strategy you are maintaining your self esteem and you’re allowing her to make the mistakes. She will likely push him where you have stepped away and she will look more negative by comparison. Either way, this is the only true way to know how he really feels so that once he does make a decision, you will know that you didn’t unduly influence it and you are more likely to believe that it is accurate. And if he does chose you, you’ll know that he did so willingly and that he truly is committed to your marriage. Plus, because you’ve taken yourself out of the equation, if he really wants you, then he will be motivated to make a quick decision.
I know that this is probably a very painful time for you. But please hang in there. Healing may be closer than you think. I never would have believed that I could have saved my marriage after my husband’s affair, but that is exactly what happened eventually. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it. If it helps you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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