When Confronting The Other Woman Or Mistress Backfires

By: Katie Lersch: I get an awful lot of emails from wives who are considering confronting the woman with whom their husband had (or is having) an affair. There are many motivations for this. Sometimes, the wife is reacting most to anger. Sometimes, the most persuasive emotion is curiosity. Other times, she wants for the other woman to know that she’s no longer in the dark. Or, she wants to tell the other woman to stay away. Some wives actually want information from the other woman. And sometimes, the wife wants to threaten the other woman to leave her husband and her family alone.

Whatever the reason is for the wife wanting a confrontation, I admit that I rarely encourage or condone this. Instead, I encourage the wife to not go there. I believe from experience and from other wives who I hear from that this confrontation rarely goes well and it almost never provides you with what you are hoping for. Quite honestly, much of the time, it only makes you feel worse, feel more insecure, and question things even more. Nonetheless, I know that not every wife is going to be able to let it go and that some are going to have the confrontation anyway. Sometimes, this backfires horribly and you have to clean up the mess. And there’s nothing to do at that point but just to accept that things haven’t went well and to vow that now is the time to turn that around.

I might hear from a wife who says: “I honestly thought that confronting the other woman was going to make things better. I intended to go and tell her to leave my husband alone and that I didn’t want her in our lives anymore. I’m a very quiet, introverted person by nature and this confrontation was very hard for me. But I was so mad that I was more than motivated to do it. I really wanted to tell her to stay away from my husband. So I did it. I very calmly told her that I didn’t want to hear any more about her. I told her that I did not want her to come near my family again. I told her that she should not tell my husband about our conversation. Instead, she was supposed to break it off and go on with her own life. Well, no later than an hour after our meeting, my husband called me and he was furious. She had obviously ran straight to him and tattled on everything we talked about. My husband instructed me that I was not to ‘harass’ her any longer. He told me to stay away from her and then he actually sounded like he was defending her. I was so angry about this. And now it seems that he is more interested in her than ever. He is now taking the attitude that it is them against me. I regret having the confrontation so much. It backfired as horribly as it possibly could have. What can I do now?”

Unfortunately, there is no way to take this back. You can’t erase it. You can only deal with the aftermath of what has happened. I’d suspect that it’s tempting to react in a very dramatic way and either defend yourself, become angry and indignant, or to go to the other extreme and actually apologize. I would not encourage any of these reactions.

Instead, I would simply state that you felt it was your right to see who you are dealing with, stress that you were not the one who brought this person into your lives and into your marriage, and then let it go at that. Sure, they may think that they are even closer now that they have a common enemy, but I will tell you what I tell wives in this situation before a confrontation even takes place.

Honestly, much of the time, you don’t need to do anything in order for the relationship to end. When you fight against it, you sometimes strengthen it. But when you focus on yourself and you back away, knowing that you have control on no one but yourself, the affair will often burn itself out.

It’s simply not as exciting when it is no longer a secret and relationships based on dishonesty have a very low success rate anyway. Frankly, you often don’t need to confront her in order for this to happen. And you paint yourself as the negative aggressor when you do.

You can’t take this back, but you don’t have to make it worse. You can still focus on yourself and let them worry about themselves. It’s my opinion and experience that the best thing that you can do is to conduct yourself with respect and act with the same integrity that you always have.

Do not allow them to change who you are and what you stand for. Sure, the situation has momentarily backfired. But that doesn’t change that they are the ones who put this very difficult thing into motion. You merely reacted to it. You don’t have to keep reacting to it.  From now on, make sure that your actions are above reproach.

I know that it is hard to feel as if you are doing nothing. But often, when you do something it makes things worse and it makes it appear as if you are the one with the negative behavior. And you don’t want or need either of these things.

I never did have a confrontation with the other woman.  I didn’t want to give her that power over me.  Instead, I willed her out of my life and I made it about me and what I wanted.  This worked well.  I understand the curiosity about her.  But I didn’t want to give her another second of my time. You can’t take back what has happened, but you can vow not to give her one more moment of your time.  If it helps, you can read about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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