Almost all of us who have experienced Wife Abandonment Syndrome have to come to terms with the fact that there was another woman involved. Unlike the variety of sexual encounters that some men have with other women (on-line in chat rooms, one night stands on business trips, massages with “happy endings”, strip clubs and paid sex, to name a few), most men who run away do so because they are involved with a real flesh and blood woman. They are often having an affair in the classical sense, one that involves secrecy and sex, but also emotional involvement.
Women in our Runaway Husbands community deal with this female intruder in a variety of ways. Some see her as an evil temptress who preyed on a vulnerable man who would never have strayed were he not lured into it. Others see her as a bit player in the drama – it if hadn’t been this particular woman, it would’ve been someone else.
Who the other woman actually is varies from case to case, but the typical one is someone he met at work or knew from high school or is his person trainer – someone you don’t actually know (that was my case). In the atypical and truly awful case, she’s a friend (either yours or a friend of the family) or your daughter’s babysitter or swim coach.
During those months just after your marriage ended when you’re out of your mind, you may become obsessed with her. She’s a huge threat (why did he choose her over you?) and you desperately need to understand her allure. You hate her and blame her and probably want to hurt her somehow. If she’s married, you may be tempted to or actually do contact her husband to screw up her life like yours has been.
Here’s a quote from an abandoned wife on this topic: “I used to spend countless hours wondering how the OW, knowing we had a large loving family, could help push the relationship. I realize now that she didn't think anything. They are so caught up in each other that it justifies their behavior. And who knows what the former husbands have told her. He can tell her anything. She probably thinks she is rescuing him.”
In the early days, you will want to pump your husband for details, needing to know how it happened, where and when they met and how often they saw each other. And then, you probably want to know more – does he love her, what did they do sexually, what are his plans with her (sub-text, will she replace you in his life?) But it’s a double-edged sword because each piece of information pierces your heart and then gets lodged in your brain. The more you know, the worse you feel. Knowing details hurts you more and makes you feel even more betrayed.
You probably can’t help yourself and refer to her as whore or bitch, even if you’re not typically the type of women who talks like that. It helps a tiny bit to lessen the pain. One shocking moment I experienced in the every early days was when I referred to my husband’s girlfriend as a whore and he said, “Don’t talk about her like that. I love her.” OUF! That was rough. I realized the hard way that he was more allied with her than he was with me.
Some wives actually meet with the other woman and regret it. One told me “She just gave me boat loads of more crap to be distressed about.”
A typical question people ask me even now, eleven years after my husband left, is “Are they still together” and frankly, I don’t know. I’m very self disciplined and won’t allow myself to ask the friends we have in common – I don’t want to put them in an uncomfortable position. And as much as I might be interested, I don’t really care. I wrestled the other woman to the ground in my mind early on so she dropped off as an integral part of my drama. This was between my husband and me – she was unimportant.
So what advice do I have for you about the other woman?
1) Hang on to your dignity and stop using dirty words to refer to her. It feels good for the moment but brings you down in some psychic way (if even to yourself).
2) Stop asking about the details of the affair. He may be tempted to tell you!
3) Recognize that most runaway husbands have told the other woman that the marriage is virtually over and his wife knows it. He lies to you and he lies to her too.
4) Self discipline – as soon as you can manage it, stop checking her Facebook page, stop asking everyone about her, stop stalking her. It makes you look bad and feel badly.
5) Don’t try to meet with the other woman. There’s nothing good that will come of it.
6) Turn down the volume on her importance in your life. Unless she was a friend, this is really about you and him.
7) And be kind to yourself! As a matter of fact, give yourself a hug right now!
I know you have your own story about the role of the Other Woman in your life. Add your comments below!