ADVICE TO THE OTHER WOMAN
After several months of reading blogs and comments written by all sides of the affair triangle, as well as a year and a half of reading everything connected to the topic, even in a tangential fashion, I think I can offer a perspective that might help – for those who are open to it. It does not apply to those who are involved with men (or women) who repeatedly stray from their marriages. These observations usually apply to men about whom others say “He would never do something like that”, “he’s a straight arrow”, or “I don’t understand – he seems like such a nice guy”.
I recognize that there is an exception to every rule, so some of these complaints in some relationships are actually true – which explains the 2%-3% of relationships that start in infidelity and end in marriage. Also, some of these complaints are true in EVERY marriage because both members of the union are HUMANS, and therefore imperfect.
ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
1. Has he recently experienced a life changing event or two or three?
- Birth of a child, new home purchase, child’s graduation, wife’s menopause, a 30th, 40th, 50th or 60th birthday, death of a parent, career disappointment? If the answer to any of these questions is yes – run for the hills. These events seem to trigger fear and feelings of inadequacy in some men.
- Many men do not seem able to analyze their feelings, they just ping around trying to find a way to feel better. Someone who listens and praises and adores him is just the balm his wounded and confused soul needs, and he may believe you are the perfect answer to all his problems.
- Unfortunately, the “event” is not usually causing the stress, the way he is handling it is. Since his wife almost always becomes the focus of his angst BECAUSE SHE IS THE PERSON CLOSEST TO HIM, this will not affect you until 1) you begin to push for more than stolen moments, for an actual relationship, or 2) the relationship is discovered. Then he has to face the fact that the problems he has been avoiding will actually be going with him and may actually be much worse.
- At that point, expect a messy end to your relationship.
2. Listen carefully to what he actually tells you about his relationship with his wife, really think about it, and ask a question or two before you feel SO sad for him.
- She really let herself go after we had kids. This applies to skinny as well as chubby wives. Is she working full time? Does he help with household chores – or does she have other help? How many kids, and what else is she juggling? Does she even have time to take a shower, let alone apply makeup and style her hair? Is there actually money in the budget for cute clothes for mom AND work clothes for dad AND clothes for the kids…it is usually mom who does without! Is there money for a gym membership, and is he willing to give her the time and space to use it?
- She is not interested in sex any more. Nicest variants include “we just live like roommates”, “I’m tired of begging”, “I love her, but I’m not in love with her,” “we are so distant that we no longer have a marriage”, and “I’ve never felt about her like I do about you”. Translation: I haven’t paid any attention to her in weeks, months, years, except when I want to have sex RIGHT THEN; I disappear when difficult things need to be done; I haven’t given her a thoughtful gift, a beautiful card, a sexy email or text, planned a getaway, given her a compliment or any sign of appreciation in weeks, months, years, and then I can’t figure out why she doesn’t respond the way you do when I squeeze your butt or caress your breast.
- She is not interested in me anymore. Variants: “The kids always come first”, “Her family’s needs always come before mine”, “She never listens to me or cares about what I do”, “My work bores her”. Difficult, but again worthy of considering perspective. She probably is not hanging on his every word like you are – she has been in on his career from the beginning and has actually met the players and experienced the ups and downs. She lived through all of the fascinating, funny or quirky events in his life, as she doesn’t need to hear the stories. She has already heard all of the jokes you find so hilarious more than once, and they just weren’t as funny the 3rd or 5th time around. Also, interest is usually reciprocal. He finds you fascinating too. When was the last time he expressed interest in her?
- She is so boring. See above – both parties have to work to keep a long time relationship fresh. Variants: “All she cares about are the kids…grandkids…dogs…cats”, “All she does is sit on the couch”, “She never wants to do anything anymore’, “she doesn’t have any hobbies”, and “she falls asleep on the couch every night”. OK, hopefully no matter how much you like this guy, you should be starting to wonder. Kids and pets usually reciprocate attention that is lavished on them; husbands may not. If the others are true, does she work all day? Again, who is handling the household chores – is she so exhausted she can’t breathe? If he really is sharing, has he considered that she may have a medical condition or be depressed – and therefore needs his help getting help, rather than having an affair added to the mix.
- She nags all the time even though I take care of everything, and I am so tired of never living up to her expectations. If he takes care of everything, what is she nagging about? Who pays the bills? Who cleans the house? Who runs the errands? Who has primary responsibility for childcare? What constitutes nagging – 1 request for help, two, seventeen? Did she issue a unilateral command or did she make a simple request, and he responded to it like she was trying to be his drill sergeant? Is his first response to anything his wife wants or needs NO?
- I am just a paycheck to her – she doesn’t love me. Tricky. If your guy is the sole provider, the end of the marriage is going to cause economic disaster for the stay-at-home mom and may contribute to his feeling that he is being used. Actually, however, this complaint seems to be made just as often when both spouses work and contribute to the budget, and even when the wife is actually providing a more significant portion of the income.
- I never loved her. Variants: “I should have never married her”, “I’ve never been happy with her”, “I had to marry her”. This one can also be tricky, so ask a few questions. Unexpected pregnancy? Graduated from high school, college, grad school and didn’t know what to do next? Wanted to buy a house, needed health insurance? She held a gun to his head? Seriously, what type of person makes such a life altering decision without thinking it through.
- I’ve tried everything to fix us. Variants: “My family hates her because she is so awful to me”, “she won’t go to marriage counseling”, “I planned a beautiful weekend and she bitched the whole time”. Again, maybe an element of truth, but ask why? Does he feed his family every imaginary slight, or start a fight on the way to family gatherings? Has he suggested marriage counseling with the idea that he also needs to understand his part in the marriage difficulties, or is he suggesting it as a way to “fix” her.
- She is crazy. Again, possible but worthy of questioning. If she has been ignored, criticized, overworked and underappreciated, and feels like she has lost or is losing the love of her life and her stable home life, she may be acting a little crazy. If, God forbid, he has had an affair before, she may be having trouble maintaining her emotional balance. It is important for you to really think about this one, because whether the marriage survives or not, your relationship has only a very small chance of success, and if you fall into the 97% that fails, then you too will be characterized as crazy, probably with the same intensity that he described her that way.
- I have to stay for the kids – they mean everything to me. Ah, you think. Such a good man, such a great father. Please – get a grip. If the wife really is crazy, then he needs a divorce with custody and supervised visitation. If she is not – just boring, sexless, ass too fat or boobs too small, too critical, too demanding, or not interested enough, then he needs to either give 100% to fixing his marriage OR work to amicably divorce. I know that it is not that easy, and that studies can be cited that show children of divorced parents have more problems – how true is that really? What is the relationship success rate for kids raised in a household by parents who fight all the time or barely acknowledge one another – what are they learning about honesty, problem solving, love.
If none of these complaints are true, or if they are inflated, why is he making them? Because he is miserable, and since it cannot be his fault, it must be someone else’s – and his wife is the person closest to him. In fact, most of the time, the “martyr” in a relationship ( as your married man is describing himself) is not the person having an affair. A martyr does not have time to get involved in another relationship – they are juggling too many balls to brush their hair, let alone sneak off to a hotel or spend hours talking and texting.
3. If you do not fall into the successful 2-3%, and the affair ends, please consider the following:
- If you or someone else see him and he looks “sad”, “devastated”, “ghastly”, “like he’s aged ten years”, he may look that way because he has just seen you, and he’s freeeeeeeaked. Not because it reminds him of the pain and devastation of losing his only true love, but because it makes him face the fact that he he is a schmuck. He used another human being to make himself feel better at the cost of the emotional stability of two people he claimed to love.
- He may also fear that you are about to make a huge scene.
- He may also look this way because his stress level is through the roof. Not “because his wife is torturing him” or “making him suffer”, but because he has finally realized that he has shattered something that he really valued and doesn’t want to lose.
- If you get word through the grapevine that his marriage is much better, or that his sex life has suddenly renewed, don’t just assume that “his wife is playing him”, “she only wants him because someone else does.’ If he really scared himself enough, really faced himself and figured out what he wanted, and convinced her that he really loves and wants her and their marriage, that may have been enough to revive dormant feelings. I’ve worked miracles with water and a little sun on houseplants that seemed completely dead.
- He may have acted like a complete and total asshole, but he probably is not one. A blogger that I love to read, and who has given me some real insight, advises married men when they consider embarking on an affair, to remember that it is not all about them. Actually, I think for a married man involved in an affair, it really is all about him – what he wants, what he needs, how he feels. The affair ends the moment he wakes up and realizes what he is doing is not all about him. I affects his career, his financial security, his friends and extended family, his kids, and most importantly his wife. Hopefully he also recognizes its impact on you – the woman that he has been courting, swearing love to, and promising a future that he never saw happening outside of his own head.
If your relationship does not come to an immediate messy end, expect it to when he finds that he escaped from his marriage, which was after all, the source of all his unhappiness, to find himself still miserable with you. Many of the things he was running from still exist – career trauma, chores, money issues, wrinkles, worries about libido, fear of commitment, just fear – all complicated by the disapproval of friends, family and colleagues and the logistical difficulties and increased financial stress of two households.
Actually, my advice can be summed up in six words “Get out while you still can!!!”