I sometimes hear from wives who are in pain that their husband still seems to care about the feelings of the other woman with whom he cheated or had an affair. Many are annoyed that he still seems to care about her feelings. And some wives even feel that he is more worried about the other woman’s feelings than those of his own wife.
I heard from a woman who said: “When we were in counseling the other day, my husband admitted that something was bothering him. So the counselor pressed him to just be honest. Eventually, he admitted that he had a lot of guilt and remorse that he just abruptly broke things off with the other woman once I found out about the affair. He said it seems unfair that she got no real justification or closure. And he knows that it is inappropriate for him to offer that to her now. He says that he feels as if he just wasted her time and caused everyone pain. I don’t know how to respond to this. But I am seriously annoyed that he’s still worried about her. What about my feelings? What about the pain he caused me? Sometimes, I feel as if they deserve each other and that she can have him. Will things get better? Because I am just so angry right now.”
It is my experience that things will get better. And the issue of his concern about the other woman is a common one. There are a couple of different ways that you can look at this, which I’ll discuss below.
Would It Better If He Could Be So Lacking In Emotion That He Could Coldly Walk Away?: I have to admit that I myself have grappled with this question. And my answer depends on the day that you ask me. On the one hand, many wives wouldn’t want to be married to a man who would care so little about another human being with whom he shared at least something that he could just walk away without a second thought.
On the other hand, we wives would like it very much if he could erase any memory or any feeling for her. We wish she would mean nothing to his past, present or future. Some of us would even admit to wishing that he had negative feelings for her rather than guilt feelings toward her. So, I can really see both arguments quite clearly. I think that at the end of the day, when I am calm and not thinking emotionally, I have more respect for a person who is concerned about the feelings and well being of others. However, with that said, I am also very clear on the fact that any residual feelings or concerns are best left unexpressed, which leads me to my next point.
His Concern Should Not Lead Him To Communicate With Her: I think that this is really the most important point with regards to this whole topic. You (and he to a certain extent) can not control what he is feeling. But he can control what he does in response to these feelings. The counselor and the wife in the above example were both adamant that the husband not act on his guilt or his remorse.
Reaching out to the other woman to apologize wasn’t going to help anyone. It would only cause more confusion and pain. It might give the other woman hope when really, there should not be any. It would only delay the healing. And frankly, although I know without any doubt that any party in this scenario can become hurt, any woman who is cheating with a married man has to know that there are risks. I’m not saying that any one deserves to be hurt here. But I am saying that the wife (who is the innocent party) is the one who least deserves to be hurt. And she should not have to sit in a counselors office and hear her husband go on about his concern for the other woman, even if this is an admirable human trait otherwise.
What To Take Away From This: To me, the bottom line is this. If you can make it clear to your husband that now is the time to move on and that any contact is inappropriate, in time, his concerns will wane. Typically it takes a good deal of time for the immediacy of the situation to begin to wear off. The feelings tend to lose their intensity the longer that the affair is over. So in time, you will notice him let this go and you will likely stop hearing about this.
As unfortunate as this issue is, it is also very common. And it is just one of those issues that you have to work through by being very clear and honest. The good news is that you can work through this, just like you can work through the other issues that go hand in hand with infidelity. I know that this is annoying and frustrating, but try to take each day as it comes and strive to make little improvements each day, even if those improvements only relate to yourself. I know this is difficult, but it does get better. If it helps, you can read about my experiences with this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com