Ok, this is a tricky one. It's really fucking hard and so intense it was excruciating. I wanted to rise above. I wanted to be the bigger one, don't get dragged to their level. I was looking for answers. My mind desperately seeking understanding. How could someone do this? How can anyone have such disrespect for someone else?
I read a lot. Googled for answers and the same explanations were coming up again and again. Low self esteem, lack of empathy for others, selfish and self centred traits, victim and blame mentalities, codependent, possibly a bit of covert narcissism thrown in for good measure. This all matched what I could see about my situation. Did it make me feel any better? Not really. It made me feel like my husband was a total opportunist, what the hell was he thinking to fall for all that shit, but hey, this is real life isn't it?
I could rant on about "girl code" and honouring a secret vow the sisterhood is supposed to follow, regardless if you know the person or not. I could do what is expected, scream, shout, slate, insult, degrade and bad mouth this woman and women like her, who encroach on other people's relationships. I could throw names like home wrecker and husband stealer about. I could make it seem perfectly justified. She did, after all, do some very underhand, nasty things all for her own selfish gratification. She lied, sneaked about and crept into a relationship she had no right to. I could be, quite understandably extremely bitter, angry and spiteful. That response arises from the intense emotions that are triggered throughout this process and when it does it's fucking powerful, quite frightening at times and feels utterly justified when someone has an affair with your husband, but it also fades as the emotions settle again. For me, it doesn't feel good, regardless of how justified it may seem to be. It's horrible being that angry. I'm generally a good, kind soul and it causes me a lot of internal conflict when it happens. I know those feelings brew in a place of deep, excruciating hurt and pain, which is not a great place to base your decisions or opinions from. It's the place where, if actions are taken, they're generally heavily regretted afterwards. Plus, I was very aware from day one, I was not going to destroy myself by being full of bitter grudges and angry grievances for the rest of my life. No one is worth that. (However, I didn't know then about affair trauma)
So, without the books and the Googling and the bitter rantings, what do I think then? Total honesty.
To me, this is about respect and integrity. Just doing the right thing. Plain and simple. Respect for others and their lives, respect for family units, respect for other people without inaccurate judgements excusing questionable behaviours and, most of all, respect for yourself. Holding onto to your own integrity and ethics. This is something I try to live by from facing my own demons in life, and in the beginning, when I first found out, I actually had a lot of compassion. I genuinely felt for her. My husband was the one who was married, not her and I know what he's like, and when I say that I DON'T mean that negatively. He is not a player or a flirt. He is a very genuine and kind man. He's very attractive, he's tall, broad shouldered and very charming. He is very thoughtful, fun and caring. I'm pretty confident she'd never met anyone like him before. I hadn't. I absolutely know what he would have made her feel like. He would have knocked her off her feet, I am sure. As much as it's really shitty to be on the receiving end of someone having absolutely no care or concern for you, I completely understand she had no loyalties to me. If she wants to make these life decisions where she gets involved with other people's husbands and disregard another human being, then that's up to her and something she has to live with in her life. But, I feel that's a huge indication of where she is with herself, as no matter how amazing the man appears, to not say "Hey mate! You're married! Go and sort out that and come back to me when you're done" lacks a level of integrity, ethical principles, self-worth and strength. When lacking in all of these, especially self-worth, his interest in her would've been felt on a heightened level. When self esteem and worth are low, any attention gets lapped up like a dehydrated sponge. I did find this realisation quite sad because I could see how it opens the door to being taken advantage of. Being taken advantage of reinforces the low self worth resulting in being much more susceptible to the immense rush when some attention, any attention is offered. The rush makes it harder to walk away. It feeds the need for worth from external sources. It's a vicious cycle. To openly get involved in that kind of situation, to be so receptive to that type of attention, leans towards a lack of value in herself. I could see that and I genuinely felt bad for her. She opened herself up to this and all of this has NOTHING to do with me at all.
As much as I understand my husband is absolutely 100% responsible for his actions and the damage it caused to me, his accountability does not make her involvement harmless or less accountable. She had a choice every step of the way and an affair is ALWAYS carried out at the expense of someone else. Having low self esteem or craving love is not an excuse for that. There is so much denial, justification and rationalisation that goes on in an affair to defend the behaviour, simply because deep down it's absolutely known that it's pretty shitty and low. The wife is considered acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of personal gratification and there's a million and one lies the other woman tells herself to defend that. Mainly so she can continue with what she's doing, while convincing herself she's a good person and trying to protect how she is perceived by others. However, the reality is she is knowingly and actively complicit in harming someone else, and no amount of professing "but I’m a good person. They instigated it. I don't like how I'm being perceived” alters this simple, inalienable fact. It demonstrates an enormous lack of integrity to knowingly participate in harming an innocent party in the selfish pursuit of your own personal indulgence, regardless of what impression you been given or created for yourself about that party. Good people tend not to have to run about justifying their actions to prove they are good people. The actions they choose for themselves tend to be enough.
(And before you question, she absolutely knew we were married. I had met her very briefly on my summer holiday, just a couple of weeks before. I also read all of the text messages between them and the very first one I saw, was from her saying he could walk away pretty much guilt free at that point, and asking about his marriage. His reply was "Obviously I'm not very happy but I'm not ready to leave". She knew that and still chose to get involved.)
It takes a great deal of humility, intelligence and personal honesty to face up to the truth of your choices and depth of disrespect, and this disrespect runs deep. There is a prior commitment here. It makes no difference what state that commitment is in, made out to be in or perceived to be in. A big assumption surrounding affairs, and very often used as justification from the other woman, is that if a man was happy then they wouldn't be cheating, and it's the wife's own fault if they stray, as clearly their wife is a total nightmare and not paying enough attention to their relationship (blah....blah....blah), but when you read the stats and educate yourself on infidelity (as I now have) that's quite an outdated stereotypical and very judgemental view, which is not always the case. The choice to cheat, and be complicit in the cheating, is made by that individual and that individual alone. It has very little to do with the wife at all. There are a million and one ways to deal with being unhappy in a relationship, or pursuing your own happiness in a new relationship, which don't include disrespecting and annihilating another person. However, it doesn't matter, husbands are not "made" to do it by their spouse, regardless of behaviour, and they need someone willing to participate with them. Happy, not happy, on the verge of divorce or not, there are numerous things involved that deserve respect from both the husband and an outsider to the relationship.
At a basic level there is simple respect for a fellow human being sharing this Earth with you. I know that may sound naive, but in a world where "be kind" is shoved in your face every five minutes, it shouldn't be that difficult to do. Despite what is felt at that moment in the relationship, the faithful spouse (that was me) deserves just as much respect as anyone else. She is a human with feelings, not some shitty cold hearted ice queen that deserves to lose her husband and have her life ripped out from underneath her. On a more involved level respect is for the history between two people, invested emotions, a relationship, people, children, a home, an existing family unit, an existing life, an existing commitment, a co-joined, entwined life that needs to be sorted FIRST. There was a point in that relationship where there was love, if the relationship is coming to an end and there very much may still be love between the husband and wife if it isn't. There definitely was in my case. To me, no one deserves to be treated with such a level of disrespect and contempt that having an affair inflicts on them. No one. Regardless of how they behave (or you think they behave) or what stage they are at in their marriage. I know I didn't and that's NOT placing all the blame on the woman, at all. The vast majority of my upset lies with my husband, but, as I just said, he couldn't do it by himself. He was around plenty of women, mostly respectful, self assured women. Women with more respect for themselves and others.
That brings me on to having respect for yourself. I had very little awareness of affairs and what they involve until this happened to me and I got educated. I read books, I needed to understand. I found out what affairs actually are. This is what the "other woman" is getting herself involved in. A relationship that begins on lies and secrecy in the very first instance, and because of this deception, there really is little to no idea what type of relationship she is involving herself in, as I am sure was the case here. If he's lying to his wife, he's probably lying to the new interest too. Judgements and assumptions are made by the other woman to suit personal agendas and wishful thoughts. Incredible levels of naivety. Just look at the characteristics of affairs and what underpins them. Escapism, distraction, detachment, lies. The fact that men usually affair down, meaning someone who doesn't match up to their wife in some way. Look at the fantasy versus reality aspects, the difference between infatuation and actual love, the childishness and selfishness needed to carry one out, the extreme levels of dishonesty, cowardice and denial required, the list goes on. Is this really the characteristics of a healthy, long lasting relationship? Look at what this woman is opening herself up to and then decide whether she has any self respect and self worth. I find it a very sad situation indeed where the very worst of someone (ie a lying, cheating, selfish man) seems to match the very best of someone else (the adoring, attentive, perfect partner) and it's considered a genuine relationship. A lie is still a lie no matter how many times you tell yourself it's real.
I realised all this and felt sad for her. I thought the whole thing was pretty pathetic, if I'm perfectly honest. The pair of them were completely deluded, running about like teenagers thinking it was real life. At times I really wanted to apologise to her for my husband's behaviour. I was so embarrassed he would do something like that not only to me but to someone else too. I was very angry with him for fucking with people's emotions in that way. It's completely unfair to everyone. I felt bad she had been caught up in our mess, I was angry he could play around with people's emotions like that, but I didn't want to hold grudges. I knew she had a choice in her own actions, I knew she probably only cared about herself, I knew she had been hurt and let down, but I also knew that's the chance you take when getting involved with a married man. I understood, had very little sympathy but it was what it was. It was done. My husband had been a dick. I wanted to move on and heal my family. After informing her of the break up I was now able to read their texts, and I had her phone number. I didn't approach her. I didn't get involved in a bitch fight or trying to tear her down......
......that was until the antics began. Apparently, accordingly to the literature I read, other very common traits of "the other woman" are game playing, emotional manipulation and revenge tricks. Bunny boiler antics in layman's terms, so watch out because this is where I felt completely naive. Turns out there is often a history of this type of conduct (as in having affairs with married men), which can result in some very underhand, premeditated and practiced behaviour.
In this case, not too extreme on the bunny boiler scale, but nonetheless very self centred, malicious and dishonest antics. She'd clearly had experience of this before, as these antics were so shockingly covert and calculated. Angry, unnecessary and nasty actions, brought to my door. When this happened my compassion disappeared very quickly and I saw through the lame, false text apology and empty lies about not knowing the situation and being misled. I saw it for what it was. Selfish, self-centred and cruel. All bets were off now. You had my sympathy in the beginning, then start these antics with me, now it was game on. I'm usually pretty placid, but you come for me like that, then you better be ready for the response. I. Am. The. Wife.