How to cope with images of your husband with the other woman

Picture of couple wearing underwear engaging in foreplay.jpg

Whether they’re in your mind or in his briefcase, seeing her and picturing them together is driving you crazy.

Your mind won’t let it go; you keep seeing them together in your imagination, playing hurtful scenarios out over and over. Will continually replaying them take the power out of them?

Commonly advised coping strategies are to remind yourself of all the things that make you unique, admirable, beautiful, sexy, desirable. This may seem like an impossible task when, in your heart, you know the truth; she’s beautiful enough that your husband chooses to spend time with her rather than with you.

They’re also not really healing, because you’re being abandoned in favor of someone else every time he sees her. You feel like you’re in competition for his heart, even if you’re so angry you consider divorcing him. It hurts and it causes deep insecurity.

Getting busy, being with friends, even getting involved in a new hobby might help distract you, but distraction as a coping strategy offers a band-aid, not long term healing. As long as the ‘the other woman’ is in your lives (which, even if he never sees her again, will be for a very long time), your feelings of inferiority, anger, hurt, vulnerability and jealousy will linger.

One thing that can help, though, is rather unconventional and may be counter-intuitive, but give it an honest attempt and see if it doesn’t somehow change your feelings of helplessness and rage towards the other woman (although it may increase your disrespect for your cheating husband.)

She’s a victim, too.

Think about it. She almost certainly didn’t plan on ever being ‘the other woman’, because no woman wants to have to survive on the scraps. She might not have even known he was married when they started seeing each other. Some women can date a man for months, falling ever more deeply in love and bonding unabashedly, before finding out. Then, if she did find out and tried to break it off, it’s highly likely that he told her to wait, please wait, he really does love her and he’ll find a way for them to start a new life together.

So this poor ‘interloper’ suffers, deeply, every day, alternating between highs when they’re together and the devastating lows of loss when he leaves. She worries he might be cheating on her with you and is haunted by pictures you two together! She spends holidays, most nights and weekends alone, waiting for his call. When her mother is dying in the hospital, he’s not there for her. She vacillates between anger and helplessness, a raging lack of real security and the deepest, most romantic and frankly most addictive love imaginable.

When she finally gathers the strength to tell him she needs to break it off, your husband/her ‘soul mate’, turns himself inside out convincing her he’s just about to get things straightened out, that he loves her, please wait just a little while longer because he wants to be with her forever. So, being a woman desperately in love, she waits — often for years — as her life drains away.

It’s not a pretty scene.

Is this someone you’re jealous of, who you envy? How does this make you feel about your cheating husband? This triangle is a no-win situation where no one is getting what they want.

Practicing this exercise in understanding and forgiveness toward the ‘other woman’ may change your feelings about a lot of things, from your own self-confidence to your respect for your husband. Maybe now it’s time to seek counseling or talk to your Pastor or Rabbi about how to move forward.