It’s something I hear all the time from my clients: “My spouse is having (or had) an affair. Should I contact the Other Man / Other Woman?” My short answer is this: Nooooo!!!! Don’t do it! Easier said than done, right?
If you don’t know who the other woman or man is, you may be painfully curious –Is the other person more attractive than me? What did my partner see in him or her?
You may think that confronting them will make them back off or that they might tell you certain details of the affair that your spouse will not reveal.
If you know the other person, you may feel compelled to tell them that you know about the relationship and that their dirty little secret is out. You may want to express your hurt and sense of betrayal and tell them what a terrible human being they are. You may want to scare them by threatening to tell their spouse about the affair.
Some betrayed partners – I’ll chalk this one up to shock and not thinking clearly – may even believe that they can appeal to the other person’s morality or conscience. We have a family! Please, let us work through our problems! Please, stop calling my spouse!
Know this: the other woman or man cannot be trusted or appealed to
They have their own agenda and, whatever that agenda may be, only one thing is for certain: it is not to your benefit. The other woman or man is not a reliable source of information. In the vast majority of cases, nothing this person tells you about the affair can be relied upon as truth.
Getting involved in that person’s life by contacting his or her spouse only complicates your situation. You have no idea what is going on in that person’s life. His or her spouse may be fully aware of the affair, and may in fact be having his or her own affair. The last thing you need is more drama. You have enough to deal with.
Some opposite-sex “friends” can also create problems
Yet it isn’t just an affair partner that can become the unwanted third wheel in a marriage. Many spouses feel very threatened by a partner’s overly intimate opposite-sex “friend.” Maybe it’s their partner’s new co-worker or personal trainer. Maybe it’s an old flame.
Regardless, if their partner refuses to end the friendship, a worried or upset spouse may be tempted to reach out to the other person and tell them how inappropriate their behavior is; however, contacting your partner’s close “friend” is also likely to backfire. Not only will it get you nowhere, it may make things worse as your spouse actually grows more protective of the friendship.
This is not the time to react out of emotion, anger or desperation. This is the time to think and to respond in a purposeful way. This is the time to act in those ways that are most likely to turn the situation around and motivate your spouse to end the affair or friendship willingly.
If you’ve been tempted to reach out to your spouse’s affair partner or inappropriate friend, if that thought has even crossed your mind (or if you’ve already tried it!), you are probably feeling quite powerless in all of this. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You have better options than panic and powerlessness, and it might be time for you to start exploring those. You may want to start with my proven online crash course for betrayed spouses. Because you can reclaim your marriage and rebuild it on a stronger, happier foundation. Thank you for reading.
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Debra Macleod, BA, JD, is an international marriage expert and the founder of Marriage SOS™. Her no-nonsense style, “Fair, but Aware” approach, and 20+ years of experience have made her a resource for major media around the world, from The New York Times and Entrepreneur to ELLE and Men’s Health.