I often get emails from wives asking for guidance on how to deal with or talk to their husband’s mistress. I recently heard from a woman who said, in part: “My husband won’t give up the other woman. I think that this is partly because she won’t back off. It’s obvious that she is not going to stop until she has my husband all to herself. She has been texting me and asking if we can meet to talk about this. I want to see her face to face, but, as silly as this sounds, I’m not sure what to say to her. I’m afraid if I start talking, all of the anger and pain will come pouring out and I’ll lose control over my emotions and say or do something I’m going to regret. I don’t want to show her that she’s gotten under my skin. But I want to tell her to back off and get out of our lives. What can I say to accomplish this?”
I don’t know many wives who haven’t fantasized about looking the mistress in the face and saying something so powerful to her that the words make her instantly regretful and out of your life. This is the fantasy. But it is rarely the reality. Most of the feedback that I get about such meetings or discussions is negative. No matter what you do or say, it usually backfires and turns out disastrous.
The wife usually goes with an agenda. And, this is often to size up the mistress, make her believe that the marriage is going to be saved so there is no place for her, and convince her to just go away. But, the mistress usually has her own agenda and the two often can not happen at the same time. She will usually not fight all that fairly and her goal is usually to make you have more (instead of less) doubts. In short, she wants to size you up as much as you want to do the same to her. She wants to get a feel of who she is dealing with. And she will typically use any knowledge that she gains against you and any negativity that you give her to justify her own actions.
In short, it’s my experience that this a situation in which the wife can’t win. Because she’s going to try to appeal to the moral compass and compassion of someone who hasn’t shown all that much of the same. She certainly hasn’t respected your marriage and your feelings up until this point, so why would she start now? Many wives tell me that they are hoping if the mistress sees that she’s dealing with a real person and real family, she might back off. And, this can sometimes make her take pause.
But, think about it. She likely would not have requested the meeting (or agreed to meet) if she weren’t still invested in the relationship with your husband. If the relationship was completely over and there was nothing left for her, she would likely just walk away without all the fanfare and the need to meet. You ask to ask yourself what is in this for you (and what she’s hoping to accomplish.) I know that you very much hope that this is going to give you closure and control, but it so rarely does. Often, the mistress will make you believe that your husband was the pursuer (and still is.) Typically, you’ll walk away from this meeting even more insecure and doubtful than when you started.
It’s actually my opinion that you should never give the mistress an “in.” What I mean by this is if you’re trying to salvage your marriage, this woman has absolutely no place in it. You are only giving her more power over you by continuing to include her. It’s my experience that your best bet is to just ignore her, refuse to engage, and ask your husband to do the same.
And truthfully, if someone in your family is going to tell her to go away, it needs to be your husband. She is only going to believe and heed these words if they come from him. Because if they come from you, she’s going to run right to your husband and report back. This is going to give her (at least in her mind) a reason to need to contact him and engage again. Do not give her any such ammunition.
I’m fully aware that although this insight might make sense to you, you may well still feel that you need to talk to this woman. I do respect and understand this. But my advice would be that if you absolutely have to talk to the mistress, you make the conversation incredibly short and one sided. Say what you need to say and then walk away. (This is why a letter or an email can be preferable because she can’t engage or interrupt you, but be careful of what you put in writing.)
Ask yourself what you truly want for her to know and to take away from this. For most women, it’s that her actions were extremely deplorable and you want for them to end immediately. If you go into a long rant about how she’s hurt your family, you show your vulnerability. You want to appear strong, capable, and in control. To that end, you could simply say that you are fully aware of her actions and don’t want her anywhere near any members of your family from today forward. Period.
Many wives want to go into how they are going to save the marriage or the dynamics of the relationship. I don’t think you should go there. Your marriage is none of her business. She has no place within it. And bringing up it, again, in her mind, might be another “in.” Your goal really is to swiftly and decidedly shut the door without a lot of debate on her end.
I understand the need to focus on the mistress, but it’s my experience that you’re typically better off focusing on yourself, your marriage, and your husband. I know that this is difficult, but it can truly be worth it. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Our bond and intimacy is much stronger and I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com