The Other Woman
Online support groups for divorced women, like Worthy’s facebook group, abound with acronyms that apply to our situations. SBX, soon-to-be-ex, DH, dear husband, OW, other woman. The OW makes a frequent appearance, unfortunately. If you’ve tried online dating, you’ve probably discovered, to your horror, that there are a fair amount of men out there cheating. And cheating might be what led to your divorce.
My dad cheated on my mom when I was just five years old. Their marriage lasted another thirteen plus years, but from what she told me it was never the same again. When you rebuild from ruins, the new building won’t look the same. It will have some cracks. Eventually, they divorced.
As I grew older and watched my mom dating, I recognized her hurt – the struggles with feeling inadequate. Or needing male attention so she could tell herself that she was attractive, to help rebuild her self-esteem after the hurt of infidelity. But, as she worked through the damage his actions had caused, she rarely if ever said anything bad about him or the other woman.
I completely understand the urge to call the other woman nasty names, to respond with shock that she’d knowingly date a married man, or laugh at their belief that it will last. These are all normal emotional reactions to pain.
Betrayal cuts deeply. It undermines everything you believed to be true about your marriage. It leads you to question every good memory and can send you into a spiral of self-doubt and questions if you let it. How long was he cheating? How did I miss it? When were they together? You can drive yourself up a proverbial wall.
At some point, you will have to release all that or risk spending the rest of your life buried under anger and bitterness. Name-calling doesn’t promote the healing process.
If your husband cheated on you, he demonstrated deep disrespect. That’s not debatable, in my opinion. Your children may not know what happened at the time, but they’ll eventually find out how Daddy’s new girlfriend came into his life. But when we engage in name-calling and petty behavior towards the OW, we are demonstrating the same disrespect.
But she slept with a married man. She doesn’t deserve respect! I can hear you say.
Doesn’t matter. To repay disrespect with disrespect sends a dangerous message to your watching children. It’s not your job to tell them what happened or instill bitterness in them towards her and your ex. She is a human being, and how you treat and speak about her will inform how your children might someday act towards someone they don’t like.
I was sixteen when I found out, completely by accident, that my dad had cheated. It shook my very foundation. My dad wasn’t still with the woman he’d cheated with, but I remember realizing that my mom had never said a bad word about her. She’d been polite, cool and distant, but not rude. And I hugely admired her for her behavior, and for sparing me the nastiness that could have taken place.
Taking the high road isn’t easy. And maybe you do need to vent in an online forum to keep it from your kids. But, in a society filled with disrespect towards women, why add to it? I have seen some horrible words thrown around when describing the OW, and I always cringe. I don’t like seeing women described that way – period, no matter what they’ve done.
Yes, her actions hurt you. But it’s your ex who is truly responsible for the pain. No one forced him to cheat. And how do you want your kids to treat people who’ve hurt them?
It’s not easy to be the parent who demonstrates grace and civility when the other parent is skipping through the daisies, ignoring the consequences of everything they’ve done. Your ex acted despicably, but someday you’ll be able to sleep easier than him, knowing your conscience is clear. It may not be easy to bite your tongue, but it’s definitely worth it And, someday, your children will thank you for it.