Question

I had an affair on my husband, but we have chosen to stay together to work it out. It’s been almost a year since it was revealed, and we are working hard to become better for one another. The wife of the man I had my indiscretions with won’t leave me alone and sends me anonymous text messages and confronted me at work the other day. We haven’t told anyone our story except our therapist. I don’t know what to do about the wife. My husband and I have our good and bad days but ultimately know we want us to work out and we want to give our boys the best life we can. Any advice?

Answer

I’m glad to hear you and your husband are working to repair your marriage after your affair. Thankfully, healing is possible despite the challenges that arise from the consequences of your choices. Let’s talk about how you can face the damage you’ve caused in both marriages with humility and accountability.

It’s important to extend compassion and kindness to this betrayed wife. She is devastated and likely trying to get her emotional balance by contacting you. It’s important to make sure you don’t cast yourself as the victim in this situation. She’s interrupting your life, but this is a small interruption compared to the massive disruption caused by your affair. It’s important to keep this in perspective while you’re working to balance your need to focus on healing your marriage with her need for closure.

I do have compassion for her plight. She might be trying to figure out the truth. She may want to corroborate your story with his. She is understandably overwhelmed and feeling disoriented. However, it’s hard to know what she wants and how it might help her heal. I’ll first discuss some ideas on how you can communicate with her. I’ll also discuss how to move forward if she only wants to fight with you and harass you. I don’t have enough information to know her intentions, but you can at least have some options.

If she has specific questions that she feels will help her move forward, then, in my opinion, that’s the least you could do to extend healing to her. It will be an uncomfortable discussion, but it will give you a chance to deepen your ownership and directly witness the impact you’ve had on her.

I recommend you lead out with your own accountability and ownership, so she knows you aren’t going to deny her reality. You can let her know you’re deeply remorseful for your actions and then reassure her you’ll never contact her husband again. She likely has specific questions about what happened. I’ve seen these types of conversations create healing for betrayed spouses and I’ve also seen them add more injury. It’s essential that you don’t share anything that would cause her further injury. The most important information to share is your accountability and reassurance that you’re no longer a threat. It’s best to keep it focused, short, and then turn back to your own marriage. Recognize that her most important questions need to be answered by her husband, not by you. You both have your own separate healing journeys that can’t continue to interest any longer. 

If it appears that she doesn’t really want a conversation, then know that you don’t have to engage with her. You can have compassion for her pain, but your ownership doesn’t mean that you must let someone constantly harass you. You can still protect her marriage by committing to end the affair and leaving them to work out their future.

If she continues to disrupt your workplace, then you’ll have to decide how you want to handle this so you can protect yourself, your work, and your customers. Even though you can have compassion for her pain and struggle, it’s not healthy for her to harass you. If it doesn’t stop, then you might even need to change your phone number to make it more difficult for her to access you. You might believe that you need to put up with this harassment as accountability for your affair with her husband. However, I don’t believe that your ownership of the affair needs to extend this far. Ending contact with her husband and making it clear that you’re no longer a threat is your primary responsibility.

As the unfaithful spouse, healing from your affair is based on ownership, compassion, and facing your own marriage. While it may be appropriate to answer some questions and reassure her you’re no longer a threat, if you spend too much time facing their marriage, then you and your husband will have difficulty staying focused on your rebuilding process.

Your husband needs you to stay focused on his pain, answering his questions, and showing him that he is your number one priority. Even though you may decide to respond to her briefly, your husband doesn’t need to see your back as you busy yourself trying to fix what is ultimately only theirs to fix. Face your husband and allow this other couple work through their process in their own way.

Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]  

About the Author

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, host of the podcast, “From Crisis to Connection”, and creates online relationship courses. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.

You can connect with him at:

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