Sometimes I hear from wives who are considering confronting the other woman or lover or suspect that she will confront them. Sometimes the other woman has been calling or emailing and the wife is not sure how she should react if this woman knocks on her door. As much as many wives may long for or fantasize about this meeting, it almost never goes as planned, and in fact, looking straight into her face can sometimes leave you frozen.

I heard from a wife who said, “I was at our school soccer game the other day buying my daughter a snack when I saw the woman my husband had an affair with. I found out recently when my husband opened up to me and she begged for my forgiveness. I know about this woman because our children go to the same school. I saw her at the stall and having no idea how I should react, I pretended not to see her. But I know she saw me because later I left with my sandwiches. I looked over my shoulder and she was following me. I rushed over and sat down with my husband and then grabbed his arm. But I didn’t even tell him I’d seen her. Later, I was wondering if I handled this incorrectly. Should I have confronted her? Should I have said something to her or yelled at her to stop following me? How are you supposed to act when you see the other woman or the mistress? What’s the best way to handle this?”

My opinion on how a wife should act when she sees the mistress or another woman: Before I get into this particular situation, I should clarify that the correspondence I receive in this regard often falls into two categories. Sometimes the husband still cheats and the wife sees the woman while the affair continues. Other times, the affair is over and the wife is trying to save her marriage.

I have to admit that it’s probably a lot harder to remain quiet and passive if the affair continues. I know it’s very tempting to tell you, in unkind terms, that you know exactly who she is and that her relationship with her husband must end immediately or else. I fully understand your need to do this. However, I advise you never to put yourself in a situation that could go wrong or get out of hand. If you must say something, do it very quickly and then walk away from the situation. The last thing you want to do is engage in any kind of prolonged or emotional exchange, especially one in which she lets you know that she is even more determined than ever to hold on to her husband. If you must say something, tell her quickly that you know who she is and that the relationship needs to end. She keeps walking, don’t compromise. Be the bigger person. And never have any kind of exchange in front of your children.

Frankly, sometimes an icy look with your head held high and followed by a smirk is much more effective than any words you can say because this will only make her wonder what you know that she doesn’t. And not losing control of her or being negatively affected by her will drive her crazy. But if you lose control and raise your voice and start getting teary-eyed, then she knows she’s won, or at least she’s made you lose your cool.

Conversely, if the affair is over, you don’t want her to know that you’re still worried about her. Personally, I think the wife in the example above handled the situation appropriately. Walking away is, in my opinion, better than allowing her to annoy you, making a scene in front of your kids, and engaging in an exchange that is below you. The wife wondered what she should do when she sees the woman again, as she surely would at various school events. Like I said, I find the blank or cold stare followed by a knowing look or smile to be quite effective. If the wife felt that she absolutely had to talk to this woman, it should be a time when she is not in front of the children and in front of other families. And frankly, ignoring her is a better alternative (at least in my opinion and experience) than a nasty confrontation that doesn’t really solve anything.

So if I had to answer the question “how should you react when you see your husband’s mistress”, I would say that this would depend on whether the affair ended or not. That being said, losing your tempter or allowing him to get under your skin gives him the upper hand. It makes him think you’re upset that he’s still a threat, and it can actually give him a lot of satisfaction sometimes, which is the last thing you want.

In fact, if you think about it, the most hurtful thing you could do is make her feel like you don’t care anymore. You want her to feel like the fleeting, insignificant problem she will end up being. But if you get nervous, upset, or even angry, she probably knows better. Instead, if you can handle it, keep your head up, carry on with whatever you were doing, and if necessary, give her a powerful look to let her know that her interaction was no accident. But don’t do something you regret or commit to when there’s really no reason to. Healing after an adventure means moving on, and the more you get involved or interact with it, the more your progress is set back.

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