I’m the “other woman.”
My partner left his wife last summer. He and I were co-workers and close friends. He was unhappy in his marriage. I was unhappy in my then-engagement.
We both called off our respective relationships for various reasons, but I know our feelings for each other played a significant role.
We ended up together, passionately in love. Our families are happy for us and love us together.
My friends have adopted him. He pushes me to reach my goals, he’s perfect for me, the love of my life.
We want to spend the rest of our lives together.
I struggle sometimes with feelings of guilt and the role I might’ve played in the breakdown of his marriage.
I know he was unhappy and that it was his decision to end things with her, but still, I struggle.
I need someone to talk to but I’m terrified of being judged. I can't handle the idea of someone saying, "You knew what you were doing/getting into" or "Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
This fear is stopping me. Can you recommend anyone I can speak to?
You can’t have it both ways. No, I’m not saying you caused their break-up. But Yes, you will be judged by some people. It comes with the territory of being the “other woman.”
All the more reason you do need to talk to someone, since it’s troubling you.
An experienced counsellor won’t judge you. You’re judging yourself and need to talk this through.
Do you feel you “stole” him away? No. Was he unhappy before he met you? Yes.
Still, there’s more to learn about yourself, e.g. what else the so-called guilty feeling is related to, and whether your upbringing or past are preventing full enjoyment of the present.
Then, there’s how you deal with his ex.
You may always be blamed by her, that’s her choice.
Understanding her right to be unforgiving is part of the process of relieving yourself of guilt.
Our son, late-20s, lives at home. His girlfriend of nine years often stays over.
She’d spend time with us while he worked on weekends. When we visited our friends, she often came along.
Once, he gave her a substantial amount of cash to give to our friends who were fund-raising for a charitable cause related to their child’s health problem.
Weeks later, both tax deduction letters were inadvertently sent to me.
The amount on my son’s deduction was considerably less than what he told me he was donating.
My wife and I decided to tell our son about the lesser donation.
We expected a confession and tears from his girlfriend. What we got back was defiance.
We still believe that she took the money.
Now, no cash is left in the open. His girlfriend no longer has her own key to our house. Our son still thinks there has to be another explanation.
Sadly, everyone loses.
We've lost trust in our son's girlfriend. The charity lost several hundreds of dollars it needed.
It’s certainly a no-win situation since, without proof, there’s no end to your distrust and no true comfort among all four of you.
Had your son restored the original total with a further donation, he’d have admitted that he believed someone willingly removed some money.
(In fact, it could’ve been someone else who had access to that cash).
Meanwhile, the couple remained together and apparently are still living in your home.
The best solution now is to get past it.
FEEDBACK Regarding the lawyer’s advice that families should discuss early on how to handle parents aging issues (May 9):
Reader – “When it was "discussed years ago," my parents promised each other that they would never go into care.
“My brother and I also fought against the idea of our parents going into care. We’d look after our own.
“However, when they both ended up in the hospital after Christmas, we all realized that we’d been naive.
“My father, who is suffering from dementia, has had to be put into care.
“When the time actually comes to have to make a decision, it's not just a legal cut and dried situation - people and their emotions are involved.
“It's a terrible decision to have to make for someone you love, and in the end you have to choose what’s best for that person.
“ It's a decision that ends up being forced on you.”
Tip of the day:
If guilt feelings persist, get help to find out why.