THE GIRLFRIEND. The OTHER WOMAN. THE MISTRESS. The NEW WOMAN. Ugh.
If you’re divorced as a result of your husband’s infidelity, who or what immediately comes to mind when you hear the word “girlfriend”? If your ex-husband lied to you, betrayed you, shared secrets and a bed with this girlfriend while you were married, your thoughts about her are probably not anything good. I wondered if I should actually meet the girlfriend, while I was still so hurt and angry. I definitely could understand crimes of passion when another woman is involved.
Any wife’s feelings are probably much like like mine were: that my husband’s girlfriend was a poor excuse for a woman and worse.
One of the newly divorced women who attended one of my 10-Week RADiCAL Divorce Recovery Classes was clear about what she thought of her now ex-husband’s girlfriend. While they were still married, she spray painted the word W#ORE on one side of the girlfriend’s car and SLUT on the other side.
At our meeting, she said it was worth doing it because he had to drive the car through the streets to get it cleaned up. (Don’t do anything like this that can be illegal and land you in jail. He’s just not worth it!)
If your ex-husband met the girlfriend well after your divorce … (not — amazingly! — finding his new soul mate the next month and moving in with her immediately) … you might have calmed down a bit.
A woman who becomes your ex-husband’s new girlfriend, an appropriate length of time after your divorce, is usually easier to accept. She doesn’t have the baggage of being part of the infidelity and the divorce. In fact, I really like the woman my ex eventually married. I often wondered if she had any idea that he had had at least two affairs while he was married to me, and the last one destroyed our marriage.
Should I Meet My Ex-Husband’s New Girlfriend?
I met my ex-husband’s girlfriend several times while the affair was going on. I met her in his office at work. I met her in a parking lot where she said, “He told me he had never loved anyone like he loved me.” and I told her, “He told me he wanted to come back home and prove that he could be a good husband and father.”
I still shudder that I put myself in those circumstances. I should have just taken the advice I heard later: “If he is dumb enough to leave, I should be smart enough to let him go.” Me being my own private investigator about the new girlfriend brought nothing but agony and despair.
Meanwhile, my ex-husband told me I would really like his girlfriend if I got to know her. Ummmm. I don’t think so. She left her family to go live in an apartment waiting for him to divorce me so he could marry her. No. I wouldn’t like her. He also told me she was a very spiritual person. Witches are spiritual, too, I guess. Just saying.
All of what I’ve written so far makes me aware that I do not respect women who are girlfriends to married men. As much as I want to think I’m above judging other people, any man who doesn’t have the guts to either work things out in his marriage or get a divorce before finding a girlfriend is not the kind of man I would ever want to ever be involved with again.
Don’t Make Comparisons
When a married man has a girlfriend or even after your divorce, when he has a new woman, It’s hard for any woman not to ask herself, “What does she have that I don’t? Why does he love her and he doesn’t love me? How could he throw away 25 years of marriage for someone the same age as our daughters, or for someone who has left her own family like he has left his?
As women, we tend to blame ourselves first. What’s wrong with me? What could I have done differently? He kept making me feel like I somehow wasn’t enough. From an early age, girls and women compare ourselves with each other. Right now in our culture, most pre-teen and teenage young women don’t like the way they look. That’s sad. We’re hard on ourselves, and we often carry that into adulthood.
But, honestly, if a husband is willing to leave his marriage for some sweet young thing, there is not much any of us can do to stop that. That’s about what kind of man he is, not what kind of woman we are.
If he wasn’t happy in our marriage, the solution is to fix it or to get a divorce. The solution is not to have a girlfriend and turn into a liar and a cheat and put your family through an agonizing, embarrassing soap opera.
Think About The Kids
For me, the determining factor of whether to meet the girlfriend or other woman or new wife totally depends on if you have younger children or not.
A couple of RADiCAL (Rising Above Divorce In Confidence And Love) women I know have specifically met with the new girlfriend or new wife in hopes of making the children’s lives easier and less traumatic moving forward.
If you have younger children and you have to pack them off to their Dad’s house where they will have to spend long stretches of time with the girlfriend, I think it might be good to meet her and tell her things that could be helpful in dealing with the children. And even if you can’t control what happens at Dad’s house, you can tell the new woman what the boundaries are at your house, and how it would be best if both households could generally be on the same page.
For some reason, many ex-husbands feel compelled to introduce the girlfriend to their children and friends as soon as they can. Or she just happens to be there when your children are supposed to have a weekend with their Dad. One of the RADiCAL women’s sons said, “There she was, sitting with us at the football game … what am I supposed to talk to her about? The weather?”
Our ex-husbands somehow think that everyone will welcome this new woman with open arms. Young children seem to be able to do that more easily because they don’t know about the role she may have played in the breakup of their family.
Older children usually have more reservations. The reality is, if this is the path their father has chosen, they have to either figure out a way to live with it or not. Kids realize it’s their dad who may be paying for college or helping financially so they don’t want to disrupt that. And often the dad’s are consciously “buying” their children’s allegiance by taking them on trips and being the fun, generous person in the family.
Older children are more involved in their own lives and are trying to figure out what kind of relationship with both parents is best for them. Don’t pressure your children of any age to talk about the other woman. Don’t badmouth the girlfriend or new wife. Our older children are smart enough to figure out the relationships that work for them. We need to give them the freedom to do that.
Even though I write those words now, during and after my divorce, the very hardest times for me were when my children were all off at the lake or at the country club or all together with him and his new woman. Those are my kids, not hers, and I was sad every single time they were all together having fun without me.
We have to find a way to get over that. The MasterPlan and our son Grady’s Parenting Through Divorce programs can help you deal with those awful times.
Our job as mother to our children is to continue to guide them through life the best we can. Their time with us should be good and fun and easy and not stress-filled ordeals. We cannot control anyone else. But we can make the time we spend with our children meaningful and fun and full of love.
Don’t Blame Her
It is tempting to blame everything that went wrong in our relationship at the end on the girlfriend … the infamous Other Woman. But it takes two to tango and our husband made the choice to do what he did. No one held a gun to his head. He made the conscious choice to be unfaithful and to put his relationship with her above just about everything else, His children, his career, his extended family and friends, and definitely above our 33 years together.
Having a girlfriend was his choice. However, it does make infidelity easier when there are girlfriends who are willing to knowingly be a part of all of that destruction.
It’s Not An Interrogation
One thing to keep in mind is that being a snoop or interrogator or constantly looking on facebook to find out more about your husband’s or ex-husband’s girlfriend does nothing positive at all. It tears your heart out, usually. You see them on the beach together. You see them with friend at a social gathering. Seeing those images brings a pain that is impossible to describe. Stop looking. Stop asking your kids and your friends about her.
In fact, don’t try to find out anything else about her! Spend your time finding out about yourself and what you want and deserve moving forward. Because the more time you spend obsessing about them, the less time you have to spend creating your own best life.
Remember What You Didn’t Like About Your Ex
During divorce and the next few years after divorce, most of us vacillate between wanting him back to wanting him dead. If you’re not getting him back, and you probably won’t be able to do anything about his early demise, you may be better off reminding yourself of why you filed for divorce.
I remember what it felt like to discover … again … that awful, gut-wrenching pain of him lying to my face, or him sneaking off to be with her, or finding out he had met up with her when he was supposed to be somewhere else.
I remember the sadness in our kids’ eyes when they realized what kind of tawdry life their dad had been living, and how they were going to have to figure out some way to adjust to all the complication that come along with that.
I remind myself that I never want to share a bed again with a person who wanted to be in someone else’s bed.
Dealing with the new girlfriend or other woman is one of the most difficult parts of divorce, especially if you miss your ex-husband. The sooner you forget about her and focus on getting your best life back, the better.
Let us connect you with other women on this trip. We have tools and resources and a roadmap, so that you don’t have to figure all this out yourself.