I often hear from wives who are having serious self esteem issues after their husband has an affair. Many no longer feel attractive, sexy, or self assured. Many admit that they constantly compare themselves to other women. Sometimes, this means comparing yourself to “the other woman” (meaning that you are comparing yourself to the woman that your husband cheated or had an affair with.) And some admit that any other woman is fair game. We can find ourselves looking at our friends and acquaintances and wondering if their husbands are faithful to them. And then we analyze our assumptions.
One wife recently put this into words wonderfully. She said, in part: “I find myself checking out, scrutinizing, and comparing myself to countless other women. I’ll check out the women at the PTA. I’ll stare at the mom in front of me in the check out line at the grocery store. I’ll spy on families eating at restaurants. And every time I do this, I wonder if the woman in question has a husband who has been faithful to her. I’ll find something about her appearance that I like or find superior to that same attribute as it relates to my own appearance. My PTA friend has prettier eyes than I. The woman in the gym has a much better figure. My child’s teacher is much more confident than me. My next door neighbor is much more outgoing. And the woman my husband cheated with is probably more exciting in the bedroom. I find myself doing this all of the time. And I never did this before my husband cheated on me. It’s as if I’m looking for my own flaws and seeking out strengths or positives in other people that I can no longer see in myself. What is wrong with me and how can I stop doing this?”
I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
It’s Most Common To Compare Yourself To The Woman That Your Husband Cheated With, But Know That These Comparisons Often Aren’t Accurate: Probably the most common comparison in this situation is comparing yourself to “the other woman.” Many women will find out every thing possible about her. This can very quickly become an unhealthy obsession. It’s as if we feel that this woman holds all of the answers for us. If we can figure out what our husband sees in her or what she offers him, then we can figure out what we don’t have and respond accordingly.
But here’s just some problems with this logic. Very often, as hard as it may be for us to believe at the time, it isn’t this woman’s looks, personality, or sexual skill that makes our husband cheat with her. I know that some will disagree and debate this with me. But I have men that comment or contact me on my blog and it’s pretty clear that many of them cheat during times of crisis, self doubt, or low self esteem. So an affair or cheating often has more to do with the attributes of the man who cheated than with the woman who he cheated with.
There’s a common perception that the other woman has some magical attributes or that the husband has finally found the perfect woman for him or his “soul mate.” I don’t buy this for a second. And many men who have the time and distance to think about this agree with me. Often once the affair has been over for some time, you’ll hear comments like “When I look at her now I don’t know what in the world I saw in her.” Or “I feel so stupid when I think back on it now.”
So when a wife goes looking to this other woman for answers, what she often doesn’t realize is that, if there are really any “answers” to be had, she’ll often find these with your husband rather than with the other woman. It’s often something missing or lacking within him rather than something that the other woman had or possessed. Sure, the other woman might be younger. She might even be pretty. But this isn’t often the underlying reason for the cheating. And she has nothing whatsoever to do with you. Her appearance, personality, or accomplishments should eventually be completely separate from the way that you see yourself. Sometimes, recovery from an affair means completely eliminating her from your mind and from your life so that you can focus on your own recovery and on yourself. She truly is a third party and should remain so.
Comparing Yourself To Other Women Who Have Nothing To Do With Your Husband’s Affair: I often hear from women who make every attempt to avoid thinking about the other woman but who then find themselves comparing themselves to female friends, acquaintances, or even family members. This can be very frustrating when, intellectually, you know that this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Women in recovery sometimes tell me that they feel envy or jealousy toward women who seem to have faithful and loving husbands.
I hear women say that suddenly they envy the mousy neighbor whose husband rushes home from work. Or they’ll focus on the couple at church who seems to be dedicated only on each other. You’re wondering what these marriages have that yours didn’t or what these wives posses that ensures their husbands remain faithful to them. I understand this. I did this myself. But here’s the thing. As we all know, appearances can be deceiving. None of us really know what truly goes on behind closed doors. The couple who appear so in love today could well be dealing with infidelity tomorrow.
The truth is, we aren’t going to learn why our husband cheated from other couples, other people, or even other women. We are only going to get at least some of those answers from our husband and from ourselves. Plus, other people’s attributes don’t diminish our own. I know that it’s difficult right now, but remember that you are just as special and valuable as anyone else.
Remember That Someone Else’s Actions Doesn’t Affect Your Worth Or Value As A Woman. You Are Beyond Compare: It’s very common for women to take a huge blow to their own self worth after their husband cheats. This is in no way their fault. But, you have to fight this process. Because although you may not feel like it, you’re still the same woman who turned your husband’s head or who felt good when she looked at herself in the mirror in the not too distant past. You did not change because of your husband’s affair – at least physically. Yes, this may temporarily change the way you feel about him, your marriage, or yourself. But please remember that you didn’t do anything wrong. Someone else’s actions shouldn’t change the way that you feel about yourself.
Your being an individual who is special and beyond comparison is not dependent on the attributes that other women have or lack. And right now, your healing is probably going to come when you place your focus on yourself rather than on others. I know that this is difficult, but if you make a concentrated effort to watch your focus, stopping this process is eventually possible.