Dear Ginger, About the Other Woman…

Dear Ginger

I have recently received a few messages from readers that were very different than the many encouraging comments that I have received through sharing Our Story.

When I first read the notes, I honestly considered quietly deleting them. No muss, no fuss. I am a quiet, introverted, peace-loving kind of girl. Conflict just isn’t for me. The last thing I wanted was for someone to come here looking for hope and encouragement in the midst of their nightmare, only to find negative comments that could inflict more agony on a breaking heart.

So, your husband had an affair. What did you do to make him cheat?

It was actually my Beloved who inspired me to look at this from a different perspective, and to share with you a little more about my story, in hopes that it might somehow help or encourage others who are facing their own broken marriages.

This is not the first time that I have been confronted by these questions, and I am sorry to say that I am not alone. If you have gone through the betrayal of adultery in your marriage, unfortunately, you may be faced with someone who implies or even comes right out and says this at some point as well. I felt so very alone while I was going through the breakdown of my first marriage, and I wish that someone had prepared me for the different struggles that I would face in the aftermath.

Who is to blame?

I have never placed the blame on the Other Woman in my first marriage. This is where the negative comments seem to point to me putting all of the blame on her, and none on my ex-husband. This simply isn’t the case. The readers have a point in that the other woman didn’t force my husband to cheat on me – at least not that I am aware. They are also correct that she was not the one who vowed before the Lord, our families, and our friends to forsake all others until death do us part. He did. When he chose to have sex with someone else, he alone destroyed our marriage vows… and our family.

If your spouse decides to have a sexual affair with someone outside of your marriage – he broke the vow. Not you. Not the other woman.

But what about her?

We’ve all heard the stories. There are scenarios where the other woman has no idea that she is involved with a married man. Sometimes a spouse can hide a double life so well that she won’t realize that she is also being played.

However, there are also many stories where the other woman is aware that he is married. She may not have broken the vow between you and your husband, but there is a general moral belief in many cultures that you just don’t sleep with someone else’s husband. She knowingly took something that was yours. It was not hers to take, and you have every right to feel hurt because of it.

Deciding to forgive the other woman for her part in the story was a big step early in my healing. As painful as it was to release all of the hurt, it was something that I will never regret.

What about him?

I try to use discretion when I share about my ex-husband and his role in the death of our marriage. This is the father of my children. They don’t know the full extent of our story, but somewhere down the road that may change.

That said, of course it was more difficult to forgive him. The excruciating pain, the doubts, the lies, the crippling fear, the threat of my exposure to sexually transmitted diseases… There is no comparison. Having to make an appointment with your doctor to be tested for HIV, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis, Chlamydia, and more, when you believed that you were in a monogamous and faithful marriage, is humiliating and devastating. Thankfully, my doctor’s nurse is my friend. She held my hand the whole time, listened to my heartache, and gave me her shoulder when I needed to cry.

Are you responsible for any of the blame?

As I shared in Chapter Eleven of Our Story, there is a common belief that if a man has an affair, the wife must be to blame for his infidelity. I have even heard those who have been the Other Woman make it clear that if he wasn’t getting what he needed at home, the poor guy had no choice but to find comfort in someone else’s arms.

No. Just no.

As much as I agree that men generally aren’t forced to commit adultery, one of the things that I still had to confront on my own path to healing was taking responsibility for my role in the breakdown of our marriage.

I never cheated on him, but there were ways that I failed my ex-husband.

If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently to save your marriage?

I allowed myself to become a doormat. I didn’t drag him to counseling until it was already too late. I didn’t respect myself, so I didn’t gain his respect either. I didn’t hold him accountable. Because of several devastating things that happened in our marriage, I shut down emotionally and physically. If I told you what occurred, you wouldn’t blame me. This is where counseling and accountability could have been game-changing. I turned a blind eye to the late nights, mornings where I discovered that he was still gone, and weekends away. I trusted him to be where he said he would be. I found evidence of his unfaithfulness, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to see the truth. As hard as I tried to be a good and submissive Christian wife, I still failed.

This was almost six years ago, and I am a different woman than the diminutive, naïve, and idealistic girl that I used to be. If I could go back, I would put our marriage first, and not our children. I would speak up, unafraid of rocking the boat. I would stand up and fight for myself – and for my marriage. I would get us into counseling and into accountability relationships with strong mentors. I wouldn’t have agreed to stay away from his computer. I would not have hidden my pain from my close friends and family – the ones that love me most. And I would have reached out and begged for help.

Even then, I don’t know if these would have changed the outcome.

The trust that is severed when marriage vows are tossed aside takes a long time to regain, even in the best of situations. I am blessed to know couples who have been through the agony and betrayal of adultery in their own marriages, but who walked through the fire hand-in-hand, and have found healing and strength on the other side. They each put in the hard work, the dedication, and lived transparently while they fought to earn back trust and save their marriages. They are such inspirations to me, and it was my prayer that we could have joined them. I also want you to know that it is possible to find forgiveness, healing, and trust in each other again.

What should I do if I’m ever confronted by these comments?

Be prepared for the possibility of feeling the finger of blame pointed at you somewhere in your healing journey. Even though this may happen, I can’t stress this enough – If you were faithful to your spouse, it is not your fault.

Do you hear me? This is not your fault.

You are not alone. Even when you don’t know which way to turn, who to trust, or how to survive the physical pain of your heart breaking in two… Please know that you are not alone in this.

You will find the strength to do the next thing. You will smile again. You will heal.

You are not alone… I promise.

I hope that I cleared things up a bit.

~ Love and hugs,

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Written by ginger


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17 Comments
  • Becky says:

    You never cease to amaze me with your willingness to share your story, all the different facets of it.

  • Caren says:

    You have grace and empathy beyond your years, Love. Those who are judgmental have not walked IN YOUR SHOES.

  • Lauren Tamm says:

    Thanks for sharing your honest story! I really do agree the person who broke the vow is the one who needs to take accountability and responsibility for his or her actions. There are times I try look at myself as a wife and think about if I am really honoring my husband, building trust, and loving him the way I vowed I would. I think my husband would say the same thing. At the end of the day, the only thing I know for certain, is marriage is a lot of work 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you. I am just separating from a cheating spouse with a porn addiction as well. I really identify with some of the things I wish I had done differently. Like not just let things go. I was afraid of getting in his face about sin that I could see growing. Satan wants me to buy into the lie that I wasn’t good enough, that if had been a better wife this wouldn’t have happened. I have to confront those lies with the truth which is that I didn’t break my vow, he did. I have given so many opportunities for healing. I wanted us to heal from this but he had to want it to. He didn’t. God still has good things in store for me. And for all of you too!

  • Diane L. says:

    Thank you so much for addressing these issues rather than deleting them. You shared so much wisdom that I know will be a blessing to many woman.

  • Kaitlin says:

    Ginger, I can’t thank you enough for your Christly example of love, grace, and forgiveness. Your humility is a gem that shines brightly for Jesus. Thank you for sharing your story. I am young, and I have much of my life still ahead of me…but the way you have come out of that trial stronger and brighter for Jesus despite it all with love and forgiveness in your heart is an inspiration to me and an example I want to follow. Please be encouraged dear sister for you have encouraged me!
    Much love and hugs, Kaitlin

  • Ginger, you are really brave to address these issues head-on. I like to avoid conflict too, and I’ve got to tell you, the temptation to delete those comments would have been strong! I also really respect you for choosing to keep certain parts of the story unsaid for the sake of your kids.

  • Krista says:

    I’m sorry people said these things to you. XO Such hurtful and unkind things. I’m so glad you’re in such a place of strength and love now that you can see the lies for the lies and the truths for the truths and know where you stand. XO

  • […] I introduced a new series where I respond to questions and comments from you – my readers! This week’s post addressed negative comments that I had received about Our […]

  • […] from my heart, and answered some hard questions about the Other Woman […]

  • […] that you need to do: Go to your doctor and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. I shared here about how embarrassed I was to be tested, but you have to do this for the sake of your health. I wish that I could be there to hold your […]

  • Thank you for sharing such an honest story. This is an important message to get out to many women who do blame themselves, and to many others who blame them. Visiting from #ThrowbackThursdaylinkup today.

  • So brave of you to share this with others. Sounds like you have a healthy attitude about what happened and the people involved.

  • Lacy says:

    Thank you for writing this and for being so open. I am currently going through this same situation, and it helps so much to know there are other ladies who have walked the same path and have lived through it. Reading your post almost feels like something from my own heart.

  • ginger says:

    This is me. Three years ago, and now as we are living a legal separation. I have told almost no one we are separated, and of course, very few know of his affair. I tried to forgive, but the lies, deceit and continual patters of distrust worn me down. Eventually he fell back to old habits (although not a full blown affair, but little things). I too saw signs but after several medical conditions and problems I simply did not have the strength to fight. He knew that, and he took advantage of it, in turn blaming me (I blame both, she knew he was married) for never being “there” for him. Simply put I needed therapy, love, compassion and time to heal. He offered and helped in none of that. He wants to work it out, but in separate homes. Same pattern, just not here physically. I am stronger now (it has taken years), but weak in many ways. I don’t think the pain, mistrust or anger will ever go away. I am hoping for healing. Time will tell. Thank you for allowing me to share by writing your story. (ps, my nickname really is Ginger)

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I’m Ginger ~

I'm a wife to my Beloved, mom of three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas Girl. It is my desire to encourage you. No matter what storm you're going through right now, you are not alone. I promise.

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