In my circumstances of life, I am the other woman. I have been involved with a married man for many months and have since left the state and discontinued all contact. I am only in the beginning stages of healing myself- but I am very torn that his wife does not know. I, although already began the process of destroying their family, am truly seeking the forgiveness of this woman. The husband has contacted me multiple times and my answer has always been no. In the clearest most non-vindictive motive ever, I want to write a letter asking this woman for her forgiveness. Any advice?~Anonymous
So I responded with this:
I applaud you for refusing all contact with the married man. That's the smartest move for everyone's sake, including yours. A relationship with a man with one foot still in his marriage (no matter WHAT he's telling you) is a recipe for heartbreak.
However, I question your motives for seeking forgiveness. You say that the wife does not know. I’m assuming you want to tell her? I do believe she should know…but the best person to hear about it is from her husband. I'm suggesting you tell him that he needs to be honest with her or you will.
And then, I'm asking you to step into the wife's shoes. Let me to give you a glimpse into what it's like to learn that the person you love and trust has betrayed you:
The world suddenly seems extraordinarily unsafe. You wonder, if you could be so wrong about your husband, what other things are you wrong about. Can your friends be trusted? Your parents? Can anyone be trusted? Including yourself?
You can't sleep without images flooding your brain of your husband and the Other Woman. You imagine their sex is like the steamiest, most sexy movie ever. You imagine she's more beautiful, more exciting, more interesting – no matter that reality (and often your husband) reveal otherwise. You feel invisible, useless, of no value. You might need to take anti-depressants. You might consider suicide. Betrayal takes you to the lowest point of your life.
You feel a rage you never knew you were capable of. You could kill him. And her. With your bare hands. If only you had the energy to get out of bed.
You can't eat. You feel constantly sick to your stomach. Indeed, many betrayed wives are physically sick when they find out.
You can't think about anything BUT your spouse's affair. Your children fade into the background. Your work suffers. You take no pleasure in anything and wonder if you'll ever feel joy again.
You have no idea whether to stay or go. You have no idea whether what he's telling you about the affair is the whole truth, partial truth, or simply more lies based on what he thinks he can get away with. You wonder what happened to the man who promised to cherish you above all others, 'til death do you part'. Was he lying then, too? Has your entire married life been a waste?
Now imagine, in the midst of this emotional maelstrom, the other woman asking you to forgive her.
Do you see the problem with this? After all the pain you've caused her, you're asking her to do something for you.
It's time for you to do something for her. A kind something. A generous something.
And that's only possible when you acknowledge the pain you've helped create and figure out what moral lapse allowed you to go down that path.
What stories of his were you believing? What stories were you telling yourself? What red flags were you ignoring?
If, after this, you can offer a sincere apology – a simple no-strings-attached "I am so profoundly sorry that I contributed to your pain" – go for it. THEN live a life that indicates you've learned from your mistake.
But remember, the apology is for HER, not for YOU. Though it might make you feel a little better about yourself, ensure that it's INTENDED to lighten her load, not yours. Don't be surprised if she rejects it...and you. Her pain is so deep right now, she can barely function let alone truly absorb your remorse. She may hate the fact you’re using up oxygen on this planet. Or she might accept your apology. And she might be able to offer forgiveness somewhere down the road. I don't think I forgive the OW who was with my husband, but I also don't wish her ill. She's simply a non-issue now. I understand that she wasn't the problem, my husband was. If it hadn't been her, it would have been someone else.
The question comes down to: Is the apology to help her with her healing, or to ask her to help you with yours?
If you can't answer, then walk away and get on with your life. One without married men in it.