I often hear from people (usually wives) who would very much like to save their marriage while they are separated, but they wonder if this will be possible because they suspect (or know for sure) that their husband is seeing someone else.  It's hard enough to save your marriage together as a couple, but it can be much harder once someone else has entered into the equation.

I recently heard from a wife who said, in part: “my husband and I separated a couple of months ago. The idea was that we would work on ourselves as individuals and then come back together and save the marriage.  However, somewhere along the way, my husband connected with a woman at work and started going out with her.  At first, he assured me that they were mostly casual friends, but recently they went on a 3-day trip together.  Obviously, most people don't go on overnight trips with folks who are merely friends.  Every time I try to bring up the topic of her, my husband will not talk about her at all.  I'm worried that this new woman and this new relationship will mean that I'm not able to save my marriage. How can I possibly compete when my husband and I have all these issues to fix? And I'm sure that she seems like she doesn't come with all this baggage and all of these issues.  Should I continue to confront him? Should I confront her? Should I try to break them up?  Or do I just hope for the best?”

While it's true that the other woman likely doesn't appear to have the issues and the baggage, she also doesn't come with the history that you have with your husband.  While it's true that she may some advantages, she can't possibly compete with all of the things that you and your husband have shared over the years.  This doesn't mean that you don't have to worry about her, of course.  All of the questions asked by this wife were fair and reasonable.  I'll try to answer them in the following article.

Watch And Wait For A While Before You Make Untrue Assumptions Or Jump To Conclusions: The husband was still denying that he was in a romantic relationship with anyone else. And the wife really did want to believe this, but the overnight trips made her question what he was telling her.  Although this was completely understandable, there was a real risk of jumping to conclusions, overreacting, and giving this woman, or this relationship, more power than either deserved.

Because every time you freak out or ask questions about her, you are almost handing him over to her, in a sense.  You make the relationship seem more powerful and you make yourself seem more unattractive and more paranoid.  Of course, you're going to be curious and upset, but often you are better off if you downplay your response, at least when you are around him.  You will often have better results if you continue to be calm and confident that things will work out between you because you belong together. (You don't want to be overly arrogant about this of course, but you do want to be calm. I learned this the hard way because I drove my husband away with similar behavior before I learned my lesson during my own separation. More on that here.)

Consider Taking Your Larger Marital Issues Off Of The Table Until You're Sure That She's Out Of The Picture: It's hard enough to work through your issues when you are separated and don't have access to your husband, but it becomes even more difficult when someone else is competing with you for his already scattered attention.  You don't want for him to compare the two of you and figure out that it takes too much work, by comparison, to deal with you.  This doesn't mean that you have to always give him his way or back off on things that are important to you, but you don't want to continue to press painful or emotion-packed issues that aren't immediate or can be put off. Because you can bet that she's presenting herself (and the relationship) as something that is going to be easy and maintenance-free.)

What Should You Do While You're Waiting For Their Relationship To Cool Off? So what happens if you determine that your husband truly is seeing someone else?  Do you throw a fit, try to break them up, or try to confront her?  I think that the answer to all of these questions should be no.  Again, when you react, you're showing a lot of fear and you give her (and the relationship) a lot of power.  It's my experience that often, the first relationship during a separation or split does not last, so you are better off not overreacting.

Many wives ask me if they should try to go out with someone else to make their husband jealous or to show him how it feels.  I don't think this is a great idea either because I see this strategy create more problems than it solves.  I don't think that there is anything wrong with letting him wonder if you are going out with someone else, but you shouldn't manufacture or begin a relationship just to get a rise or reaction out of your husband.  In my opinion and experience, you will often put yourself in a better position if you wait it out, don't show an excessive amount of interest either way and create a lot of mystery about what you are doing. (I know that this requires acting skills because it isn't how you are really feeling, but in my experience, it can work. More here.).

In the meantime, this wife could still work on herself as an individual, just like the original plan.  That way, once her husband ended whatever relationship he might be having with the other woman, the wife would be in a much better position to address her marriage.  And she wouldn't have done any additional damage to the relationship.  Your goal should still be to work on yourself and to improve whatever the relationship with your husband might be.  You want for him to understand that you are easy to talk to and deal with and that you will always be his safe place to fall, no matter what ultimately happens.

I made a big stink and overreacted when I thought my husband was seeing someone else while we were separated. This only made things worse. It wasn't until I backed off a little bit that I actually gained some ground and began the process of saving my marriage. If it helps, you can read the entire story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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