A little more than four years ago, my husband left me for another woman. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. That he went on to marry her, however, is.
When I first learned about her existence after seeing suspicious texts on his phone, I was determined to find out whatever I could — who she was, how long she knew my husband and, most important, what she wanted from him.
So I picked up the phone, and I called her.
In a handful of conversations, I ordered her to leave my husband alone. She wouldn’t. Instead she grew more steadfast in her position; she said he was hers now and there was nothing I could do to change that.
A relative advised me to get on a plane, fly to Hong Kong — where my husband was spending months at a time for work — and fight for my marriage.
I decided against it. Instead, I begged. During what would be his last visit home, he announced he was leaving me and I dropped to my knees and urged my cheating husband to stay. I was scared for the future and what life would be like without him. But more than that, deep down I knew that getting on a plane to try to save our marriage would do no good. My husband had already left the relationship. In fact, so had I. I just hadn’t realized it yet.
By that point our marriage had been deteriorating for years. While we had once been unable to get enough of each other, by this point we could barely tolerate each other’s company and walked through our lives as business partners more than anything else.
Unmoved by my heartfelt pleas for him to stay, including a handwritten letter that I later retrieved from his briefcase long after it went unanswered, my husband continued his relationship with his mistress. I, on the other hand, prepared to divorce him, which I did about a year later. That was nearly three years ago.
Last year, my now ex-husband married this woman, the “other woman,” and a few months ago they had a child.
My situation isn’t like that of most divorcées since my husband continues to live overseas and does not share physical custody with me. He visits our three children every one to two months and takes them on vacations a few times per year, most of the time without his significant other. As a result I have not had to see or deal with this woman except to listen as my children have described her comings and goings after those few times they have been in her presence. I admit we have had our share of laughs, some deservedly, at her expense.
But because she isn’t around, I rarely think about her. Nor do I ask questions about her, Google her or stalk her Facebook page. There was a time when I did. And on the off-chance my kids regale me with a story about her, unless it concerns their health and well-being, I tell them I am not interested in hearing it because, to put it simply, I am not. Years ago, I learned all I needed to know. What she does now has no relevance to or impact on my life.
Next month, for the first time in more than four years since my husband and I separated, I am sending my oldest child, who is almost 16, to visit her father and his new family overseas. Apart from my desire that my ex-husband’s wife, now my children’s stepmother, will treat my daughter well in my absence, I remain ambivalent to her involvement in my children’s lives. Better there be peace than acrimony between them, and I have reminded my daughter to be both friendly and respectful to her. Although the home she is visiting belongs to her father, it belongs to his wife as well.
It’s hard to say whether our marriage would have survived had this woman left us alone to repair it. I am inclined to say possibly in the short-term but likely not much longer than that. Even if the two of them had never met, I believe the lack of love and mutual respect my husband and I showed each other, especially in the later years of our marriage, would have eventually brought us to the same result. We would have divorced even if neither one of us had cheated.
During those early months when my marriage was unraveling, the very thought of this woman disgusted me. I saw her as an interloper, a trespasser and the catalyst that brought an already troubled marriage to its abrupt end. She was all of those things.
But she was also the impetus for me building a new life for myself, including a career I love. I hope now that I may one day spend my life with a man I love.
Yes, this other woman fought for my husband and won. But today, I consider myself the victor.