It is painful and can be shocking to realize that your husband or even your ex is or may be with another woman. Seeing your guy with someone else hurts deeply. The thought of your current or even you ex husband is with someone else can literally make you sick.
One of my clients recently told me, “Chris, it kills me to see her with him. It tears me apart and I feel helpless”.
Of course, feeling sick when you see your husband or ex acting way too friendly and intimate around another women isn’t the only reaction you will experience.
A wife who thinks that some other woman is making a move on her husband will likely be swept over with a wide range of emotions such as anger, bewilderment, shock, betrayal and disappointment. I have some clients who told me that they became unglued when they spied their husband mixed up with another woman, to the point they experienced a full-blown meltdown. So make no mistake. This business of seeing your husband potentially compromised can be emotionally rattling.
So what are you to do if you are in a steady relationship and you discover (or think you have uncovered) your spouse or lover hanging around some other girl? Clearly, such a discovery can set your head a spinning.
How do you stop thinking about your ex with someone?
How would you know if there is some funny business even happening?
Can you be sure that there is not some innocent explanation for why they are together?
Could you be wrong about those interactions that look a bit too intimate?
Just seeing your husband with someone else can have a chilling effect on how you think about yourself, your marriage…..just about everything going on in your life at that time.
So figuring out how you should feel about it and what you should do is important.
Your sure don’t want your husband getting into something he will later regret.
Nor do you want to mis-shoot and overreact.
And what if we are talking about your ex husband?
If it turns out that your ex husband has taken up with another women, how should you deal with seeing them with someone else?
On one level, you think it shouldn’t bother you. Both you and your ex have your own life now and are both free to do what you wish. But letting go of the past is a lot easier said than done.
Sometimes our past experiences with our lovers just won’t let go of us.
Leave My Husband Alone!
I know it is easy for one’s mind to race away.
Your first racing thought could be that your husband (or ex) has fallen in love with someone else. It is often absurd to think this way (in most cases), but such thoughts can take on their own life.
Just seeing or recounting images of your husband being a little too attentive to another woman can set you off. Now, I don’t want you being too hard on yourself. If such thoughts do run through your mind, don’t think of yourself as some kind of crazy woman.
Seeing the person you love with someone else can reach down deep into you and strike many emotional chords. I certainly could not imagine my wife with someone else. Even if it is your ex who is with someone else, you should expect to experience a lot of twisted up feelings.
Just because we are no longer dating or are married to an individual, doesn’t mean all those intimate feelings and experiences we once enjoyed with them have wasted away in our memory love bank.
Intellectually we can try to reason with ourselves, but intimate connections with another human simply does not just slide right out of our lives.
Let’s hear from some women on this topic to examine their experiences and what they felt when they either saw or caught wind of their husband or ex cozying up to another woman.
It really jarred me when I spotted him in a restaurant with this woman. It kills me even now when I think about seeing her with my husband. They were seated close together and it just didn’t look right. Should I confront my husband about what was going or am I just being paranoid?
I saw my ex at the movies with this other girl and my heart skipped a beat. I can’t help it but when I think of my ex with this other woman, it makes me feel sick with jealousy. Then I get mad. So seeing my ex husband with someone else really kills me. I know you did a post on how to cope with your ex dating others, but the sight of him with this woman just ties me up in knots. It takes me days to get over it.
I am sure my ex husband is sleeping with someone else already. Perhaps it is no longer my business, but I still have feelings and when I think about him and her, I cringe. Frankly, I am not sure how to stop thinking about my ex sleeping around. I am not doing it. I should. Part of it I think is my lack of trust in men . I think another part of me is hoping for a chance for us to get back together. I am sickened by the thought of him having sex. I know you will tell me I need to change my focus and stop making my ex husband’s behavior top of mind.
Look Chris, I am through with my husband. We are separated and agreed to date others. But I am afraid he won’t let me go. My ex is seeing someone else but contacts me and wants to tell me about it. What is with that? Is he trying to hurt me all over again. I tell him to stop, that I don’t want to hear it. Then he goes into this explanation about how it’s not working out and so on. Is this his way of trying to pry himself back into my life? He confuses me.
Obviously, some of the comments above dealt with women and their exes.
It can be difficult to separate all of the cascading emotions running through your mind when you spot your ex husband or boyfriend with another lady. You work so hard to kill off those lingering uncertainties you had about whether the marriage could be saved. Just when you think you have wrestled back control of your thoughts, they can easily go flying again in all directions once you see another woman at his side.
Look, I realize it is easy for me to say that you should just keep going on with your life and not focus on such things.
And I know it is easy for me to say that your ex husband is entitled to see and date whoever he wishes, just like you are too. But saying something you should know and agreeing with it is altogether a different thing than the actual feelings bubbling up inside you.
My experience is that even after months or years have gone by, the emotions around this topic will always be raw.
That is the emotional battle all women and men have when they see their former spouse in the company of the opposite sex. Trying to reconcile what is going on in your heart versus your head is no easy task.
I assure you, these conflicted feelings will subside with time, particularly after you have found another person in your life you feel close and intimate with. It is as if the passionate and intense feelings you use to have for your ex husband transfers to the new person in your life and carries more weight in your heart and your mind’s eye. Perhaps not all of it, but most of it. Enough of it to significantly reduce the painful recurrence of these old, raw feelings.
But imagine what it must feel like if your current husband appears to be courting another women in some fashion. I would not be surprised to hear that it kills you to think that your spouse could be in the process of being compromised. So in the context of this post, it is natural to feel sickened by any notion that your husband has made himself available.
But what we think might be happening and what is actually happening are not always the same thing.
And when you are right, what do you do?
In other words, if your suspicions align with the underlying reality of what your husband is up to, just how do you proceed?
How should you process your feelings to avoid going crazy if your suspicions are warranted?
What You Should Do When You Feel Upset, Confused or Vulnerable
First of all, don’t let anyone tell you that what you are feeling is wrong or is way off base.
They may not have sufficient information to really know the truth. Until the facts can be examined, neither you or most others can be certain of what might be really going on.
Your feelings emerge from a place of honesty. Now that doesn’t mean that you are right to feel this way (i.e. turned inside out with jealous rage). It is possible you have grossly misread the situation. It is possible you are overreacting to something you observed.
Fear can seize control and grip you and cause you to think all kinds of things. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for fear to take control of your emotional well being and hijack your thoughts, constructing an elaborate scenario that is largely untrue.
But denying yourself of having these feelings and sweeping it all under the carpet is akin to self-delusion.
It is better to accept whatever natural feelings emerge. It is part of the cathartic emotional experience we sometimes need to undergo in order to purge the unhealthy thoughts. It can make it easier, later, to realize how your feelings and the real facts can be two different things. It may take you some time and effort, but ultimately, you benefit more if you put a bridle over your emotions until the truth has had a chance to emerge.
That is not easy to do, I realize.
For example, your eyes and your heart are seeing and telling you that your husband is cozying up way too close with another woman or she is hitting on your man and he is soaking it all up.
If you are like most people, your emotions are going to run away from you. That’s why so many people tell me it kills them to see their husband associating or mingling with another woman. Even the most subtle of gestures or expressions can set one-off.
You may feel pressed to confront your husband on the spot or do something immediately to break up what looks like a blossoming connection moment.
But blowing up the little encounter you are observing could speak more to your insecurities.
And even if it turns out that you are right on some level and the misplaced trust you had in your husband is now blowing up in your face, it is still best to keep your calm.
There will be a time to digest it all and then discuss it with your husband. Rushing to judgement or punishment is always a slippery slope.
To that extent, if you are able to better control unwanted emotional outbursts, which often can make things worse, reasonable solutions become more readily available.
So there is nothing wrong with having genuine feelings bubble up when you see your husband striking up what appears too close of a relationship with another woman.
Don’t try to hold it all in.
If you try to contain it within you, then it will lead to you feeling sick about it all.
Find a constructive way of releasing your emotions.
Then once you get past this stage, then you should move into what I think of as the troubleshooting phase.
What You Can Do If Your Husband or Ex Seems Mixed Up With Another Woman
So what do you do about it all?
Let’s say that the man you are married to is being overly flirtatious with some other woman. The two of them seem to be really connecting and enjoying each other’s company.
My advice is to let it play out.
Then later when your and your husband are alone, open up to your husband and tell him what you saw and how it made you feel. Ask him to explain his behavior. Remain calm. Use a calm tone of voice. Don’t accuse him of cheating on you or being flirtatious or anything else.
By making an accusation or portraying your husband in an unflattering way, you lose the moral high ground.
What you are doing is simply sharing what you saw and specifically how it made you feel.
That is really important. Your husband should have a keen sense of how you were upset by what you saw or heard. He should understand the emotional and physical impact it had on you. (i.e. that this literally made you feel sick).
It is better with these kind of communications to steer away from any name calling or accusations. It is also better to avoid any hysterics or anger or any language that is tinged with resentment and distrust.
Now, your husband may get defense and even interrupt you explaining that what you think you saw was not the underlying reality of what was really going on.
After he has said his piece, simply return to your theme of describing what you felt inside when you observed him with this other woman. You feelings are real and he may try to dismiss them, but how you felt is something he cannot escape.
He can argue all he wants about how you are jumping to conclusions and entirely misread what was really going on between him and the other woman.
But I don’t want you to get lost in arguing all the finer points. Don’t get dragged into a debate. That shifts the attention to the wrong thing (i.e. arguing over semantics).
Keep the focus on describing how it made you feel. Most men, at some point, will acknowledge and understand its impact on you. Empathy is what you are looking for. If your husband is incapable of showing empathy after you calmly express your feelings about the matter, then you and your husband have an uphill battle and probably even more serious marital problems to discuss.
Then close the discussion with what, if anything, should change going forward.
Perhaps you are satisfied with his explanation and are also pleased that he realizes how his behavior can have consequences. Having discussed this matter openly can have the effect of neutralizing its occurrence in the future.
It is possible your husband was being a flirty boy.
He may have actively engaged in this encounter with another woman in search of an emotional, even possibly a sexual connection.
So it’s possible you have every right to feel sickened by your husband’s behavior. And if this is the case, then while it is a good thing for him to see how his actions have made you feel sick, that is not enough.
It is necessary your husband agrees that he will no longer partake in any such intimate rendezvous with women because for all practical purposes such encounters are akin to emotional cheating.
He may deny everything and accuse you of overreacting and making something of nothing.
There is little to be gained in debating the details. It usually serves to aggravate the situation.
It is better to simply and calmly put him on notice and remind your husband you have zero tolerance for any subtle overtures or intimate greetings and encounters with other women anywhere at anytime.
Sometimes a husband in order to save face will continue to insist that the whole issue you are concerned about is non-existent. If that makes him feel better to say such a thing, fine. Sometimes people live in denial. Or they can’t bring themselves to admit to the truth.
While such an outcome is far from ideal, there comes a point where it does you no good to argue and press you case.
You can’t put words in your husband’s mouth.
But you can influence his thoughts and if he understands how his actions made you feel and when he hears you express you lack of tolerance for casual flirtations, it is likely you are influencing how he is internally processing this whole matter.
So what if your husband or boyfriend does it again? What if he repeatedly finds ways to hang around other women, pushing the needle of what is acceptable?
What do you do if your husband or boyfriend is a player and shamelessly chases other women?
Well, my friends, that is the topic for another post in the future.
But to give you a peek under the tent, if you do adopt a zero tolerance policy for such behavior, you best be ready to back it up. And that means taking an action that might just shock your husband back into reality and remind him what he could be losing.