Don’t you just hate those no-good “other women”? Those home-wreckers who prey on married men? And isn’t it shameful that some guys disrespect your marriage and hit on your wife?
Months ago, I was listening to radio talk-show host and “relationship expert,” Audrey Chapman, discuss “the other woman.” Between Ms. Chapman, her guest speaker and her callers, I heard varying thoughts about why some women date men they know to be married. A couple notable comments included, “They don’t have enough self respect,” and “Who would be stupid enough to accept half of a man?” And if memory serves me correctly, I believe sentiments of this nature came from callers who have had relationships with married men, as well as married women whose husbands have strayed.
The consensus conclusion led me to wonder why so many people hold such negative opinions of individuals who date married people. It seems like more of an issue of territory and fear than one that really shines a light on why people choose to conduct their love lives this way. After all, what is wrong with wanting a “part-time” relationship? For many, the thought may seem absurd, but for others, it might be ideal – and have nothing to do with low self-esteem or settling. For instance, there are people who work long hours and want to have a sexually fulfilling relationship with someone they are attracted to, but don’t want to live with their partners or worry about their whereabouts the rest of the time. There is nothing wrong with that, if that is what they want. And if they are lucky enough to find what most of us want – someone who fulfills their wants and needs the way they want them fulfilled – then I say “congratulations.”
Sure, these people could find mates who are single and also want relationships without the usual strings. But most of the time, people who become the “other” are not attracted to married people simply because they are married, but rather because they find them attractive. And after all, they didn’t make any promises to respect those marriages.
I know what many of my readers are thinking right about now: What about the sanctity of marriage? What about respecting those legal and spiritual unions? A marriage is only as sanctified as its two participants make it. If one person is willing to go outside of it after the couple has agreed to be “faithful” (remember, that may not be an expectation in every marriage), that says a lot more about the marriage than the values and self-esteem of the “other woman.”
So, if you are the “other woman” (or man), you do not have to resign yourself to being ashamed of your actions or conduct. In fact, you may want to consider being open about it. It could be the beginning of a lucrative conversation that would benefit everyone in earshot.
And if you are the person whose spouse has not been monogamous, consider this: All of the energy spent wondering (and ranting) about the values and emotional health of the “other woman” might be time better spent examining the values and emotional health of your relationship. I am not saying that your spouse’s “cheating” is your fault, only that the two of you might have some things to talk about. And while the “other woman” may be a symptom of those unresolved issues, she is not the cause.
A greater understanding of the dynamics of “affairs” gets us all one step closer to being a Powerful Person in a Partnership.
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