Vallarta Tribune, Sep 10-16, 2006, issue # 492, pg 18

Sometime in the early “90’s an absolutely gigantic yacht crept into the marina. It was so large it seemed to swallow all of the other boats and yachts. It looked like a whale next to all of the little fish. It was called “The Other Woman”. Clearly it occupied a “large space” in the owner’s life just as it did in the marina. Many couple’s have something that interferes as much as another woman/mistress/lover. It could be an actual lover, a career, a sport or hobby, or an addiction. Does your relationship suffer from some type of “other woman”?

She may break up the marriage

This “other woman” can be very demanding of time, money, emotions, leaving everyone else involved in the life of the one with such a lover feeling angry, resentful, jealous and desperate. Obviously, this causes many fights and can often cause the relationship or marriage to end. It is important for the person with such a lover to find out why they need this distraction or escape, and how to rescue themselves and their relationship from it, before it destroys everything. (“The person” with this lover will be referred to in the masculine form)

The “inbox is always full”

Just as another woman can be very consuming so can a career, an addiction, or a sport/hobby. A career is an easy one to justify because he is making such a noble effort to provide for his family and create a better lifestyle and standard of living. He really does “have to” make those calls, entertain those customers, attend long meetings that cause him to miss his children’s events or family gatherings, etc. He is so consumed by it that he can not even see that there is another, healthier, better way. Basically, he can not see a way out. He may even blame everyone else for not understanding why he has to continue this way. It consumes him to the point that his work is never done or as they say the “inbox is always full”. There will always be more work than time and in order for him to turn this around he needs to learn to walk away, the same as he would have to from a lover.

Anything to protect his lover

An addiction can also be very consuming and eventually progress and evolve to the point where nothing else matters. In many ways, it is or can be the most destructive kind of “other woman”. This is because it’s more than a behavioral problem, complicated by physical addiction involving brain chemicals and the nervous system. The entire day and week is planned around the drug use or “time spent with his lover”. Just like a lover, the drug demands his time and his money. It will most likely put him debt, interrupt his work or job performance, or even cause him to lose his job. He may take bigger risks in order to protect his “lover” (drug) and/or the secret that she exists. If questioned, he will deny that she exists or claim that it is over; that he’s no longer seeing her (no longer using).

Unfair competition

From the spouse’s point of view, addiction or the drug, is an unfair competition. At least she can attempt to compete with another woman; with her beauty, her figure, her personality, her sexiness, but how does she compete with the effects of a drug? One woman complained, “How can I make him feel like the cocaine does? It’s impossible.”

I’ll never leave you

He insists he would never leave you for her, that he doesn’t love her, he loves you. Sometimes he just can’t help it and finds himself looking for her even if it’s been weeks or months since the last time (drugs, other addictions, or an actual lover). He desperately wishes he could forget about her. He promises to change and be more devoted to the relationship. You are his life and he can’t imagine life without you. But each time he goes to use (drugs),he has left you figuratively and literally. He has abandoned the cause, chosen her over you, his job, and all things that make his life special.

Get out or be consumed

No matter who or what the “other woman” is, he needs to recognize that it is a problem interfering with all other aspects of his life and consuming all of him; emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, as well as exhausting his resources; time, money, and energy. He must get out or be consumed and you (and your children)must get out even if doesn’t. Do not go down with the ship. Facing the crisis and upheaval of another woman does not have to be the end. Instead it can be the catalyst for a new beginning; an opportunity to change and improve the relationship.

Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW, CADC