The Wife vs. The Mistress.

Via Jennifer Williams-Fields
on May 6, 2013
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Source: via Tricia on Pinterest

A Lesson in Compassion

I have to pee when I get nervous. I’m in the car driving to meet my husband’s mistress and I have to pee for the fifth time in an hour. Or maybe I just need to vomit. Probably both.

Nine months ago my husband of 23 years walked out on his family and into this woman’s arms. And now she wants to meet with me. I’ve run through every possible scenario in my head of what she could want. What ulterior motive could she possibly have? Of course, I’ve also played out all the vile and nasty, but very true, words I want to say to her.

“Why would you meet with her?” my friends have asked me. “Oh hell no! I’d tell that bitch exactly where she can go,” say others.

She has no idea the nights I spent holding crying kids who just wanted their daddy. She has no clue of the weeks of insomnia that sent me spiraling into depression, hopelessness and in my darkest moments considered ending not just my marriage but my life as well. She doesn’t deserve this meeting. I owe her nothing.

Inside, though, I feel it’s the right thing to do. There is a stirring within me. Perhaps I’m ready to move on, to let go of the hurt and the anger?

So I drive. And I breathe. Without realizing it I begin to recite the Buddha’s Lovingkindness meditation.

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

I repeat this the entire 20 minute drive. First for me. Then for my kids who are still hurting. Finally, I repeat it for the mistress. Yes, even for this woman who was a part of destroying my family.

It’s obvious she is as nervous as I am. So I sit quietly, just listening. There is power in silence. The quieter I am the more she talks. She tells me very little that shocks me and confirms much of what I had suspected. The more she speaks the more I begin to see the truth.

This is a woman who is also hurting.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

~ Dalai Lama

Yes, she was part of a decision that ruined my family. Yes, she is culpable and must live with her decisions. But, sitting in front of me is a woman with her own demons to wrestle with. I can scream and curse at her. I can cut her with my words. She is sitting close enough that I can reach out and strike her physically.

I choose not to.

Hurting her will not help me heal. If my yoga and meditation practice have taught me anything it’s that it’s not about her. It’s about me.

No matter how fledgling my yoga practice has been lately, if I am to truly practice yoga I must also remember to take what I have learned on the mat and apply it to my life off the mat.

I can choose to practice ahimsa. Ahimsa is more than just a lack of violence. Obviously I shouldn’t physically harm anyone no matter how much pain they have caused me. But ahimsa also means thoughtful consideration of other people. Although her karma is hers to deal with and my karma is mine, I can still acknowledge that she too is a woman awash in torment.

When choosing my words I choose satya. Yes, I am speaking the truth, but I am speaking in a way as to not cause further harm to anyone else.

As we get up to leave from our meeting, I look one more time at this woman. I don’t anticipate sharing lattes with her anytime soon. But I realize the universe has used her to teach me that no matter what negative choices she was a part of, I can choose to start living again. I can release the negativity that I have been holding on to. It no longer serves me.

Compassion has allowed me the privilege of finding happiness again.

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

~ Christopher K. Germer


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Jennifer Williams-Fields

Jennifer Williams-Fields is passionate about writing, yoga, traveling, public speaking and being a fabulous single momma to six super kids. Doing it all at one time, however, is her great struggle. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and writing since she first picked up a crayon. Although her life is a sort of organized chaos, she loves every minute of the craziness and is grateful for all she’s learned along the way. Jennifer was a featured speaker at the 2015 inaugural CourageMakers Conference and is a regular guest speaker for local media outlets. Her motivational talks on gratitude, addiction and self care have been called “inspiring and life changing.” She has had her essays featured on Yahoo!, Dr. Oz The Good Life and Scary Mommy. She is a regular writer for, YourTango and YogaUOnline. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, her blog or website.


31 Responses to “The Wife vs. The Mistress.”

  1. Neiva says:

    i had my x & his new girlfriend had sex & "blip" it to me, he did it to make me jealous hoping i will try to get back to him, she does it to hurt me hoping that i will leave him alone. it really immature & they've hurt me, but i still wish them the best & realize that it maybe a karma that i need to go thru in order to grow spiritually. so i forgive them, and genuinely hoping that their relationship will work out. 6 months later, it still hard and still hurts, even though they're no longer together, even though he tried to get back to me and apologized for it, 2 years later, they're both out of my life, it still hurts. i don't know how to get over the pain, but i know wishing them well doesn't make it worse. but i don't know if it helps me either…..

  2. Neiva Sukmawati says:

    3 months after i moved out, my x & his new girlfriend had sex & "blip" it to me, he did it to make me jealous hoping i will try to get back to him, she does it to hurt me hoping that i will leave him alone. it's really immature, but they've won, they've hurt me beyond their expectation, but i still wish them the best & realize that it maybe a karma that i need to go thru in order to grow spiritually.
    so i forgive them, and genuinely hoping that their relationship will work out. 6 months later, it still hard for me to get over it and it still hurts, even though they're no longer together, even though he tried to get back to me and apologized for it. 2 years later, they're both out of my life, but it still hurts. i don't know how to get over the pain, i thought forgiving them, giving myself time to heal the wound & time will heal all wounds. but i don't know if it helps me either….. to this day, i'm still in hurting.

  3. Meissa says:

    thank you for sharing this. I cannot imagine being in your shoes- but do know what it feels like to grieve a loss of a marriage– and bitter roots don’t serve anyone. I’m happy to see your grace shining through. you are a light.
    love you~ xo

  4. laura says:

    you are beautiful. that's all i have to say about that.

  5. Natalie says:

    What a wonderful example you are to all of us for how to treat those whom have deeply hurt us. I don't think I could do what you did, but maybe I'll try harder next time. Great post!

  6. @myra_york says:

    This is the path I went down…whatever happens next?! I am fine with it…he's gone and I survived.

  7. Your compassion here is amazing, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Wanda says:

    You are Amazing Grace Jennifer.

  9. It's been nine months here, and yes, I'm still hurting. But there is strength in choosing to move on with life. Good luck Neiva.

  10. Jennifer W Fields says:

    Thank you. My mother always said there is beauty in grace.

  11. Jennifer W Fields says:

    Thank you, Kate, for encouraging me to begin writing again. It is certainly helping me to heal.

  12. Jennifer Fields says:

    No matter what happens, we are always responsible for our own actions. I can't control hers, or his, but I can certainly control mine.

  13. melanie walsh says:

    reminds me of a book i read about sending love….even to those who dont deserve it….puting negative energy out into the universe just bring it back on ourselves….. easier said then done in many situations ive been in…your strength to give compassion is amazing but i think you are already reaping the rewards….love your blogs…im sure it helps others too

  14. Tanisha says:

    This is beautiful, and I applaud your bravery and open heart. I am however, so sick of people blaming the Mistress. Was she inappropriate, sure, but she's not culpable. The Mistress is always blamed as if she made the married man's choices for him. He, and only he, broke his vows. She merely offered him the opportunity.
    We are often tempted, away from ideals, diets, and budgets, and commitments. The ice cream is not to blame for me eating it. I am.
    I'm not saying she didn't help cause the downfall of your marriage, or that she didn't cause your family a lot of pain, but ultimately, the adulterer is to blame.

  15. shawna says:

    Tanisha, if the mistress knew he was married she should be expected to accept at least 50% of the blame. That would be the compassionate thing to do.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    it's not so important about who to blame… and I don't think that's the point or that this is an issue of blaming the mistress vs. blaming the husband. The point it we are all human and make choices and our choices can really hurt others. The author is focusing here on the relationship with another woman who came into her life through her husband. The mistresses choices and actions did hurt her, and yet she is choosing not to go to black and white blame, but rather to engage with this woman and try to offer compassion more for herself and her family than for anyone.. she is going through the necessary steps to move on. I have been through something similar and know that the feelings of anger and grief will keep circling back, but if you have an intention of forgiveness and keep practicing metta even when you don't feel it, you can keep your heart open. Hatred and blame will only close your heart. Neither husband or mistress will suffer if that happens… only she will. So, don't waste your energy figuring out who is to blame….. or spinning in stories… or hating. Recognize that the anger and grief and sadness are real and honor them, but letting go is the only thing that will lead to freedom.

  17. Shawna says:

    Elizabeth, I think you misunderstand what I mean. The mistress would be compassionate towards the wife by taking responsibility for her part. Both mistress and the husband are free to cause heartbreak yet the wife is not free to blame them for it? Doesn’t make any sense. Suppressing the act of placing blame seems like skipping the first step of the forgiveness process. Lol.

  18. PonderingYogini says:

    I admire you for meeting with her Jennifer and handling it like you did. You served the both of you very well.

  19. Crystal-Fairy says:

    I would change the name of this article.

    This is an article about broken vows and personal healing journies.

    The healing truly happens when there is no need to make it The wife Vs The Mistress.

    That’s two people in a story of 3 or more. It’s only a small part of the story.

  20. Julie says:

    Thanks so much for this. Exact same scenario for me – 20 years of marriage and 25 years as a couple. He has an affair with his co-worker and six months later they are married. I still haven’t met her, my kids have but I can’t bear it. I’ve moved past thoughts of violence and hope to find the peace that you have. Inspiring.

  21. LOrkav says:

    Yep 100%. I had less grace and bravery. I wished the relationship would crash and burn…non stop. My son was 15 mo. Old. Nope. Not extending any good wishes to that duo. I'm doing well now, but no change in my feelings about what I was made to go through.

  22. Crystal-Fairy says:

    I think the title of the article doesn’t do the reality justice.
    It should not be The wife Vs The Mistress.
    That evokes the thought that it’s a competition or game.
    Ideally, a healing journey begins when the person talks of their pain of the loss of the relationship, rather than their journey with another woman.

  23. Deepikatuli says:

    I believe, what really matters is when you decide to let go of hurt and invite healing through compassion, praying for others, and majorly not copying their behaviour of negativity and betrayal. A similar situation I have talked about in my blog, and that what this post reminds me

  24. shanda says:

    I am so disconnected from this story I do not know what to do. I feel a sense of entitlement and judgement. How can someone be a destroyer of a family? This is just life, no person is guaranteed to be there forever. We are all here as souls to experience and learn and grow. There is no one to blame. I don’t see what the other woman owes to you or your family. The agreement she has made as soul and the lessons and experiences she has come to learn are between her and the creator. Children get hurt, people get hurt, we must all learn to deal with pain and use it to grow. As long as it is not detrimental to the sustainment of physical life it is all just a part of our lessons on earth.

  25. Michelle says:

    You are quite amazing to be where you are emotionally after only nine months. I love your compassion; you give me happy tears. Much love to you.

  26. Truth says:

    Well the mistress is 50% to blame. As Dr Phil once said; if people are having problems in their marriage, why circle around them like a shark looking for blood. The other woman has no right to play a role in a marriage falling apart. I'm sure these mistresses who have no respect for the wife or children she has selfishly helped to hurt, would not want the same thing done to them. No sympathy for mistresses ever!

  27. Lyn says:

    I have huge admiration for your courage and grace to meet with her. My 22 year marriage also ended with my ex having an affair. They are now married. It’s been 5 years since they’ve been together and I have never met her although I had an opportunity once a couple of years ago. I was invited in to my ex’s holiday rental when I dropped our children off for them to spend time with him and her. I was in their apartment for about 10 minutes making arrangements with my ex about the children’s schedule, etc. But his new partner was in another room and although she knew that I was there, she did not come out to meet me. I can only guess that she felt guilty and couldn’t face me. I was ready to meet her but she chickened out. I have behaved with grace towards them from the beginning. It was the best way for me to be in terms of my healing.

  28. yoginibhakti says:

    My ex cheated as well and would have ran off with the mistress if he could have had the extra money to do so.
    When we "blame" the other woman it takes the "blame" off of us for our own wrongdoing.
    There was a problem before this woman came along but I didn't choose to "see" it for what it was at the time.
    Just as you probably didn't want to see it either.
    Something deeper lies behind a husband's affair more than her trying to ruin our life.
    Too much work, too much time away from home, too much business, too little romantic time for one another, too much fighting. The list could go on and on of reasons why. And I have also been on the other side of the fence.
    I saw how my love was treated by his wife always feeling superior and better than him. She never treated him right and I chose to leave the situation rather than fight for him or become a mistress to him, even though I loved him very much.

  29. ilestre says:

    Thanks, I also felt disconnected from the article. My parents separated when I was 12 and I thought it was the right thing for them to do, in fact I'm glad they did, it was the right thing for them. And I think it's important for anybody in a relatinship to be able to leave at any time, that's the condition of love being real, for relationships being real. I'm also surprised and a bit saddened to read of the other woman as the only possible culprit and no mention of the husband's responsibility (although, as long as he is being responsible to his kids and not out to hurt anyone for the hell of it, I don't think he's guilty of anything either).

  30. Joanna says:

    I think it is interesting that your husband's lover chose to meet with you and not sure why she did. The fact that she did says a lot about her and a great deal about you for having the compassion and fortitude to meet with her.

  31. Joanna says:

    Lovely to have such a distant and discompassionate view of everything. If we were only souls what you say is true, and we are human too and there in lies the crux. Acknowledging the pain and difficulty of daily living is important. Atttempting to fly over it with spiritual pronouncements doesn't allow us to move forward. We blame until we forgive. We hurt until we don't hurt anymore that is how we learn to forgive not by some conceptual understanding of life.,