Q: I recently confessed to my wife that I had been cheating for nearly a year. This affair took place while I was away from home on business. The affair was not just physical, we became emotionally involved. I am not attempting to justify my actions. They are beyond justification. Now, my wife and I are both seeking help. We are working very hard to get back to one another and in some ways our relationship is at its most healthy. I am, however, struggling. There are days where I miss the other woman and I have repeatedly cut contact with her only to get in touch with her again. My decision about how to conduct myself in this situation has been made but my resolve is not where it needs to be. I would like to save my marriage and be the man and husband I know I can be. My wife is making changes regarding how she approached our marriage before. I’d like to make changes into what was bad in me that allowed me to do something this hurtful. Is there any insight you would be willing to give that would help me get to a place where I no longer feel the desire or temptation to speak to this woman?
How to Stop Thinking About the Other Woman
A: “As soon as you say, ‘I want to change’ or make a program, a counter-force is created that prevents you from change. Changes are taking place by themselves. If you go deeper into what you are, if you accept what is there, then a change automatically occurs by itself. This is the paradox of change.” Frederick S. Perls.
If you keep berating yourself for thinking about the other woman, you’ll keep thinking about the other woman. That which you resist, persists. You’re feeding the beast by trying not to think about her. And, she’s no doubt becoming more attractive and alluring in your mind because you can’t have her.
Getting to the place where you no longer feel desire for the other woman depends on your personality. We’ve all struggled to give up some sort of temptation, but what really works depends on who we are. For instance, I struggled with bulimia for years – and I didn’t quit because I forced myself not to think about food. I quit because I got emotionally and spiritually healthy.
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Gaining control over your temptations is a process that takes time, whether you’re giving up the other woman, cigarettes, or hot fudge sundaes. That’s why Mark Twain said, “Quitting is easy – I’ve done it hundreds of times.”
Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment may help you stop thinking about the other woman, because it’s about being in the moment – not being dragged down by the past or consumed with anxieties about the future. I think one of the best ways to overcome temptation is to be present in this very moment. Acknowledge your desire, and acknowledge your desire to stay married. Be present with those contradictory thoughts.
It may sound like a lot of fluff, but it sounds like you have nothing to lose! I encourage you to read The Power of Now a couple of times, and take his suggestions.
It’s also important to become aware of why you cheated on your wife – it’s not because something was “bad” in you. Read Why Do Men Cheat? Not Because the Other Woman is More Attractive for insight into your own choices. Something was missing in your marriage, and you found it elsewhere. You’re not a bad or evil man; you were trying to meet your needs. Now, you need to meet your needs within your marriage.
Other ways to stop thinking about the other woman:
- Talk to a counselor for a session or two, and explore different ways to stop thinking about the other woman.
- Make a list of reasons you want to save your marriage, and pull out that list whenever your thoughts wander to the woman you had the affair with.
- Ask your wife to write down how the affair affected her, and carry around that piece of paper with you. Read it when you feel tempted (maybe you’ll only need to think about it! That may be enough to snuff out those thoughts of the other woman).
- Consider making lifestyle changes that take you out of the affair. For example, avoid business trips for the next couple of years. Find a different job, or a different employer. Remove yourself from the routine may help.
If you need more practical tips, read Do You Think About Your Ex All the Time? 6 Ways to Stop Obsessing. It’s been one of my most popular articles for a long time – you’re not alone! – and it might be effective for husband who can’t stop thinking about the other woman.