Should I confront my husband’s mistress

It's not a good idea to rehash old relationships out of resentment, Carolyn Hax warns. Instead, seek a more positive outlet.



July 7, 2020 - 9:02 AM

Dear Carolyn: During the 1980s, my husband had several affairs. I stuck it out and successfully raised our children despite all the problems.

I know of an affair with someone who still lives in the same town. He doesn’t know that I know, and neither does she. She is married now and acts like a pillar of the community. It sickens me because she thinks she got away with sleeping with a married man who had children to boot. Although she was not married at the time, she was plenty old enough to know better.

I want to at least let her know that I know. I am sure she didn’t tell her husband she had been seeing a married man before she met him.

I just can’t seem to let this go. Every time I see her, I can almost see the smug look on her face and feel her thinking, “If only she knew all the things I did behind her back.” Is it wrong for me to say something?

— Frustrated

Frustrated: You are not sure what she did or didn’t tell her husband.

You do not know what she thinks. You do not know how she feels.

This could be the biggest regret of her life. When she sees you, she could be thinking, “I’m so sorry.” She could have told this all to her husband — and he could love her more for her frailty and conscience. This woman doesn’t need your scorn.

She could also be an unrepentant liar who mocks you. This woman doesn’t need your scorn, either. Because it’s pointless.

A good woman will already feel terrible without your help, and a bad one won’t feel terrible even with it.

And you’ll feel as terrible as ever for not having accomplished anything — if not worse, for debasing yourself by letting your anger prevail.

You feel like a victim; I get it. But the remedy for that has never been to create more victims, say, her husband.

Instead, find some constructive outlet for your anger. Use it to get out of an unhappy marriage, if that’s what it is — or to motivate yourself to speak the truth of your pain to your husband, if that’s what you need. Or to take pride in your strength for raising good kids, or saving a marriage that proved to be worth saving, if that’s what it was.

Or to take up yoga, or get counseling, or volunteer at a shelter for abused women or children or pets. We’re talking 20 years here. Reclaim yourself, please, before they shutter the Lost & Found.