I received lots of feedback and comments from some recent writing I did on taking the high road with the 'other woman' (OW) especially when she becomes the step-mom to your kids (see my Huffington Post blog, "Sharing a Cup of Coffee on the High Road."). It was certainly a post that generated some emotion and response.
Interestingly, one of the things that became very clear to me based on this post and on several recent conversations I had with moms, step-moms, wives, ex-wives, and new wives is that 'timing' has often been a complicating factor.
What I've learned is this: the timing of events that determine whether someone is truly the "other woman" or not is often disputed and is a real point of contention. Now, I'm not talking about those blatant scenarios where someone clearly knows you are married and still goes after your husband (or wife). This isn't about those situations.
What I am talking about are those situations where women (I have to be gender specific here because all the people I heard from who fell into this situation were women; I'm sure it happens to men too!) were told that the existing relationship was already over when in reality it was not. That's a pretty important distinction and one that could be the difference between knowingly, purposefully and intentionally becoming the OW and ending up in OW status by being misled.
It's not too difficult to imagine this scenario: Man meets woman and says something like, "My marriage is over. Technically we're still married, but we are separated. You know how long these divorce things take."
What I've discovered is that often-times the OW has been told these things when the reality is her new man may be 'thinking' these things, but sadly he hasn't brought his wife along on this trail of thinking. In fact, as far as she is concerned, their marriage is still intact (perhaps damaged, perhaps fragile, but still intact).
I'm not making excuses for the OW. I know there are situations where people intentionally destroy an existing marriage and family without thinking twice about it. But I'm telling you, I have heard from enough women recently who believed the words coming out of the mouths of their new boyfriends, who later realized that things weren't as they were told. The 'timing' was a little 'off,' when in actuality this timing was pretty critical.
Bottom line: should the OW be faulted in situations like this? I'm not sure that's fair. I know it's dangerous putting this out there and there will be a lot of women who emphatically state that there is no excuse when it comes to being the other woman. It's a subject that provokes anger, bitterness and hatred. But, can't you see how sometimes the 'timing' can be conveniently changed and innocent people can be misled? Let me tell you, after the stories I've heard this week, I can see how this happens ... and knowing it can help lead to a new level of understanding between ex-wife and OW.