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Wife of many years slept with another man while we were dating and now dealing with it.....

Tagged as: Marriage problems, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 May 2013) 7 Answers - (Newest, 13 May 2013)
A male United States age 36-40, *SA1978 writes:

Hey guys, hopefully you can help.

My wife and I met in University and when on a date. I then went home for spring break and we spoke every night for hours on end. During these conversations we discussed how many people we had been with, past relationships etc. we have now been together for 13 years and married for 8 of those. I am not usually one to confront my issues and as such, after nearly 3 years of dating she told me she slept with her roommates friend while we were talking. I never dealt with the issue and just blocked it from my mind but for some reason it has hit me hard recently. We never really discussed it to be honest and recently I started feeling down. One, because of what she did and the fact she never told me until years afterwards but two because I never dealt with it. She said that it was a mistake but in the same breath she is telling me to get over it. I asked her why and she said she really doesn't know and that it just happened. I got more upset when she said that he was always "off limits" until her roommate had a disagreement with him.

My problem is that one she wasn't upfront about it and it was only years after that she told me about it, likely to make her feel better about keeping the secret. Two, I feel that she waited because she knew I would likely not have dated her which I likely wouldn't have if I had known then (this scares me just saying it). Three,, we did break up once for roughly 3 months and although she said she wasn't with anyone else, this has raised questions with me for years. The last thing is that she claims we started dating a few weeks after her birthday where I have always thought we started dating a few weeks before her birthday....this also raises red flags for me.

I am not sure what to do as I love my wife and always have but the person I know would never have done anything remotely like that. We now have kids and I want them to be brought up the right way which also scares me as I want to make sure that my kids know that this is not right even though my wife says I need to get over it.

I think what has really brought this on recently is my feelings that she doesn't enjoy having sex with me and am questioning myself on this as well. Looking back I am not sure she ever did and I have sometimes wondered whether she liked the other guy at the time and I was a fall back?

To be honest, I am scared. I don't want to feel this way but can't get it out of my mind. The more I think about it the angrier I get. I am angry because I find it was deceitful, that I was used, that she never used protection and then a few weeks later had sex with me without telling me, and that she waited to tell me because she thought she had me sort of wrapped up in a way. I don't know, I am upset and don't know what to do. I know it was long ago but it's been an open wound for awhile.

I am sorry about the long winded "book" but gravely for any comments / responses or experiences.

View related questions: roommate, university

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A female reader, So_Very_Confused United States +, writes (13 May 2013):

So_Very_Confused agony auntyou have two choices

leave her and probably at your age be alone for the rest of your life since finding a woman untouched by another would be difficult at this point.

or

get therapy and get over it.

I won't tell you that your feelings are absurd, they are your feelings.

I won't say she was wrong to not tell you but she had her reasons.

as to why she told you now? only she knows.

but again you have two choices

leave

or get therapy and figure out how to cope.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (12 May 2013):

Most women are going to say "The relationship is good so you need to get over it."

But think about if you could magically go back to when you were first dating her. If you could tell your younger self, "This ends up as a pretty good marriage but she has been lying to you about playing around right now" would your younger self decide to stick with it? Or would you decide not to tell your younger self anything and just let him stay with her, knowing things turn out okay in the long run? I would guess a lot fewer men would want to stick with it than women.

IMO men just feel differently about these things than women do at a deep level, probably because of evolutionary hard wiring. When a man has lied about cheating many years ago it usually brings no future consequences for his wife. But a woman lying about cheating from years ago could mean her husband has spent his life raising another man's children. It logically makes sense that men would not be emotionally built to "get over it" just because what she did was years ago. The future consequences of a wife's secret cheating can be far more severe in Darwinian terms than a husband's. When men cheat in the early days and then stop, it usually does not bring the same consequences later. If the cheating has not caused drama and problems in the first couple years then it probably never will.

People tell these lies because they get away with it. It gets them what they want. They lie to you, they wait for enough time to go by that making them face consequences has become impractical for you, and then they tell the truth so they don't have to feel guilty anymore either. IMO it is unacceptable.

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A male reader, Yos Netherlands +, writes (12 May 2013):

Yos agony aunt"She said that it was a mistake but in the same breath she is telling me to get over it."

She's right.

Be glad she's said it was a mistake. She could say that it wasn't.

But you do need to get over it. Otherwise it's just going to hang around and destroy everything you've created.

"The more I think about it the angrier I get."

Exactly. Don't think about it.

That's really hard. Your mind is busy digging it up and throwing it into your consciousness. But your mind isn't helping. You need to find ways to not think about it. I suggest two things:

- First you need to decide it's not important. You need to reason withy yourself: let go of the 'she did x' and 'she did y' stuff. The rational solution to this is to say 'it was a long time ago and thinking about is not going to help anything'. Decide this. Agree it. Make your mind up.

- Then stop thinking about it. How? Distract yourself. Do fun things, do healthy things, read a book, play a game, hang out with your wife. Especially good to do are things that reinforce your self esteem and improve your concentration. I found tai chi worked great for me (i've had similar issues to what you are experiencing) but each person needs to find their own activities that they can use to replace the unhealthy obsessive thoughts.

Good luck.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (12 May 2013):

Lets turn it around, if YOU had done it, everybody, especially the females here, would be tearing you a new one. But in our modern times, women are given more leeway then men.

Basically what I think happened is that she wanted to confess to clear HER soul BUT she doesn't want to deal with you being hurt by it. She clears her soul, you just have to deal with the feelings of betrayal. She could just have kept the secret and took it too the grave with her but she didn't want the burden, instead she has settled you with one and is telling you to deal with it on your own.

No deal. Well that is my advice.

Lying, cheating etc are just minor issues here, what you are basically feeling is that you can't trust her. If this was a lie, what else is. Just in your posts you are questioning dates and whether she even likes being with you. That is a lot of trust lost. And that isn't easy to get back. Just telling you to get over it... it shows a lack of respect and empathy with your feelings.

But you are also the one who walked away from dealing with it. She told you a decade ago? Why is it now all coming back? Are you using this as an excuse to think about getting out?

What we got here is a failure to communicate. And I wonder why. Might you be getting to that age where you start wondering "is this it". Maybe when you two started a relationship, you both settled but now that you realize life is not eternal and you are getting only one shot at it, you are wondering if it is good enough.

You need to do some soul searching. She is who she is and she can't change the past. She might regret it and still also have fond memories of that other guy, that is real life, people do not switch emotions on and off just like that. Just as you have doubts, she has doubts.

But do you two still got enough to continue being together. Staying together just for the kids is always a bad idea, kids do not benefit being raised from parents who have started to hate each other. So be honest, what, as an adult, do you want. And realize this, at your age, you are not going to find any woman with a blank slate for a history.

Your an adult and the woman you are with ain't perfect. Your choice on how you decide to deal with it. But remember, it is YOUR life and nobody, especially your kids, benefit from you making a choice that you will resent over the years.

Go away for a weekend, alone and think about what you want to do with the rest of your life. And then fully accept the consequences of whatever you decide.

Because running away from it as you have been doing, both been doing, clearly doesn't work.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (12 May 2013):

CindyCares agony aunt Yes, you've got to get over it.

I leave to other posters the inevitable and probably lengthy debate about a ) the nature of your Retroactive Jealousy ( is RJ a mental illness ? an evolutionary trait ? the consequence of an hyperthrophic ego, or the legitimate moral revulsion of a honest soul, etc.etc )and b ) the nature and degree and technicalities of your wife's transgression ( was she very wrong, somewhat wrong , or not wrong at all in having sex with the other guy ? was she mandatorily supposed to tell you, or was it optional ? were you dating officially, or semiofficially, or not dating yet ? etc.etc.

The point is, you have been 13 years with this woman, married 8 and you've got kids with her. You always loved her, and you still love her. You don't mention other big crisis before that so I have to assume it has been a happy, or at least reasonably happy, marriage. You are co- parents, and you want to raise together your kids whom you both love. You are a family.

Do you really want to break a family and give up all this over something that happened 13 years ago ?... Are you sure it's worth it ?

No ? Not so sure ?

Then, you HAVE to get over it. Go see a shrink, go see a counselor, talk to your priest or pastor or other religious figure, - go to a snake healer if you want !, but , you'll have to get over it. Otherwise you seriously risk that your wife gets sick of your RJ and SHE gets over YOU.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (12 May 2013):

I think your feelings right now toward the past are only because you feel our wife doesn't enjoy sex anymore. If you are only 8 years married, you are likely to have small children. May be sheis tired?

Sheis right though:you need to get over it. It was a beginning of your relationship, she didn't even know if you guys were an item. I slept with someone that I knew years before I met husband and were on and off the whole time till the week I started sleeping with my husband, because iwas not sure where our dates are leading to. I actually didn't even considered we were dating, I thought we were hanging out just as friends.

But I never told my husband. I never understood why people say things like, what for? We all have secrets.

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A male reader, TrancedRhythmEar Saudi Arabia +, writes (12 May 2013):

TrancedRhythmEar agony auntMy man look at the big picture she wanted her life with u not this other guy. Its ur mistake to allow pasts to be discussed its not important. Doesnt matter wheres shes been it matters where shes going and thats with u. Head. Put ur big boy pants on n forget this. Good luck.

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