My wife cheated in the past

I have been married for 34 years. Two years ago, my wife admitted that she allowed an old boyfriend to have sex with her just 3 months before we married and whilst we were engaged. Apparently it only happened once.

Needless to say I was shocked, devastated, hurt and went through all the emotions expected with such betrayal.

She also said that she had never done this again and had been faithful to me ever since we married. She also says that she cannot remember much about the affair as it had happened so long ago and she tried to forget about it as she felt so guilty.

16 months have passed since this revelation and yet I have not been able to forget about it or put it out of my mind—I think about it constantly everyday—nor have I been able to forgive her!

My previous unconditional trust in her has been completely destroyed.

Is this kind of reaction normal? What can I do to forget about the situation?

I will mention that I have been totally faithful to her since I fell in love with her 36 years ago and I still love her very much!

Response:

Your situation is very common. Dealing with the discovery of infidelity is very difficult to do, even in cases like yours, where the cheating occurred a long time ago.

To begin with, romantic relationships are so complicated because they are driven by competing emotions. The desire to cheat, even if people do not act on this desire, is a fundamental part of our human nature (see why people cheat).

On the other hand, jealousy is also a fundamental aspect of our human nature. Jealousy is designed to keep spouses from cheating. Jealousy prompts individuals to guard their mates—to keep an eye out for infidelity.

In your case, your wife cheated on you a long time ago, but it still triggers a fundamental jealous response (fear, loss, anger, and sadness). And while both sexes are equally jealous, men, in particular, have a more difficult time coping with a wife’s sexual infidelity.

The best way to deal with jealousy is to talk to your wife about how you are feeling. If you do not talk to her about your feelings, you will most likely act in ways that are counterproductive to your relationship (see living with suspicion).

Talking about feelings is the best way to move beyond them. But, when talking about your feelings, it is important not to attack or blame your wife for what she has done. If you focus on her behavior, it will only pull the two of you further apart (see talk about problems).

But, if you can talk to your wife about how you are feeling AND she makes you feel understood, with time your feelings about the situation will begin fade. Most likely, your feelings will never go away completely, but if dealt with directly they will not be as intense or have as negative an impact on your relationship (also see surviving infidelity and information on cheating wives).

 cheating wife | life shattered | save relationship | trust issues

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