Struggling to Forgive My Wife for Cheating Before We Were Married

I have been with my wife 10 years, married for 2 years. We have just had our first child together a few weeks ago.

A few weeks before the birth I found out she had this affair with someone she used to work with 4 years ago and before we were engaged. I had a suspicion something was going on at the time but when I confronted her she denied it.

The reason why she told me was that she accidently left her work emails on and for some reason I decided to search for this guy’s name. An email between them popped up from the time, which confirmed my suspicions.

When I confronted her she told me they hooked up on two occasions in a hotel. She admitted the length of time it went on for (4 months). The reason why she did it was because she had doubts about our relationship at the time. We were living together at the time but it ended when we bought a house together.

Before this all came out, we were very happy together and barely never argued. I do want to work at this and get it back to normal. I want to be the best dad. She has opened up to me saying how sorry she is, how guilty and dirty she feels. I can tell she is in a lot of pain. Part of me wishes I never found out, but I’m glad I did.

I really want things to return to normal and for us to have a happy family. I can’t stop thinking of them together. I am determined and really want to make this work for our baby’s sake. I’m not talking about rug sweeping; I just need to find a way to forgive, I’m unsure of a way to do that.

How can I move on?

Response:

This is a very common situation. Most betrayals by a partner are found by accident and can cause extreme anger, uncertainty and doubt. It’s important for you and your wife to talk through this situation and achieve some type of reconciliation. Research shows that couples, who are able to talk through such types of betrayals, are able to engage in forgiveness and create a stronger, more intimate relationship.

The most important thing is for you to express how you are feeling—sad, disappointed, hurt, etc. And for your wife to acknowledge the hurt and pain her actions have caused. It sounds like you have done this.

It’s also important for your wife to explain her actions—the motives underlying her behavior. Rather than talk to you about her doubts about your relationship, she acted on her feelings by becoming involved with someone else. Almost everyone experiences doubts and uncertainty about a relationship at some point in time. Your wife, however, didn’t handle this situation well. And truth be told, most people don’t deal these types of situations well.

If you can, it helps to try to see the situation from her perspective. She made a mistake, which doesn’t make her a bad person. It makes her human. Even decent, loving and considerate individuals mess up. No one is perfect.

If you can see your wife’s actions as being harmful, but understandable, forgiveness is possible. Forgiveness entails being able to see the situation from the perspective of the person who has done you harm. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget or condone what she did. Forgiveness means you see the situation in a different light—a mistake that was made in the past, which your wife regrets.

If you can accept that most people make mistakes at one time or another, it will be easier for you to forgive your wife for what happened. It also helps to focus on the present. You and your wife are happy and starting a new chapter of your lives together. Focus on all of the positive aspects of your relationship—write them down—while acknowledging that mistakes where made in the past. If you are looking for perfection in a spouse, you’ll never be happy.

Accepting a partner, who owns up to their flaws and mistakes, is the key to a successful marriage.

And if you haven’t already done so, the section on rebuilding trust can help you work through this process (see, rebuilding trust).

 cheating wife | trust issues

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