My wife cheated while she was deployed

My wife recently admitted to me that she cheated on me with another man while she was deployed to Iraq. She said there was no sex or oral sex, but there was everything else in-between (I asked her for all the details). She said she only had about 10 actual physical encounters with him, and when it got to a point where she was with him physically and sex was about to happened she stopped it. In either case, going that far in my mind is just as bad as going all the way.

We were both military and I understand how people get when they are in those areas and the freedom/party mentality that happens, but it is still inexcusable. She said she did it because of work stress, another girl she worked was getting all the attention, and me for not contacting her enough (even though I emailed her every day, while working full time, watching the kids, and going to school full time).

A lot of what I’ve read on why infidelity happens speaks of the cheating spouse looking for what she was not getting from their spouse and I understand that. But, I thought we were fine before she deployed, and the emotional need that she was not getting happened while she was deployed, so there was not much I could have done from where I was at. I could barely keep the house running by myself. She started the relationship with the other man within 1-2 months of arriving. Due to each other’s job, they could not see each other that often, but she admitted if they did, things could have gone a lot further. Even though they only met about 10-15 times in those 6 months, I’m still shocked that in only 10 meetings she got that far.

Here are some details of our marriage and the event:

  • We were married for 3 years and had 3 kids when she left (we had twins).
  • She left for a 6-month deployment 2 months after I came back from my 6 month deployment (the 3rd child was born while I was deployed).
  • The affair happened 3 years ago and she admitted to it after a fight she started a couple of days ago.
  • We’ve had 2 other kids (total of 5 now) since the affair.
  • She said the cheating started about 1-2 months from when she got there, and stopped 2-3 months later. She said she cut communications with him in her last month before coming home (month 5).
  • In our email communications she started fights for no reasons (or reasons that I knew at the time), and repeatedly assured me that she was not cheating. But that I was an ass, and if I didn’t treat her better she could have cheated if she wanted to (this message was while she was in the middle of her affair).
  • When she was telling me about the other girl who was getting the attention, I used to constantly assure her she was pretty and better looking, to a point where I mailed her makeup and stuff (that was stupid of me, huh!)
  • Her reasons for the affair were the work stressed, another girl getting all the attention, me not giving her enough communication, the guy was giving her the attention, and when she told him she’s married he backed off, but then she grasped back at him because he was giving her the attention. There were many other guys that were grasping at her, but she said he was pushing just sex. It started out as simple as just hanging out and talking. She admitted that he kissed her first and pulled back but then thought, “damn if you do, damn if you don’t” and proceeded to kiss him.
  • What irks me is the stuff she did with him is stuff she’s never done with me ever (she said is because we have kids and they emotional drain her and there is no time).

So my question is what could I have done? And how do I find out the real underlying issue on why she did it? Did she cheat for the simple reason of competing with another girl, and because she was kid free and away from home?

I showed her all the emails of our communication while deployed which showed how much I supported her, and she admitted that I did support her and communicated with her and she was just stupid. But that doesn’t answer my question. If that’s the simple reason, and that’s all it takes, does that mean she’ll become a serial cheater? I’m just at lost, I want to forgive her and move on, but it’s tough.


It is always difficult dealing with the discovery that a spouse has cheated. The shock, anger, and uncertainty can make it difficult to know what to do or how to respond. Your feelings are completely normal.

To help you focus your attention and make sense of what happened, here are some key things to consider.

People cheat for a variety of reasons. People consistently underestimate the extent to which their behavior is influenced by their surroundings. A person’s environment has a substantial impact on how they feel and how they make decisions. In all aspects of life, the environment influences people’s behavior in unconscious ways. Obesity, mental health issues, and critical life decisions, are all influenced by our environmental surroundings. The decision to cheat on a spouse is also influenced by environmental factors. Being away from home, being free of the kids, and being in a place that promotes sexual activity, are factors that should not be dismissed (see likely to cheat). If you are trying to understand why your wife cheated, it may help give more consideration to the environment she was in at the time.

You might also want to take into account that people have a fundamental need to feel connected to another person. This need to feel connected is profound. New research shows that this need cannot be replaced by emails, text messages, or Skype sessions. People need to be physically present with another person to experience the kind of connection, which is critical to one’s health and emotional well-being (see Love 2.0). Long-distance relationships are difficult because despite attempts to communicate with your wife, it probably did not provide her with what she needed. Although people need physical connection, it does not have to be sexual in nature. You might want to consider that your wife’s needs for connection were genuine and no matter what you did, it would not have been enough. This does not mean that she needed to act on those feelings in a sexual way, but given the environment she was in—it may help explain what happened.

You might also want to consider how you discovered the affair. On one hand, it is a positive sign that your wife disclosed what happened, including all of the details. Full disclosure is useful when trying to rebuild trust. On the other hand, the fact that the disclosure came out after an argument she started may not be encouraging. People often say things out of spite, rather than an attempt to make things better, during a conflict. You might want to explore your wife’s motivation for disclosing this now. People, who are unhappy with their partners, are more likely to fight unfairly and cheat as well (see conflicted).

Are there issues in your relationship that need to be addressed? In many cases, infidelity is a symptom of relational problems, not the cause of them. Sometimes the best thing you can do in a situation like this is reevaluate your relationship, rather that focus on the immediate problem at hand (see truth about attachment).

Couples successfully work through the problem of infidelity every day. But, doing so requires full disclosure, remorse, and forgiveness (see forgiveness). It also requires making sure that underlying issues are dealt with in a constructive way.

It doesn’t sound like your wife is serial cheater. It sounds like there may be issues in your relationship, which are not being addressed directly. It might be wise to focus on present issues (see healthy relationships), rather than what happened three years ago.

 cheating wife | troubled relationship

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