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Man can't recover after learning his wife cheated 14 years ago, 'I would've broken it off.' AITA? UPDATED 2X

Man can't recover after learning his wife cheated 14 years ago, 'I would've broken it off.' AITA? UPDATED 2X


"AITA for not coming to terms with the fact that my wife cheated on me 14 years ago before our marriage?"

I (35M) am married to my wife (37F) for 11 years and together for 14. We have a beautiful 7-year-old daughter and our marriage has been great without any major problems until last year. Last year, I learned that my wife cheated on me before our marriage.

One of her friends became religious and confessed her actions to me which had me confront my wife. She was shocked that I learned it and apologized profusely about her actions. However, she said it's not something important now because we have been going strong and have a family together.

She told me I should come to terms with it since it happened 4 months into being exclusive and she was a stupid girl out of college back then. My mind told me the same. It happened 14 years ago, and we are happy right now. I decided to forgive her and continue our usual life.

Reality was not that great. My mental healh took a big hit. I realized it's not something that happened 14 years ago for me. The cheating happened for me when my wife confirmed it. I was less confident, could not have intimacy with my wife. I just could not get turned on for her. This turned into feeling disgusted being around her. I even took a DNA and STD test secretly.

Thankfully, our daughter is mine and I am clear of STDs. Then a year of intense individual therapy started for me. I realized I needed to change somehow. I was not the same person I used to be. I also communicated my feelings to my wife and after pushing a bit, we started going couples counseling too. However, at the end of everything I decided to proceed with divorce. Here are my reasonings:

She not only cheated back then, but lied to me for 14 years. She did not confess the action herself. Even though she apologized, she dismissed the fact by saying it's not important anymore.

Young me was robbed of having a choice. Cheating was (and still is) one of the biggest deal breakers for me. If I knew it back then, I would have broke it off. I am happy with my life and I am glad that our daughter came to world. She is the light that shines the brightest for me. One of the biggest reasons I keep living but I still was robbed of a choice back then.

IC and MC could not our problems and my feelings towards her. It also started affecting family life which could affect our daughter. I think our daughter would be better off having us as co-parents instead of living in a broken family environment where consistent arguments are present.

Intimacy is basically dead for me. We do get physical, but I feel like those women on film/series that just lay and look at the ceiling waiting it to be over. The only difference is that I am a man.

Last week, I had a sit down with my wife and explained everything I wrote here in detail, my feelings, reasonings and some other private things. I have been talking to a lawyer for the last month and papers are almost finalized. 50/50 custody, 50/50 assets sharing and as amicable as possible.

I explained everything throughly and clearly to her. She freaked out and had a panic attack. We spent the night at ER. She is begging me to reconsider and not throw away 14 years. However, even though I would like to stay it will results in us being roommates and a broken family environment for our daughter. Am I in the wrong here?

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

bittyberry said:

NTA And I'll tell you why..."Even though she apologized, she dismissed the fact by saying it's not important anymore." The only thing that infuriates me more than cheating is someone being dismissive of their cheating "because it happened so long ago."

It's not old news for YOU. For you it just happened because you just found out. Now even IF your wife had been truly apologetic and contrite, I would say you weren't the ahole for not being able to let this go. But the fact that she tried to sweep it under the rug and pretend like it doesn't matter?

HUGE red flag. Plus you clearly can't look at her the same way. Get out. It's a shame you couldn't have found out earlier but at least you know now. End the marriage, it's best for both you and your child.

OddFiction said:

NTA. All I'd be able to think about is "if she lied to me for all these years about this, what else is she lying about?" I'd never stop wondering about that. I'd also wonder if there's other instances and she hasn't told you.

The only reason you found out about this one was from someone else, so who's to say there aren't other instances? Maybe not cheating but that's a long ass time to lie to you. Realistically, it's not fine and ya'll haven't been going strong because she's been lying this whole damn time.

It's new for you and she broke your trust. She's definitely the AH for being dismissive of it and lying this entire time, and then having the audacity to say that ya'll have been fine this whole time.

ProfitImmediate1720 said:

It's more about the 14 years of lying, than the cheating. You're still young, honest love is still waiting for you.

_AmenMyBrother_ said:

Nta. I know it’s not the same thing, but I dated a girl for almost 6 years 13 years ago: I found out she slept with her ex 8 days after we became official. His best friend died in a car wreck: she went to his house with two of her friends to check on him (which I knew about and was ok with at the time) and slept with him. I bought a ring to proposes about 3 weeks before I found out too. I showed her friend the ring and told her details how I was going to do it.

She seem happy for me and made the comment who would’ve thought you guys would be getting married after the rough start. I was confused and was like what are you talking about?

She said you know how She slept with her ex when you guys started to date. Her friend said that she told everyone she told me and I forgave her and not to bring it up anymore. I left. There was no point in trying, I knew I could never get over it. Met my now wife in a new city 5 month later and been married for 6 years with 2 kids.

Shot_Assignment7253 said:

NTA. BUT, you were four months into a new relationship. Young and dumb. She made a mistake. I don’t think she actively lied to you for 14 years, honestly she probably didn’t even think about it again. If she is still in touch with the guy then that’s different and I would get divorced.

The thing I read, if you are being really honest, is that your marriage has been great, you have an awesome little girl and life was good. People think, I’ll just get a divorce and my next true love is just around the corner. It doesn’t work like that though. Sometimes you don’t find love at all or she may not find love again.

You will be dealing with co-parenting and then girlfriends for you, boyfriends for her. It’s going to be a lot. I’m not saying don’t get a divorce. I’m just saying be realistic and know that divorce isn’t going to solve all of your problems, it will just be a new set of problems.

Make sure you aren’t divorcing her just as a punishment for her. You’ll regret that. If you are divorcing for your mental health, then ok, I get it. Maybe try a trial separation first? I just hate to see a good relationship go in the toilet for something that happened 14 years ago before y’all were even married.

And no, I’ve never cheated. I was cheated on and yes I got a divorce. The difference is that he didn’t know how many women he had slept with in our 23 years of marriage, he had lost count. And he was having an affair when I found out and divorced him. Just think things thru and good luck to you.

Wafflegator said:

You have to do you, but honestly 4 months into a relationship is so little and 14 years is so long. You aren't the same people you were then. It's hard to hold someone accountable in this situation. The amount of challenges a relationship has to overcome to make it to 14 years far outweighs almost any mistake made when we were still essentially strangers.

BlueGreen_1956 said:

NTA. Your wife lied to you for years and she just wants you to "get over it." Your wife is shocked that she is being held accountable for her actions. Accountability is kryptonite for people like her.


Firstly, I want to thank everyone for their ideas and input about my situation. Some people reached out to me to state their opinions and we had long talks. They have been incredibly helpful and I want to thank them especially.

Some people asked if we went to counseling together. Yes, we have been visiting a counselor for over a year now on top of my individual therapy. I understand blowing up a marriage for something happened 14 years ago is not logical. However, my feelings towards my wife got even worse after counseling and therapy.

It started with not being able to trust her, converted to not wanting be physical, then not wanting physical touch, and finally I am not even comfortable to be in the same space as her. We have been less than roommates in the last couple of months. I do not hate or resent her but I just cannot shake off the feelings.

I would say I forgave her but it's not about forgiving anymore when there are no feelings and love. I do not want my daughter to grow up in such an environment. I know how hurtful it can be. I experienced a similar situation with my parents only the genders reversed. Living in such an environment breaks you as a child and teen. I would have much preferred if my mother just divorced my dad instead of staying for my sake.

These being said, I had a long talk with my wife this morning. She has not been eating much since visiting ER and I am concerned for her wellbeing and safety. Some people who reached out suggested considering separation before proceeding with the divorce and see if my feelings would change. That is very logical actually. I proposed this idea to my wife and she was happy to hear it.

I have an upcoming business trip to Netherlands next week and I am planning to extend my stay and stay with my sister once I am back. Wife abruptly suggested one sided open marriage and I can do what I want on that business trip if it'll save the relationship, make us even and change my feelings. I rejected because it has nothing to do with that.

Even if it changed something for me, it would devastate her knowing I cheated on her in the future. It's not something easy to get over and not an easy decision. That is all the update. We'll try separation for a while and depending on the result I'll make my decision. Thank you for all the help and opinions.

Here's what top commenters had to say about the update:

DelseresMagnumOpus said:

Even if she were to open up all her communications to you and allow you to monitor her movements and stuff, would it be worth saving the relationship anymore? I doubt you want to be her warden either, having to keep tabs on her every time. Unfortunately the fact you said you can’t even stay in the same room as her is telling. Take your time during the separation, but it seems like you’re pretty much checked out at this point.

Jokester_316 said:

A lie by omission is still a lie. As OP stated. He would have broken up with her if he knew about the affair 14 years ago. She took away his agency to make an informed decision about his future.

By her not confessing to her affair, that proves she never felt guilt about cheating on OP. She made the choice to cheat. She made the choice to conceal her infidelity. Upon confrontation, she minimized her infidelity and expected OP to get over it. Now she's crying because her previous choices are now coming with consequences.

OP tried everything to reconcile. It didn't work. He's went through the stages of grief for his marriage. He now feels indifferent towards his wife. That's not healthy for OP or his wife. They both deserve to be loved and cherished by their spouse. OP's wife isn't a monster.

Maybe time and space through a separation will help. Maybe it won't. At this point, it's a last-ditch effort. I think OP needs to get his own place for 6-12 months. Set up a temporary custody agreement. Stay low contact from his wife. He will either feel relief not being in her proximity, or he long for his family and home. Whatever decision OP makes, he won't be the AH.


The fact you are given a chance for one sided open marriage is pretty suspicious. She is giving you a chance to get even which could be used against you in the future. You sure she cheated only once? Even people who cheated more than once doesn't give their partner one sided open relationship without remorse for their action.

MyyWifeRocks said:

What you are experiencing is a visceral reaction to something that goes totally against your morals. I had the exact same reaction with my ex, but it’s been two decades since then. Reading your story reminded me exactly how that felt. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Don’t stress yourself about trying to make your marriage work. My visceral reaction never went away from my ex, not even after 20 years as coparents.

SarcasmIsntDead said:

She is giving you a pass meanwhile she’s going to be doing the same she has nothing left to lose… NTA you can forgive but that doesn’t mean you forget. It’s unfortunate but she doesn’t even sound remorseful it just sounds like she doesn’t want to lose her living situation… eye for an eye isn’t the same as actual reconciliation.

MermaidCurse said:

"Separation" is just stalling the divorce; OP doens't want to be in this marriage anymore, I don't know why people are trying to make him stay when his heart is not in it (and that environment it's not good for the kid either).


I have a short update about the situation. I got back from the trip and decided to divorce my wife in the end. The last straw was when my daughter told me I look more lively and happier after I came back. I realized I am better off without my wife and just co-parenting our daughter with her. I still feel incredibly uncomfortable around my wife.

My wife did not take the news well and is going down the spiral. I called MIL and FIL to have them take care of her. She caused some problems. She sent threatening messages to her friend who told me about the cheating. I had to beg her to not sue my wife as I want my daughter to have a mother present in her life. Though, she'll be probably taken to mental ward. She is not well. Last time I saw her, I felt scared looking at her eyes.

Our daughter is with me now and we've started the divorce process. My lawyer told me if my wife to be taken to mental ward, there is a good chance that I can get better than 50/50 custody. One should be happy hearing that but I am just devastated how it'll affect our daughter.

Many people told in the comments that dating life after 30s as a man is not good and I'll be probably forever alone as no-one will want me. First thing is: I do not care. Our daughter is my first priority and dating is the last thing I have in mind right now. Second thing is: I am confident in myself in every regard to finding friends and a partner. I think this sums up my update. I will be back maybe in a year considering how long divorce process takes when it's not amicable. Thank you.

Here's what top commenters had to say about the second update:

Tricky-Stock-7248 said:

I'm going to say it, a man in his 30's that takes care of his look and looks healthy sometimes is way more attractive than any boy in his 20's that's just beginning to understand how life works. I hope it works for you, I've come from a family when my mom cheated my dad WITH HIS BROTHER and then he cheated back with her cousin, believe me, no child deserves to be raised in a family like that.

Your daughter is better with only one parent that's calm than with two beligerant parents that decided to stay together "for the sake of kids." Your life won't end by now, I would leave my husband too if I'd find out he cheated on me when we were just beginning as a couple, cheating has no expire date. I hope you get better and find happiness.

edgy_intuitive said:

Good job sticking up for yourself. That’s hard to do.

pawgsage_ said:

Thanks for the update. It sounds like you've made a tough but necessary decision for your well-being and your daughter's. Divorce isn't easy, especially when it involves such challenging circumstances. It's admirable that you're prioritizing your daughter's needs and seeking the best outcome for her. Take care of yourself during this difficult time, and know that you're not alone in navigating this journey. Wishing you and your daughter all the best as you move forward.

sh0rtsista said:

I’m very confident you’ll be able to find someone else. My parents separated 3-4 years ago. Both my parents have found several other partners and they are well into their 50s. Don’t let bitter people on this hell site tell you otherwise!

NaturesVividPictures said:

NTA. Yeah I would definitely not date for a while but yes you're not going to have any problems I don't know why people say you will. There's a lot of women out there that want to get married again after a divorce and I think women have a harder time getting remarried than men do.

Some women are so desperate for a man they'll marry just about anybody I'm not saying that you're a bad person to marry but they might start seeing somebody who isn't the greatest man and they'll marry him just so they have a man to be married to. Hopefully you'll end up meeting a very nice woman with the same values and outlooks that you have and you can grow old together.

I definitely wouldn't rush into anything but I'm sure you'll figure that out. But your daughter right now should be your first priority since she's what 8 years old now, she still has a lot of formative years to go through and I would be careful about replacing her mother or have her think you're replacing her mother. And you make sure that whatever woman you do date or possibly marry actually likes your daughter and isn't putting on a show.

There's a lot of horrible women out there that once they marry a guy with a kid they want you to get rid of that kid. So make sure you find some of these actually kind and wants to be a stepmother or at least help you take care of your child. Good luck.

InnannaAshtara said:

Belatedly, NTA and congratulations. I can feel a sense of freedom and self empowerment from your update, which is a good indication that you made the right decision. Good luck.

Everyone was on OP's side with this one throughout. What's your advice for this couple?

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