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Man doesn't know if he can make peace with wife's dark past; 'She BETRAYED me 14 years ago.' AITA? UPDATE

Man doesn't know if he can make peace with wife's dark past; 'She BETRAYED me 14 years ago.' AITA? UPDATE

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When this man doesn't know if he can make peace with his wife's dark past, he asks the internet:

"AITAH for not coming to terms with the fact that my wife has a past?"

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

Last year, I learnt 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 learnt 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 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 se% with my wife. I just could not get an erection 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 STD. 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.

Se% life is basically dead for me. We do have sex 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. I do not even want non-se%ual gestures anymore.

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?

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

Fessy: This is tough. On one hand, I wouldn’t break it up over this specific instance, but your feelings are valid and you make great points regarding how she lied by omission and withheld that choice from you for 14 years.

Did you communicate to her that you now resent her and are no longer attracted to her/can’t perform because of what she did?

OP replied: Yes, I did communicate both during marriage counseling and 1:1 discussions. It's not even being able to perform. The bad thing is that I do not even want to hug, hold hands anymore. Being present around her is uncomfortable, too.

Ok-Season-3433: Damn, I’m sorry to hear that :( If the pain and hatred is that strong then there isn’t much point in staying. I’m assuming personal therapy didn’t help you overcome that pain and hatred?

OP replied: I would not say hatred but just uncomfortable. Therapy did not help so far for that feeling. It solved my initial anger and I came to terms with the reality but that's it. It happened on a girls' trip they went together. It was confirmed by my wife. Her friend told me she could not hold the secret of a sin anymore and decided to confess.

Survive1014 writes: Before you were married, but was it before you were officially a couple? If you had not declared yourselves a couple yet, its not really fair at all. If you were... thats a really tough one. Most likely it would be a deal breaker for me.

OP replies: About 4 months into being exclusive/couple(girlfriend and boyfriend). So, it's not before being boyfriend/girlfriend.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's dilemma:

oddfry writes:

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.

citicheeees writes:

There’s a quote that says when you are considering divorce you can’t compare your current situation with that of an idealized new love. You have to compare your current situation to a lifetime alone.

Would being alone be better than spending a few years learning to forgive your wife who Op says he loves and is so happy with what they built. There is no guarantee that OP will find a love and happy family and life ever again.

He said repeatedly that he loves his life and is happy.. almost nobody has that. The wife screwed up but at the time she was just a girlfriend, his girlfriend of 4 months cheated on him. Likely when she never thought the relationship would go anywhere. It is not ok, absolutely not.

My heart was broken when my college boyfriend cheated on me, but when I think of him I’m like omg we were just kids.. the language needs to be different to actually understand it apples to apples. His wife didn’t cheat, his girlfriend or only 4 months cheated 14 years ago.

His current wife cheated on a brand new boyfriend when she was 20.. a happy and loving household, needs to be looked at from all angles before it’s thrown away. The gf should have told him, yes.

However I can see a 20-22 year old being like oh I want to end things with X and then falling in love and panicking and thinking she will take it to the grave.

For me, if my now husband had cheated before. I know having been in so many trash relationships that I can forgive a mistake bc everything we have, almost nobody has.

I feel for OP, I wish OP would consider separating and living apart for a significant amount of time before going through with a divorce.

To me, after 14 years and 11 years of marriage, splitting up the family and divorcing her is worse than his gf (at the time) who didn’t know she loved him yet and she fd up and panicked bc she was like 20 and kept it a secret bc she loved everything they built. And maybe knew that she would blow up theirs lives. Which is clearly true now…

I don’t know. This is not a for Reddit thing bc everyone here is pulling from a wildly different place.. and just want to feed the fire.

helpopi writes:

It just feels like you have allowed this thing to consume you and live in your head rent free. I wouldn’t give up on counseling but I would change counselors if you feel you are not making any progress.

I would also really take some time to think through the impact of a divorce financially, physically, emotionally people throw that word around here but especially with a kid it is not a neat as a piece of paper would make it appear.

Good luck to you. BTW I am much older and most people I know who have been through something like this, a one night stand type thing (not a full blown affair) wished they never found out. All it did was clear the conscience of the cheater and provide them some relief while it hurting their partner unnecessarily.

crock7 writes:

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.

micropita writes:

NTA. You've gone through this in the most self-scrutinizing, self-loathing, and self-imposing way possible. You've gone to therapy, couples therapy, and still feel like you would be an asshole after being lied to your face for 14 years. Don't gaslight yourself.

14 years ago was a long time ago, yes, but your wife chose to lie to you for that amount of time. The original transgression might be old, but it was still being supported to this day, and would have been so indefinitely had this friend not spilled the beans on her.

For what you describe, you already clocked out of this relationship, and now you find your wife disgusting. Trying to keep a "loving marriage" farce would only lead to resentment, which would end up causing a divorce any way. It's just prolonging the inevitable.

You've made up your mind. Divorce is the way to go. Just remind your ex to hold herself accountable of her own actions, she's tried to avoid accountability since the beginning of your relationship.

No wonder she had a panic attack, she suddenly realized her actions would have repercussions. She lost you the moment she cheated, she just delayed it.

And now, OP's update (the next day):

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for their ideas and input about my situation. Some people reached out to me on Reddit chat 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 se%, then not wanting non-se%ual gestures 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 Redditors 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.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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