When this man is shocked by his wife's reveal that she cheated on him over 20 years ago and subsequently ends the marriage, he asks Reddit:
(OP also offers 2 lengthy updates and one FINAL update, which he recently posted.)
My wife (44F) and I (43M) have been married 20 years. We started dating in high school when I was a junior and she was a senior. We were long distance for her first two years of college while I was in high school and did one year at community college, then we went to college in the same city for a year, and have lived together since.
We got married the summer after I graduated college. Our marraige has been pretty great so far, but I initated a divorce after I discovered that she was sleeping with multiple other men for the 2 years we were long distance.
Just after Christmas, we got together with a few friends of hers from college to catch up, have dinner, and hang out.
We talked about a lot of stuff and my wife mentioned that we met in high school (not that we dated, just that we met). Her old college room commented that it was crazy that we met in high school, had a few wild years in college, then ended up together.
I played along and commented that I didn't know if my wife was as crazy as I was. The roomate started to tell a story, but my wife cut her off and said she was uncomfortable about it.
I sensed something was up, so I said that we actually started dating in high school and were together for my wife's entire time at college. All of my wives friends got real quiet and the rest of the dinner was awkward.
On the way out, one of her other roomates took me aside and said I should have "an honest conversation" about what happened at college.
I asked my wife on the way home and she kind of blew me off. I told her it was important that she was honest with me and again she said it wasn't important. When we got home, I told her I was going to stay at my brother's house until she was ready to talk about what happened in college.
The next day she came over and admitted to sleepting with "several" men during her first two years at college. She said she didn't consider it a big deal at the time because we were long distance and she didn't think a high school romance would last.
I pressed for more details and she said it was at least 10 different men including at least 3 guys she introduced to me as friends when I came to visit on weekends and 1 guy she was still in contact with. I told her that I wanted a divorce and would be starting the paperwork as soon as I could (which I did on January 2nd).
Her family and most of my family is telling me I shouldn't throw away my marriage over a few mistakes.
I've stood by my belief that cheating on me with multiple men for years is unacceptable no matter when it happened and the fact that she continued to maintain relationships with these guys right in front of me was an unacceptable amount of disrespect.
We have two children, but they are 17 and 19 and I believe they will understand why I need to end the marraige. Am I wrong for leaving? I feel like I'm going crazy with the amount of people telling me to over look years of infidelty and decades of lies. AITA?
I'm glad I did this with a throwaway because the response here is unexpected. I obviously can't answer every question/comment, but I wanted to provide some detail for common questions.
The reason I posted this is that my wife and a few friends have been saying it's common to sleep with other folks when you're in an long distance relationship and that I'm kind of the odd one out for not sleeping around.
I felt like I was being gaslit, but I wanted an outside perspective. We live in a state with a waiting period to finalize a divorce, so I felt it was a reasonable idea to get some insight before things are finalized.
After these comments, I see a handful of folks saying it's normal to sleep around during a long distance relationship, but it seems to be a significant minority.
- We saw each other a couple of weekends a month during the two year college period. I lived about 3 hours away from her college, so it was long distance but not like cross country. This was not a situation where we went months without seeing each other.
- The 3 guys I met while she was in college were meetups that happened during parties. The subject of me being a boyfriend didn't really come up, so I honestly don't know if these guys knew anything.
- The one guy we're still in contact with married a mutual friend from college. This is not some guy she secretly messages on the side, it's somebody we've talked to regularly for years. I've talked to him a few times since I've learned about my wife. He's said he didn't know we were dating at the time and has since blocked my wife on social media.
- Some folks have asked how the roomates didn't realize at our wedding that the timelines didn't work out. The main reason is that my wife and I had a very small ceremony with just close family in Texas, then went back to the East Coast to have a big party with friends.
The typical reception/sharing details about how we met stuff didn't really happen, so her roomates didn't realize we started dating before college. It sounds like they thought we only dated for the year we were both in the same city, then moved in together.
- I was open to therapy or some kind of attempt to save the marraige, but her insistence that this whole thing is common and I'm the one who's out of line is just too much for me.
The only time she showed any remorse or even offerred to reconsile is when I started filing paper work. In the last week she's gone back to saying she's right and I'm overreacting.
This is also why I feeling like I'm being gaslit. It seems obvious that this is a major issue, but I've got my wife and others telling me it's normal and I'm overreacting.
- I'm not getting a paternity test unless my kids want to get one. I don't have any doubts that they are biologically mine, and no test will make them not my kids. I love them more than anything in the world and my wife's infidelity won't change that even if one or both of them is not biologically mine.
They've been my kids for 19 years and they will be my kids until I stop breathing.
UPDATE 2: Hey all, I've been reading a bunch of the responses, but things are getting crazy and increasingly unhinged, so I probably won't be checking in more. Here are few more answers to common questions I've seen.
- We were definitely exclusively dating at the time. First, dating culture was a lot different 20ish years ago and exclusive was kind of the default for most people. Second, we had a long and difficult discussion before she left for college about continuing the relationship long distance.
She specifically wanted to stay together and even joked about her dad coming after me if I started sleeping around with girls at my school. Finally, at my senior prom, she was not able to attend and was very upset when I proposed going with a platonnic female friend of mine.
As a result I ended up skipping my prom and hanging out with her instead. While we never said the word exclusive, I think the above reasons, combined with the general relationship before she left, are enough to assume exclusivity.
Based on some comments here, I followed up with the friend that said I should have an honest conversation. She told me that "10 guys would be on the low end" and that her biggest concern was that there was apparently at least one pregnancy scare that I didn't know about.
I honestly don't think that really changes much. It's less about the number for me and more about the fact that she seems incapable of recognizing why this was wrong or why I feel betrayed.
Thank you all for the helpful responses, even those that disagree with me. I will still be open to therapy if she's willing, but I honestly feel like it would be more about us being successful coparents and finding closure than saving our marraige.
Yeah that's the part that stuck with me most as well. My marriage ended primarily due to my ex cheating on me. The part that hurt most was that it was with her coworker, someone she made quick friends with, and someone who was trying to be friends with me too.
We had him and his wife over to hang out, and just him over on multiple occasions. Cheating sucks either way, but to be so brazen about it by waving your affair partner in front of your partner's face is something else. Certainly made me feel like a tool.
I wish you the best OP. Don't let anyone tell you it's not so bad because it was a long time ago. She chose to keep it a secret, and would have continued doing so. I guess she didn't feel that guilty about it. That's not someone you can trust.
If she slept around in college, and told you about it and you reconciled... No issue there. But she kept it from you. She kept in contact with one. She introduced you to her flings as friends at the time! That's completely messed up. You are right to divorce her. She lied to you for 20 years. She does not respect you now or then.
She cheated and lied to you then, maintained contact with at least one of her fuck buddies, and introduced you to many of the guys that were banging her. That is not only dishonest but cruel. I think you are 100% in the right. Who knows what else she’s done. You have no way of knowing.
If she wants to do the work to remain in your life in any capacity, that's up to you guys. You should absolutely do what you need to do to feel comfortable with your way forward.
She robbed you of your agency for 20 years, and then invited people who had violated you into your life. I don't blame you for feeling whatever way you do.
Hope you and your children can navigate this as well as possible, and if there is a way you can live happily in whatever capacity with your wife, then I'm all for that too. Do what's best for you, F how anyone else feels. Wishing you the best.
Everything your wife is doing to you is sick, let's break this down. Her- She slept with 10 dudes, and mind you, these are the ones she's ADMITTING to. Quite frankly, she lied about it for 20 years, so you really can't take her word that it was 'just' 10 people and 'just' for that short time in college.
Why? Because of this next part. She introduced these guys to you as friends. Friends, dude. She didn't introduce them as enemies, or as a threat to your marriage, but as FRIENDS.
She got you cucked, she disrespected everything ABOUT your relationship with her before it even began, dude. There is no reason to trust, nor stay with her.
The reason being, she didn't even admit this herself. She didn't tell you this, and she either wasn't going to, or was going to wait until you were too old to put your foot down and care. She got found out. If there was an honest admission of guilt on her part, then maybe she's worth hearing out and forgiving.
The fact that she didn't do this os a clear sign that she doesn't regret it, not even a little, not even a microscopic, tiny bit. She got some type of thrill from not only keeping it secret, but seeing you around the men that fucked her, that's the part that makes her the most unforgivable.
You- You have 2 kids, what's most important right now is ensuring THEY are doing okay, and making sure that they (as young adults themselves) know precisely why the divorce is happening and why you can't go back to her.
Beyond that, look at how she's trampled your trust; you're not gonna be able to look at any mutual guy without imagining him fucking your wife, that trust is gone.
And from your standpoint... what if you caught something? You have to get tested man. I hate to say it but you don't know what those people could've been carrying and if you have something, it could severely limit your ability to find a woman that appreciates you in the future.
So no, you really can't afford to go back to her; tell anybody who's trying to talk you out of it, respectfully, to leave you alone, and let the divorce proceedings do the talking. Her family's opinion shouldn't matter since it's biased, and the opinions of mutuals should also be ignored since they're gonna take her side, let them deal with the fallout.
My wife and I are seeing a couples counselor and have been to 3 sessions now. Based on what my original post outlined, and what we've talked about in counseling, I'm still moving forward with the divorce.
I believe that counseling was the right move, and I appreciate folks for recommending it. I don't think it's going to save our marraige, but it has helped me communicate my feelings, helped my wife understand where I'm coming from, and most importantly helped us be in a position to work together as co-parents.
First, let's talk about the things I learned about the situation in college. After talking to my wife in sessions and texting with two of her roomates, it's clear that her roomates knew something was up in college.
They said they though the situation was weird and likely involved cheating. My wife had told them that we both had some wild times in college and worked it out before we got married, so they never really brought it up.
The roommate who pulled me aside recently was uncomfortable with the fact that my wife clearly didn't talk it through with me, and wanted me to know.
As far as being introduced to guys she slept with, apparently that was not intended. For one of the guys, he ended up dating and then marrying one of our mutual friends from college.
This is the guy she was in contact with. In the other situations, she initially blamed me in the counseling session, but has now agreed it was bad.
When I went to visit her, she planned to hang out in the room or just hang out together alone, but I wanted to go to a few parties because in HS and community college, I didn't really have parties to go to.
She didn't expect me to meet the guys, but they were at the parties and she felt she didn't really have a choice. I still think this is kind of shitty, but it's not as bad as her intentionally parading me infront of the guys.
Most of our discussion in therapy has been talking about why I think it's a big deal and she doesn't. She initially said that none of these guys were in relationships with her and it was mostly one night stands or FWB.
Since she didn't view them as romantic relationships, she didn't see the big deal (her words not mine). My opinion is that we never said that was ok and she actively prevented me from doing the same.
After digging into this across two sessions, and my wife talking to some friends, she now agrees that it was a breach of our trust/relationship. This is the shared understanding that has helped us talk about this situation more honestly and helped us get from arguing to talking (which is why I'm optimistic about co-parenting).
Now, here's why I'm 100% set on divorce. Two things came up that make me want to leave the marraige. First, about 10 years ago we went through a really rough patch and had a dead bedroom for about 2 years.
She had expressed that our se% life was becoming boring, so I tried to spice things up (nothing crazy, just roleplay and like spencers gift level sex toys).
Apparently, she had been hung up some se%ual experiences that happened in college (that she is not comfortable talking about) and wanted me to try them, but when I did it made her feel awkward and guilty that it made her think of other men while she was with me.
The fact that she's saying these experiences were meaningless, but they're still impacting our marraige tells me they meant more than she wants to say. Second, she admitted that she has been flirting with coworkers on business trips since the pandemic ended.
She says she has never slept with anybody, but it got as far as going on a date with one of her male coworkers. That was the absolute dealbreaker for me.
We have told our children that we're getting a divorce. We told them it was due to some bad decisions that we made in college that we're having trouble moving past. My 19 year old (who is in college) asked me if I cheated on my wife while she was away at college.
My wife got a little shaken up, but admitted to the kids that she's the one who cheated. We have agreed to not share any additional details with the kids. I reenforced that both us will be there for the kids and that we are in therapy to help make sure we handle this in the best way for the family.
I also told the kids that if they wanted to talk to either of us or a therapist about it, that I would fully support it.
We've started talking to a mediator about how to proceed with the divorce, and unless things change, we should be able to have an amicable divorce. We're both financially stable on our own, we have no major debts, and our kids are older, so custody isn't a major issue.
This has been a bad couple of months for me, but I'm doing ok now and I honestly am grateful that my last post blew up because it both validated some of my feelings, but also motivated me to go to counseling with my wife. There you have it.