- Gender and Relationships
His Wife Cheated and Now He Sees Her Differently. Can They Work It Out? - Relationship Advice
I just discovered your blog and hubs. Your insights and honesty are fantastic. I’d love to hear your take on my situation.
My wife recently cheated on me. It was not any of the types of cheating that you or anyone else tend to describe. We have always had a difficult relationship, always been aware of our differences and were very committed to being able to work through them. We got married 9 months ago. About a year before that we befriended another couple, and that is who she ended up cheating with. We were in a huge fight, hadn’t spoken to each other for weeks, so she wasn’t exactly lying—I knew how bad things were. But of course it is still the ultimate betrayal.
After she was caught and I found out she apologized, felt miserable, said that it made her realize she already had everything she wanted. I have doubt, but I fear that listening to my doubts could be the biggest obstacle in working through this.
The thing I’m having the hardest part with is seeing her differently now. She is not the innocent, loyal person I married but a liar and a cheater who cannot face our problems maturely (though of course she says she will in the future). I want this to work because I committed to her. We had been together for 7 years before marrying. We planned a future together. We are connected at a very deep emotional level, and I feel more loved and accepted with her than in any other relationship I’ve ever had. She has major issues from her childhood (read: severe abuse) that have shaped her life view. I am understanding of this but I don’t know if I’m going too far in accepting the things about her that she cannot change. Any words of wisdom are welcome. Thank you.
There's a few different things going on here, which you have to look at separately.
The first is that she cheated. Cheating is cheating, whether it's with another guy, a woman, a couple, it is still cheating. You called it the ultimate betrayal, and you're right.
It seems there were a lot of circumstance that surrounded the infidelity that you take into consideration. You said you two had been fighting and hadn't spoken in weeks. You said it wasn't lying because of this. Perhaps there was a prior sexual relationship between the four of you. You also said that she had a severely abusive childhood, and that you two have always had a lot of problems.
While these things aren't excuses or alibis, they certainly are tells. They say, "You shouldn't be surprised."
This leads to the next separate issue you have to consider. You chose to marry someone 9 months ago with whom you have a lot of differences and difficulties. Again, I admit I suspect there is a sexually ambiguous history with the couple you befriended. And of course there was a fight that lasted weeks without speaking. How did you think that would resolve? Really, were you surprised to learn she cheated?
Maybe you were. That's something only you can know. But it's significant. If you weren't surprised that this happened you really need to accept the responsibility of putting yourself in this place. You need to understand, and accept, that yours is a tumultuous, or chaotic, or difficult love. Somehow you put yourself into a marriage with someone you've had difficulties with, and even anticipated infidelity.
There's no judgment on that here. If that is what you chose, whether or not you were fully cognizant of what you were doing, you have to own your choice. Some people are just wired that way. They crave that kind of volatile factor in their relationships. Some people just aren't vanilla, and aren't attracted to or stimulated by copacetic existences. It's fine, as long as you can see your involvement in the situation, and not place blame or set someone else up to be the culprit.
But if you didn't see this coming, if you really had no idea that this was a possibility, if you were completely blindsided by her cheating, then you have a real problem on your hands my friend.
The final thing at play here that you need to really consider, is that you said you see her differently now. That's quite a huge problem. If through all the chaos and differences and difficulties you saw her in a certain way, and now that's blown to shit, that's going to be hard to rectify.
One thing you can do is to consider that your original image of her wasn't fair. While spinning down in your final paragraph, you called her a liar, after stating earlier that it wasn't exactly a lie since you had not even spoken in weeks.
This demonstrates how different the issues at play here really are. When you look at this through one issue, you can explain her behaviors. But from looking at it through another issue, you see her as failed. Flawed. A cheater and a liar - and this is not how you thought of her before.
Because of the backstory, and because of who you are, the advice I'd offer others is drastically different than my advice tailored here for you.
And here it is. It's in the most important aspect of your relationship, and you really need to visit and revisit this. You said, you feel accepted by her. Loved, connected, blah blah blah... but accepted? Do you know how huge that is? Do you know how many people in your life are going to know the real and true you, and accept you for who you really are? That's a rare and precious thing.
And do you know what else acceptance is? It's something that works both ways.
Do you have a relationship question? Email me through the link in my profile. Thanks!