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We Both Cheated. We’re in MC but looking here for advice.

webothsuck32 posted 10/23/2020 13:39 PM

This all came to light two weeks ago. We've gone to marriage counseling twice since, and we're doing "ok", but it's still been rough. Lots of ups and downs, talking, expressing our emotions, and figuring out how to move on. We both agreed that divorce is our last resort, and we want to stay together. We're trying to navigate reconciliation and forgiveness.

We've been together for 8 years, married for 5. We have a young daughter and our marriage is overall a happy one.

So I'll start with me... 2 years ago, I went out with some coworkers for happy hour. Long story short, we ended up having a few drinks and I ended up having sex with a female coworker in the bathroom. Details don't really matter, but she made a move, started kissing me, took my hand and dragged me to the bathroom where I proceeded to cheat on my wife, who was at home with our daughter. At the time, of course I knew what I was doing was terrible, but I did it anyway. Afterward, I could hardly look my wife in the eye. I cut all contact with this girl immediately, and decided I would never do anything like that again. I trickle-truthed my wife and told her a girl had kissed me. She asked if anything else had happened, and I said no. That was it. I decided to take it to the grave - wallow in the suffering and guilt and not allow myself to relieve myself of the guilt and hurt her by telling her. I decided to focus on being the best husband and father I could be and never allow myself an opportunity to do that again.

Now, my wife. Some background: I met her in class in college. I was 21, she was 24. She had a boyfriend of 6 years at the time. We started out as just study buddies and worked on some projects for class together. About a month after I met her, she tells me her boyfriend broke up with her. Shortly after that, we started to have sex. I was her rebound/breakup therapy, and I was totally OK with it. They were still living together at the time, but I thought whatever, we're just FWB. A few weeks went by and I started developing feelings for her. Stupid 21-year-old me, asked her to be my girlfriend before her ex had even moved out of the house. She said yes, and we were then bf/gf. About 2 weeks later, her ex finally moved out of the house. Her cheating occurred 2 weeks after that, so 1 month after we had the "girlfriend/boyfriend" talk.

The night she cheated on me, she didn't answer her phone for several hours. At about 10pm, she calls me to tell me she's sorry, that she left her phone in the car, she was at her friend's house studying for a test. A few months go by, and that night stuck out in my head as a strange one. I finally got her to admit that she had gone over to her ex's house to talk, as he asked her to come over and have a discussion about where they stood, etc. She said she feel asleep on the couch and drove home in the morning. I pressed her on this occasionally for years, as it just didn't seem right. She always swore nothing happened, and she told him that nothing would happen, that she was going over there just as a friend to talk and help him move on. Eventually, I decided I was being crazy and dropped it.

Fast forward 7.5 years to 2 weeks ago. That night popped into my head, and I pressed her again that if she cheated that night, to just come clean, because I deserved the truth. This time, she broke down and confessed that she did end up having sex with him that night, and it was the last time. I believe her. Why? I clearly remember the night and the week that followed. The following night, we were hanging out and her ex called while I was there. I told her she needed to answer and tell him that she and I were together. So she did. He asked if we had been having sex. She said yes, and he lost it. He ended up getting very violent toward her that week, making threatening phone calls, and she got a restraining order against him immediately. So, yea. I know for a fact that was the last time.

After she told me this, I confessed to her that it wasn’t “just a kiss” at happy hour, and that I had sex with that girl in the bathroom. Obviously, she was crushed. We both were. We both sat and cried for a bit, naturally got a bit angry, and we went back and forth for a few days before our first marriage counseling session.

Listen, I know I'm objectively the bigger asshole here. I cheated on my wife with a baby at home. Asshole, scumbag, POS, I know it. Remind me in the comments, if you feel like it. She's working to forgive me, and I'm working to forgive her. The issue I have with her isn't so much the sex, it's the lying. She lied to me about that night for many years - through a proposal, and engagement, a wedding, and a birth of a child. I lied too, and we both give the same reason - that we didn't want to hurt the other person, and we were also afraid that we would end the relationship over something that we vowed to ourselves to never do again.

My cheating was a careless ONS with no regard for my marriage, my family, or my commitment to them. I was an asshole with no integrity, I know it. Her cheating, as she says, was an act of confusion, fresh out of a 6 year relationship, and had many unresolved feelings. Someone told me this could be classified as "transitional" cheating. Wife told me she did agree to be my girlfriend, but truly wasn't ready. She said she should have waited and took time to herself. From the time they broke up, to the time she cheated on me, was just over 2 months. However, it was still technically cheating, and she did lie to me about it. The same I did to her.

So here we are. Our marriage counselor has been awesome. She knows everything and is helping us work it out. We’re also beginning individual therapy next week. My wife said she can forgive me, and she wants me to forgive her. I'm optimistic that we can work through it all, but I wanted to see if you had any advice. Yea, we're fucked up. Yea, we may have a long road ahead of us, and yes, I should be burned at the stake. But we want to be with each other. Like we told our counselor - If we could take a magic wand and erase these two incidents + the lying, we'd have a pretty much perfect marriage. Any tips for moving on? Or perspective on how we can make sense of everything and "let go"? Thank you in advance.


Tl;DR: We both cheated on each other at vastly different times in our relationship. We both lied to each other about it. We want to stay together and make it work. We know it's going to be a long process, but we're going to try our best anyway.

Neanderthal posted 10/23/2020 17:39 PM

Welcome to SI. Being here is an excellent step in a positive direction.

Please read the pinned post above: "Things that every WS needs to know."

Also get this book "How to help your spouse heal from your affair" by Linda MacDonald. It's worth every penny. Both of you should read it multiple times.

First and foremost no more lying. FOR ANY REASON!

I'm sure a few of our more knowledgeable members will be along to offer more help.

I wish you the best.

BraveSirRobin posted 10/24/2020 13:06 PM

Welcome to SI, weboth.

My H and I are also madhatters, with unbalanced infidelities. I could spend an hour on why mine was worse or his was worse. The TLDR is that mine was worse, but we did further damage by focusing on that discrepancy to the exclusion of my own healing. We blameshifted, we hid guilt and shame from each other, we got exhausted and scared, and after six months, we rugswept. It didn't solve our core issues. It didn't force me to figure out how to be a more honest and authentic person, and it didn't force him to see that his pain had gone underground. I'm glad that you and your W understand how important therapy is, individually and jointly.

My best piece of advice is to validate each other's pain as much as you can. Pain doesn't listen to logic or equivalencies. It doesn't look at a calendar and say "Ok, time to stop hurting." It doesn't say, "I cheated too, so I'll just stop feeling crushed and betrayed." Don't get me wrong, the logical brain has an important role in auditing emotional response. It can say, "It's been several years now and the pain hasn't abated, so I need to try something else in order to heal." But in most people, it can't just make emotions go away.

FWIW, we had a situation at least as fucked up as yours, with trickle truth and "years later" components, and we really do seem to be healing well. Infidelity is a deal breaker for many people, and that's completely understandable, but it doesn't have to be for everyone.

Sofarsogood posted 10/26/2020 19:56 PM

WS Only

[This message edited by SI Staff at 5:18 AM, October 27th (Tuesday)]

JBWD posted 10/26/2020 20:22 PM

I trickle-truthed my wife and told her a girl had kissed me. She asked if anything else had happened, and I said no.

The issue I have with her isn't so much the sex, it's the lying.

Look at those 2 side by side and see if anything stands out. You need to avoid comparisons and this is a bit of an alarm bell. Linda MacDonald has a section that talks about MHs, the biggest challenge is acknowledging each other’s emotions when they may surface- You both need to avoid minimizing by refocusing on your individual victimhood.

We know it's going to be a long process, but we're going to try our best anyway.
If an intensive process sounds like it’s challenging, you’re gonna need to find a way to recharge frequently.

Bottom line is as long as you both approach moving forward with humility and bravery, you can keep moving. Be honest with each other, and yourselves.

webothsuck32 posted 10/29/2020 16:39 PM

Mods, can you please remove the stopsign? I'd like opininos from both sides. Thanks!

wifehad5 posted 10/29/2020 18:25 PM

The Stop Sign has been removed. BS's are now able to respond.

webothsuck32 posted 12/1/2020 13:19 PM

Thank you! Still struggling, but doing better. I would love to hear some more opinions from people. I find that outsider/third party perspectives to our situation have helped me process this more than anything else.

MrCleanSlate posted 12/1/2020 14:11 PM

WBS32,

That's some long simmering baggage you both have to deal with now.

Do you love your wife? Does she love you?

Ok, assuming you are both wanting to work through this and work on fixing your M as well then you have a lot of hope to make this happen.

So typical of us waywards, we think we are protecting the other party by not admitting all the crappy shit we did. And yes, the act of infidelity was short for both of you, but the lies have been growing and festering a long time.

Learn to really communicate. Write out a timeline of each of your affairs. Add as much detail as you can. I suggest you do this over a few weekends to re-read what you wrote and add or edit details. It is amazing what you can recall. Add feeling or thoughts either of then or now. You are writing this as much for yourself as you are for your partner. It helps you to start to understand your whys. Why did you cheat, why did you lie for so long, why does this matter so much today? Why Why Why. I think you are cycling through this with IC/MC as well.

One oh so important piece of advice - communicate with each other. Really communicate. About everything, always. It is hard to do. But if you can master that you and your spouse will be sitting on a bench in your golden years holding hands.

And don't forget to always work on your M. GO out for dinner, take a bath together, spend time with each other. Talk and talk some more.

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 2:12 PM, December 1st (Tuesday)]

marriageredux959 posted 12/1/2020 16:13 PM

How to say this...

... between the two of you, and between the differences in the time of your relationship when the cheating occurred, the two of you are actually looking at two very different situations here.

Both of you lied, both of you robbed the other adult in the relationship of agency by putting the other person in the position of continuing a relationship with you under false pretenses, i.e. assumed faithfulness.

This much is equivalent, and as you point out, it's her lies that bother you.

Personally, I have a feeling that you are dissembling here.

It's like you want to say. "Well we both had sex, so we cancel each other's sin out, it doesn't count for either of us. Now it's just about the lying! And she lied longer than me!"

Now I absolutely get the next part: your wife allowed a life, a relationship, a marriage, the birth of a child to happen after that lie, without coming completely clean with you first. I get that. Given complete agency back in the day, you might have made a different choice re: relationship and marriage, although it doesn't sound like it, given that you've said that the actual sex doesn't bother you.

But, Dude, be honest with yourself:

A ONS with a recent ex from a long term relationship at a transitional point in life when *everything* is in flux (young adults finishing college) with no more on the line than a verbal agreement to be 'boyfriend/girlfriend' is a far different situation than you created years later.

'Dating' even exclusively does not a marriage make, legally or otherwise. If your then girlfriend's infidelity had caused a breakup, you might have lost, what? a sweater? A mix tape? Your favorite beer mug? What, exactly?

Your WIFE is all in here, sitting at home with your BABY.

As much as the two situations both contain unfaithful sex and lies, that's where ALL similarities end.

Period full stop.

To my eye, you are roughly comparing a stupid teenager shoplifting a t-shirt at the mall and getting away with lying about it, and getting away with it, to you robbing a convenience store at gunpoint (not actually shooting someone so no permanent harm done) and lying about it, and getting away with it.

First of all, not to be too harsh but not to put finer points on it either, what are you doing, as a husband and father, out in bars getting so shitfaced that you end up having sex in a public bathroom?

Did you drive home after that?

There's so much wrong right here that we could go on about this alone for several pages of a thread.

You gotta knock this bullshit off YESTERDAY, and trust me, I speak from experience. We got married young, probably too young, and had our babies too young. But my husband clung to his carousing with his buddies (minus the public bathroom sex) for FAR too long. It caused untold damage to our marriage and it caused considerable doubt in my mind, and resentment and trust issues, long before the actual cheating occurred.

It is NO FUCKING FUN be the parent at home, lying awake staring into the dark, wondering when your man-child husband is going to come home tonight (this morning) wondering what's *really* going on, what in the hell is so fascinating out there at 2am, how sloshed is he tonight? Will he make it home OK? Will he get pulled over? Will he wrap himself around a tree? Will he take someone else with him?

What *finally* got traction with my husband was when, in the harsh light of the next morning, I spelled out what *exactly* would happen to him if he got a DUI.

In addition to the hefty fine and the hefty hit on our insurance, he would lose his driver's license for a substantial period of time.

This was well before the days of Uber or similar, we were not living near public transit at the time, and telecommuting was not yet a thing.

I had my own full time employment and on top of *that,* it would then be all on me to get the kids up and out of the house in the morning. I made it *very* clear that I would NOT be taking his immature ass to and from work in addition to everything else if he lost his license to an idiotic and totally avoidable DUI.

He'd have to sit down with his boss and explain why he was on a very restricted or suspended license.

I hate to say it, but my husband was so immature and remedial about marriage at that time that the idea of sitting down with his boss to explain a potential DUI got more traction than any amount of me being upset ever did. Truth be told, to this moment, that shit is triggery as fuck and still hurts like hell. I still plug into a reservoir of resentment over it, and this is without throwing actual, physical sexual infidelity on top.

This immature behavior is a form of cheating in and of itself.

And now that it's actually crossed the sexual infidelity line, trust me, your wife is casting some serious side eye at every other 'pub crawl' you've EVER had with coworkers, and she's gonna think about this every time you go to 'happy hour' without her for years to come.

Here's a good rule of thumb: 'happy hour' in bars isn't aimed at parents of young families. You have way too much on the line, too much responsibility, too much to do at home anyway, and if YOU are sitting in a bar somewhere, all of that other stuff falls on your spouse's shoulders.

Do that shit often enough, and/or cross that infidelity line in the process, and trust me, your spouse is going to remember it and resent it for a long damned time.

YOU are in the process of creating the fabric and memories of your marriage and family, the memories that should be especially sweet and special. THIS? THIS is what you want to gift your wife and yourself for memories?

Knock this shit off, NOW. No more fucking 'happy hours,' literally.

Which brings me to the next issue:

Dude. You had drunk sex in a public bathroom WITH A COWORKER.
IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHER COWORKERS.

YOU HAVE NOT "STOPPED SEEING HER," not if you still have that job. SHE'S A COWORKER. SHE'S AT YOUR JOB.

This is going to be a problem, Dude.

In addition to "Awkward much?" for you and the coworker, can you imagine the hell this already is, is going to be, EVERY DAY, for your wife? Do you think she's not already anxious about future and further temptation? Do you think that knowing that you still WORK with this woman doesn't feel like she, your wife, is getting her nose rubbed in it every day?

That job and your public bathroom screw are forever linked, and that concept hasn't escaped your wife.

Not only that, but you've quite likely done some serious damage to your professional image. Do you really think that this juicy tidbit remains in confidence between you and your bathroom buddy? Doubtful.

Dude, everyone who was there that night, and likely more people who weren't there, know as well.

Not a good look.

And trust me, this knowledge is stressing your wife too. She knows that everybody at your work knows. She's just silently processing how bad the damage might already be, or could get.

Ask me how I know all of this.

My husband did something way too similar, at the same time in our marriage, at the same time of life.

He didn't have public bathroom sex with a coworker, he didn't have sex with a coworker, but he allowed himself to get into a super sketchy over the line situation 'after hours/out of town' in a super sketchy place with coworkers present.

And yeah, I know I actively worried for at least a year afterwards if any of this would become 'known at work.'

I'm not convinced that anyone would have gotten fired over it back in the day when the entire world was less politically correct. I am quite sure that in today's world, when one is considered to be 'an ambassador of the brand' both on and off the clock, that whole incident would be a firing offense now. Back then it most likely would not have cost a job if nothing more came of it than the thing itself, i.e. no arrest, no legal trouble, etc. But it *definitely* would have tarnished a reputation or several and brought judgment and self control and impulse control issues into question.

In terms of the possible damage you've done to your employment and your professional reputation, your wife now finds herself yoked to a fellow draft horse who was stupid enough to lame his own leg.

In short, your wife's ONS years ago with a very recent long term ex, in the presence of nothing more than a handful of weeks of a verbal 'boyfriend/girlfriend' agreement, is in NO WAY comparable to the shit hand you just dealt out to both of you.

If you want to stay married, if you want to have an actual marriage, you need to knock it off with that juvenile equivocation NOW.

The conventional wisdom on SI is that waywards need individual counseling to address the issues that led to their infidelity, because that is the basic problem. Marriage counseling treats the marriage, and we haven't even gotten to the marriage yet- the wayward needs IC to address his/her own issues.

In your case, I believe that marriage counseling could be quite helpful. Speaking from experience, I think you need professional guidance to help you sort out what marriage is, and what it is not.

Wow. I think I just delivered my first 2x4 on SI.

OP, my sincere apologies if I came on too harsh. I deeply respect your bravery in putting it all out there and asking for feedback. It would have saved us a LOT of wear and tear if my husband had done the same back in the day, and had accepted the input.

I say everything I say here from a position of sincere love, I/we were young once too, and with empathy, and with hope that you can turn this around.

Obviously this was triggery AF for me. No problem between you and me, OP, it happens, not your 'fault,' totally my damage.

Mods, I didn't intend to do so, but if I stepped over the line with my 2x4, I'll take my time out like a big girl.

[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 5:06 PM, December 1st (Tuesday)]

ff4152 posted 12/1/2020 16:22 PM

WBS

Just want to chime in with a couple bits of advice.

First, as was already pointed out, don’t get into the mindset of whose transgression was worse. Sure one could argue that there are different levels of cheating. But at the end of the day, each of you stepped outside of your committed relationship. Use that as a starting point.

Second and IMO more important, try and stay away from the mindset that appears in your user name. The we suck, we are POS, we are no good etc. As goofy as this sounds, it becomes this swirling vortex of misery in your head that gets harder to get away from. I think it’s more important you both acknowledge and embrace what happened and take steps to heal. Really look at why you both felt it was ok to cheat.

Best of luck to the both of you.

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