To those that insist that because his wife had an affair then she’s eternally branded as a cheater, destined to cheat again, lacks morals and all that other gibberish then please read the OP original post. He acknowledges that HE cheated early on in the marriage, and by using the same logic then HE should be eternally branded, destined to cheat, lacks morals and all that other gibberish…
We here on SI are firm on that no matter the state of your marriage the decision to cheat (be it emotionally or physically) is NEVER the correct response nor is it what causes the wayward spouse to cheat. I want to be firm on that because what I will write next might be misunderstood.
I’m guessing that when YOU cheated (you mention infidelities early on in your relationship) those infidelities were rugswept. Problem with rugsweeping such a serious issue is that it seldom goes away. It simply festers and grows and adds resentment and anger. At some point your WW DECIDED to go on AM. It wasn’t like she was registering for an online offer for a coffeemaker and it automatically transferred her to AM. She researched, read about, looked up and REGISTERED. It’s conscious decision.
I’m guessing that your past infidelity – the undealt with, the rugswept one – was in her justification of why she allowed herself to do it. I’m not saying it is, but rather that SHE used it as justification.
Now… IMHO for you two to heal you need to come completely clean to each other. No lies, no compromises, but with honesty and openness…
I would make it clear to her that if she’s unhappy and thinks her solution to that would be found outside the marriage then she’s free to do so. But not as your wife.
You can tell her how you regret your past infidelities and how you have been faithful to the vows for the last XX years. Be honest here… if you had a dalliance some years ago she doesn’t know off then THIS is the time to be 100% honest. As long as this is the marriage you want.
Let her know that if she wants to be with the OM, meet other people or whatever… she CAN do so. Only not as your wife. Tell her you care too much for her to hold her back if she thinks her happiness lies elsewhere.
Divorce? Not big issue. There are laws in place to ensure you both get a relatively fair shake. It’s better for her to cut her losses now if she truly thinks her satisfaction is found elsewhere. It’s not what you want, but if shes unhappy in the marriage and feels this desperate need to search elsewhere… heck… losing her beats sharing her.
I think that once both YOU and HER realize there is nothing holding you together other than a willingness and a want to be together is when you two can start rebuilding and trying to create the marriage you both want.