Here is my thoughts as a wife. I'd rather not know. You are living the life of a happily married man. These two episodes including the one she didn't know about happened oh so long ago. They are not relevant. Maybe those experiences made you more determined to be in the relationship with her? They helped shape your idea of what you wanted. That, while it is not ideal to cheat, is valuable to you. And to her.
She's happy too. This is not worth making her feel hurt over. You also need to forgive yourself. Things have changed since you made the poor decisions and she forgave you long ago.
So, do your family a favor and move on from this. If you 'have to get it out' talk to a therapist and confess but your wife doesn't need to know. Like I said, as a wife who is happy in a marriage, I wouldn't want to know.
There is such a thing as wanting to dump your guilt off your back onto the back of an innocent party who will be very burdened with the knowledge. Given that you don't intend to ever do it again, show you love her and don't dump your crap on her. Doing so would be all about you. Refraining from ruining her life is all about her.
So you made some bad decisions many many years ago. We all have but it is time to let it go. How about you start to look at the wonderful family you love, including your wife. Maybe make a date night. It is very important that you dont forget about each other while raising kids. Dont let your insecurities ruin a good thing. She forgave you, now it is time to forgive yourself. Talking with the counselor should help.
Ok let me just preface this with: How selfish are you? You don't wanna get this off your consicence because "it's the right thing to do" but because you want to make this easier on yourself.
Let's look at this objectively. What do you get if you tell her: She might not forgive you this time, you will wreck your life and your family, the only difference is you might feel better. Not better, maybe lighter.
What do you get if you don't tell her? Nothing, but your life will move on the way it has been.
Why do I think she won't forgive you this time? Well, I've been cheated on in the past, and it hung above our heads like forever, and something would always pop up to remind me of it. Let alone to say I felt I am no longer obligated to be faithful. But when the same person cheated on me for the second time, I felt forgiving them for the same thing again would make me lose all respect for myself. And I think he would lose all the respect for me also, and rightfully so. It wouldn't matter that it happened long time ago. You already said you two aren't physical that much anymore. That alone can shake up a marriage, add infidelity to that and you got yourself a real mess. it won't matter that it happened when it happened.
Men cheat, women know that. But i'd rather live my life thinking he might have cheated than knowing he have cheated for sure.
If you cared at all about this woman, don't hurt her. You cheating will not hurt her unless she knew about it. Say you told her and she forgives you again, she would still be hurt, she would depreciate herself worse than ever and trust me you would be more miserable than you are now. So suck it up, get over it, you can't retract what you've done, and you for sure aren't the only man on earth who did the same thing.
There is already something out of place in the Marriage if He (or She) cheats. I agree that what You know doesn't hurt You - BUT if You are married to a cheater, You are married to SomeOne who isn't totally devoted to the relationship - and who want's that ?? I don't even want to hear the 'excuse' that "people make mistakes" - 'cuz that is NOT my take on cheating. A mistake is when You do something that You later come to know/realize is wrong. One can't 'cheat' unless They sneak and hide and lie and that is not a 'mistake' - it's an INTENTIONAL behavior. Also, I don't believe 'MEN' cheat - rather I believe SOME Men cheat and SOME Women cheat, and many (both Men and Women) do not cheat
I do not believe that once a cheater always a cheater as i was that cheater years ago. It took recovery and therapy to understand why i was doing that. When a person cheats it really has nothing to do with the other person as it comes down to our insecurities. Yes the other person is affected by our choices, devastated is a better word. When i was cheating i wasnt thinking about the other person in my relationship, i was trying to fulfill a void in my own life. Hope this made sense.
You already confessed to being unfaithful. You cleaned up your act, probably stopped drinking in bars without your wife i would suspect or stopped or curbed your drinking seeing as how the family life is going so well. I think you need a personal therapist to deal with your demons. Let your wife live in peace and keep the content of your sessions to yourself. If you want to tell her that you're seeing a therapist tell her it's for the original sin - or not tell her about the therapy.
Throwitallaway, I think you are dealing with the impulse to do this because you're upset at some aspects of your life. You said it's been an "extremely difficult year with the kids, work, etc." and that you and your wife aren't having much of a sex life, maybe deep down this is making you *want* to upset the applecart. Talk to a counselor before you throw away everything you say you care about in response to difficult times. The momentary satisfaction you fantasize you would have if you did toss it all in the fire will not make up for how horrible you would feel if you did, not just for the long-term harm you would do to the people you love but for the harm you would do to yourself.