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Ancient one night stand - how to proceed?

Hi all,

So, here's my story. Firstly, I have a history of making bad decisions. And I need some advice on how to move forward without making another one.

I've been with my wife since we were at college. So nearly 19 years now. When I was in my early 20s, before we were engaged or married (but obviously in a long term relationship), I had a one night stand. I suffered immensely from guilt, anxiety, health anxiety etc for a couple of years before confessing. Before I confessed, and within a year of the original one night stand, I had another one. For me (but clearly it wouldn't have been for her), it was inextricably linked to the original incident. At that time, I'd lost all faith in myself as a person and basically couldn't have been at a lower point. It was eating me up and I was all but dead inside. The sex came about after I met a girl in a bar. I was talking to her about how I'd messed my life up by cheating and was an awful person etc etc. Come the end of the night, we were both extremely drunk and as we came to say goodbye, she told me that I wasn't awful and that these things happened. I was not attracted to her. I had no emotions towards her. Yet within a few minutes we had (safe) sex down an alleyway. It lasted a couple of minutes at most. I don't know who she was. She didn't know who I was.

Not long after this, I confessed to my girlfriend about the original one night stand. Foolishly and selfishly (and here's where my history of bad decisions comes in), I didn't tell her about the second one. I bottled it and thought that I could live with the guilt of the second one. I justified it to myself that for me the two events were linked (how stupid is that). I spoke to a counsellor about my decision. By this point we had started to heal and we worked on our relationship while she worked on trying to forgive me. And so it seemed like the wrong time to destroy the hard work we'd gone through.

Years later - we are extremely happily married. We have amazing kids. A great life at home. And, of course, my guilt and shame is rearing its head again. I think that we've had an extremely difficult year with the kids, work etc. But our relationship has been the constant rock that has gotten us through. We recently talked about our lack of physical relationship, and how that one of the reasons was my one night stand all those years ago.

I haven't cheated since. I have no intention to. I've never had an affair or any feelings for any other women. All I want is my wife and our life to continue.

And yet, I think back to that time, not realising how the emotional impact would still be with me all these years later. One bad decision led to another bad decision which led to a further bad decision. I look at my wife and kids and how much I love them and realise how bad a decision it was to keep the second event from her all those years ago.

I don't know where to go from here. Do I need to just forgive myself and let it go? Do I confess? I've read through so many forums and comments on what to do and yet I'm no closer to reconciling my thoughts. I have an appointment with a counselor but it's not for another couple of weeks.

Any advice is more than welcome x
8 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
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.  
134578 tn?1614729226
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.
1 Comments
And, frankly, you do not have to forgive yourself in order to move on. You act like the two are linked. Just don't open your yap and ruin her life. As specialmom says, talk to a counselor, but don't be trying to ease your burden by dropping it in her lap. That's just selfish.
495284 tn?1333894042
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.
1 Comments
The past is irrelevant, the future may never come, so all a person has is the present.
Dwelling on a 20 year old event (that in summary amounts to having sex with someone else so there aren't any real scars that you are claiming you need to heal from)  to the point you claim it ruined your life is not productive, because the reality is that it did not have any effect on your life other than you have not been willing to let it go. And as everyone else told you, it is not a good idea to make an actual problem by intentionally hurting a loved one with this, so I suggest you see a therapist for some help to move on from this 20 year old fixation.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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
8 Comments
I must apologize.  I did not read the original posts nor did I read the other responses.  I only saw TruthLady's response and I was responding to Her comments
Definitely check out the original post as then truthlady's comments will make more sense.  This happened long ago and I do believe people can recover from this and it CAN be a mistake they learn from if they made that bad decision and went on to have a happy and faithful relationship with their partner.  I do sort of think that cheating can be a mistake as bad decisions after we make them knowingly are often termed a mistake.  Like "I spent my grocery money for the week on a new pair of shoes for myself".  I did it.  It was not a good decision and a mistake and I wish I had made a different choice.  I learn from it (when my children stare at me hungry).  That's a silly example but hopefully you get my point. I do not believe once a cheater, always a cheater.  And in this case, the couple met in college, this was before they were engaged or married when he was in his early 20's and it's been 19 years now.  :>)  and he told her about the one time it happened when it actually had happened twice (before he told her about the 1 time).  He's just worried after all these years that he hadn't confessed both of the times.  Hopefully that makes more sense now!  :>))  
Also use "comment" option to respond to someone else's.  Telling someone after you cheated on them makes sense, telling them  20 years latr after they gave you their youth, dedicated their life to you and can likely never recover from it....sorry but I don't see any logic to it. Why would he tell her now except for easing on his own conscience and ruining her life. It is selfish, and plain sadistic. Sorry but I see no upside of him telling her what he did.
I believe the majority of the comments were not to tell her of the 2nd one.
again, I did not read the original post - my bad, I should have done that - it won't happen again
TTinKKerBBell, i was responding to TruthLady~  It's all good!
To be honest guys I have no idea which of your comments were dedicated to me as neither of you used the reply option to reply to my initial comment, all your comments are basically replies to the original question. Also dominosarah no idea how you took my answer as a reply to your case, and I have no clue how it's not even clear that my reply is addressed to OP and OP only. Again use subthreads to avoid all this confusion.
noted
495284 tn?1333894042
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.
3060903 tn?1398565123
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.  
1 Comments
I'm wondering how you could think hurting your wife again is even a consideration  if you've been honest since the "confession"?  You're thinking of yourself and how to appease your guilty conscience  and not about how this new info would serve to upset the apple cart so to speak.  It would be "selfish" for you to ever bring it up again and bring her back to those obviously hurtful times. How could it benefit your wife to know you had two sessions and not just one.?
134578 tn?1614729226
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.
1 Comments
yeah, it could be seen as you intentionally creating drama and hurting your wife as a reaction to your bad year - not very chivalrous
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