My wife cheated on me five years ago with my older brother.
We had been married for less than a year. I had no idea it was going on. I only found out because my brother’s wife found out and confronted my wife. I was the last person to learn about the affair.
My brother and I have been best friends since childhood, so when he told me about it in my living room I was devastated. A few months after learning of the affair I continued to feel deep in my gut that there was more I didn’t know. After all, my wife wasn’t even the person who confessed. She eventually fessed up to another affair with a random person while on a college convention — this affair happened less than 6 months after we were married.
Five years and several counseling sessions later, I still feel there is more she hasn’t confessed to and building trust seems so impossible. I’ve realized recently that my wife has cheated on every single boyfriend she had even prior to us being married. We don’t have kids. I think I might be codependent. I think I have to leave, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do it.
What should I do?
Leave. You know what you need to do, and you’re absolutely strong enough to do it. I have every faith in you. That’s why this community exists, to help escort you to the other side of this pain. It’s okay to need some hand-holding. It’s a kind of deprogramming, to switch your allegiance from someone who never had allegiance to you, to protecting yourself. But you absolutely can do it.
I get a lot of letters, and as we say, it’s not the Pain Olympics, but to be betrayed by both your wife and your brother is a fucking slag heap of grief. I imagine the weight of that suffering must feel impossible to lift (which is why CN’s all going to take a corner and HEAVE HO!)
The two people who should’ve been the safest people in your world conspired against you. Fuck them.
Let’s start with your brother. The casual contempt he must have for you to screw your wife when you’re both newlyweds? In a giant world of people, he cheats with his sister-in-law? This guy must get off on cruelty. Sure, we could argue he’s a lazy cheater and your wife is nearby kibbles in his social orbit. But both you and his chump wife went about your lives unknowingly, so he could enjoy a contact high off your humiliation. Savoring the power of this secret.
He might say it DIdn’t Mean Anything To Him — and how is that better? That he would destroy your world, just because he could? Because you are of so little consequence? Fuck him and his “intentions.” He is not your best friend. He’s not a real man. He’s a loser who can’t see past the end of his dribbling dick.
No contact. I know this will make family occasions awkward, so feel free to explain to your parents and every fourth cousin why Dick Dribble isn’t welcome. Don’t let anyone question your boundaries, including his wife, if she’s reconciling with him (please tell me she isn’t — this advice goes to her too). There is no spackle like family spackle, but Josh, you deserve a LOT of space from your brother. For a long, long time.
I know that’s a loss and you’re going to grieve it, but sometimes shared DNA is overrated. There are other brothers. You might not share a mother, but there are guys capable of deep friendship who would never, ever do anything so transgressive and hurtful.
Now to your wife…
my wife wasn’t even the person who confessed. She eventually fessed up to another affair with a random person while on a college convention — this affair happened less than 6 months after we were married.
Okay, she cheated with two different men (that you know of) the first year you were married?
Is this relationship acceptable to you? Is this the marriage you signed up for? You’re not required to try and make it work with someone so abusive and remorseless. And WHY WOULD YOU?
I’ve realized recently that my wife has cheated on every single boyfriend she had even prior to us being married.
So, she’s a serial cheater. Nothing here to work with, Josh. NOTHING. Unless you want a steady abuse cycle of pain and devastation.
Five years and several counseling sessions later, I still feel there is more she hasn’t confessed to and building trust seems so impossible.
I’m unclear from your letter if you found out recently or 5 years ago? I’m thinking the affairs happened year one in your five-year marriage and you’ve recently learned of it. In either case, BAIL. If your wife never confessed to all the extramarital fucking around she was doing — WITH YOUR BROTHER — and let you invest YEARS OF YOUR LIFE in her? She’s a monster. Please don’t breed with a monster. Ask a few gazillion of us chumps how we know.
Look, I know you’re thinking “Who are you, Mean Internet Lady, to tell me my wife is a monster?” And then you’re going to have misty watercolor memories of winsome things she does, or how the sunlight bounces off her hair, or some lame-ass sorry she gave you.
Josh, I’m reaching across the interwebs to bitchslap you. MONSTER!
People who love you do not fuck your brother. Sick narcissistic cyclops do that.
Do not invest your precious life with someone who does not love you.
I think I might be codependent.
You bonded. It’s hard to un-bond. You’re human. You got chumped. It is an entirely curable condition.
I think I have to leave, but I’m not sure I’m strong enough to do it.
You absolutely have to leave. If Josh values Josh, Josh will leave. No one feels strong enough to do it. You just do it anyway. Absolutely no one goes through this meat grinder of betrayal and thinks, “Oh, today is the day I have my shit together.” No, the whole thing is as graceful as jumping off a burning ship and clinging to wreckage.
Escape starts with jumping. Because the alternative is go down in a fiery wreck. So call that lawyer. Separate the things. Get the full-panel STD tests. Come here for support. You. Can. Do. It.