My wife cheated on me

Sorry friends for having to keep the details of the last 70 days or so very brief…I am in a lot of pain and really can’t re-hash…so I hope the following suffices:

I was neglectful and cruel to my wife for a good many years. We will be married 9 years in Feb 2010, and have 2 beautiful babies. She ultimately suggested divorce…then we started trying to work on it…then she cheated on me once…we are now reconciled…but her infidelity has wounded me like I cannot describe.

Given that Jesus cites adultery as the one cause for the dissolution of marriage…I suppose therefore that I would be within my rights to pursue a civil divorce? Would if have to be annulled? At this point, we have been enjoying (only been 1 1/2 weeks on the reconciliation path however) intimacy, friendship and happiness like we’ve never known in our marriage. She tells me that we are perfect, and that I’ve been the husband she always wanted me to be. She might have that…but she has a “wounded” me…each day, I suffer greatly at the thought of what she did. I don’t know if I can hang on, in truth.

Sorry to hear about your situation. I pray for you. Going through though times myself. It is amazing how people can wound each other (often without even really wanting to hurt the other person).

This may sound harsh, but you have two choices, (1) LOVE: be a father to your kids, show them you love their mom (one of the best things a dad can do), and forgive your wife, or (2) YOURSELF: let your wound split the family. The first choice is harder to do. You will need prayer, counseling, support, and time. But it is entirely within your control. What she did is done. Now you have complete control over the situation, whatever happens will be your call.

Make sure you are seeing a Catholic, or at least Christian, counselor who can teach you both what marriage is about.

Your words, perhaps sorrow and forgiveness is due on both sides.
If I were you I would not give up. Divorce, or “annulment” is given far too often these days. Marriage is hard work, deal with it. You made a sacred promise to her on your wedding day, in front of her, your families, friends, community and state, continue to honor it.

I want to choose love…I do love my wife…I put her needs and wants - now at least - above my own. I have loved her all along, but because I was scared, because of my own insecurities, I could not let go and love with abandon - I was scared of being hurt giving somebody else the capacity to hurt me when I put my heart on my shirtsleeve - I buried it and mistreated her for years, marginalized and neglected her.

We both broke our vows…she was unfaithful. I did not honor and cherish and care for her.

Prior to her cheating, we had a few sessions with a Catholic lay counselor, who told me that my wife telling me she wanted a divorce, and her telling me she didn’t love me anymore - the horror of listening to that and knowing that - was perhaps a penance for me. Agreed. But did the penance have to include her cheating???

We are meeting with our priest tomorrow, and he is going to hear her confession. At that point, she walks away with a restored friendship with Christ…He has forgiven her, and of course I must forgive her as well. To me, that means I do not hold her to account for what she did…Christ has released her from it (“Where are your accusers? They are not here to condemn you…and neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”) But…in the manner in which Justice demands some satisfaction for the sin…e.g., not Hell, but purgatory, or some temporal punishment…what does Justice demand here? Divorce? Alienation of affection?? Does it demand anything at all? Is it for me to even worry about??


I don’t think you have any choice. Only pride stands in your way. Not forgiving will lead to terrible consequences for all of you.

To your earlier question, no - adultery would not be considered for an annulment.

Tony, that’s a pretty hefty cross you have been given to bear, my friend. My prayers are with you.

On a side note, Christ never cited adultery as a cause for the dissolution of marriage. The actual Greek word as it was used in the day really meant illicit marriages, like if you married a sibling or other close relative. What you stated is, I think, a Protestant misinterpretation (one of many).

But that aside, have you guys thought of trying Retrouvaille? It’s for just such situations as you and your wife’s. Here’s a link:

With God’s grace, you can make it through. Everyone is a sinner. Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Confession to cleanse our souls and start anew. We must forgive others as we expect to be forgiven by Jesus. Hard, but doable with His Grace!

God bless and hang in there! Sometimes, we have to take one for the team, if you know what I mean.

Well first in regards to your first post, Jesus did not permit divorce for marital infidelity. Some translations read like that but the correct term is not unfaithfulness. The type of marriages Christ was speaking of were invalid ones (ex: a son and his mother), otherwise he gave no allotment for any sort of divorce, and the Church treats it the same way. In the instance that a person consented to a marriage in a bad mental state (such as being drunk, or mentally ill) then the marriage can be declared void, or annulled, essentially stating that it was never really a marriage to begin with. Divorce is still against Christ’s teachings, if unfaithfulness were a legitimate reason for divorce then a women would almost always be justified in her divorce because it is almost certain that any man will look at another woman with lust in his heart at some point (which Christ equated with adultery).

As for that matter of what “Justice” demands that is up to the Lord and not you. Your commandment is to love and forgive your wife. Certainly it is hard to overlook unfaithfulness and trust her again, and there is no call for you to repress these things and pretend they don’t exist, but there is a call for you to overcome them. Really if you love your wife then you should not be so concerned with this idea of justice or getting even anyway. Do you really want her to be hurt?

Besides if the Clintons can work through a massively public piece of infidelity then certainly any American should be more able to work through their own private matters more than we do.

I am glad someone said it - Christ did not site adultery as a reason for dissolution of marriage. The only time I have heard adultery being used for things such as anullment is when someone enters into a marriage with an impediment which PREVENTS them from being faithful such as a inability to be faithful to their spouse or the intent never to be faithful to their spouse. For instance - the husband or wife is still in love with a past lover and continues an affair into the marriage. The husband or wife is a homosexual and hides it at the time of the marriage. The husband or wife is a sex addict. These might be areas where adultery may be cause for anullment but it serial adultery that is caused by an impediment not a one time adultery caused by anger.

Either way - I am so sorry for your pain - as well as her pain. God bless you and your marriage and please consider reconciliation for the good of your children.

There are a few things to consider here. First, marriages are one to a customer. If you get divorced, you could spend the rest of your life alone. Your marriage was valid to start with, and adultery or anything else that happens after the marriage would not be grounds for an annulment. It’s not just a Catholic divorce, no matter who says it is. It’s a decision that there was no valid marriage to start. If it took 9 years of cruelty and neglect on your part for her to cheat, I don’t think you can assume this is what she had in mind all along.

Second, you have kids. Unless there is actual danger to staying in the marriage, you owe it to the children you created and brought into the world to raise them together. You have to be the grown ups here, working together to do what’s right for them. They are innocent of wrong doing and suffer the most in a divorce. My husband traded me in on a younger model and my kids suffered greatly for his selfishness.

It may be that you can’t save your marriage, but don’t let pride keep you from trying. You may feel betrayed by her actions, but you betrayed her for a long time first. God is willing to forgive both of you. Take your cue from Him.

I am sorry that you are in so much pain.

If I may be blunt, you were cruel and neglectful for YEARS to her for no other reason than you were afraid she might hurt you. She cheated on you ONCE. Call it a wash, and get on with your life, and be happy with her and your babies.

You have no idea of all the pain suffering, and torment you caused your innocent wife for years. It’s a wonder she still loves you. Maybe this was her last desperate cry to wake you up to SAVE your marriage.

She seems like she is willing to forgive you, you need to do the same for her. If God can forgive her, who are you to say you will not. Love hurts sometimes, just ask Jesus hanging on the cross about that. But you keep on loving, that is where the richness and depth in a marriage comes from. If it were always easy, it wouldn’t mean much. The fastest way to kill a marriage is to keep score, so don’t.

It was great advice for the two of you to go to Retrouvaille, that will guide you both in the right healing direction. I’ll keep you both in my prayers.

I have suffered the lose of trust in two people in my family. I thought I would never trust them again, that our lives would never be the same. I still have difficulties at time, rationalizing and whatnot, but 2 years after the fact, I’m feeling much much better about the whole thing.

You have to give it time! Nothing can be cured by words alone. You must let these feelings disperse and leave you over time. You can’t force it.

She promised “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health”, and she broke that vow. You promised “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life”, yet you were habitually neglectful and cruel to her. IOW, you broke your vow to her, too.

You are both guilty of infidelity. You have both acted so as to violate the trust of the other. If you look at it that way, and if you can find a way to be forgiving of your own infidelity to her (which is not a given, if you realize the damage that these things do, let’s not pretend it is), then that may help you find the generosity of heart to be forgiving to her.

Even so, that is a gradual process. You will have to accept forgiveness for yourself and extend it to her many many times, and go backwards, and then go forwards. She will, too. That is OK. That is how healing usually happens. Infidelity is crippling, and miracle cures are not the norm. Returning to soundness takes time, and faithful compliance to healthy practices, too. There is pain involved along the way, under the best of circumstances.

Neither of you should tolerate infidelity from the other. Neither of you should excuse offenses against the marriage: not your spouses and not your own. As long as you are willing to work on it, as long as you think she is, though, I would encourage you to do it.

canon law:

Canon 1152.1 It is earnestly recommended that a spouse, motivated by christian charity and solicitous for the good of the family, should not refuse to pardon an adulterous partner and should not sunder the conjugal life. Nevertheless, if that spouse has not either expressly or tacitly condoned the other’s fault, he or she has the right to sever the common conjugal life, provided he or she has not consented to the adultery, **nor been the cause of it, **nor also committed adultery.

Canon 1153.2 In all cases, when the reason for separation ceases, the common conjugal life is to be restored, unless otherwise provided by ecclesiastical authority.

here’s the whole thing — the section on marriage:

I think you should be honest and abstain from relations until you sort out your feelings. And I am not speaking from saintly experience, but it is not a bad thing to abstain for many reasons in a marriage. It will also let you focus on the non intimate issues that led to her infidelity and whatever part you played in previous pain. I do have to say, her cheating is not your fault. We all have free will. So she should apologize and you should take the time to put time between the act and both of you.

God Bless

Those two statements don’t really go together. You are conflicted. Your own spiritual house is not in order, so you are in no position to get too involved in your wife’s spiritual house. Here is what you need to worry about: are YOU following GOD as you should? You need to get your life in complete order – in all aspects – with the Lord. Regular searching confession will help. After you got that in order, you love others, starting with wife, kids, family, friends, neighbors, and, moving down list as you have time and opportunity to, strangers.

Now as to punishment for your wife, are you wondering if YOU should punish her? What did Jesus ask us to do? If you are feeling you have some obligation to punish her, where did you get that idea? Or do you just have a feeling or desire for revenge?

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