Originally published November 14, 2014.
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My wife has been reading a lot about open marriages and she recently decided that it was the best move for our marriage.
Quick background: we have been married for over ten years. During this time I have cheated on her numerous times. It started with online sex chats and running up hundreds of dollars on credit cards. She first found out about it by finding the charges. We had been married only 1 year at this point. She told me I had a problem and needed to get help. I told her I could stop and apologized over and over. I didn't get help and several years later she finds out I have been doing it again. At this point we started to see a counselor. We worked on things for a while, but slowly we stopped going and I ended up back where I was before. When she caught me the third time, about two years later, we went to a new counselor. She admitted that she had at this point cheated on me with someone. We both wanted to stop and we continued seeing the counselor together as well as me seeing one on my own. Again, this lasted for a while, but at some point we stopped going. This past April she found out I had been talking with someone for a while and meeting up with her. She confronted me and I said I would stop. I did and although I didn't get help, I continue to have no contact with the woman and haven't had contact with anyone new.
Just last month, I happened to see a strange message on her phone. I found out then that she was seeing someone else and things quickly snowballed from there. I confronted her and she told me she wanted an open marriage. I was shocked but I should have seen it coming. As we talked about things I found out she was actually seeing two people. One had been ongoing for three years. I told her I didn't want to do this and I was going to get the help I should have gotten ten years ago. I started by seeing a new counselor. I now realize I have issues I need to work on in order to be a better person.
My wife as agreed to hold off on meeting up with anyone, although she does still want an open marriage. I don't blame her at this point. I don't even trust myself at this point. How can I ask her to give me another chance? She has already said she will probably resent me for forcing her to stop seeing the men she's been seeing. She says I was able to choose when I wanted to do what I did and now I am taking that right away from her. I really don't think she wants an open marriage. I think she landed on this option given my actions. We both do love each other and do not want to end the marriage. (We also have children and don't want to be apart from them.) I really don't want to have an open marriage but at this point I feel I need to give her what she needs.
Please share any advice you have on how to move forward with an open marriage or any suggestions on how to prove to her I really do want to stop.
A Sorry Soul