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“My Wife Cheated, Now What?” See This Roadmap to Move Forward

Books, television shows, and movie scripts inherently incorporate some drama or conflict to garner the undivided attention of their audience. 

Adultery, unfaithfulness, and infidelity are elements commonly woven into the plotline of the unsuspecting characters. These elements appear in creative works across many genres, including comedies, drama, and fiction. 

While the premise of unfaithfulness carries entertainment value for most, it can also evoke great sadness for those going through it or those with first-hand experience.

Being cheated on can feel like an earthquake. Small rumblings of unrest culminate into a massive eruption, with seismic aftershocks continuing long after the initial blast.

In the same way that an earthquake makes permanent changes to a physical landscape. A cheating wife can negatively alter the course of a relationship forever. 

Couples are forced to muddle through the emotional wreckage and physical destruction that an affair selfishly and callously leaves behind. 

The Effects of Infidelity on Men

Infidelity is often complex, with diverse presentations across couples. The precipitating factors, course and length, unearthing, and consequences of an affair are largely unique to each team. 

Infidelity can harm an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth. 

It can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger or result in risky and self-destructive behaviors. It can cause physical symptoms such as reduced appetite, disrupted sleep, fatigue, and other somatic complaints. 

Personality, past experiences, and resilience are essential factors in how one copes with an affair. Gender-related differences can also affect how men and women view, experience, and cope with infidelity. 

In television, books, and movies, male characters are often erroneously stereotyped to immediately show rage, engage in violence, and act like alpha males guarding their territory when discovering that they’ve been cheated on. 

Contrary to this popular media portrayal, men have varying emotional reactions and numerous options for proceeding after learning that their wife has cheated on them with someone else.          

My Wife Cheated on Me: What Should I Do?

Husband Discover's Wife's Affair
Finding out that your wife cheated on you will permanently alter the course of the rest of your life or your lives together.

If your wife has been unfaithful and has broken your wedding vows, you are likely wondering what to do next. Unfortunately, there is no universal road map or brochure to reference in situations like these. 

Although you are in the driver’s seat, it may feel like you have lost control and crashed your vehicle. 

Individuals must learn how to navigate these new and unchartered territories while braving the elements, avoiding roadblocks, and following detours. 

Despite tact, a fork will inevitably present itself in the road at some point in the journey. 

In the most basic and simplistic terms, an individual has two choices when their wife cheats on them. They continue the relationship and see where the road takes them, or turn onto a new path and walk away from the relationship.   

The following sections will dive into the complications of each option.

Option #1: Get Over Your Wife Cheating

Couple Having Serious Conversation
If you decide to work through the affair, you’ll need to communicate openly and honestly as your marriage recovers.

Some individuals may not be willing to consider divorce. Instead, they choose to stay in the relationship for better or worse. Some people may be unwilling to leave the marriage for the children’s sake for religious and cultural reasons.

Yet others may decide to stay in the marriage for reasons of love and commitment alone. Regardless of the rationale, these individuals will ultimately have to find some way to overcome their wives’ indiscretions. 

Getting over it and moving forward may be more challenging for some than for others. Some people may be more resilient and forgiving than others at the same time, while others may only move past the infidelity if their wife agrees to some stipulations. 

These stipulations may include going to counseling, stopping frequenting certain places, or engaging with certain people. Ultimately, one must also be honest about what he wants from the continued relationship. 

If he is invested in repairing and moving forward with the marriage, he must also be willing to work on trusting her again.   

But What if You Can’t Just “Get Over” Her Infidelity?

It is difficult for some individuals to “just get over it.” Perhaps they have less resilience, a more difficult time forgiving, or trust issues resulting from abandonment or trauma in their past. They may feel hopeless and helpless, as they want to stay married but do not know how to work through their feelings. Men can do several things when they have difficulty getting over their wives’ infidelity.

Tip #1: Seek Professional Counseling

Couple In Professional Counseling
Professional counseling can be one of the most helpful tools for moving past an affair.

There is often a stigma that mental health treatment is only for the weak or crazy. This stigma, combined with the masculine stereotype that men should be strong and self-sufficient, is a recipe for disaster

Sometimes professional intervention is necessary to help one sort out their emotions. Process their feelings, and learn coping mechanisms and other techniques to help them move forward in their lives and relationships. 

As the term suggests, individual counseling focuses solely on the individual, while marital counseling focuses on the couple. Sometimes the most effective treatment occurs when a person engages in individual and couples counseling. 

Tip #2: Seek Support

If you are having trouble moving forward, it is essential to avoid isolation and seek support whenever needed. Support can be from family, friends, mentors, or religious figures. When one begins to isolate and meditate on their thoughts, one becomes at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem

Seeking support is critical to process continued thoughts and feelings and feeling backing from those who love them. Getting over the wreckage that infidelity leaves behind is hard work. It can only be achieved better and faster with the help of your loved ones. 

Tip #3: Be Kind to Yourself

Man Relaxing
Be kind to yourself. Avoid blaming yourself and contemplating the ‘what if’s. Give yourself time to heal and process what happened. Spend extra time on your hobbies or on activities that bring you peace.

One rabbit hole that many people inadvertently fall through is to blame themselves. They suspect that things could have been very different “if only.” 

If only” they paid more attention, made more money, were better looking, or more successful, then their wife would never have cheated with another man. They sometimes engage in the “should have” or “could haves.”  I “should have” gone to my wife’s business luncheon, I “could have” helped her more around the house, and I “should have” complimented her more often. 

Sometimes there is some validity to these claims, while other times, they couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Regardless, people need to avoid this thinking, as it will not impact the past and only prevent them from moving forward. In addition to negative thinking, individuals may become frustrated or angry with themselves for feeling this way. They may criticize themselves for feeling depressed or unworthy or outwardly showing their emotions. Regardless, people need to avoid this thinking, as it will not impact the past and only prevent them from moving forward.

Some may be angry with themselves that they are still thinking about the affair or are unable to forgive their wives faster. Infidelity can be viewed as a loss, as the relationship will never be the same following unfaithfulness and broken vows. As with death and other types of losses, freely give yourself time and space to grieve.

Option #2: Your Wife Cheated, and You Want a Divorce

Although your wife chose to have an affair, it will ultimately be your choice as to HOW you want to handle her infidelity. Other vital factors may be considered to complicate matters further, such as children, friends, family, finances, and property.

Deciding to divorce will undoubtedly impact and change almost every area of your life. If you know with a hundred percent certainty that there is no way to heal or move forward from this betrayal, filing for divorce and seeking legal counsel may be your best option. 

Sometimes the decision to get a divorce is made even more straightforward when the wife also wants a divorce. This certainty may result from religious beliefs, personality characteristics, or an inability to forgive. 

This certainty may also result from history, the general course of the relationship, or the fact that you are no longer in love or happy. Although the decision to get a divorce may be a realization that comes immediately, it is probably more likely that it will be a decision made over time, with trial and error, and after careful consideration. 

You may decide to try to work things out by seeking professional counseling and intervention, or perhaps you and your wife will try to mend what is broken on your own. Regardless of the chosen method, you will ultimately assess the state of affairs and determine if you can forgive and trust your wife again. 

If you conclude that you are incapable of these things, you may realize that a divorce is the only way to stay true to yourself.

But What if You Still Love Her Despite Wanting a Divorce?

Distraught Man Contemplating
Your heart and head may not be on the same page after finding out your wife cheated. Take the time to think clearly and make the best decision.

When rummaging through the aftermath of an affair, you may find your head at odds with your heart

Your head and rational thought, along with other well-intentioned people in your life, maybe telling you to pack your bags and get out of the relationship as soon as possible, while your heart may be screaming, “but I still love her!

Love and matters of the heart can be funny. They can be irrational, inconvenient, and go against all sense of logic and better judgment. Love can make one say and do things they never thought possible. 

True love is always romanticized to win and conquer all, but this may be the magic that fairy tales are made of. It is probably safer to say that a relationship has the best chance of longevity and survival when love is strong and pure.

The fact is that love, or the illusion of love, can often cause people to stay in unhealthy and destructive relationships for far longer than they should have. 

When your heart counteracts your head and makes you second guess your decision to divorce, it is highly critical for you to evaluate the type of love that you share with your wife. 

Is your love pure, and have you lost your way as individuals or as a couple?

Is your wife’s love conditional, pre-meditated, or selfish?   Furthermore, if you determine that your love is true or was once true, the sad fact is that love sometimes works better in theory than in practice. 

Many divorced couples report that they will always have a love for their ex-spouse but admit that they are much better apart than they were together. It is not uncommon to carry this love with you as you embark on a new path hoping for a better destination.

Decision Time

Depressed Man Processing and Contemplating
Be kind, give yourself time to heal and reflect, and trust that you’ll make the best decision. Infidelity is a loss – allow yourself to grieve.


The real-life experience of infidelity feels more like one is walking through unrecognizable, smoldering pieces of rubble that were once a life that they recognized.

Despite the chaos and despair, an affair can feel like most natural disasters; you will survive and rise stronger through the rubble. You will reflect, learn, and move forward. In doing so, you will either find yourself moving forward on the road you are currently on or see yourself veering off onto another road. 

Whatever road you choose, be kind to yourself and take comfort. You are moving towards sunshine and rainbows as you get through the various storms.

Photo of author

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance writer. Tracy has fourteen years of clinical and supervisory experience in a variety of mental health settings and levels of care.

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