So my wife and I have been happily married 7 years. About a year before our marriage (two year engagement), my then fiance was in school because she was changing careers. She met some new friends and started studying and spending time with them while at school. She was pretty open about her new friends and I had no reason not to trust her, so I put my jealousy aside and allowed her to have her own life outside our relationship. A few months after they met, she started acting a little distant. I suspected one of her friendships was becoming a little inappropriate, but I never had any proof.

One day I couldn't take it anymore and I confronted her. She denied everything and was furious I would make that accusation. She told me I was smothering her and she needed some time away from me, so she left for a full day to just be with her friends (we lived together at the time).

I got a call the morning after she left, and she asked me why I was acting so crazy, and that she wasn't cheating. We eventually put a bandaid on our fragile engagement and tried to go back to normal. About a month later, I threw a birthday party for her and she invited her friends along. We all had fun, though I was watching her like a hawk for any hint of something inappropriate going on, and I never saw anything too convincing. After her party I noticed her friendship with one guy just fell apart. I asked what happened and she said he met some other girl and wasn't interested in hanging out with her anymore.

This is where it gets interesting.

After this guy was pretty much out of the picture, our relationship got better and we were married 6 months later. 7 years later, we have a house, two kids, and a great marriage. Last week I confronted her about this friend, and after pulling teeth for about 4 days I finally received the truth. She slept with him on 3 separate occasions, without a condom, though allegedly it was awkward and he pulled out, she stopped it before it "ended". She claims she was so desperate for friends at the time, she basically did it to keep him around, not because she really wanted it.

I'm devastated, and don't believe what she's saying. Our marriage counselor seems to think her story is legit and I am impeding progress with my distrust, and not surprising. I'm suspicious of everything. The hardest part about this is that we've had a really great 7 years of a trusting and honest marriage. We have two beautiful kids and we're a great team. This may have happened 7 years ago, and before we were married, but it feels like it just happened 10 days ago when I found out.

I also feel like I don't deserve this. I wish she told me when it happened because I would have ended it, and found someone who would give me the same loyalty I was giving. But of course it didn't work out that way, and now I have two kids and a wife that I've trusted for 7 years, so it's not really an option for me to cut and run.

Since I know she's been loyal to me for 7 years, and 100% of the time she has been my wife, I'm not going to end it with her. She has been completely devastated since she told me, so scared I was going to leave her. We're in marriage counseling and she is going independently since the counselor said she has some things to work through. She has been the perfect wife since D Day and answering any question I've asked her with honesty. I have no reason to believe she is lying to me anymore, but I just can't shake what she's done.

We're very much in a hysterical bonding phase right now. Our communication, love, sex, and everything else has been everything I could have ever asked for in a marriage. I think she's more "hysterical" than I am to be honest. She was cheated on by every boyfriend she had in the past, and I always thought we were on the same page about cheating, but I guess things happened.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for in this thread. I just have nobody to talk to since I've decided to keep this a secret. I guess I just want to know if the pain goes away, if the trust comes back, and if I'm just being a fool for sticking around. I get that we owe it to our kids to make it work, but I don't feel like I deserve to be responsible for putting in the effort at this point. I'm angry, anxious, depressed, conflicted. I really wish she told me at the time so I could have started a new life with someone else, but you can't change the past. I trust she won't do this again, I already have 7 years of proof, but I can't promise I'll truly forgive and forget.