My Husband Cheated On Me With His First Wife Or His Ex. What Does It Mean?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who are absolutely shocked at the identity of the “other woman” in their husband’s affair. One reason for their shock is that they already know this woman.  Because she is the husband’s first wife.  And she is a woman that they never thought they would have to worry about ever again.  In fact, in some cases, the husband chose the current wife over the first one.  So there has already been a sense of victory as far as the first wife was concerned.  But that victory is completely in question once the affair with the ex has been discovered.

A wife might say: “I just can not understand why this is happening.  You can’t really say that I cheated with current my husband when he was married to his first wife.  From what I understand, they were already on the brink of separating when we met.  I do know that she tried very hard to get him to come back to her, but it failed.  Once we met, he was in love with me.  It always made me a little uncomfortable when they met up to talk about their kids.  But I didn’t want my husband to resent me if I got jealous when he was trying to be a good parent, so I tolerated this.  I didn’t worry too much about her.  I am younger and prettier.  My husband seemed very happy in our marriage. And now I find out that he has been cheating on me with her.  I don’t understand.  She is not all that attractive and if their marriage was so great, why did he divorce her?  Why would he cheat with his ex wife?”

Unfinished Business: This is more common than you might think.  I believe that there a number of reasons that people cheat with ex spouses.  But one of the most common reasons is that they have unfinished business with that person.  Many people get divorces before they attempt to explore both what is wrong and whether it can be fixed. At the first sign of trouble, they bail out without truly determining if the marriage may stand a chance.  This can be particularly true if there is an affair or another relationship.  Later, there is a temptation to pick up the relationship in the first marriage because it was never really resolved or there was never closure.  As I said, the unfinished business can leave people vulnerable to trying to pick it back up and see where it leads.

The Husband Isn’t Good At Being Faithful.  He Always Thinks That The Grass Is Greener Somewhere Else: Another reason that a man might cheat with his ex wife is that he has never learned how to be faithful.  He may have poor impulse control or he may not have learned how to remove himself from a situation where he is going to do something that he regrets.

And frankly, the first wife is usually close to him and is accessible.  They may find themselves together a lot and, when he has poor impulse control, she is available since they are so close.

Young Love With A History is Hard To Shake: The third reason that he may be cheating with his ex is that he still has a connection with his first wife that is hard to shake, especially if it was a long term marriage that began when he was young.  People sometimes have problems letting go of their first love.  After all, there is so much history and the ex spouse probably knows your husband very well. That is why it can be so tempting to pursue that relationship again when things get tough.  It is like putting on a comfortable robe or having a warm cup of tea.  It feels good because it feels so familiar.

Deciding How You Want To Proceed: The next thing to consider is where you want to go from here.  And the answer to that is probably going to depend on what you want and how willing your husband is to be rehabilitated.  Because he will need to be rehabilitated in order for you both to have confidence that this is not going to happen again.

Repeat cheaters can sometimes change.  But it takes a lot of continued work on their part.  They have to be incredibly motivated to admit their flaws and change them.  And you have to be willing to believe that he can change and that you want to allow him the chance.  I am not going to lie to you and tell you that this process is easy.  You are likely to doubt him and to struggle every time he sees his first wife, at least until healing is complete.

Since there are children, he will have to see her and communicate with her.  And that is going to be challenging for all involved.  I would highly recommend counseling in this situation because there are so many variables that need to be addressed.  And it’s not just a regular affair we are talking about.  It is an affair that is going to greatly affect a family.  When there are children and a family involved, extra care must be taken. You are right to worry that he will resent you if his being married to you affects his relationship with his children.  So you want to make sure he still has access to his kids while setting firm boundaries with his ex wife, assuming that you want to save your marriage and that he is committed to the same.

I know that this hurts.  But it is possible to heal a marriage after an affair.  Admittedly, I am my husband’s first and only wife. But I do believe that the healing process would be the same. You can read more on my blog at

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