"There's a lot of adjustment to make," Elizabeth Edwards told the Detroit Free Press. "When you mention trust, that's probably the most difficult hurdle."
The interview came she returned to the public stage this week to speak about health care, more than a month after her husband acknowledged that he repeatedly lied about being unfaithful in 2006.
Elizabeth Edwards, 59, had been quiet about the affair, only discussing it in a brief statement last month in which she pleaded for privacy and said her husband confessed the affair to her in 2006.
The two-time Democratic presidential candidate and former North Carolina Senator publicly admitted last month to an extramarital affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.
"I made a very serious mistake. A mistake that I am responsible for and no one else," John Edwards said when news of his affair became public. "In 2006, I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked for her forgiveness, asked God for His forgiveness."
Elizabeth Edwards has remained quiet about her husband's infidelity - issuing only a brief statement last month saying "I am proud of the courage John showed by his honesty in the face of shame."
She spoke with the paper ahead of a visit to Detroit next month to talk about coping with life's setbacks, including the loss of her teenage son in an auto accident and her 2004 cancer diagnosis.
She said she wants her children - Cate, 26, Emma Claire, 10, and Jack, 8 - to have an image of their father as "an advocate for poverty, not for this current picture of him to be the only one they carry with them, as young people and as adults."
"I have to prepare for the possibility if I die before they are grown," she said, of helping them "function without an involved, engaged and admiring parent. So I need to create the picture for them that I want them to have."
On Tuesday - her first public appearance since word of the affair became public - Edwards spoke to a Philadelphia audience, keeping her remarks limited to health care policy.
After being diagnosed with cancer herself, she has become a respected speaker on the subject.
As CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported, Edwards said she was "more discouraged than I was before" that the nation's economic problems might draw attention and money that might have been spent on fixing the health care system.
Audience members asked no questions about her private life, and Edwards did not mention the affair.
Meanwhile, John Edwards has canceled all of his public events until after the election, saying in a statement through his publicist he doesn't want to be a distraction to his party's ticket.