Sorry that you find yourself on a site like this, Unexpected, but you did find a great place for support.
You have now started a long, difficult journey that you never asked for, but I am here to tell you that you will come out OK on the other side---with or without your wife.
A couple of hard truths:
--It can never go back to what it was before you discovered her affairs. That chapter is closed.
--As for forgiving and forgetting: the forgiving is possible, although in the years here on SI, that appears to be the minority of people. Forgiving is for oneself, so you can free yourself of burdens that you no longer want to carry.
As for the forgetting--it will NEVER happen. And I think that you already know this. You don't go through a life changing event...and that is exactly what this is...and find that it is something that will eventually disappear from your memory.
I wanted to get the harsh truths out of the way first, because there is no need to dance around them. It sucks and it is unfair, but it is our new reality. But this doesn't mean that our lives can't be good again, because they can...and will. You are going to read here, and discover on your own, that you have an incredible amount of control of how quickly and thoroughly you can process what has happened in your life---and what directions that you can take. You can choose to stay in your own personal misery for as long as you like(I know that I sure as hell did), or you can start to reclaim your life that currently seems like a train wreck. It is a process--surviving infidelity--but you will discover that you are much stronger than you currently feel.
As for a future with your wife---that depends on both of you.
Your wayward wife is definitely broken inside. Not only the fact that she has done what she has, but was able to comfortably live with these secrets for years shows the severity of her issues. I would highly recommend individual counseling for her. But she has to WANT to do this. She has to want to get to her deep rooted problems that may extend all the way back to her childhood.
If she does not want to do this for herself, then your marriage has no shot.
As for you, there are choices that you will need to come to peace with. As for leaving, that is entirely up to you. Infidelity is simply a dealbreaker for many, and that is a choice that you are entitled to make. For some, it took months--even years--to realize that infidelity was their dealbreaker, and gave up on their efforts to reconcile.
But I would recommend that if your wife appears to be trying, to at least give yourself some time to absorb the enormity of what has happened. Don't make any life changing decisions immediately--unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the correct choice for you.
I don't want to feel like this years from now.
I can assure you that leaving her will not make this feeling go away any quicker. For you to rid yourself of this pain, it has to be YOU that does so. And that starts with facing this crisis head-on, and starting the process of your self-healing. Obviously this is easier said than done, but nonetheless it is the absolute truth when it comes to you getting back on your own two feet.
I would assume that you feel emasculated, insecure of your decisions(past and present), lacking any sort of trust, and lacking any self-esteem. These are the normal emotions that we experience, although we discover over time that this was not our fault, and had little if anything to do with us. It was our partner's brokenness that has brought us here, but does not change the fact that we feel the way that we do.
And the only way to overcome these issues is to deal with them.
Don't rugsweep anything that you have learned in these last weeks. Don't be afraid to ask your wife any question that you need answered. If she is as sorry as she says she is(I don't like using the word *remorseful* so soon after discovery), then she will answer as honestly as she can. It will be painful, but will help you work through your feelings.
Read here as often as you can. Ask us questions. Ask us for help if you need it. You will be surprised how strong that you can emerge from this.
Good luck, friend.
2 boys-17 & 19(special needs)
Married 21yrs.(together 26yrs.)
All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day: 9/18/09 D-Day#2: 2/19/10 The Marriage Killer: 6/6/11
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