No longer together
"To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think."
I'm late to this thread but welcome to SI...
It's probably best that you ask your BW to hold off on making any big decisions for a while if possible.
You don't need an answer right now and emotions are running too high for sound decision making.
The best thing you can do is support your BW by being honest, answering all questions without getting defensive, and giving her what she wants (space, to talk, she may change her mind a lot right now and that's ok).
You can't blame your decision to cheat on the problems in your M. You and your wife share responsibility for the problems in the M. You own 100% your decision to cheat.
You have to figure out why you gave yourself permission to cheat. Why was that an OK thing to do? It has nothing to do with your wife or your M. What did you get from the A?
My life exploded.
Please do not tell her anymore lies! I am guilty of much TT, disguising my own fear and discomfort with the truth as "compassion" and "softening the blow" of the truth to my BSO. This is my biggest regret, all of the lies hurt him more than anything! They made him feel crazy! His gut was screaming, and he had proof!! But I continued to deny deny deny! I wish I had been honest with him! I wish I hadn't inflicted so much additional pain! Watching him struggle through anger, depression, devastation, and just plain losing trust in humanity as a whole has been (and still is) excruciating for me, I can't begin to imagine what he's been going through!!
She needs the whole truth, so she can make informed choices in her life! The kind she has been denied by not having the full story on who she married!
Please do not make excuses! Especially not to her, you made a conscious choice, knowing full well what you were doing was wrong, don't let her think it's her fault in any way! No one forced you into this fb affair, when it became apparent what OW's motives were, you didn't bail, you chose to stick around and soak up the attention. Many of us here, myself included, have had these types of online, ego stroking affairs, and please don't minimize it, because betrayal is betrayal, and no matter what the form it takes, it's the ultimate hurt.
The road to a healthier you, and in turn to healthier relationships, is along, bumpy journey, full of unexpected twists, turns and detours. You'll lose your way many times, and you'll come across many road closures. But don't give up. When you feel lost, or confused or angry, this is the right place to be. We've all been through this in one form or another, and you will find invaluable advice from some pretty wise folks; support, and the occasional 2×4. Welcome,NYC. Hope you stick around!
Please let her know the whole truth, trying to minimise and to control the outcome will make it worse and push your W further towards irreparable damage in trusting you or in the relationship. you cannot justify punishing her for the choices you made.
gaslighting is a term we use for crazymaking. oftentimes the WS uses gaslighting to ensure their own safety by making it appear that what is true is not true-even though the BS may have reason to believe otherwise (through hard evidence, actions, behaviours, words, gut feeling, etc..).
gaslighting can and will have a huge psychological effect on your BS on top of making her eventually losing any shards of trust she may have had in you.
Please avoid TT (trickle truth) and gaslighting. IF you're doing that, you're knowingly inflicting further damage on your M beyond the A itself. more than that, you are purposefully hurting your BS more, no matter if you rationalise it with "I'm protecting her".
If that is the case, please understand that your defense mechanisms are right now working against you, the M and the emotional and physical health of your spouse. Would you knowingly hack at her arm to protect yourself from being 'found out'? This is far worse.