I do want to warn you Sleepless that cherry picking the advice offered can be a double edged sword. And I wouldn’t necessarily see harsh advice as bad; it’s often simply an issue on wording. Look – if you are inside a burning building and someone screams at you to get the h@ll out rather than say “Mister, please leave the building!” then the end-result will hopefully be the same. Who knows – maybe even the former wording can emphasize the urgency of what you need to do.
I think it should be clear by now that I don’t like generalizations but there are some statistics and experiences that allow us to strongly predict how things will develop. It’s sort of like you can predict if it’s going to rain depending on the breeze, the smell in the air, the formation of clouds and in 8 out of 10 times be correct. But there is always those 2 other instances…
a) It’s a very rare case where infidelity ends there and then at d-day. I would guess less than 1 out of 5.
b) Statistics indicate a marriage that has experienced infidelity once is four times more likely to experience it again than a marriage w/o infidelity. (Probably because the most common way to deal with infidelity is to learn to live with the white elephant in the marriage rather than deal with it – thereby not dealing with the reason the WS strays).
c) In all my years here on SI I don’t know of a single case where the truth was on the table at d-day.
d) WS will minimize and WS will be in a hurry to “heal”. There are few if any shortcuts here and healing has always got to be from a basis of truth.
e) This being a LTA you are dealing with allows us one clear deduction: Your WW did not “grab a chance” or sort of slip into an affair. She actively and methodically created situations where she and OM could conduct their affair. This is a KEY issue. Why? Well – if the affair “just happened” or is an “accident” then we can’t ever prevent it happening again. In order to end infidelity your WW needs to embrace the fact she DECIDED to cheat and she made plans, created situations and willingly went into the affair. Once everyone is on-board with this having been a conscious decision you can deal with getting her to realize it’s a crappy decision and thereby one she is less likely to make again.
Am I being negative in pointing out this collective wisdom? Is there any reason to expect your case to avoid all these pitfalls? Although I understand (and will support) your wish to reconcile then it would be foolish to ignore this simply because they don’t fit your picture.
A mantra we share here on SI is “Pray for sun – prepare for rain”.
You definitely should work at reconciliation with you wife but I believe some things that might sound firm and counterproductive at first will greatly enhance your marriages chances of survival in the long run:
1) Let your WW know that sharing her is immensely worse than losing her. That you don’t want any compromise on that issue and that IF she wants to be with OM or ANY other man for that matter then she is totally free to do so. But not as your wife. It’s not a divorce threat – it’s simply a statement of fact.
The “totally free” is key here. If she remains then it’s because she has decided to remain. It’s her choice.
2) See my tagline?
"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone."
I totally believe that quote.
I have seen hundreds of cases here on SI (maybe even thousands) where BS and WS moan about being stuck in infidelity and having no option. That a divorce will cost too much, split the family, wreck their holiday plans… Whatever… Fact is one ALWAYS has a choice, always have options and once completely evaluated then one of those options will get you into a better place. IMHO it seems you have three options; allow your wife to have her lover, reconcile or divorce. Of the three you have control over the first and last, but to reconcile you need HER commitment too. She HAS to be in reconciliation for the right reason. That reason HAS to be because she wants the marriage – not because she fears the other options.
3) I do not believe in waving threats or making things look worse than they are. But I strongly believe that no negotiation in ANY condition on ANY issue (and let’s face it – right now you are in negotiations with your WW over how your marriage should be) can be conducted successfully unless you know the likely consequences of the outcome. To that end I strongly suggest you have a clear picture of what I assume your second worst outcome might look like. Namely divorce. (I’m assuming the worst outcome is remaining in infidelity and/or sharing your wife).
This does NOT mean or imply you will file or require you to talk to an attorney (although I would recommend a consultation) but it simply means that IF your WW is not following you out of infidelity you know the next steps. And as in all negotiations sometimes the fact that one party is willing to stand up and leave the table rather than compromise some base values forces the other party to give way.