I’m the BS trying to understand my WW so we can move forward. I have most of the essential details of her year long sexual affair followed by 2 1/2 years of emotional contact. We were married 13 years, with 2 children and 5 miscarriages behind us at the time. We were happy, so I thought, church going, committed Christians with all the normal day in day out struggles of married life. She felt I was to busy with building a business, church and friends and didn’t appreciate her. I was home every night, co parenting kids, making sure to celebrate every occasion with fine jewelry or whatever she expressed a desire for, and our sex life was regular and for me at least, exciting and fun.
From this line of thinking, I feel you are looking for what was wrong with you or the relationship that made her cheat. That's why it doesn't make sense to you.
When someone cheats, it often has nothing to do with what the spouse does or doesn't do. What the marriage is or isn't. It's about the person who does the cheating. And, what precipitates that can vary from person to person.
I will use my own situation as an example. Happy marriage. Good husband. Active and enjoyable sex life. Any where that I was unhappy, I can look back and see how I was the one to cause the unhappiness I felt. I had a lot of issues surrounding my self worth for one. I would over-do for everyone, and at some point it wasn't coming from a place of love, but a place of meeting what I felt were other people's expectations. I was resentful of it. But, the reality of it was no one expected these things, I didn't have to do those things to earn love. I got to a high stage of burnout, and then add to the fact I was heading for first time empty nest, and having some existential crisis's of my own, I was very disconnected from myself. I was in a lot of pain. I wasn't taking time to deal with it or even recognize it.
Some people when they experience pain they will do things to alleviate it. They can be healthy, or not healthy. If your wife did drugs or became an alcoholic it would be much easier to see that acting out was because she was unhappy with herself. She wasn't being constructive in the way she was coping with her life. But, instead, it was another person. Probably someone who said or did a lot of things that gave her little highs. And, people who get high end up escalating what they need to get high.
I was a horrible person during my affair because I didn't give a damn about anything around me as long as I could get that next hit of attention. I disconnected from myself, I did no self-evaluation, and when you look for logic, you can see that was squarely thrown out the window.
So, first thing...change your lens. It really had nothing to do with anything you were offering or not offering. It was the state of who she was inside of herself. Whether it was deep depression surrounding the miscarriages, or some other existential crisis, it was her not managing her life in a way she could be happy. And, probably for an extended period of time.
I don't think this is the same thing for serial cheaters or one size fits all to all situations. But, the way you describe it, that she was good, then bad, then good again. It makes me think she was likely a lot like me, it was an affair likely born of crisis, and it's possible given her behavior afterwards that she learned that was no way to cope, she likely has deep remorse over her behavior (I am getting that from the next part).
Entered her AP, a married career military officer, 15 years her Senior, 2 grown kids, and on the first day they meet, they are drunk and making out while out with her married sister and her AP.
The AP's in these situations are almost always people who are not appropriate people for us to have a relationship with. The fact he is older and this progressed quickly is another thing I share in common in my own circumstances. In my particular situation, he was also a serial cheater and knew the ropes. I am fully responsible for my actions, I don't blame him, but it explains some of acceleration in my situation. He knew exactly what buttons to keep pushing, and I didn't realize how much we were using each other and manipulating each other. I feel that he did and so he just got it all there faster.
Fast forward 6 weeks and they are in bed together for a year and sex between us is rare or off the table.
I had a hard time straddling the fence between two men as well. My A lasted for only two months but much longer this would have been the picture my H would have been painting. I would characterize it as an exit affair, and had he not been caught out and dropped me like a hot potato I would have just gotten more emotionally involved. It was much easier to focus on all that then have to deal with my reality. And, I don't mean my husband as my reality, but my responsibilities, getting better ways to cope, taking charge of my situation. I preferred to slip away mentally in that high.
She now tells me she didn’t fall in love, had no long term plans with him, and describes him totally differently from everything she wrote to him at the time.
Yes, I see the situation way differently now than I did then too. I think once you realize how horrible what you did was, you can't romanticize it any more. You can only see it for the ugliness and sickness it was. When push came to shove, I would never have really exited, it just would have gotten uglier. I didn't have a plan in my head past the day I was on. And, I said things now that I think were designed to keep him escalating the situation. I literally was living out a story in my head, a fantasy. It's terrible to have to describe to any normal level headed person, because it sounds ridiculous. That's because it was. My H was 100 times the man that my AP was. I would have been miserable with him. I can see a lot in hindsight that I couldn't see then, and it sounds like your wife did as well.
When it finally ended, she wrote his wife annonomusly and spilled out the affair, and now has nothing nice to say about him
This makes me think she was remorseful, unless she did the confession to spite him or to purposely cause him trouble. Did he dump her?
She then clammed up for 25 years refusing to talk about any of it until forced to in therapy with me with a MC. My question is, why did this happen and who was that woman, who has since become the dedicated loving devout wife she was before. When I ask why she will not tell me other than to say she was vulnerable. How does one go from loving wife and mother, to adulteress, sexually active with a stranger, covert and deceitful mistress overnight? Have I missed something in my understanding of women?
It's not your understanding of women, it's your understanding of a cheating woman. And, honestly, I doubt you will ever understand it. There aren't logical explanations in it. I would say I was vulnerable at that time as well, and that I caused every single thing. I also have gone back to being a devoted and loving wife, and it comes from a genuine and authentic place.
BUT, it didn't just switch back overnight. There were lots of stages getting there - wallowing in shame and pain, healing a lot of that from that present time and from times of the past. I had to learn how to make myself happy and be responsible for it. To be mindful of my thoughts. And, I have complete and utter remorse over my actions. Not only will I never again stray, but I will never again blame my husband for my unhappiness. If I don't like something, I now say it. I don't over do for everyone to be worthy of love. I am learning to honor myself and my boundaries.
So for me, it's not that I just switched back....I changed so much of who I am, what I do, and how I think. I still work on myself as well, and I put my husband as my top priority. It doesn't come from obligations, it comes from love.
I think in all of that, you have to figure out, did your wife change her thinking? Is she being authentic? Can you trust her moving forward? Has she dealt with the roots of her causes? Has she begun answering your questions and do you sense that it's the truth that she is speaking? And, if so, do you accept that it happened but still want to be married to her? There is no expiration for when someone decides that they can't be married to someone.