Let's talk about what you're dealing with here:
A. A four month affair. That is four months of stone cold lies and deception, sex and other things with the OM. Countless willful actions, countless willful decisions, countless willful lies. You have to look at that in the face. As George Orwell put it, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." By the way, four months is about the average length of most affairs before exposure. If they go longer than that or are successfully buried, it's obviously even worse for the betrayed spouse.
B. A sexual betrayal. A full on physical affair, in which your WW (wayward wife) is now in a highly limerant attachment to another man.
C. The "I love you but I'm not in love with you" speech. You've been given a version of it. It amounts to the same thing.
D. Trickle truth. You've had to drag the truth out of her. She didn't voluntarily disclose it. To this day, it's likely she is still in contact with him. And she is still lying to you.
E. "I don't know." This is a categorically unacceptable response from a WW after DDAY (while it is also so common as to be a cliche). It is also yet another bald-faced lie after so many other lies. Your trust is not at zero; it is now in negative territory and she keeps making it worse.
I am certain I want to work through this and get our marriage back to what it was before her re entered her life. But I am stick waiting for her to figure out her feelings.
Gently, you are not certain of anything, and unfortunately you will not be certain of anything for a long time. I hate to put it that way but you came to SI for advice, and we try to give it to straight here.
Do not offer reconciliation. You don't know the whole truth. You don't know who or what you'd be reconciling with and for.
Aside from that, reconciliation is VERY HARD. It is very painful. Divorce is also extremely difficult and painful. You don't know which path is right for you now. And you need some time to really learn more about both options before you decide.
Waiting around for her to 'figure out' her feelings is weak. It is the pick me dance. I'm not being harsh here; many of us have done it. But many of us didn't have SI to advise us either. You have SI. Listen to us. Stop being weak. Stop the pick me dance RIGHT NOW.
I feel like if I give her space she might see that as me backing away and conceding to her feelings for this other man.
This may, in fact, happen, in which case you have a clear answer. It is also highly likely the exact opposite will occur, and she will panic and start realizing what she has done and what is at stake. One thing is for sure: by you dancing around on a hot plate, simpering around her, she's going to string you along.
One version of "backing away" is essentially conceding an open marriage and willingly embracing her duplicity and betrayal. The other version is getting strong, a hard 180 and a no nonsense attitude.
but she gets angry and walls up saying, "it's nothing good and is just going to hurt you.".
Three things to understand here: 1. This is called 'stonewalling' and Gottman lists it among the four horsemen that end marriages. 2. Her anger is also a form of DARVO (look up the acronym). 3. When she says "is just going to hurt you" what she's REALLY communicating is how much she believes it will damage her image in your eyes and how her own ego will take a hit.
And that brings me to my final macro point as I pull the lens back here to give you a "gestalt" view of your situation: You must look at the woman in front of you, not the woman you imagined her to be. Not the woman on the pedestal. Not the wife you thought you had. The very woman in front of you.
Adultery is abuse. It is narcissistic. It is vile. It is debased. It is animalistic. It is lust. Short of murder, it is among the most toxic things one human can do to another.
Adultery creates a rift in time and space. An irrevocable hard boundary in your reality of before and after. Like murder. You kill someone and you can't bring them back to life. You kill a marriage and you can't bring it back to life. Get that now: The old marriage is dead. Dead, dead, like really dead. It is possible that you may build something entirely new, and by that I mean literally from the ground up new.
But adultery cannot be undone. It cannot be forgotten. It will now be a permanent fixture in your relationship with your WW going forward.
Adultery is also revelatory of a person's core personality, their actual worldview and life philosophy, the ethical "if/then/else" algorithims in their minds they use to make important decisions. In other words who they really are, rather than who you thought they were.
I realize you may be reading this thinking I'm being too harsh on your sweet wife. I assure you I am not. The only wayward spouses who have ANY hope of reconciling are those who confront the ugly, vicious, terrible truths about who they are and what they have done.
You're going to have to confront that.
So what should you do? What can you do?
Below, here's a DIY kit for these early days. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a start -- and to be clear, you're at the beginning of a very long and painful process. I've marked steps below that apply to either R (reconciliation) or D (divorce) or simply both scenarios.
1. NO marital counseling. Ignore this if you like, but don't say you weren't warned. Marital counseling after infidelity is a waste of time and money. It is uniformly recommended against here on SI.
2. YES to Individual counseling. Immediately get yourself to individual counseling with a betrayal trauma specialist (D or R, either way you need it) - this specialty, betrayal trauma specialist, is VERY important.
3. See an attorney. Get an immediate appointment with a divorce attorney to understand the process (D or R, either way you need to do this)
4. Avoid HB sex. No hysterical bonding sex with her. Don't do it. Don't fall prey to the tears and sobbing jags. It's a form of manipulation. It may be genuine emotion she's expressing in terms of shame, but the tears are not for you.
5. Test for STD's. Get an immediate comprehensive STD test. Demand one from her also (this is a D or R, must have)
6. Finances: Talk to your new attorney about separating finances, and start yourself a new checking account. Start having your paycheck deposited there. Withdraw half of what's in joint accounts and put it in accounts you control. Life insurance, credit cards, etc. A good step for either R or D.
7. VAR. Get a voice activated recorder at BestBuy (the $50-60 SONY) with a big memory card and start carrying it around activated in your pocket to record any interactions with her (D or R) This will protect you from false domestic violence charges. Sounds far-fetched? It is not. Heed this. Consider also placing VARs in her car and near where she puts on makeup in the mornings. If you need more info on VARs, we can help.
8. 180. Implement a hard 180. Disengage. I repeat, disengage. Read about the 180 here on SI in the sidebar articles.
9. NO CONTACT: Demand your WW write a no contact letter to her affair partner that you review. Real NO CONTACT. If she breaks no contact, you're done.
10. TIMELINE: She writes down a comprehensive, many pages in length, narrative timeline of the affair in her own hand with pen and paper. EDIT TO ADD: In her own hand with a pen and paper is extremely important. Not typed. Writing it out the old school way makes it very real and visceral and ugly for her. She needs that. She does this in TWO DAYS. That's plenty of time. She drags her feet, then you walk. Do not pass GO. Details. Not a minimum outline. The whole truth. No lies of omission. This is probably only R, but you can't R with incomplete information.
10A. POLYGRAPH: Once you have the written timeline, review it, make notes, write down questions. Then schedule a polygraph examination for your wife and tell her the timeline will be tested against a polygraph for veracity. Do it as soon after receiving the written timeline as you can.
11. NO MORE MIND GAMES. No TRICKLE TRUTH. No BLAMESHIFTING. No more bullshit JUSTIFICATIONS about how she felt or how you weren't paying enough attention. No more REWRITING THE HISTORY OF YOUR MARRIAGE to portray you in a false bad light. NO MORE.
12. READ. You both read "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair" - she writes out a detailed plan in her own hand for how she plans on implementing the book's recommendations. You should also read for yourself "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Cheating in a Nutshell."
13. DR. FONE: She turns over all of her devices to you for open review and retrieval of deleted information. Run Dr. Fone software on her phone.
14. EXPOSE (D or R): Expose the affair to her immediate family. This is not for revenge. It is not to get her family "on your side." It is to stop any minimization or false narrative. And it is to implode the fantasy bubble of the affair.
15. EXPOSE (D or R): Expose the affair immediately to any other betrayed spouse or girlfriend. You must do this. You would want to know if it were you. And this further implodes the fantasy of the affair and typically brings it to a screeching halt.
16. GIFTS: Any physical reminders (gifts, sex toys, lingeries, perfume, anything) of the affair should be thrown away. My WW's AP got her a wine fridge as a gift and my WW passively wouldn't do anything with it after D-Day. Huge mistake on her part. I finally threw it in a dumpster in a fit of rage. (This is a D or R action).
Lastly, consider a therapeutic separation from your WW between 30-90 days (probably 30 days minimum) to give you peace and to allow your mind to settle apart from her. This is recommended in books like "Cheating in a Nutshell."
EDIT TO ADD: What I've provided you with here is a pretty decent summation of most of the early advice you'll receive here at SI. You can react to it by saying "well that's not me, my situation is different" or "all of this seems over the top and too harsh." Both of those ways of looking at this will be mistakes. Every situation is in fact unique and so is every individual, but adultery situations have strikingly common themes running through them and predictable patterns of behavior on the part of wayward spouses. The advice is not harsh; it is realistic. It is what will put you on the path to getting out of infidelity, whether you decide to reconcile or divorce.
[This message edited by Thumos at 10:38 AM, July 16th (Friday)]