I am a lawyer by training, and the analytics I use might be of some use to you here.
Generally, when sitting down with a new client, I listen to their words closely. As a case progresses, I watch their actions.
It’s not a "rule" so to say, but I often act in accordance with the following:
People’s words will tell you how they WANT to be seen by others.
People’s actions will tell you what they truly DESIRE.
If I can restate your story simply, then it would boil down to this. You are a medical professional that worked extremely hard to provide a nice life for your family. Your wife took on the larger portion of raising the children who had special needs. You’ve been married more than four decades. The children are now adults. You went into business, presumably a successful one, with your spouse. I assume that your spouse is not as integral or necessary to the functioning of the business and that your medical expertise is a driving factor in the business.
About two years ago, your wife wanted a separation. She has lived as a single person since this date – separately and having extramarital affairs. She is in her sixties, as are you. During this time, she has continually been involved in the day to day functioning of your business. You have told her repeatedly that you want the marriage to work and she rode the fence of indecision (not really, but that’s what she convinced you of for this time).
You have remained faithful these past two years while she has engaged in serial adultery.
Put aside her words. What do her actions say?
Were you poor, or a liability to the business, or she had sufficient funds to continue her lifestyle without you… would she still even be married to you? What if you were a detriment to her ability to earn rather than just a non-issue? Honestly, would she have divorced you?
What do her ACTIONS say?
I’d say they could be boiled down to something you said earlier, "I want to keep up a public façade of the good wife, I want to keep the money and ability to have my separate life, but I no longer care about you or want to be married."
From a cold hearted realist, I expect that she already has consulted with an attorney. This attorney has told her what she could expect to get in a divorce and what it would look like. She would lose the mantle of the good wife. She would lose certain financial security and social capital. This loss was unacceptable to her so she has fashioned a separate life from you while still retaining all the trappings of her former life.
Again, why stay married?
Because it benefits her. Could she be stockpiling cash or hiding assets? (I’ve seen it.). Could she be waiting on you to die so she gets everything free and clear? (I’ve seen it.). Could she be waiting out a settlement while using you as child care for years until that runs out? (I’ve seen it.).
That’s what her actions say. She doesn’t want to be with YOU, she wants the life your marriage has provided without YOU in it.
The price of doing this is stringing you along and marriage counseling where she snows the therapist. The therapist was trying to get at her feelings because her words and her actions to not align.
Her actions point to her being a cold-hearted realist, and her words factor into that because she needs you to be kept in this state to continue the life she’s leading.
That’s also what her ACTION of saying that she doesn’t want to mediate an amicable split says. She’s got her affairs and her separate life… what’s the point of staying married? The point would be money and saving face socially. And you’re allowing her to craft that narrative (not that it matters much in the grand scheme of things). You’ve stayed married for love, but you’re finding the love is gone, so there’s no point in staying married anymore.
That’s two people coming from two separate places, caring about two separate things. You want to think she thinks the same way as you to save the marriage, but she cares about something different than you do.
I think you see that from your posts.
I always point to this exercise if there’s any doubt. Say that you did the EXACT SAME THING… how would you feel about your spouse while doing it?
And… my God man… two years without someone that wants to be a special person in your life… holding out hope for her to come around… what about your needs? Are they being met? No. She expects you to put your needs on ice until she’s done meeting hers. That’s both unrealistic and cruel (although I doubt she’s thinking about it that way now).
A medical professional, even at your presumed age, could date other people. A loyal doctor who stays in shape? There will be women that want that (some for the right reasons, and many for the wrong ones). You’d have to jettison more than forty years of history, and that’s very difficult, but your situation is untenable.
Say you do file for divorce and start dating other people. What happens? Maybe she comes back? Why? I’d assume money and status. Do you want that type of relationship? I wouldn’t judge, because some people do, but I do believe that if you’ve stayed loyal all this time it’s for more than money and status.
Giving up a relationship as important as this one could be the most difficult thing you do. However, if you don’t at least attempt it, then she will continue to treat you the same way. Take your half (or more) of the assets. Be fair but be firm. Otherwise, she is going to continue to treat you as a bit character in her play. Demand the center stage or find another production.
Sorry you’re here. Get a good lawyer. Be fair, but firm. Then seek what you want from the golden years of your life, hard though that may be.
On a sidenote… say you do get divorced and she fixes herself. There’s nothing that says you can’t give it another go. If you did, and were sure it was out of love, then there’s no harm. That’s always possible. But, you also know that if she had her finances, then she likely wouldn’t come back. And, if that’s what would happen, would you really want a marriage held together by money and status? You’re worth more than that to other people.