I thought about your longer post from yesterday while on a long bike ride as the weather was finally wonderful.
She was telling you that the affair was some sort of "fantasy of sexual discovery for her".
Here is what you said regarding this:
"Now that we have to dig a bit deeper, I’m finding her more defensive and angry. And now with further context, I’m seeing her affair in a different light. We had convinced ourselves that the affair was this fantasy of sexual discovery for her and that I wasn’t a thought; that she never stopped loving me, only was annoyed by me at a heightened level during the affair.
But when I look at it all collectively—her actions and her badmouthing me to AP, her family and friends—it’s hard to see it as some joyous sexual empowerment. Nothing about it was joyful."
So, a bit ago, both of you "thought" and were "convinced" that her affair was a fantasy of sexual discovery for her.
She is trying to find something, some reason to "pin" this affair on so things can go back to "normal."
She knows she has to say something so she's wracking her brain to try and come up with something that sounds "right", "plausible" etc.
Well, that plausible explanation is now no longer valid.
While riding my bike yesterday it hit me that she's going to move on and try to come up with the next "plausible" reason or explanation of why she did what she did.
And her flavor of the day is now that she has resentment.
I'm not saying she doesn't, she almost assuredly does, but so do millions of other people on this rock and they don't use that to go and have an affair.
My point is that her resentment is a reason she had her affair. If that was the case, then everyone with resentment would be having affairs and that's simply not the case, not even close.
So yes, I believe she has resentment, but that's a reason or why she had her affair.
She's smart, she knows there were and are many other ways to deal with and address her resentment. She knew that before long before her affair, she knew it leading up to her affair and she knew it during her affair yet she did not choose to avail herself to the many other better ways to deal with and address her resentment.
Her affair wasn't dealing with her resentment either of course, she knows that too. When she came home all those times from having sex with him, she was still filled with resentment towards you.
So, she wrote you this letter stating it's all about resentment.
You will keep peeling back layers and she'll have to wrack her brain to come up with other reasons for why she did what she did.
Doc, you and others have alluded to this to a certain degree. She was unhappy, with herself, with you, with the two of you as a couple and she lashed out.
She spoke badly about you, for a long time, to family.
Why? Sure, she was upset but that's still no reason to talk that badly about you for that long to her family.
I think she was doing that to get them on her side for when she divorced you, whether she was going to be with her AP or not.
She was trying grease the skids so to speak with her family by making you out to be the "bad guy" and she did a bang up job of that with her family.
She wanted and needed them on her side for when she was going to leave you and for when all this affair crap began to see the light of day.
I think she chose to have her affair as an exit affair, but when the crap hit the fan and she lost so much, friends, family upset and disappointed in her, leaving the PTA, so much weight and crap hit her all at once that she held onto her only life raft and that was you.
In my previous comment the other day, I said I was worried about her leaving you a few years down the road when she gets her legs back under her, when much of this affair crap is in the rear view mirror, when friends, family and coworkers have long moved on from it (and they will move on from this much sooner than you will, as some of this will be with you always Doc, whether you remain married to her or not), then she'll realize that "Hey, I wanted to leave Doc before, but I chose a piss poor way to due and blew things up so I waited a while, a few years, things have stabilized but I still don't want to be with him so I'm going to leave him now like I wanted to before."
When she wrote this in her letter to you:
"Ultimately I hope I enter a partnership where both parties are heard and there isn’t winning. I’ve spent so much timing feeling there is a wall and a divide. I’ve also spent so much time harboring resentment and I don’t want the rest of life to be like that."
It made me think that she really has moved on from you, from the two of you in her mind. Right now, she's trying to get things stabilized in her life, get her footing again and let this all blow over (somewhat).
Yes, I understand her words could mean that when she enters a partnership with you again after this affair crap has been mostly dealt with, but I really think she means when she enters a relationship with someone else Doc.
In your wife's mind, with you, the relationship is about "winning" and that there is a wall and a divide (there likely is but she doesn't yet realize or know that she was principle builder of said wall and divide between the two of you and I'm not talking about her affair, but with the piss poor way she chose to deal with her resentment for years and years. She built that wall and created that divide. Yes, it takes two, so you were involved too.
It seems like she'd prefer a fresh start with someone else when I read her words above.
If she doesn't want the rest of her life to be like that, like she said in her quote, then she really needs to work, ID, address and resolve her issues, whether she stays with you or gets with someone else. If not, she'll find herself in the same boat with her next partner and she'll think she has bad luck when in reality she's causing it herself.
There are two main things right now, from my perspective.
1) She needs to be honest with herself and you regarding whether she really wanted to leave you before and during the affair. I think her actions badmouthing you to her family were related to that as it was a way to grease the skids for her leaving.
2) She really needs to work on herself, whether she remains with you or someone else, otherwise you or her next partner will continue to experience a wall and a divide with her.
Doc, If I'm correct (and I'm not saying I am) about number 1 just above, then number two doesn't matter for you. If she wanted to leave you before and during her affair, she'll reach that point again once she's stabilized from this affair crap so number 2 won't matter for you.
All this work she's doing won't matter to you or for you if she wanted to leave you and if she's going to leave you once she's stabilized.
Maybe it's a conversation you wanted to have with a counselor instead of just one on one with her.
You should really contemplate broaching this topic with her, whether she was having an exit affair and whether she knew and wanted to leave you.
I'm sorry and I wish you well sir, whether the two of you are able to reconcile or not.