So I thought I'd give you all a bit of an update. I recognize that I'm living this experience minute-by-minute and you're all left to pick through clues of what I'm writing (and it's appreciated!).
Here's where I am now with regard to what I think happened.
I fell for my wife because she was carefree, sexually open, wonderful socially--she was a balance for what I brought to the table: rational, thoughtful, analytical. We were a good pair.
Within the first few years of our relationship, my wife did a complete character reversal: she became a mouse, hiding in the corner, fearful and anxious about seemingly everything and increasingly conservative and reserved in the bedroom.
I think that happened for a few reasons--she was fired from two jobs, had a car accident that led to significant anxiety and a bad IC who wanted to drug her up rather than unpack her issues (she never went on any drugs and quit the IC in less than a year). More than all that, I think I was the major cause for the change--I'm a dominating personality and she lost the backbone to standup to me. It's not that she wouldn't get her way on anything, it's that she would only get her way on things when I allowed it--and she recognized that. Anytime we had a real conflict, she lost the argument.
And in my defense, we would only have conflict when her position on something was reckless or poorly thought through, but to her, she felt like she was constantly losing every battle and became unhappy and resentful.
So then she meets AP and feels a spark. Working alongside him, she starts to grow a friendship. He's not the smartest guy and she realizes she can win against him--of course that only happens because he wants to fuck her, but she keeps that pushed outside of her mind. Months pass and his sexual intentions are becoming clearer, but it's inline with her developing emotional connection to him. So when he finally kisses her, she's over the moon with joy.
But now she has a problem: she's falling for another man--the relationship is developing--and she thinks her marriage is over, but no one else sees her life that way. She begins her quest to destroy me to her family and her friends on the PTA. She knows an exit from the marriage is coming (which she admitted), so she needs to make sure when she finally pulls the plug everyone else is expecting it: "Oh good, she finally left that awful bastard!"
When AP asks her to go to a hotel with him, she jumps at the chance. She books a room and builds an alibi with me in a week--it's fast and there's no hesitation on her part. She knows the path she's on and she's sprinting down it.
So now it's Jan. 4 and they're in the hotel--they have crazy, carnal, passionate sex for hours. It's world-changing for her. He stops using a condom halfway through and she couldn't care less--she really likes this guy, so what's the big deal? She is tapped into a sexual part of her she hasn't felt since the early days with me. She's fucking, laughing, talking and having a great time all night long.
She wakes up the next day without an ounce of guilt--in fact, only more resentment for me. She goes into overdrive at this point, burning my reputation down with her family and knocking me every chance she can with her friends. She needs to accelerate the plan--the AP isn't showing signs of leaving his wife, but she'll work on that a bit. She sex bombs him thoroughly: BJs in his car and sexting with him anytime he wants. She is trying to win him over. She finally feels like she's in a relationship as herself again.
All her existing problems in her life have just gotten worse--she hates me even more, everyday feels routine, she's spending too much money and drinking heavily. Her life is hellish, but her moments with him are heaven.
Then things start to change a bit--throughout Feb., he's more distant. They go weeks at a time without talking. After the Feb. 8 car meetup, she recognized the emotional connection was fading. This was just a sexual thing now. It sucked for her because she wanted the friendship and emotional connection, but she was enjoying the sex, so whatever, why stop?
She has a great vacation with me in Florida from Feb. 18-23, knowing she has a date with him at the same hotel back home on Feb. 24. She shows up to that meeting feeling guilty for the first time. How can she justify doing this to me after just having a great vacation with me?
With hesitation she powers through with it--and it's better than she can imagine: the best sexual experience of her life. There's no romance or cuddles--he's fucking the hell out of her and she is willingly giving every part of herself to him: handcuffs, anal, bathtubs--he empties five orgasms on her over the course of several hours and she's in ecstasy.
All the guilt is gone and she feels she deserves this outlet from her boring life. She plans to continue this indefinitely, just for the good sex. She saw him a few days later in his car on March 2; they had plans to meet in his car again on March 17; and they were already formulating the next hotel stay sometime in April (with more expected car visits built in still).
However, she still has a problem. She has one man in her life she resents and seemingly largely dislikes, but is the father of her children and she shares a safe, loving home with. She has occasional good times with him, but he's largely an anchor reminding her of her routine existence. She has another man she is playing out a sexual fantasy with, and while it's the bright spot of her life, it's becoming increasingly hollow. She still has no man in her life providing an emotional connection so that she can feel truly comfortable and safe in a relationship with a man.
Affair #2, whether she realizes it or not, was on the horizon. She was still plotting her eventual exit from me, but she had no where to go. Life with me wasn't bad enough to stop seeing the kids everyday and blow everything up, so she needed to wait it out. She'd continue her days with me and have her trysts with AP, but she needed to find someone else. She was still seeking an upgrade from her marriage with me and that is why the badmouthing of me continued even after a future with AP was less likely. The plan was obvious: live with me and the kids, fuck AP, but look for a new Mr. Right and then dump both of us.
Then overnight on March 15 her world changed--I found out about the affair. But she wasn't ready for it. At first she was annoyed her carelessness meant she'd have to give up AP, but she got over that in days because she knew he really didn't matter. The bigger problem is that all her work badmouthing me was reset to zero. All the friends would now see her as a homewrecker and selfish wife. And her work on her family to destroy my image wasn't done--she was making progress with her mom, but her sister and dad still weren't on board with the picture she was painting of me and wouldn't be happy with her having a divorce.
She's now lost at sea, surrounded by people telling her how fucked up she is. Whether she recognizes they're right or not, she doesn't have much of a choice--I'm her best option by a mile right now. So she has to go through the process of "fixing herself." At a minimum, she knows she has things she needs to work through, so what better time to do it than now?
Maybe she fails, and months/years from now comes back to me and says: "I'm so sorry; I tried, but I couldn't do it. I found another AP and he makes me happy."
Maybe she succeeds, and months/years from now she comes back to me and says: "I'm so sorry; I took this long path and improved myself, but now I realize we're not the right match--I need to be with someone that makes me happy. I found another AP and he makes me happy."
Or maybe she's genuinely remorseful and is 100% rededicating herself to me and our marriage and we grow old together.
The obvious problem is that in all three scenarios, her words and actions would be identical. In fact, she likely doesn't know what scenario ultimately happens--she's lost right now. Even if her intentions are option #3, that doesn't mean #1 and #2 can't/won't happen.
So where does that leave me? I'm willing to take substantial risks to my own personal happiness for the benefit of the children; and right now, there is no doubt they are better in this moment if we don't divorce. And if I'm sticking around, I might as well give it my all to fix the relationship with my wife--there's no reason not to do that if we're sharing a home.
Where this becomes difficult for me is if I can identify a car crash coming from my wife on the horizon--meaning she ultimately chooses to leave me down the line--it would be the height of parental malpractice to keep my children in this situation if it's leading to that failure, but in a potentially worse circumstance.
What I'm hoping to identify ASAP is if that's the case and I really don't know how to do it. My wife is committed to convincing me that she loves me and is capable of change--that's her focus right now--so I'm trying to poke holes in a person who is openly telling me they're willing to do all the things I'm asking. How can I recognize if it's a manipulation or authentic? It *feels* authentic, but as written above, there's every reason for it to feel exactly that way and mean something entirely different.
[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 3:58 PM, Tuesday, May 3rd]