Like many others, reading all of this pains me. I'm so sorry for what you are going through and will be going through for a long time yet, regardless of the outcome.
I've wanted to say a lot after reading the posts and comments from the last several days, but I've refrained.
I'll still refrain.
For now, I'll just focus on one thing.
"Her argument is that she never felt she was going to leave me for AP, but I have a strong sense she’s bending words to get around the devastating truth."
You're right to have a strong sense she's bending words to avoid the devastating truth.
There is so much to this Doc, many levels.
First, reconciliation can't really happen with lies. Truth, as painful as it is, can be worked with. Lies keep the foundation weak and a relationship won't last on a weak foundation built upon lies.
You and others have said many things over the last several days so I won't get into that.
How about you drill down into just this ONE thing, your sense that she's bending (uh, that means lying) words to get around (uh, that means lying) the devastating truth.
Being that it's your life, I can't and won't tell you what to do sir.
If I were in your shoes, I'd set up a polygraph and I wouldn't tell her ahead of time, not days I mean, maybe the day of as long as you remain with her.
I'd have the person conducting the poly ask your wife about this topic.
Why? Not just for the obvious reason Doc. It isn't just about the fact that she was planning and wanted to leave you and your marriage together.
It's also about the fact that she is still lying to you now, as you're both trying to reconcile.
That can't happen Doc. Well, it can and does happen all to often, but you get my point.
Her lying to you, about anything, be it big or small, derails the reconciliation effort and attempt.
There are too many sad stories on this site regarding this, where waywards continue to lie about things as they try to reconcile.
To me, this topic (her bending words to avoid the devastating truth) is secondary to her lying about it.
So many betrayed spouses are crushed when they know their wayward spouse is still lying to them.
They (and you) simply want the truth. One may work with the truth.
Now, this topic is bad enough too, but it should take a back seat to her lying.
I mean, both your wife and you know she thought the marriage was over. That fact isn't in doubt or in contention between the two of you.
Her continuing to lie to you is what this should be about and this is one simple, relatively clean cut thing for you to be able to resolve that.
Why have her do a poly?
Many reasons Doc. First, as you said, she's walking a fine line and bending words regarding this and the poly will knock her behind off of that fine line she's walking on and it will force her to quit bending her words.
Some of the previous comments mentioned her not having consequences and you asked what those might be and you said you wrote a list of demands and she's following them.
Well, having her take a poly would be one example, a small one, of a consequence of her choices and actions. She won't want to.
Also, it would be simpler to just have it than for the two of you to try and discuss this over and over with her parsing her words, walking her fine line and bending her words in order to try and make what she says sound better to you.
To hell with sounding better, she just needs to be honest and she isn't.
Having to take a poly isn't fun. It's also embarrassing. Well, guess what Doc? That's too damn bad and it's consequence she should have to face.
When she asks you why, you can remain calm and simply let her know you don't believe what she's saying and you want the truth and she isn't giving it to you so she'll be taking a poly.
And Doc, she needs to be uncomfortable, embarrassed and yes I know she has been, but things need to be "uncomfortable" sometimes.
I'm not talking about her embarrassment with her friends, her missing the PTA, but with you.
I mean, she's comfortable enough with you to keep lying to you about this Doc. She's not working hard enough on herself if she's continuing to lie.
And after she takes the poly, it will continue to "work" for you for weeks and months. How and why? She knows you'll do something about her continuing to lie to you if she keeps lying to you. She won't want to go take a 2nd poly months later.
The poly would serve many things. It would be a quick and decisive action by you that her continuing to lie to you won't be tolerated.
She won't want to do it, but she should Doc, she really should for many reasons.
Her continuing to lie goes to what you said when she's trying to come up with things to say to you. She shouldn't have to try and come up with anything, but she is. She's measured, she's calculating. She should just be honest and truthful, but she isn't. Her texts to you, her conversations are ways to try and get around things instead of working on them and hitting them head on.
In some of my previous comments I talked about this and you just recently said this Doc:
" My reason for obsessing over it is because I think it also speaks to the likelihood of her being my longterm partner. I feel like once someone is that far gone, it’s a long road back—she’s eating shit sandwiches served up by me and her therapists all damn day. It seems like someone who was already done with me might one day decide it would be easier to be done with me again rather than continue eating all this shit."
Reconciliation is a process. You understand that of course. The outcome isn't yet known, by either of you and it won't be for a long while yet.
However, if she keeps lying to you, the odds of her one day deciding it would be easier for her to be done with you again go way up Doc.
As you know all too well Doc, reconciliation is hard work, it's tiring, taxing, emotionally draining, physically draining too.
If she's still lying to you (and she is, you know it too as you said you have a strong sense she's bending words, which is another way to say she's lying), then both of you are wasting your time and effort on reconciliation as it's almost sure to not work out.
A wayward who is really trying to reconcile is an open book, they are vulnerable, they quit trying to drive the narrative. She isn't doing that, not really. She's half-assing her reconciliation attempt Doc, to this point at least.
It's time to find out if she will go all in on trying to work on this. If she won't stop lying to you, then she's not really working on reconciling with you Doc.
I hate all of this Doc, I can't imagine what you're thinking, feeling and going through regarding all of this. I'm young, never married, haven't been cheated on and yet I hate reading things like this.
Your children and you are in my thoughts and prayers.
And Doc, you should be seeing your own counselor.
Thanks for the post--I have an update from last night.
I dove in again to her feelings at the start of the affair; laying it all out, like a prosecutor, similar to my post yesterday.
I explained that in Dec. she determined that the relationship with me was over and began the affair with AP and badmouthing me all at the same time. I explained that initially the AP was her out from the marriage and I understood that window closed over the following weeks.
She responded that she never had intention of leaving me for AP (but again, to me it was bending truth).
I replied that I understood the intentions were never there, but I pressed that she was open to the possibility in the early days. Essentially, she didn't know what would happen with affair, but she was open to him becoming a longterm romantic partner if the situation played out in that direction. Ultimately, within weeks, she realized he wasn't a longterm romantic partner for her and he made it clear he was not interested in leaving his wife--and with that, he was no longer a likely out from the marriage, but instead just an emotional and sexual outlet.
We didn't resolve it initially, she felt like I was twisting what happened. We took a break from chatting and she took a bath. I went up to see her and we engaged again, this time she quickly broke-down in tears.
She told me I was right about how I framed it, but she hadn't thought about it in those terms--her feelings for AP were evolving very fast in the early days. And in her defense, I understand that neither her nor AP ever had plans to leave their spouses for the other. But my wife did acknowledge that she was open to that possible outcome developing in those early days.
I then pressed her on the other point bothering me--her stance that once she identified in late-Jan that AP wasn't her out from the marriage, she resolved to stay in the marriage with me and not leave me. I think that's bull shit, and I explained it to her. By continuing her sexual affair indefinitely and taking the secret of it "to her grave," she was very literally preventing the marriage from healing--all but ensuring she was either going to enter into another exit affair down the line or spend the rest of her life deeply unhappy.
Ultimately, she agreed with that as well--but again she pressed the point that she wasn't thinking about any of this at the time, though she agreed that it makes sense looking back.
It felt good to have that clarity out in the open and just like every other time she provided me with a painful truth, it brought me closer to her. It's strange, but I feel best when she shares something very hurtful to me--because it's the only time I feel sure I can trust her. So little blips like this set me back emotionally and mentally, but it's worth it as long as I can come out the other-side with more truth.
Lastly, regarding a poly, I'm open to using it should we get stuck, but I've found she'll break under tight scrutiny. I think in this case, it wasn't black and white as the truth was leaving me for AP was never a reality--but the fact that she was open to it becoming a reality, even if for only a few days, is an important truth for me.