How do you know this? Because she told you?
I've read through pages and pages of rationales about why your wife did or didn't do this or that. But you don't really know.
What you do know is she what was willing to do for him, what she was willing to "do to you", and she wasn't willing to do for you.
Unless he somehow threatened or coerced her, one thing you know 100% for sure is that she wanted to do that stuff with him and didn't want to do it with you.
I see people always getting caught up with the "whys" when they reeeeaaallly want reconciliation. Looking for something to make it not as horrible. "It wasn't because she was into him, it was because of XYZ!"
Maybe instead of looking for all of this complexity - and no offense, I am not seeing a ton of complexity in your wife's behaviors, just simplify the "whys" to what you know is true (As described above) and then focus on the "whats".
What did she do to hurt you, abuse you and debase herself and your relationship? What is she doing now - without you dragging her along to rectify her behavior, comfort you, give you what you need to keep the relationship going?
Focus on that, and you'll better understand the real whys, and "what" she really wants now and "what" she wanted then. And where you really are. And who/what you really are to her.
I'm not looking to make anything less painful or rationalize anything; I'm looking to understand her motivations. I feel like I'm getting there, but it has been through a stubborn willingness on my end to consume pain.
My wife has always been a narcissist constantly playing a victim card. I was aware of it; it annoyed me; I called her out on it constantly. It's perhaps the most annoying trait a person can have in my view--just constantly going through life feeling entitled and complaining about how unfair X thing is. Truthfully, I felt it was relatively harmless in my wife--most of it was complaining about her various jobs over our marriage.
In parallel though, she was destroying our sex life and it was creating significant resentment on my end for her. As a result, as others have pointed out, I lost respect for her--her carefree attitude that I fell in love with became carelessness that angered me. Her easy-going, impulsive behavior became stupidity that was a liability for me to deal with. That's harsh, and it's certainly not the entire lens I viewed my wife, but it was definitely there over the last several years.
The combination of those two factors led me to cut-off participation in my wife's soul-draining victimization conversations. I just hit a wall and couldn't handle them. They were all the same: she'd complain about X and I'd suggest she look at it differently because I disagreed with her entirely. She'd then get upset for me not being in her corner.
Clearly I handled those conversations poorly, as did she, but I flat out told her to stop talking to me about work. And she did (and it was great lol). On her end, she saw it as a severance of our emotional connection. In her defense, I am often more distant to her (or even the children) than I'd like to be. I really value alone time. And we'd hang out together most evenings, but we'd never talk--it was just sitting next to each other on the couch watching TV/movies.
Looking back at our life, she's absolutely correct that we didn't have any emotional depth to our relationship. She felt she couldn't confide in me and I rarely saw value in confiding with her. Again, it sounds harsh and is not representative of the entire relationship, but it's all true. On the whole, I valued her as a partner in raising the kids and a partner in running a life/home together. I greatly enjoyed being around her and have always found her very attractive.
She needed more from me though and never asked--that's all on her. She then unilaterally decided the marriage was over--also all on her. And then she found a spark with another guy and had an affair--also on her.
But the truth, I think, is that the affair was her reengagement with the dating market. She stepped outside of her comfortable life and decided to see what her options were. She didn't have the moral anchor to leave me first because her life with me was preferable to being single, but she very much wanted to know if there was a better partner out there for her.
She thought AP could be that partner--she had butterflies in her stomach when she first kissed him and again when she first fucked him. She needed to know if that sexual spark she used to have with men--me included--was still there. And it was.
And then the bound grew for her--infatuation grew. Maybe he was the future partner for her. THe problem of course, he made it clear that he wasn't leaving his wife. Now her mission changed from exploration of her feelings to winning a man. And she tried--making herself sexually available in his car and over text throughout January. It didn't work--he was keeping her at bay and playing with her emotions--all he wanted was sex.
By late-Jan, she recognized that, but didn't know what to do about it. She got angry--she was with two men and both just wanted to use her for sex. She drank and spent to numb the pain of her pathetic life.
She then started to think while it wasn't the best situation, it wasn't all bad--she had a husband, a family and an AP to fulfill her sexual needs. I think she resolved to ride that out for a bit longer--maybe the affair would fizzle out or maybe they'd keep meeting up for years. Maybe another guy--a more suitable partner--would come along and she could give that a try. Before she figured anything out--and she admits early March was a mess for her thinking this all through--I found out.
When I found out, we began talking--constantly. I opened my heart and soul to her. Within the first week, the reality hit her. She fucked up. She had someone who loved and respected her and didn't know it. She impulsively threw away a marriage without having a god damn clue what she was throwing away. The fear sank in. She might lose the best things in her life--a home with a loving husband and children. Then the regret, panic, and self-pity overtook her.
Every day she's trying to tell me how she feels and I'm telling her she's a narcissist and a liar. Her instinct is to defend herself, but then her IC and our CT are echoing all the same points. She is selfish and she has been awful to the people in her life who love her. That's a bomb going off in her gut and she's now trying to relearn how to think and feel.
It hasn't gone well so far in my estimation--but perhaps my standards are too high. It doesn't matter though because this experiment has a clock. Can she get her shit together and prove to me that she loves and respects me? Make me really believe that? I'm waiting to find out.
[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 6:37 PM, Thursday, May 12th]