But the whole thrust of my story right now is uncertainty. I don’t know if I want to divorce her.
That state, at this stage, is pretty normal. If you go to The Healing Library, there are tools that are intended to help you figure this out. One of the main tools is what is referred to as "The 180". So many posters here suggest using The 180 as a sort of cloister or punishment for the WW. In reality, it's a way to give yourself psychological space, breathing room, so that you can feel free to search for your heart's truth.
Like I’ve consistently professed, I love her deeply and that love survives this betrayal. It’s like the most perverse test of the quality of love, but mine passed.
This feeling is also pretty normal. What I'd warn you about, or perhaps urge is a better verb, is to plumb the reality of the woman you are married to. Are you in love with your fantasy of her, the woman she "could be, if only"? Or maybe the woman you subconsciously assumed her to be before you learned her truth? That's mostly what betrayed men do - cling to the shreds of love for the imaginary wife who doesn't exist in real life. In some ways, men who profess to be religious are most guilty of this, convincing themselves that this is in some way a "test" of the "quality" of our love, when in reality it's a fiction we create, a version of self-catfishing ourselves into a love for an imaginary woman who does not exist in real life.
But what I hear in what you are saying and what hits me hard is the idea that I shouldn’t hope for change in her. That I should make my evaluation of what the future will probably look like based off her history, which would be bleak because I’ve described a challenged marriage and now she’s an adulterer. If I do that, I could just walk out the door this morning.
But that situation has no room for hope and change. He who is forgiven much loves much, words from a friend of mine. I know that isn’t a formula, but I do think it is a good and proper response of the human heart. I see hope in a path that walks in forgiveness that cultivates great love. She could also see that forgiveness as a sign of weakness and a license to repeat. Honestly that is a core dilemma I’ve already dealt with in my religious life. I believe God’s heart and the ultimate good lies in risking the first path, but the forgiven party must react properly, with joy and love and gratefulness, not license to keep doing awful things.
Hope. If you read here much, you'll find that almost all newly minted BH's are drug addicts. Junkies. Our drug of choice: hopium. Man, we puff on the hopium pipe like the most crazed-out crack head in a drug den. Meanwhile, the one true thing we own -- our time -- runs away from us tick by tick by tick, while we are mired in paralysis by analysis. You can cling to hope, which may prove to be false, but you can't cling to your time. You never get that back.
You speak of forgiveness. There are many threads here about forgiveness. For most of us, it means the lack of a desire to extract revenge. From what I hear, you've long since forgiven her. You can forgive her, and divorce her. They are not mutually exclusive. And you can even reconcile with her and divorce her. In fact, regardless whether you divorce, you'll be in one anothers' lives for decades as co-parents. You have to achieve some version of reconciliation for the sake of your kids. Sometimes, the best version of reconciliation comes in that context: divorced co-parents.
People here have talked about actions versus words. You don't describe her actions much, so we can't comment on them. I will revisit, though, the oddness of her confession, as amplified by the oddness of her voluntarily self-recreated "NC" communication, complete with the "I love you" to the AP. In pop culture we see reference to the concept of "suicide by cop", a person at the end of his rope who engages in armed confrontation with police so he will be shot to death. To me, the nature and timing of her confession feels like a marriage/divorce version of this. This would explain why she told you, in a highly passive-aggressive way, that she is still in love with her AP.
I'm mindful of your repeated statement in many of your posts describing how your marital sex life has always been bad. She certainly knows that you don't enjoy the sex with her. It can't possibly feel good for her to be your wife, your only source of sex, knowing that it's a disappointment and letdown every time. That dynamic will eventually crush her spirit. I reckon her A was driven by a desire to feel lusted for, even just once. I reckon her confession to you, and her admission that she loves the AP, is a gambit to push you away, so that you will go find a compatible sex partner and stop blaming her for your sexual disappointment.
Hers is a massively dysfunctional response to that dynamic, by the way. A functional married partner would, for example, invest effort into being a better lover. Or talk about the sex dynamic. Perhaps seek counseling. I reckon she knows this and has considered the options before deciding that the option she would choose would be sex and love with another man. Actions speak. Maybe you should listen to her. Maybe you two are truly incompatible sexually. Maybe there is a depth of wisdom in her actions that speaks louder than her meek words. Rather than talking at her, rather than telling her, maybe it would benefit you to listen to what she is communicating to you.
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 4:09 PM, Friday, July 1st]