So drawing a boundary with her (not about her appearance of course) about her phone usage, sharing her passwords, reddit posts, etc. would cause her to get angry? You think she will tell you No? Would she go so far as to move out? Get a lawyer? Do you feel she is already one step out the door and fine with divorce?
Let's assume that's true. Based on what we see here over and over, you can try to tolerate it and not draw a boundary. But it will eat you alive--depression, anxiety, insomnia, physical ailments. Read the book The Body Keeps the Score. We really cannot tolerate the intolerable without paying a high price. It's too traumatic.
That leaves you with taking tolerable action, things that make you feel you are not simply allowing this and are instead addressing it at your own pace.
Investigative and information gathering steps (to prove what she is doing):
Voice activated recorder hidden in her car or at home to see who she is talking to.
Tracker hidden on her car to see where she is going.
Checking the cell phone bill over the last few months to look for multiple texts or long calls to an unknown or repetitive number.
Hire a private detective to watch her when she goes out.
Scrutinize credit card statements for hotel charges, etc.
Soft 180 (distancing yourself) or hard 180 (completely detaching from her where you can)--to stop humiliating yourself by chasing someone who is emotionally abusing you:
Planning and eating some or all of your own meals.
Taking care of your own needs and not the needs of your cheating spouse.
No favors ("Sorry, I'm busy.")
No longer checking with the cheater, chatting with the cheater, or sharing your daily ups and downs with the cheater.
Finding your own hobbies and recreations to pursue (be busy and unavailable).
Arranging nights out with friends that don't include her.
Doing things with the kids by yourself.
Watching tv in a different room.
Withdrawing your 1/2 of the couple just like the cheater has been doing in their own way.
The purpose of investigating is obvious. The purpose of the 180 is to gather your dignity and strength instead of begging, begging, begging which not only does NOT get someone to love you (pity is not romantic or magnetic), but begging and chasing also feels humiliating and degrading! We hate ourselves for clinging to someone that is kicking us in the head! The 180 in any and all of its appropriate forms gives us a modicum of self-respect as we gather our thoughts and absorb our new reality. (Occasionally the change to the marital dymanic is the wake up call the cheater needs, but often it is not. The 180 is done for us, to detach from a painful relationship while we figure out how to proceed.)
A few additional questions:
1. Do family members know what she is doing? Have you told anyone or gotten support? Letting her live in her fantasy world is not helpful. Consider bringing some reality to her life by informing others so that you can get support and intervention.
2. Is she leaving the house? Meeting these other men? Are you concerned with hook ups and STDs?
3. Are you two still sexually active? Or is she shutting you out completely?
4. Is this impacting your kids? Do they see her on her phone constantly and know what she's doing? Does that make you angry?
It does feel like she's in a midlife crisis, but the reason is neither here nor there. Some people do not come back to reality from a midlife crisis unfortunately. Cheaters always find their reasons, so try not to minimize the seriousness and think you can wait this out. It will take a huge toll on you.
I would not say that all hope is lost, but you have to try to understand something: you cannot fix this. I know you want to, but pretend she has any other "illness." You didn't cause the Lupus, the Cancer, the Diabetes, and you cannot fix it or make her "well" again. All you can do is try to think and act as clearly and smartly as possible and cross your fingers. It's on her. No amount of waiting, not acting, nicing, talking, or supporting will make her wake up to the hurt she is causing. Your behavior did not influence her (we're all boring after a couple of decades! You didn't cheat, did you? Ok then). And your behavior cannot make her come back.
Read some books.
Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Anderson
Not Just Friends by Glass
The Body Keeps the Score by Van der Kolk
Keep active. Eat healthy.
Find a good therapist to talk honestly with.
Spend time in nature. Spend fun time with your kids.
Refocus on you because you matter. Be good, kind, and loving to yourself by treating yourself well and not blaming yourself needlessly.
Good luck to you.
[This message edited by OwningItNow at 4:30 PM, Tuesday, September 6th]