Welcome to this club nobody wants to be in but is probably the very best club to be in if you need to be here!
I am going to offer you some general advice, and some of it might sound counterproductive or even damaging. In all honesty it’s not – it’s all based on creating the BEST conditions possible to save your marriage (if that’s what you want) or at the very least for you to get out of infidelity.
Let me rephrase that: It’s actually not focused on saving your marriage NOR ending it. It’s based on getting YOU out of infidelity, and chances are your wife will follow you on that path – IF that’s what you want.
Let me start by stating that the only thing truly unique about your situation is that it’s your wife and your life. Accepting that her actions, your reactions etc. are "typical" also means that the advice offered here based on countless comparable cases will apply to your situation. For example: We will suggest you tell the other man’s wife (OMW), and you will probably think that’s counterproductive. Our collective experience though shows us that in 8-9 out of 10 instances this leads the OM to focus on saving his marriage and therefore more likely to end the affair. Our collective experience also tells us that if you do nothing then probably half the time the affair will start again.
Then there is the end-result. Many think it’s making the affair end.
The end-result should be that you don’t live in infidelity. There is a difference. Your wife could stop seeing OM, but pine for him or think with positivity to the affair-period. You don’t want that – you want that IF you remain married, she is there because she wants you.
To get that result where it’s clear if you or she want the marriage there are IMHO only two paths: You can reconcile or you can divorce.
There is a third path that I actually think too many people take, and that’s learning to live with the infidelity without ever really addressing it. That’s what your wife is trying to do now. She’s hoping that she can carry on life with you without ever having to make changes. She’s expecting you to be happy with her going to the next company party, office party or whatever despite OM being there. Even if they are no longer actively having an affair.
To divorce only one party needs to want divorce. To reconcile, both need to commit and want it. Right now, your wife doesn’t want to reconcile – she wants to live with inactive infidelity. To sweep the issues under the rug and hope they disappear. At best maybe find some reason as to why you or the marriage made her do this.
PLEASE avoid that result. Please work towards a place where either the marriage works through the infidelity, or the marriage ends. R or D.
I think this is important.
I think it’s important for you to realize that in so many ways your marriage as you knew it is over, and your next steps can determine how your marriage will be moving on.
With that long foreword:
This is like dealing with a fire. If your home was blazing, you wouldn’t be trying to fix things before you are 100% certain the flames are out. Right now, the affair might not be openly burning, but the embers are still there. There are actions you can take to increase your odds of the affair being over, but they undeniably come at an emotional cost. Just like dousing a fire with water might impact your flooring.
You should let the OMW know.
I mention common experience. Here on SI, I venture that in 8/10 instances letting the other spouse know helps cement the end of the affair. It makes the OMW aware, and she can then apply pressure on her husband to toe the line. Or not. Worst-case scenario is that it makes her leave him and he then pursues your wife. If that’s the case, and your wife choses him… well… better to know now than 2-3 years from now. When you tell the OMW you do so kindly, with no warning to OM or WW. She doesn’t have to believe; you don’t have to prove anything. Just tell her.
Your wife and OM working at the same place won’t work. Even if she is 100% honest about the affair being over. At the very least it will fill you with insecurity and worries. If your wife is going back to the work-environment after a long break, then relocating to another job shouldn’t be an issue.
What is their work relationship? Is he a supervisor or in a supervisor role? I ask because of the cost of their type of affair. Would HR be interested to know company expenses are being misused? Most companies have strict rules about fraternization – especially if a supervisor or manager has an affair with a subordinate. This could impact OM heavily.
Don’t think for a moment that others at the job didn’t know… They probably didn’t condone it, but even when the WS thinks they were so secretive then usually others have picked up on the "coincidences" of WW and OM leaving in separate cars for separate "appointments" and all that.
Be very aware of what you might be trying to save.
If it’s simply a relationship with your wife… don’t bother… It has to be a MARRIAGE with your wife.
With that in mind – what would be the absolute worst outcome from this?
If you are thinking that you divorce… think again…
IMHO the absolute worst outcome would be that 2-3 months from now you again discover your wife is scouting out "storage space" with a coworker. The worst outcome IMHO would be to think you are reconciling, when in fact she’s still cheating. In infidelity.
I think if you accept that this is the worst scenario it can give you the power and strength to take the actions needed to prevent it. Well… minimize it at least because IF your wife wants to cheat, she can and will.
With this in mind contemplate telling your wife something along these lines:
ife. I love you and have always envisioned us spending our lives together. However, I have realized that there is something worse than losing you and that maybe I already lost you when you decided to have an affair. What is worse is SHARING you. At the very best that’s what you are offering me now – that I share you with OM. You might not be seeing him as-is, but your mind is still there.
I don’t share my wife.
I would prefer you not being my wife to sharing you.
Therefore, I am giving you full acceptance that you go be with OM. I don’t want to force you to remain married to me, nor do I want to be married if you aren’t committed to US.
You can date him, be with him, move in with him, talk about him with your friends… whatever. But not as my wife.
You always had the option to do this right – to have talked to me and even divorced before deciding to have an affair, but you didn’t. I will be brave enough to do it for us.
I am initiating the steps to end our marriage. It’s a process and is both emotional and practical/legal steps. I’m starting the emotional detachment, the expectations of marriage and all that and will move on to the legal and practical as I gain strength to do so. There are laws and processes that will ensure the practical and legal process will be fair to both of us.
If you want this marriage and if you want to be my wife, you need to let me know in a very clear and unequivocal way. You would also have to show me with definite actions that you want this marriage. Without both (words and actions) I am simply assuming you have chosen your infidelity over us.
That’s it. No more discussion. The ball is now in her court and if she wants the marriage, she will be working her tail off to convince you otherwise.
You can control your pace – no need to file tomorrow or move out next weekend or whatever. You have stated your case and you can now evaluate her response and what she’s willing to do to save the marriage.
ChamomileTea gave some good advice about boundaries. Hard ultimatums are difficult because if you use them you need to be willing to stand by the consequences.
I talk about actions.
One action I suggest is that she quit her job.
You could say "If we are to remain married you have to quit your job."
You could say "You remain in proximity to the OM makes me wonder about the sincerity of your commitment to the marriage. His ongoing presence hurts me, and it impacts my belief that this will work. You are not convincing me that you are committed to us."
Other actions you should require:
A total honest timeline to the detail YOU need. Some need extreme details, other need an overview. It’s totally YOUR call.
Total transparency. You have access to her media, her schedule and so on. With time she can regain trust, but blind trust is gone forever.
She needs therapy.
With time – like maybe 2-4 months from now – you two go to MC.