Hello Mr. Max: I'm very sorry you find yourself here, but please know that in this place, you are among brothers. Most of us have endured some version of the Hell you are now living. We are here out of a place of kindness, and our goal is to try to help you avoid making the mistakes that we made and wish, in hindsight, we had avoided.
To that end, I hope you realize that you have already made a series of beginner errors. They are understandable and totally human, the kinds of errors many of us made. Mainly, your thread is a story line of a hapless husband who is attempting discussions with a WW under the assumption that she will engage with you in good faith, as a co-equal partner.
The cruelest lesson a newly minted BH must learn -- but you MUST absorb this -- is that the woman who now occupies the meatspace that was formerly occupied by your wife, she is NOT the woman you married. She is an alien invader. An avatar. Your former wife has allowed herself to be infused with a foreign mindset and controlled by this mindset. The woman next to you in your marriage: (a) regards you as an adversary, and (b) has become accustomed to lying to you, as a normal part of her discourse with you.
You would be best served by learning to view her as an adversary, and by assuming that most of what she tells you now about the cheating is a fabrication. If I can impress any one thing on you, this is it. Any strategizing you might do now, I guarantee she is three steps ahead of you. Therefore, engaging with her, attempting to reason, all of that is futile.
The goal here at SI is to get you out of infidelity. Where your WW is actively involved in cheating, your only choice is to get yourself a boat, point it away from infidelity, and row as hard and as fast as you can.
If your actual wife, the one buried somewhere deep inside beneath the outer layers of the cheating alien, has a strong enough desire to be with you and preserve your marriage, she will figure out a way to catch up with you and join you. If she doesn't do that, your marriage never had a chance and the sooner you get out, the better you will be.
To be frank, so far, everything you have described about your cheating wife suggests that there is currently no momentum toward reconciliation, at all. Zero. Please do not puff the hopium pipe. Hopium is the drug most abused by a newly minted BH. Every time she smiles with a hint of kindness, we take a puff. Avoid it. Her refusal to acknowledge the sheer monstrosity of what she has chosen to become. Her refusal to acknowledge the manner in which she has shat upon another wife's family. Her push-back against limits and conditions. Her waffling on whether she would do it again.
Mostly, though, her use of the "M-word": "Mistake." Cheating is not a mistake. A mistake is using baking soda instead of baking powder, or leaving your keys in your car in a public parking lot. Cheating is a choice. An intentional choice. Or, in the case of long-term repeat cheating like your wife's, thousands of individual choices, and thousands of lies by commission and omission, told to you, on purpose, with the specific intent of enabling her to carry on sexually with another man. She will give you some psychobabble about her childhood or such, maybe she will blather about how the sex was transactional to get validation, it's all BS. Bottom line: cheaters cheat because they want to cheat. She wants the thrill of illicit hotel sex with another man. Therefore, she decided that it is worth risking your emotional health and her intact marriage to get it. She is also risking your physical health. It's certain her sex with the AP was unprotected. I'd reckon she has also had unprotected sex with you. She could have transmitted a deadly STD to you (or, frankly, one of your children via kissing). One or both of them has spent family money paying for the hotel -- for adulterous sex. Let that sink in. They have forced unwitting spouses to foot the bill for their sex. All of those things have been the product of your wife's conscious intentional choice. Affair over family. Period, bottom line. Do you really wish to remain married to a person who would make that choice? Can you even like or respect such a person, never mind love her?
As a final matter, know this: your family will not be "destroyed" by this. You will always have your family. The only difference will be that the physical locus of the family may in the future be spread among two separate homes. But as long as you love your children, they will always know you as their daddy. Millions of children grow up with divorced parents and live to become healthy, functioning adults. The best thing you can do for your children is to model what a functioning, happy, productive life looks like.
One small but specific point in closing. Reach out to the OBW (the AP's wife) and tell her about the affair. It's the morally right thing to do. If she doesn't already know about it, she will likely thank you for telling her. It's quite possible she could be an ally in ferreting out the truth. Also, as an ancillary matter, exposure kills infidelity like turning on the lights scatters cockroaches. Some have found that this sort of cathartic exposure wakes up the actual spouse cowering inside the shell of the cheater and revivifies that person, gives the marriage a new breath of life.
When you do it, do NOT do it over FB Messenger, text, or email. The AP will be on high alert for this and will likely intercept your communication. You have to communicate directly. Find her on LinkedIn and phone her at work, or phone her at home when you know the AP is not home. Something like that.
And do NOT tell your WW in advance that you plan to do this. Good luck.
By the way, one other ancillary point:
You might say the past does not matter, and I should leave her NOW, but I’m deeply sorry about the potential death of 15yrs marriage and trying everything to desperately save it.
I would strongly urge you to Google and read about the Sunk Cost Fallacy
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 3:39 PM, Thursday, March 30th]