Hi friend and welcome to the best club nobody wants to join.
Going to divide my suggestions into two categories:
First of all: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. After d-day we tend to fall into self-destructive patterns. Do things like mope, not eat, remain constantly in our pain…
Chances are others will chime in with great advice but it is of pan-importance for you to make sure your body is getting the required energy to deal with the issues. Not hungry? Get sport-shakes, protein drinks and fruits. Blend a banana with some milk/water and chocolate protein… heck – eating a burger and a shake will do you more good than starving. You NEED energy because you are going to be burning it like crazy.
Take time to exercise. No need to run five miles: a 20 minute walk will do fine. Just get out there and breathe fresh air, lift some weights, punch a bag, ride a bicycle… whatever…
Second: I think we get so f@cked up when dealing with infidelity because we have never envisioned being in this situation.
Now imagine that you aren’t dealing with infidelity. Instead imagine you wake up one night because of a high piercing sound. So you think that it might be the smoke detectors. You might HOPE it’s the smoke detectors in the next house but you would be a world-class fool to roll over and try to sleep. At least check. So you open your eyes and smell smoke…
Would you weight the pro’s and cons of phoning the fire-brigade? After all their heavy boots might ruin the floor and the water they use wreck the walls…
If you are semi-normal you would be jumping out of bed, waking the family, making sure the kids are safe and hustling ASAP out the door or window or whatever. Making sure that someone is dialing 911. Evaluating whether everyone is out, evaluating if you can kill the flame, saving valuables…
Even if it was a small fire in the side-room… You wouldn’t get it under control and then go get a cup of tea knowing there MIGHT be an ember. You would stomp it out, douse it with water, tear up the floorboards… You would make sure your house was SAFE.
Get it? See what I’m trying to say? The house – it’s your family and marriage. The fire – it’s your wife’s infidelity. It requires constant work until you have saved what you can and possibly killed the infidelity/fire. Sometimes houses can’t be saved. Sometimes someone is left in the fire. At that point you can’t really stop and wish it hadn’t happened. It did. It’s reality. So you move on and find a new house to build.
Often the house is damaged but can be fixed. But once again – it’s no use dialing 911 and then directly a contractor to start fixing the damaged stuff. Your priorities should be save those that can get out, save valuables, try to save the house and then evaluate whether to fix or find something new.
IMHO reality is the best cure for infidelity. Your WW needs a dose of reality. Her comments about the kids… that shows a total lack of reality.
I think it’s a very powerful moment when a BH realizes that the worst outcome of what he is dealing with is NOT losing his wife. The worst outcome has to be that she continues in the affair. That she doesn’t commit to the marriage.
I think that powerful moment is best utilized in telling your wife something like:
“Wife. I love you and I think we and our children deserve that we try to work our way through the infidelity. I realize it will require immense work from both of us and I am willing to commit to that. However I also know that losing you is NOT the worst thing that can happen to me. In fact I lost you the moment you decided to have an affair. The ABSOLUTE WORST outcome of this situation would be to continue living in infidelity.
Either you are in the marriage or you are not. There is no in-between.
While you are seeing OM and having an affair I have already lost you. I am therefore assuming the marriage is over and will act with the intent of going through the process of terminating it. There’s no rush. We can do this like civilized people. It won’t happen overnight and as I have stated I am willing to commit to the marriage. But I can’t save it alone and until you clearly and vocally state that you are willing to work towards reconciliation then the only honest and healthy thing I can do is move on”
And then you basically just do that.
You talk to an attorney. You get your latest tax records. You go over your debts and assets. You start listing major possessions in the house.
You do NOT talk to WW about marriage issues. It’s like trying to negotiate with the flames.
You do not talk to WW about the divorce process. Simply say “This is not what I want but it’s my only option. I am afraid that I am too emotionally attached to the marriage so at the RIGHT time we will have an attorney or mediator go over these issues with us”.
You do not engage in arguments.
You simply live your life, doing the 180 and act as determined and content as you can. Sort of like someone that simply knows that the hard path he is walking is the only one out.
Your sense of determination will confuse your wife.
Once you tackle this like the cancer it really is then reality sets in.
For example: Why are YOU leaving the house? Why not tell her to move in to OM’s condo so you can remain in the house? After all – that is economically the best solution for both of you. (BTW – check with an attorney if infidelity in any way impacts divorce – doubt it but check anyway).
Can you two afford two households?
Is it a given that she gets prime custody?
Have you discussed finances while separate?
It’s an extremely common misconception with WW that the BH will simply leave and live in a single-room apartment eating noodles for all meals. Come over on Sundays to clean the gutters, mow the lawn and shoot the breeze with his new friend the OM (who conveniently is wearing BH old bathrobe). Reality is totally different: Three years from now you and WW will hopefully have a good co-parenting relationship but it won’t be joint Thanksgivings or shopping for coats together. Divorce is the process of minimizing interaction between two people that can’t live together – it’s not an alternative marriage.
Friend – You have been placed in a terrible situation. But you have a lot of control. It’s totally up to you to take control of your situation and deal with it within the reality you are being offered. That might require letting your wife go, but it also might lead to her coming back into the marriage.