My mom was the OW in a LTA. The affair was on and off for most of my childhood. I got the impression that his wife was cold, controlling and only interested in appearances; that as long as she wasn't publicly humiliated she didn't care what went on. I used to wonder why he didn't just divorce her if he was so unhappy. Then he and my mom could be happy together. And not in a snarky way, I truly wondered. I was a kid. It seemed simple.
Eventually SHE divorced HIM (guess she had enough of his shit). And he and my mom embarked on a nearly twenty year relationship of epic fucked-up-ness. For one thing, he was a raging alcoholic. For another, he was a vet with untreated PTSD. And oh yeah...he started cheating on my mom, once she was THE woman. The "other woman" position was vacant, see.
I have a good relationship with my mom. In so many ways she is a wonderful, kind person. She busted her ass to raise my sister and me to be decent human beings and to have a stable life. We always knew we were loved, and that we could count on her for anything. She is the only grandparent that my kids really know (my dad doesn't care, FIL is dead, and MIL lives far away).
But...she was an OW. She justified this to herself.
She didn't have a dad...I mean, she did, but he was a waste of space. He was a violent drunk who cheated on my grandma and ran off with his stripper whore when my mom was in middle school. He pretty much abandoned her emotionally. I met him once, and I was twelve when he died. He just didn't care.
My dad is much the same. He wasn't as mean to me but he really isn't interested in me or my life. And I also thought affairs were no big deal. I'm thinking there is something here; both in what I saw growing up and the dad thing. I've noticed that a lot of women who become OWs have dad issues.
Finally, remorseful former OW/WW's have my utmost respect but the unremorseful ones, the ones who keep headbutting the same brick walls and scream at anyone who suggests they stop, make me so angry. Like, blood boiling rage angry. I'm ruminating on this, but maybe a fresh eye?