Nobody seems like they are truly happy. I don't get the sense anyone has achieved R, rebuilt this amazing new marriage and are happier than before dday or even truly happy period, which I occsionally read in the reconciliation forum. Maybe success stories aren't posting in this thread anymore or maybe the LTA steals that possibility from us? I hope not.
Well, if it helps, I am one of them. I sometimes feel like a lone voice and often wonder if I'm posting enough, too much, in the wrong forum, etc. But I think that it's important that people see that reconciliation CAN happen - even in my unusual situation of being a guy, having a wife who had a 3 year affair, got pregnant by the OM (terminated), and took my daughter on vacation with the OM and his family (yup). So... my sitch is pretty ugly - and, yet, here I am.
The bad: You never get "over" an affair, especially a LTA. Someone posted here many years ago that affairs are like something you pass in your car. You will always see them in the rear view mirror but they get smaller and smaller as you get further along down the road. 6+ years out and, yes, I do still think about it. Sometimes daily. Almost always in fleeting moments. It never consumes me. I don't get upset about any aspect of the affair. I no longer wish to beat the shit out of the OM or contact his almost-18 year old children. But it's still "there." I assume, at this point, that it always will be.
The good: My wife is a new person. In almost every way she has stepped up. However, and this is important to hear, at first she didn't know "how." I say this a lot - a WS doesn't get into an affair and, during that time, start doing counseling and reading books about how to recover once the affair is discovered. We want our WS to spin around on a dime and do all the hard work - but that isn't realistic. It takes a long time for a WS to understand the true consequences of his/her actions... and to begin acting in a way that is TRULY remorseful. At this point my wife has changed so much from her former self - in particular, from during her affair - that one cannot help to recognize why I'm still in the marriage.
The lesson: I have learned so many valuable things about myself and about relationships over these past 6 years. First off, I've come to realize that a BS and a WS have to make a decision to stay. That's paramount. It can't just because it's easier or the financial stuff is better without divorcing - it needs to be a mutual decision to commit to the marriage. Then, in my humble opinion, it is the BS who has to work through the affair and recognize that it actually IS over - and it's time to work. Once THAT occurs then the marriage can progress to a wonderful new place.
Unfortunately, so many people do not TRULY reconcile... they just "reconcile." What do I mean by that? It's easy to stay together. Just decide that the affair is over and move forward. The only problem is that you return to the same shitty dynamics that were present BEFORE the affair. Why do this? Why put yourself in the same boat... only this time with the knowledge of their having been an AP???
So don't! Think about what it is that you NEED to be happy - to have a really rocking marriage. More communication? More compassion? More sex? More fun? Then... COMMUNICATE this to your spouse. And I don't mean that you make a small comment before a tv show. Tell your spouse to sit down at the kitchen table and make sure that he understands the gravity of the conversation. Then... tell him. Directly and forcefully. "Honey, I love you... but if you don't start telling me when you're going to be late to work, the marriage is over." Or whatever. Make sure that your spouse KNOWS.
Then... follow through. Don't stay in a marriage with shitty dynamics if your spouse is unable to be the type of partner you need! Period.
Look, after my wife's affair, I needed her to be more sexual. I simply couldn't handle the mind movies and the sadness that came with her having given that to him. So I finally laid down the law... this is how you're going to be - or the marriage is over. She didn't HAVE to, of course. But you want to know what she discovered? That when I was getting this from her... I was a million times happier. The pain subsided. I stopped treating her poorly. And that made HER happier. Which made her want to reinforce this again.
Long term affairs are really tough to get over. But, as I often say, if you're going to go for it - then go for it! Lay down what you need - make it perfectly clear. Crystal clear. Be ready to leave the marriage if need be. But you and your spouse need to make the marriage the priority... or not bother. So do it.
I am a million times happier than I was pre-Affair. My marriage is a million times better. I hate the affair - don't get me wrong. But I do recognize that it was a wake up call for my wife to start working harder (and, in fairness, for me to be a better husband).
It can be done. Each of you can have it - but only if you BOTH are ready to fight for it. Is your spouse ready? Are you?