I’m so sorry.
You are a little naive. That’s not meant to insult you or belittle you. It’s meant to start from a baseline of reality.
It’s totally understandable why you want to try one more time as you have a life time and a family to lose. You’re not weak for that.
Unfortunately some of the things you are going to have to do will push her away. There is just no way out of that.
You can still fight for the marriage but you need to protect yourself.
You need to talk to a lawyer. You don’t have to file for divorce. You need to know what divorce will look like and what steps you can take to protect yourself. You can do this on your own as just info gathering.
I'm not sure your goal is to 100% fight for the marriage because she seems to want out of it a lot and seems to lose all caring about you at times.
She has to really want it this time as there are going to be permanent consequences that will never go completely away. She couldn’t handle bad times before and now there will be lots of bad times going forward and a lot of hard work needed.
Is she really up for it.
That’s the ironic thing about affairs. Whatever was wrong before take even more work to fix than before and may make her want an escape even more.
Sometimes it is easier to start with someone new as there is no baggage of hurt lies and betrayal.
Your kids will not be there forever. When they are gone that’s when the real midlife crisis will begin. Is she gonna want to be there to go through the next stage of life with just you.
As for you there will also be permanent consequences. You can never blind trust again. You will always sleep with one eye open. There will always be some resentment especially if she does not put in the work.
I highly recommend the book "not just friends" besides the obvious information in the title it also describes a concept called "walls and windows" there needs to be no more secrets between you.
She can never truly open up and return to the marriage as long as she is holding onto secrets.
You need to know everything. Once and for all. No more secrets.
You can read it with her but I recommend you read it yourself first for sure.
I want to address some things you said but the overall point is you need to take charge of this recovery. She needs to put in the work but you need to set the direction.
She seems to keep trying to date. You are in a long term stable marriage and she wants to keep experiencing the excitement and thrills of a new love. What if this new guy had paid attention to her would she still want this marriage.
This is what you need to be talking about first because if she wants to keep dating then this marriage has to end. She 40 so I assume you are around the same age.
It’s not fair to both of you to keep you trapped in a marriage for the kids. If she is not up for it then the loving thing for both of you is to separate so you both can start rebuilding your lives. It’s not going to be any easier if this happens again 2 or 4 years down the road.
If she really wants it then it’s time to rip the band aid off and go through everything now.
One thing is you cannot believe anything she says. You need to be skeptical of everything. It sounds like she has a combination of lying (she’s been lying to you for so long it’s become a habit) and she probably is so messed up she does not really know the truth.
I’m glad you are getting all the counseling going. Just make sure the marriage counselor doesn’t put too much blame on you and the first priority with them is making sure she wants this marriage.
First an easy one. Tell that man’s wife immediately. Your daughter will find out if you divorce. Get all the pain out there now.
You cannot trust her and you need to make sure the affair is truly over. One of the best ways is to tell his wife so she can lay the hammer down on him. Also she may uncover more information and let you know of your wife is still lying.
Also you need to move. I know finances are hard but for your own healing you cannot see that man or his family in any way. What if your daughters become friends with them in some way again? That can’t happen. No one from your family can have any contact with any one from their family ever again.
Seeing them regularly and living so close will always trigger you and keep you on edge. Also it increases the likelihood they will have contact again.
If could take a while to make preparations while you are working to see if she really wants the marriage. if it does not work out you can move by yourself and have a fresh start or she can move with you and you can have a fresh start together.
What did you mean about having PTSD from your job and your behavior during that period?
You did not have PTSD from that job. You have it now. When a soldier gets PTSD first thing they do is remove them from the battlefield. That’s why you need to move.
Other posters gave you some good advice about boundaries as well as the depression and mental issues.
I want to second if she threatens to kill herself again check her into treatment.
There will always be unlimited access to her phone, email and whatever the hell else you want. That never goes away.
I would put some tracker on her phone without telling her. A little fail safe just in case. Maybe a tracker on her car. If it’s hers fully you may need to tell her your doing it. ask a lawyer.
But here is another boundary that will never go away.
No more male friends.
Your wife does not have male friends. She openly dates. She cannot handle it. That means she can never end up alone with another man on a phone, social media chat, email, no male friend request. Nothing.
Next dad that wants to talk about the kids can call you. It has to be that way.
You will have to play marriage police but she can make that much easier by accepting the consequences of her actions. If she really wants this marriage then she should understand that not only can you not trust her she cannot trust herself.
She did not just fall and find herself in an affair. She knew he wanted her and she just kept letting it happen. Just like when an ex boyfriend reached out she knew he wanted sex.
Men contact your wife for sex not friendship.
As for being emotionally numb. She has definitely been numb. To you. But she was crying over this guy and drinking that’s how you caught her. So she had feelings for him.
She had a relationship with him and he was pulling back. That’s why (if she is telling the truth) she was breaking it off with him. Not concern over you. She needs to come clean with that and that’s something she needs to address with you and in therapy.
She was in a relationship with a bad boy just like a 16 year old. Nothing special about that story. You were the one she had no feelings for. That’s not meant to hurt you. it harsh but has to be dealt with.
Your wife seems to be an emotion junkie.
It’s hard to tell if the new drug is why she seems better or if it’s because she had a bad break up with her boyfriend and was about to lose her husband and life at the same time.
Hopefully that was the wake-up call she needed.
You’re trying everything to come up with reasons that explain everything. Be careful with the jargon you’re researching. She wasn’t having a mid life crisis for over a decade.
The main point is to figure out why she keeps doing this. If she does not really want this marriage then separating sooner than later is best. For both of you.
During this time also you need to work on your health and fitness. Also I would update your wardrobe. Being healthier and more attractive might scare her a little but being more attractive is a good thing. Especially for your self esteem.
I’m so sorry. Others will give you better advice about how to handle the details but your story made me sad.
Be careful. I hope she really does come to her senses and your relationship heals.
I wish you the best.