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I recently discovered TAM, while continuing to work on R and I was impressed by the useful advice on this forum. I will try to to make it as succinct as possible. D-Day was in late September, but I didn't realize the utility of online marriage forums, until I found TAM.

Background Facts: 1) Married 21 years.
2) First marriage for both of us.
3) Three kids, in college or post-college. None at home, except one for Covid sheltering.
4) Never had any real marital problems, very compatible. We have always been very close, solid and deeply in love. We receive compliments about our marriage, friendship, etc..
5) Wife likes to provide a "shoulder to cry on" to people in need. She would have made a great therapist in another life. She has several close divorced friends, but they tell her things like, "Does (insert my name) have a twin brother" and they always seem supportive of our marriage.
6) We both work reasonably close to home. No work required travel for her. Very occasional travel for me.
7) Wife is on Facebook, loves to text and talk on the phone. I am more private and don't participate in social media.
8) Wife is five years older than me. We are both in good physical shape and exercise, watch our diets, etc..
9) All in all, I have always considered us to be very fortunate.

What Happened:
Wife left iPhone unplugged in the kitchen at bedtime and asked me to go downstairs and plug it in. As I picked up the phone, a text from her grad school (31 yrs ago) boyfriend popped up, with the words "What R U doing?". I went upstairs and casually mentioned that I wasn't tired, so I was going to watch a mindless guy flick for a while. I checked the text thread and saw that they had been in communication for the past 11 months, but not intensely. They were headed for marriage long ago, but he broke up with her and it took her "4 to 5 years" in her own words to completely get over him. He has been divorced twice and lives with a long-time girlfriend. They were not Facebook friends, but he had looked at a few pictures and said that she looked great. They alluded to emails that had been sent back and forth from her work email address. Two months earlier, his mother had died and he had told my wife because she knew her many years ago. He said, "I wanted you to know, because I still care so much about you and want that connection". She responded with, "I wish I could hug you, so I am sending a virtual hug", followed by three heart emojis. She also sent a few face blowing kisses emojis, with a few kind words about his departed mother.

I decided to check our cell phone provider's call log, to see if they had been talking. We don't have a landline. I didn't find any phone calls to him, but I found a 64 minute and a 75 minute phone call to an unknown phone number. I then checked texts and found over 1,300 texts in the last 25 days to the same number. I reverse searched this mystery number and found a name in a far away state. She always stays logged into Facebook on our kitchen iMac, but she uses the Facebook app on her iPhone mostly. I checked his name on her Facebook friends list and found a message thread dating back 29 days. When I read the thread, I saw that it was a guy who she had met for only 4 days at a resort, during a vacation between high school and college (35 yrs ago). They talked about running around together, "smooching" and avoiding their parents. They exchanged about 150 FB messages before talking about continuing with texts, emails (she gave her work address) and phone calls. I checked her iPhone and found that all texts had been deleted, along with the call records of the two long phone calls. Her phone had less than 1% memory remaining, so DrFone and two other programs didn't work. She doesn't do iTunes back-ups and oddly, she didn't have an iCloud back-up either. I am fairly tech savvy, but so is she. He is married with grown kids (2nd marriage for both of them).

She was fast asleep (deep sleeper), so I worked through the night, playing the part of an amateur detective. I found a FB message thread to a guy from her high school class who she she dated just once, who was blatantly flirting with her. He is also married with grown children. He said thing like, "Saw your latest FB pics, you look so cute. Sweet dreams my sweet friend", "You look hot in that sweater", "We should have dated more in HS, but I figured that you didn't approve of bad boys like me". Their FB messages started 12 months earlier and most of his "sweet", "cute", "hot", "very cute" comments were from the first six months. He did say in the spring that he may be coming to our city for a short training course and he would "love to meet for lunch or dinner". My wife responded that, "lunch would be better". No mention of me and no mention of his wife. No further mention of a real life meeting, so it appeared that he didn't come to our city.

I prepared everything and confronted on what was fortunately a Saturday morning with everything, after I poured her a cup of freshly brewed coffee. God knows, I sure needed the caffeine. She began to cry and said some things that will sound very predictable to all of you.
1) "We are just friends". (Yeah, right)
2) "I only love you". (I hope so)
3) "You are younger and much better looking than any of these men". (Looks mean far less to women than men)
4) "I am so sorry". (Repeated through tears, endlessly)

I asked her to login to her work email, so I could read the emails. The emails from grad school boyfriend were permanently deleted, but end of summer resort friend were intact. They followed the usual script (somebody in an earlier thread laid out the progression from "their lives since they parted" onward). She said only good things about me, but mentioned that she was hiding the communication from me, since I wouldn't like it. She said, "I wouldn't be happy if old girlfriends of (my name) showed up". She didn't say anything romantic to him, but gave a couple of compliments. He is an now clean alcoholic, drug abuser, sex addict, who related his very twisted past. He mentioned orgies, drug dealing, college expulsion, etc.. He got his life together eventually and said that he had friend requested her to thank for being there all those years ago. But, he also went on and on about how beautiful, intelligent, kind, sweet, driven she was and how she was his perfect dream girl. He said that nobody (including his first wife) compared to her until he met his current wife, 17 years later. He also said several times on FB messenger and in the emails that he comes to our city "frequently" and he really, really needs to "see her face and look into her eyes".

Synopsis:
Man #1: Grad school boyfriend. First real love. She wanted to marry him, but he dumped her. Secret communication behind my back, but he seems very happy with his live in girlfriend. Wanted to let my wife know that "he still cares so much for her". He has been successful professionally, but divorced twice, with another child out of wedlock. Nothing sexual said and no stated plans to meet. Text communication and emails to her work address.
Man #2: Brief end of high school fun. Tracks her down on FB and loves bombs her. Nothing sexual said, but no man pours that much effort into only getting their ego stroked. Said many times, how his wife is so great, but can't seem to get enough of my wife. FB messenger, texts, phone calls and emails to her work address.
Man #3: One date in HS. FB friends, along with a large number of her HS classmates. Flirting from him to her, with her responding only a bit. Probably does this a lot, fishing for affairs.

I got a bit emotional briefly, then pulled my sleep deprived self together and told her what she needed to do for our marriage to survive.

1) No contact with all three of them. Unfriend the two that are on FB.
2) NC letter to #2, who was the bulk of the communication.
3) Full transparency from this point onward.
4) Told her if she had done anything like this in the past, now is the time to put her "cards on the table". She insisted that she was feeling lonely and vulnerable (she had a very serious illness earlier in the year, but she had an excellent recovery) and she enjoyed the attention and compliments. She swears that nothing every happened in the past.

We went to MC for three sessions, but I found that the therapist couldn't really tell me anything that wasn't common sense and my WW felt the same way.

The reason that I am here today.

1) Advice from people who have experienced similar situations. I read some threads that seem very familiar. Should I get a VAR for her car? She has returned to being the perfect wife, since that hellish night, but I am having problems returning to full trust.
2) Are they some things in the past 21 years that I should be thinking about? By that I mean potential red flags that I missed. I think that she was honest in the past and the Sept. 2018 to Sept. 2019 period was an anomaly, but I wonder. The MC did ask if I was a "suspicious person" and I responded that if I was, I would have figured everything out as soon as she started communicating with scumbag #1 in Sept. 2018. I guess that I am now a "suspicious person".
3) I want nothing other than to spend the rest of my life with the women that I love, but I will not hesitate to file for divorce if she ever does anything like this again. In her own words, "You have never given me a moment of doubt. I guess that I have failed you in that regard". She only gets one strike (although three pitchers were pitching).

Thank you in advance for your responses and advice.
 

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I'd say that you are off to a decent start.
I would say she undermined your trust, and it is incumbent upon her to earn it back.
When you confronted her, did she actually show true remorse? Did you come up with the criteria you listed, or did she?
It sounds like you are doing more work at things than she is.
I would get the two books mentioned on here: "How to Help your Spouse Recover from Your Affair" and "Not Just Friends." The books deal with rebuilding trust and boundaries. Sounds like she needs work on hers. She needs to take a more active role in repairing the damage she has done. Book #1 should be her template for how she is to accomplish that.
She also needs to give up social media, at least until trust is rebuilt, and she can demonstrate that she understand boundaries.
I'd also be concerned about the work e-mail piece, and she was willing to meet the one for lunch (apparently without talking to you.) She also seems to have a penchant for deleting evidence,as well. I would definitely VAR up her car, at least for the short term.
She needs to know that she is on the hot seat. She also needs some consequences, such as no FB, and spending less time texting and talking to whomever, and more time working on her relationship.
Hope this is of some help. Best of luck.
 

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So, ALL devices must be open to you at ANY TIME -- ask for the phone, she hands it over unlocked. Same for her work pc...
NO social media, period.
SHE needs to go to individual counseling to figure out WHY she allowed herself to do this and hide it from you -- VERY disrespectful of YOU and your marriage.
I agree with TDBO -- get those books.

VAR in the car isn't a bad idea (or anyplace she might have a phone call away from you...)
 

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Every spouse has a right to feel safe from infidelity. Your wife failed and has destroyed your trust. Now she much be proactive to rebuild your trust - but also to fix herself. She should be reading self help books and scheduling IC.

Note: experience shows her behavior is a slippery slope to a PA. Studies show that the brain reacts to texting the same as face to face contact (therefore, it's not harmless). Further, texting is addictive (especially old BFs from HS because it makes her feel young again). Testing stimulates the same parts of the brain as cocaine. Unfortunately, she may learn to text secretly.

Therefore, among other things, the consequence is no more 'friends' with the opposite sex.

All of us have personal issues, boredom, needing attention, disappointments, unmet needs etc – but she chose this inappropriate behavior vs other options. She needs to dig deep and fix what is broken inside her that would allow her to risk her marriage. Fixing herself is a process that will take years not days or weeks. Otherwise, she’ll repeat again.

Do not grant her the gift of a second chance immediately. Take your time (months) to decide. In the interim, she needs to believe you’re serious ready to divorce her (bluff if necessary), observe her actions (not promises) to rebuild trust and to make herself a safe partner.

What can SHE do now:

1) a written plan on how to rebuild your relationship including the steps she will take to make you feel loved (not just want you ask for).

2) documenting the ways she will make you feel safe in the relationship

3) make you feel desired

4) I’d want letters. Describing what you being married means to her. Describing how you must have felt when you learned about her inappropriate behavior. Why she loves you. Why (other than love) she wants to be with you.
If she wants you in her life she’d do it.

5) Id actually want to be flirted with. Insist she put as much effort into 'you' as she did with the texting.

6) ask her why she didn't shut down the communication when it became sexual. Ask what she was thinking when these men reached out, or she agreed to meet, and what was she thinking afterward when she saw you?
 

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You’ll never trust her 100% again — or you shouldn’t. You’ll always be suspicious going forward. I can tell you from experience that reconciliation is a difficult path. The only easy part, I found, was the decision to try. It takes years to rebuild a marriage and triggers can pop up any time. Sometimes, despite everything, reconciliation just doesn’t work. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones. I wish you the best.
 

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Two suggestions. First, turn on the icloud backups. Second, do a polygraph. Not just about this period, but about anything inappropriate throughout your whole marriage. You might just find that what you uncovered is a small part of the whole, or you might find that this was her first foray into infidelity and you caught it in time. If the latter it will go a long way to rebuilding trust, if the former you should probably re-think staying with her.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Tdbo: She seems very remorseful, but she insists that she didn't have an EA. She takes umbrage at the word "affair", since she correctly says that nothing sexual was discussed with any of the three men and she would never have a PA. It reminds me of someone trying crack cocaine and saying that they would NEVER get addicted. I have read "Not Just Friends" and I will get "How to Help.....". She will also read both books, once Covid sheltering child is back at college. I will have a look at the Sony VAR at Best Buy that everyone mentions. I appreciate your recommendations and feedback.

jlg07: I have access to all of her devices and I can access her work email if I have her phone, since they use 2 stage verification. I am a careful and methodical man and I am in full "vigilance mode", so if she were to try anything in the future, she would have to be very creative. I am 90% certain that she got the message that what she did was selfish, stupid and extremely dangerous. Old flames + social media = disaster. As far as counseling is concerned, I hadn't considered IC for her. I will look into it. Thanks for the advice.

Robert22205: I completely agree with you that she was on a path to at least one PA. I was just fortunate that I stumbled upon that first text from the old college flame. If it were not for my "dumb luck", things would have been much worse. I like the idea of a written plans and letters. She can find the time to put her thoughts about me and our marriage to ink. She insists that nothing was ever "sexual", although anybody over the age of 11 would realize that the words of man #2 and #3 were not innocent in nature. The old grad school boyfriend was grieving when he said the part about "still caring". He probably had the least intent but, potentially the strongest attraction for my wife, since he was her first real love. She said that she would have invited me to meet these "old friends" if and when they came to our city. I remain unconvinced. Thanks for the suggestions.


Openminded: I agree that my level of trust will never be the same. It is sort of like a loss of innocence, that just occurred after many years of marriage. I am trying not to rub her nose in it by talking, every time that I become triggered by something, since this will only cause resentment. Better to pick the time to use words sparingly for maximum effort. It agree with everyone that she needs to know that she crossed several lines and my love and loyalty cannot be taken for granted. In the words of Ronald Reagan, who ironically used the old Russian proverb, "Trust but verify". Thanks for your wisdom.
 

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As far as counseling is concerned, I hadn't considered IC for her. I will look into it.
You need to be very careful that it's not a counsellor who will "support" her in asserting her "right" to be friends secretly with anyone she wants to.

She seems very remorseful, but she insists that she didn't have an EA. She takes umbrage at the word "affair", since she correctly says that nothing sexual was discussed with any of the three men
To me, that is not the definition of an EA. An EA is where the third party becomes emotionally closer than the spouse; hopes, dreams, or life plans are discussed with the third party; criticisms of the spouse are discussed with the third party, and so on. Sex talk has nothing to do with it. If he hears more or before you do about her dream of becoming a good golfer / bridge player / cook / teacher / language speaker / mountaineer / whatever, then he's closer.

It can go one of two ways: she stops, or she gets much much more careful about concealment.
 

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Well, it appears you nipped this in the bud. And yes, it is really, really addictive to get compliments, especially from old flames. It makes you feel young and desirable as a 20-30 year old. So it does not surprise me at all that she kept at it, and kept all three going - it felt way too good. It's literally dopamine.

The real question is why did she start it in the first place. For this answer, she will need to dig very deep. Her job, not yours.

The "loss of innocence" is incredibly accurate. I felt the same way when my wife went this direction, though it was only with one person. However, they went much farther into full EA mode, professions of love, etc.

My advice to you is to put the onus on her to 1) prove her trustworthiness to you and 2) get some IC to get to the bottom of why she needed all of this.

As for #1, you need to tell her that you need this from her. She's already given you access to everything and that, my friend, is a huge start. Many women go the "that is too controlling" route, so this is a good sign she really wants to make this right. But make no mistake, you will think about this for YEARS. It takes a very long time to feel trust again. You'll wonder if she's using a new app, or has a burner phone, or if she's starting conversations with someone new. In your wife's case, this is likely not going to happen but you will wonder it all the same. She may ask you, "what can I do to earn your trust?" Honestly, the BEST thing will be for HER to get creative and come up with ways to prove her trustworthiness to you. I would answer that question with "It's up to you to figure that out." and see what she comes up with. If she is fully invested in earning your trust she will come up with creative ways to do that and that will be better than just following directions.
 

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Others here have given good advice. I'm just curious...how would you have felt if she had told you about these conversations. "Hey...so and so messaged me today that his Mom died. Are you okay with me answering and giving him some support?" or "So and so messaged me out of nowhere and this is what we chatted about." I have no issues with someone providing some support or checking in with someone that was once important to them but a spouse should know that is happening and have the opportunity to weigh in on their feelings about it.

She needs to know it's the secrecy that makes it not okay. Once you start taking the time to hide emails, texts, etc, it's on its way to an affair. End of story.

I'm sorry and I hope things work out for you.
 

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Tdbo: She seems very remorseful, but she insists that she didn't have an EA. She takes umbrage at the word "affair", since she correctly says that nothing sexual was discussed with any of the three men and she would never have a PA. It reminds me of someone trying crack cocaine and saying that they would NEVER get addicted. I have read "Not Just Friends" and I will get "How to Help.....". She will also read both books, once Covid sheltering child is back at college. I will have a look at the Sony VAR at Best Buy that everyone mentions. I appreciate your recommendations and feedback.

jlg07: I have access to all of her devices and I can access her work email if I have her phone, since they use 2 stage verification. I am a careful and methodical man and I am in full "vigilance mode", so if she were to try anything in the future, she would have to be very creative. I am 90% certain that she got the message that what she did was selfish, stupid and extremely dangerous. Old flames + social media = disaster. As far as counseling is concerned, I hadn't considered IC for her. I will look into it. Thanks for the advice.

Robert22205: I completely agree with you that she was on a path to at least one PA. I was just fortunate that I stumbled upon that first text from the old college flame. If it were not for my "dumb luck", things would have been much worse. I like the idea of a written plans and letters. She can find the time to put her thoughts about me and our marriage to ink. She insists that nothing was ever "sexual", although anybody over the age of 11 would realize that the words of man #2 and #3 were not innocent in nature. The old college boyfriend was grieving when he said the part about "still caring". He probably had the least intent but, potentially the strongest attraction for my wife, since he was her first real love. She said that she would have invited me to meet these "old friends" if and when they came to our city. I remain unconvinced. Thanks for the suggestions.


Openminded: I agree that my level of trust will never be the same. It is sort of like a loss of innocence, that just occurred after many years of marriage. I am trying not to rub her nose in it by talking, every time that I become triggered by something, since this will only cause resentment. Better to pick the time to use words sparingly for maximum effort. It agree with everyone that she needs to know that she crossed several lines and my love and loyalty cannot be taken for granted. In the words of Ronald Reagan, who ironically used the old Russian proverb, "Trust but verify". Thanks for your wisdom.
Of course, she insists she didn't have an EA, because she is minimizing.
From what I've read, she would have had an EA (and a case could be made that she did), and possibly even a PA with the one she was going to have "Lunch" with.
I by no means suggest that this be a marriage ending event, but she needs to be clear of the gravity of the situation, and it needs to be made clear to her that it is incumbent upon her to restore trust and make you feel safe in your marriage. Whatever you do, do not allow her to minimize things and rugsweep it. Hold her accountable.
If she questions the word "Affair," ask her what she would call it if you hooked up with three former honeys on social media, including "The one that got away" and were talking about a number of items that were at best questionable; and in addition to that, planned to go to lunch with one of them? Also ask her if it was so innocent, how come she said that she would have a problem with it if you did the same thing? Point out the double standard she put in her own words.
She made this mess. Stop worrying about her becoming resentful. The only thing she should be worrying about is saving her marriage. She needs to do some serious work. Tell her she may be looking at 3-5 years to repair the damage, and even then, your marriage and trust for her may not fully recover.
I think I'll add a couple of other things to consider. If she goes to IC it must be with a counselor specializing in infidelity.
You should go about the process of vetting options, and present her with two (both Male) She can pick either. You get the opportunity to brief them yourself, and she signs off on you receiving regular updates from the counselor. If she balks, point out about the trust issues and your conditions are non-negotiable.
After reading about her response, I think you may need to up the ante. Tell her you expect a full timeline of the events that occurred, subject to polygraph. You can decide if and when she gets one, but I think that she needs to have the crap scared out of her, and I'm not really sure you are getting the entire story.
Something else, just for you. You need to read "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Glover. Here is a pdf of it:

 

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1300 texts? Yes, she’s already had at least one emotional affair.
She’s been talking/flirting with three men behind your back... neck, apparently she will talk to any man that comes along.

I don’t know what to say, other than this: Eventually a local man is going to tell her all the right stuff, and she will run off with him and drop you like a ton of Bricks.

I think you know this. You can try to work things out, but to ever feel secure in your relationship—- probably will never happen.

the only positive thing I can say is this: your wife did say “lunch would be better”. That’s her basically telling him she’s not jumping in bed. And she didn’t send pictures or really go into sexual bs with them. Nobody is perfect. And nobody has a partner that is totally resistant to old flames texting.

1300 texts though? That crap is just as damaging to her feelings for you as having sex with him.

I would wonder if she really cared for you like she once did, or is just fearful of protecting her security.

this is a hard one.
 

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I wouldn't do a VAR. If **** goes sideways, this is going to be a flashing red flag for any therapist that you're the problem. And I wouldn't do a poly, because the answers are meaningless and if you need a poly to tell you if you should trust your wife, then you know the relationship is already dead. This is only good for parking lot confessions.

What I would do instead:
1. transparency on all accounts, turn on icloud backups, and do regular hard backups too.
2. focus on your changes for your best interests. Don't play into the 'lonely and vulnerable' bs. She could have told you that, and I presume she didn't. Instead, do the opposite. Radical self-improvement. Pursue your own interests. Disengage a bit in the relationship. Let her know that you will be just fine without her.
3. You're now free to start engaging in chats with your ex's and other females. Make sure she understand that. That alone changed the conversation with my wife when she was doing similar things.
4. If she is in touch with these guys again, and she hides it or plays into it, you're done. Like immediately she moves out done. I went as far as getting a realtor to estimate the value of our house to make it real to my wife that our life was going to change.

Here's the biggest thing. You're never going to trust her the same way, and you shouldn't. You need to be open to her rebuilding that trust to reconcile, but don't get trapped in the 'you don't trust me' game. But don't overplay that hand. Don't do ultimatums or other controlling behaviours. All that will be used against you long-term. Instead of ultimatums like "If you do X I'm going to leave," say things like "I don't want to be married to someone that does X."

Good luck to you.
 

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I don't believe a counselor can ethically agree to this. (But may be different in your jurisdiction).
They can if she signs a waiver.
My wife can receive medical info about me and vice versa.
I would assume if it could be done in a medical setting, it could be done with the proper documentation.
There have been cases noted on this forum that the other spouse has received updates.
That's actually where I got the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nucking: I turned on the iCloud backups and made a few "Settings" changes to her iPhone in the first week after D-Day. Her phone now records her frequent locations. I think of a polygraph as the "Nuclear Option" and I am watching her very carefully and digging in the past. I found a box of her photos that she took just before and while we were dating. Nothing suspicious. I also found a diary from when our first two children were very young. Only good things in there. I know that some people might think that reading a diary is inappropriate, but everybody on this forum knows that I have a right to full transparency. If I find red flags in the past or in the future, a polygraph might be useful.

Laurentium: Good point. Some ICs might backfire and convince her that it was all my fault. I will always know that she had EAs, she just doesn't want to openly admit it, but she knows the truth. I guess that it becomes an argument over semantics and I am picking my battles carefully. Man #2 seemed very practiced in the emails that I read and he was working on her by talking about dreams, what could have been, etc.. I would guess that my wife was not his first intended affair. Some men make a pastime of seducing married women. If she gets more careful about concealment, the eyes of the hawk are on her.

Gabriel: I went from knowing very little about EAs to a reasonable level of knowledge and I was shocked by the power of old flames. She can bring the fantasy of youth and freedom from adult responsibilities. She responded to grad school boyfriend with, "Thanks for the sweet email. I know in our minds we will always be young and running around Boston with the rest of our friends". There is nothing like nostalgia and a longing for lost youth. I think her serious illness (all healthy now) started her desire to reconnect with her past. Mortality and all. I am letting her prove her trustworthiness and so far, so good, but I will sleep "with one eye open", so to speak. I am going to suggest IC to her. About a month after D-Day, I did a search for a burner phone and found nothing. I checked her car and all of her favorite places in our house. She is not as careful as me as far as putting things back in their proper place, so I think if she was physically hiding something, she would eventually slip up.

notmyjamie: I would not have had a problem if she had been honest with me, instead of immediately following the deceptive path. I would have had a problem with 1,300 texts, but the intensity would not have occurred if there was transparency. She keeps in contact with several male former colleagues and I know them and they always give their best to me and our children. One of the first things that she said on D-Day was, "I have lots of male friends". I responded, "Do they call you "hot" and do you delete their texts?". The secrecy changes the context of everything.

Tdbo: When I pointed our the double standard on D-Day, she looked down and said "I am sorry" through tears. She knows that she was being hypocritical and even said it to man #2. There is a small part of me that would love to have her get a taste of her own medicine, but that would be immature and destructive. I would rather have my good marriage back than get the satisfaction of revenge. Thanks for the "No More Mr. Nice Guy" PDF and the suggestion of a male IC. I hope that they didn't date in the past (just kidding, couldn't resist the cheap shot).

Evinrude58: I wonder too if she is afraid of losing me or just afraid of losing all the good things that came with our marriage. She would definitely be mortified by the social sham that full exposure would bring. Speaking of exposure, I considered printing everything that I had from man #2 and #3 and having couriers deliver them to their respective wives. My concern would be hurting the rest of their families. I am balancing my desire for their wives to know (and they may already know and allow their husbands to pursue women online) with my reluctance to harm other people. Their children and in one case, grandchildren are innocent. If men #2 and #3 are really what I think they are, their wives already know all about them and are staying for security or blind devotion.

Marduk: Great to hear from the "Great White North". I have many relatives in Canada and we visit annually to enjoy the nice cool Canadian summers. She did play the vulnerable card with respect to her illness. I believe that I supported her well throughout the hospital visits, doctor appointments, etc., but I had my own life to attend to and I am not a natural nurturer. She knows that we divorced, it wouldn't be the end of my life. She even said, jokingly, "Some of friends would want to date you". I don't have any interest in connecting with my old flames, but she knows that there are plenty of single women my age. I let her know in no uncertain terms that "If you ever do this again, our marriage is over". I agree that constant threats and ultimatums don't work, so I only said it once. She also told her that my trust will never be exactly the same, but it is up to her to build my trust back.

MattMatt: Definitely. I didn't do anything wrong and this is her responsibility. Of course, over time marriages can get stale and predictable. We can't be married for 21 years and have every day feel like our first month of dating. Part of the allure of "old flames" is that they bring back the fantasy of old dating magic, along with youth and perfect health. We have both been making extra efforts to make life more special for each other.

Thanks to everyone and have a great long week-end for those of you who are in the US.
 

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I considered printing everything that I had from man #2 and #3 and having couriers deliver them to their respective wives. My concern would be hurting the rest of their families. I am balancing my desire for their wives to know (and they may already know and allow their husbands to pursue women online) with my reluctance to harm other people.

I suggest you notify the other betrayed spouses.

1 – experience shows that nothing kills an affair like exposure. Cheaters (EA or PA, or those that refuse to label themselves) thrive in the dark.

2 – your best ally against further inappropriate contact is their wives.

3 – I felt the same way (he was a church deacon). Initially, virtually every betrayed spouse has the same concern that you voiced. There’s another forum (surviving infidelity) where this topic is repeatedly raised and thoroughly discussed. Read up on it for yourself (they all shared your concern) but 99% are glad they notified the OBS.

Why? Afterwards the betrayed spouse feels an unexpected huge sense of relief. They felt like silence made them a co-conspirator.

They also later found that the OBS didn’t know about the cheating but did observe their spouse distancing themselves and being short tempered - but thought it was their fault and blamed themselves for an unhappy spouse while in fact the OBS was competing with the attention your wife gave him (and didn’t know it).

Your wife’s male friends have already damaged their marriage, wife, and kids by focusing time and energy outside the family. Blowing the whistle is doing them a favor to fix their marriage and focus on their family.

4 – Finally, do not notify your wife in advance of notifying the OBS. Why? she may warn them and they will intercept the mail, discredit you or attempt to minimize their texting as harmless.

Also, if she later challenges you for notifying her boyfriends, then you know she’s still in contact with them. Plus, if she challenges you (i.e., she’s protective of her boyfriends) then it’s evidence that the relationship was not harmless.
 

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Oh yeah! A lot of them start just about this way. There are lots of ways people communicate covertly, so look for something. She's getting kibbles and likes it. I vote that she's got a secret one somewhere.
 
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