One suggestion: Go to your profile from the drop-down menu on the front-page and edit your signature. It’s a generic-enough one and IMHO doesn’t risk much anonymity, but nor does the present signature give you any benefit.
How long will this hurt?
Some say forever and in many ways that’s true. In my instance I left my then-relationship and even now, decades later, I feel more sadness about THAT relationship than joy. Yet… probably most days of that relationship were joy and good. The only REALLY bad day was that last day – the day I walked in on her with another man having sex. So yes – you will probably have a sense of sadness that this happened for life. But… you could eventually counter that with a sense of achievement for having overcome this within your marriage and to be happy and content with your wife maybe 3-30 years from now. It’s like this – maybe 40 years from now you two might be reclining on the porch and you look over and think "Thank God we stayed married – despite the affair" and at the same time she’s thinking "Thank God he didn’t leave me – despite the affair".
Regarding the recording… In some ways it’s a blessing. It prevents minimizing or refusal. Reality is what reality is.
I have a theory. Not everyone agrees with how simple it is, but frankly I have yet to see any real argument to change my mind:
This can ONLY end in one of two good and acceptable ways:
You can divorce or you can reconcile.
If you were to post that you plan on being with your wife until the youngest leaves the home… That’s neither D or R in my mind, but more of a I-will-postpone-having-to-deal-with-this. Eventually you two find a way to live with the untreated elephant of infidelity sitting in your living-room. Might even be happy… eventually…
I take it based on what you share that you want to reconcile, so my post will be geared towards that. This despite the next paragraphs:
Embrace and accept that your marriage is at risk, and this CAN end in divorce. Since that’s a very possible outcome, then do some research on the process. What you will discover is that it’s relatively fair. Not saying easy or painless, but IF this ends in D you will survive and eventually thrive.
Embrace and accept that your marriage is ONLY existent because YOU want to be married and SHE wants to be married. It’s not enough that one of you wants it. It has to be both. If she wanted the OM more than the marriage – she is free to chose him. Only she can’t keep the marriage. Same with you – if you want to keep her on some short leash for the unforeseeable future then remember it’s not a marriage – you are free to leave.
Why are the two paragraphs so important? We tend to take more care when dealing with fragile things that we care about.
Then there is her…
Depression is no excuse. If she was so clinically depressed that she couldn’t control her actions and urges… well… there is NO WAY you or she can ensure she doesn’t again get some mental disease that "makes" her have another affair.
IMHO a key factor in reconciling is for HER to admit that the affair was 100% a committed and thought out action on her behalf. It wasn’t an "accident", she didn’t just fall with her lips on OM lips… It took place. It had a build-up, it had a dating phase, it had a very clear and definite moment where she KNEW she was crossing some line.
Its like if you run knowing your bootlaces are untied you will eventually stumble and fall. It’s not an accident – it’s a consequence of your actions (or inactions in not tying the laces). If you allow her to feed on the "I was depressed" excuse, that’s like helping her up and MAYBE tying one boot but not the other. Run along and the odds are she will fall again.
You too need to accept the conscious decision she took to have an affair. You can’t excuse it with "well… she was only running a short distance" or "the bootlaces are frayed" or whatever. SHE DECIDED AND THEN SHE IMPLEMENTED to cheat.
It’s only when this is recognized that it becomes possible to reconcile.
Generally the advice I give is that you set her free. Basically you tell her that IF she wants she CAN leave this marriage for the OM. She can date him, stay at her old job, move in with him, have sex with him… whatever. But not as your wife.
She can decide if she wants to remain married to you, but that it has to be HER choice. Divorce is no bundle of joy, but it is possible with limited pain, and it beats having to share a wife.
You can let her know that you would want to reconcile, but for now the main issue would be that you need convincing she too wants this marriage.
That can be done with some actions like answering all relevant questions, total accountability, total enforceable NC with OM… Whatever conditions you think are required.
If she offers that then maybe even a 30 day cease-fire. A period where you two try to work on the marriage, but its conditional on the conditions being met.
If seeking couples therapy… AVOID a therapist that excuses her affair based on the marriage: ie "she cheated because YOU did A or B". You can accept "she cheated because she needed verification" or stuff like that, because the NEXT step of the therapist should be to point out how wrong she was in where she got verification.
This is going to take time. Maybe the first 3-6 months will mainly be recovery from her betrayal with no or limited focus on the marriage. This is a bit like improving your health after a massive cardiac arrest. You might start off slowly on the treadmill or by lifting puny weights. All the time wanting to do a marathon and lift the big ones. You need to work yourself – and your marriage – towards that goal. It takes time.