Re: Should I leave my wife if she sort of cheated?
Listen, from everything you are saying it sounds clear that you have already given up on your marriage. Seriously, everything said screams that YOU are now guiding your marriage and your family to divorce. I hate to sound harsh, but it sounds like your wife has done what she can to save the marriage but you can't do the same. Simply getting by or putting on a fake smile isn't helping anyone. Your wife clearly loves you, you love her, you love your children, so freaking man up and do what you have to do for your children.
Seriously, I'm not trying to be mean, but you really need to do something about this because every day you wait you are doing a disservice to the people you claim to love so fervently. Yes, YOU are hurting them now. You did get screwed over but it could have been SO much worse I assure you. Let me tell you a little story...
My wife started her first affair back in the early spring of 2009 with an old high school dropout friend of hers who worked at a garage door factory since graduating. That didn't last long before she moved on to a 55 year old married man (she was 24 at that time) who lived about 30 minutes away. They didn't have an "affair" exactly in that it wasn't emotional at all, just sex, phone sex, internet sex, etc. The third was a full blown, she had every intention of leaving me and taking our daughter with her, affair. That was with a 37 year old married cable-TV installer with three young kids. He was mostly leading her on however and never did leave his wife, leaving my wife an emotional wreck who waited a few weeks after I caught her to come back to me. (I found out about all of the affairs at the same time) Not more than a month later (June 2010) she got a new job and almost immediately began another genuine affair with a 51 year old alcoholic/drug addict, three-times divorced, not a penny to his name, and abusive man. She moved out with him about a month later in July and left my daughter and I, took all of her income with her after I had been supporting her going to school without working for over a year, and left me with all of our combined expenses including her car payment, car insurance, health insurance and cell phone bills. I am not wealthy by any stretch, so her leaving, combined with my company cutting my salary by 50% just one month earlier, left me about $1,300 per MONTH under water that I had to figure out how to trim from the budget. Even today I am still operating about $300 under water every month while I struggle to essentially be a single dad who can't afford to eat lunch during the work day. I have had a LOT to forgive her for but I worked through it. I accepted that I shared a large degree of the responsibility for the breakdown of our marriage and have truly forgiven her. She and I are still separated, she claims she isn't in a relationship with the man any more but still lives in an apartment full of his stuff and he sleeps over frequently. I'm still trying to save the marriage and indeed I have a great deal of hope for it.
I don't say all of that to guilt you. But adultery is commonplace these days. Studies now show that most married adults are more likely than not to commit adultery at some point in their life. I don't necessarily want to undercut what actually happened, but do remember that she didn't actually commit adultery either. An emotional affair is a serious issues, no doubt, and while she did cross some lines that shouldn't have been crossed, she also stopped short of crossing the really major lines when she likely could have VERY easily done so.
You aren't a loser either. You didn't dump your wife to the curb when she did what she did, you didn't doom your children to a life with a divorced Mommy and Daddy, you soldiered on and have weathered the worst of the storm. A lot of people would have given up, and make no mistake, this happens to a LOT of people so don't think that you have been cheated out of the heavenly marriage that "everyone else gets to experience" because I promise you that what you have gone through is not uncommon but it DOES demand that you be strong and push through it. Trust me, this process is sooo much harder when you have to try to be strong enough to get through it all when your partner is doing everything they can to destroy your family, so having your wife working hard to save your family is truly a blessing. I hope you can see that.
At this point, she deserves your forgiveness, your children deserve it as well. If you don't offer it soon, then she'll start to wonder what she has put all of this effort in for. She screwed up, she is human and she has tried to make it right which is all you or anyone else could ask of her. If she can't screw up, do everything she can to make it right, and receive your forgiveness, then what is she waiting for? What are you waiting for? I don't mean to minimize the pain here because you know I know what it is like, but you simply have to get through this. Don't worry about why she has wanted to make it work. Take a leap of faith and trust her again. Seek the help you need to make it happen. Ask her for her help in rebuilding the trust, be honest to her about your feelings but also make sure she knows you are committed. Tell her you appreciate everything she has done to make it right because you damn well should appreciate it and don't ever hold her past mistakes over her head. (Not saying you do) You've already been through hell and back, now it is time for your finest hour.