Hi there JayOwen,
I am so very, very sorry that you are joining us in this place.
Firstly, none of this is on you. The shame, the humiliation - it isn't yours, you did none of this. Whether your marriage was in a good place or not, your wife made the decision to have an affair. She had a multitude of other options available to her to address her unhappiness/dissatisfaction - far healthier and more moral options.
You trust yourself. You already knew that something was wrong before you had proof. So just keep being open to whatever your intuition is telling you.
I believe that with enough love and commitment almost anything can achieved. You're going to hear a lot of pretty harsh stuff from people here at TAM over the few days. Their intentions are good, but I'm going to say it again, listen to YOUR heart and YOUR intuition.
Believe it or not there are couples who survive adultery. Reconciliation is incredibly hard (as is divorce) but if BOTH of you are completely committed reconciliation is very possible. I know of couples who have really put the work in & have ended-up with a MORE committed, open & honest communication, deep & loving loyal marriage.
The thing I kept in my mind like a mantra is "I have all the time in the world to decide what I want!". The cheating spouce however does NOT!! She has to choose RIGHT NOW, 100% what she is going to do. From what you say it sounds like she wants YOU, her family, her husband, her life. My other mantra "Hope for the best but plan for the worst!". You don't have to blindly trust her & it's completely natural not to.
She needs to be a completely open book. She doesn't get privacy. She doesn't get passwords on any of her devices. She doesn't get 'girls night out'. She NEVER gets to say "You should be over this by now!" NEVER!!
I've been in you situation. It's the worst pain I've ever known. Death of loved ones, chronic illness, even cancer doesn't compare. The horrible truth is...The person who broke you is the best one to help you heal. There's a free online book "How to help your spouce heal from an affair" by Linda McDonald (check my spelling). Your wife should be reading & studying it. If she can't stick to it then you should give-up.
I joined forums when I was in agony, loosing my mind. I found it a tremendous help. I learnt the new lexicon...gaslighting, trickle truth, rewriting marital history, cognitive dissonance etc.
I learnt all about "The Cheaters Script" that many members talk about. Often much of it is true. Sometimes it's all true. Sometimes...not so much!
This isn't going to be a popular statement on this forum but there's also the "BS (betrayed spouce) Script". I'm a BS. I truly know all about the absolute devastation & agony. I'm hurt, bitter & bloody angry! My love story has been shattered. The love of my life destroyed me. He turned into 'Mr Alien'. I never thought that he could be so cruel....However he DID NOT do half the things the "BS Script" predicts!!
The BS script...
* It's impossible for affair sex to be bad.
* It's impossible for the cheat to tell the truth about anything!
* The cheat can't deeply regret their actions & wish they had a time machine.
* You're always 2nd place 'chump'
* She can't possibly love you...it's all an act.
* She's still having sex with him (or wants to) or wants to shag every other man in your post code!!
* The affair her is the REAL her, everything before & after is all lies!!
To be honest my marriage & reconciliation is a terrible example! I'm one of those BS who needed to hear most of the standard "Kick him out. Tell everyone & anyone. Punish!! Attack!! Destroy!! Scorched earth actions!". That doesn't mean it's true for everyone & every adulterous marriage. I firmly believe that good people sometimes do horrific things. Only you know your wife, your life.
I just finished reading a couple of pages of "Burn the witch!!" & "Don't be pathetic! Kick her to the curb & make the w**re suffer!". You are a FAMILY. Some people can't ever even consider 2nd chances. Only you know if you are one of them. As I said, you have all the time in the world. You can file for divorce tomorrow or in a few years time. You are in control.
What do you want? (Other than a time machine & for it to of NEVER happened!)
I watched a YouTube lecture by a famous expert (can't remember her name) she said, "Staying is the new shame!". Reading your thread makes me feel like most of the members here agree. There is NO SHAME in working on your marriage or preserving your family. If your wife is truly sorry & is willing to do all that you need to heal THERE IS NO SHAME IN STAYING.
There is also no shame in knowing that you can never handle this & divorcing.
I know that my family will NEVER forgive & accept my H again if they know the truth. They are also very emotionally fragile at the moment. I chose not to expose except to a couple of friends....it's changed my (& my husbands) relationship with them.
Whatever you choose I wish you all the best. I'm so sorry that you know this agony.