- thank you for your response. I appreciate that you took the time to engage with me.
I'd like to make it clear that, for me, this thread is not about defending my choice to reconcile. I am sharing some of the challenges that I have and am facing in this process, because I hope that others in a similar situation may find it helpful and also might choose to share experiences that I might find helpful.
May I ask whether you have experienced infidelity personally? And whether you and your spouse have always been uncompromisingly honest and forthright with one another? In my experience, some lies are an integral part of human interaction; and most especially of marriage. This would not be the case in an ideal world, of course.
(I will try to briefly address your questions here, but if you would like to have a more extended discussion around any of these issues, then please feel free to head over to my original thread for that.)
My husband's first affair was an online relationship that comprised 7 email exchanges after we were married. By the time I found them, I had had our first child and he had not communicated with her for more than a year. I found them hurtful because they were initially relatively sentimental/romantic (although he did write about being happy with his choice of me as his wife) and because he had misled me about the extent of their relationship before we got married, and continued intermittent electronic contact with her during our engagement and early months of our marriage. I found out hints of the second affair from the OW's husband, but my husband came clean about the far more extensive details on his own. I believe that he did this with a reasonable expectation of getting away with me knowing a far, far milder version of the truth.
I discuss my feelings about the polygraph on my initial thread, but in short, I saw it as further, rather than sole, evidence of him telling the truth about the nature of his relationship.
As to the "complex feelings" point - there is a quote from a book by Frank Pittman that I have referenced here on TAM before, which answers this point more effectively than I can. (And I found it again!)
Myth #3. Affairs prove that love has gone from the marriage.
The reasons for affairs are rich and varied. Most of the reasons have to do with the ego state of the person having the affair rather than the person against whom the infidelity is being committed. ...
Even if someone did not love the spouse, an infidelity would be a rather complicated and indirect way to say so, and an inefficient way to approach the problems in the marriage. The feelings one spouse has for another are complicated from the beginning. The degree of complexity of the emotions in long-standing marriages is staggering. To reduce this complexity to a question as adolescent as the presence or absence of "love" is idiocy of the highest order. That question is best left to the petals of daisies.
Everyone involved... must recognize that marriage abounds in love, hate, lust, disgust, envy, guilt, pity, admiration, dependency, fear, and all other emotions known and unknown.
from Private lies : infidelity and the betrayal of intimacy by Frank Pittman (chapter 2, titled "Some myths about infidelity")
And finally - perhaps some people get to have simple, uncomplicated lives. Both sadly and happily for me, I do not appear to be one of them.