See no real justice. The sadness in your story is why I push so hard for BS to move on. When this happened you could have moved on and not had to live with all this disappointment in your life. There are a lot of guys who do this though. So many melancholy post from men who stayed.
So here is a bunch of questions..
Why didn't you move on, did you think it was going to be this way then or did you think you would eventually return to the way the marriage was before? How did you find out? Are you sure you have all the facts and this was her first rodeo? I think people are ether cheaters or non cheaters like how you wouldn't do it, even though you had a chance and some wouldn't blame you. So I always find it fishy that someones character could just change for one single night. That doesn't fit with my experience, more like there was other maybe smaller things and boundaries being pushed. You talk about red flags was your wife always pushing the limits? Does your wife know and feel the loss too (the magic pedestal thing you talk about)? I suspect most WS don't because the didn't value it in the first place. (just read your other post which confirms my thoughts).
Here is a biggie, what if you just happened to meet someone, not looking who you really clicked with. Would you stay out of duty and honor? I don't believe you could stay out of loyalty as that went out the window.
Sorry for the interrogation.
Yesterday was kind of a "melancholy" (very appropriate word) day for me and I let some stuff out. I really don't want to go over a bunch of specifics again as I'm not really seeking any advice, just adding to the conversation on long term effects.
Upon years of reflection, I'm solid in my belief that I made the right choice to R in my specific circumstance, but I had much easier circumstances than most. I was dealing with a short ONS and 10 day EA after the vacation where I picked up on weird behaviors quickly and busted her ... I read a tip to check her "sent" folder and sure enough ... she had deleted the incoming, but forgot the sent. Also, there was no real threat ... no ILY's, no emotional attachment, just a stupid black-out drunken bad choice, no doubt encouraged by a true "player" type preying on unattached women in an all-inclusive tropical resort location. While not making excuses, there is also some evidence that a date rape type drug may have been used. Our MC picked up on that possibility later on, and had us do some reading on "Power Rapists" and OM hit on like 7 of the 10 defining characteristics. Also, from reading the emails, it was clear this was more like a high school crush ... very superficial and immature. In fact, in one of the email my W stated how she felt like she was back in high school.
I also acted swiftly to control the damage. Less than 15 minutes after discovery, I issued a strict ultimatum ... never contact OM again and recommit to us fully, which she did, while begging, apologizing, and admitting her stupidity or she could pack her **** and go. I then confronted OM by phone the next day, with W listening on the extension, and while he did corroborate her story, he also threw my W under the bus to keep me from blowing up his world ... I could probably still dig up the email I sent him to get him to call me and confess (some of my better work, on short notice and under extreme stress) ... so she got to hear first hand how he was just trolling for ***** and had to accept she'd been used and manipulated.
At that time, although she was 42 years old, she had lived a sheltered life and was very immature in her world views. This was also her first real life changing screw up, and as the enormity of her stupidity sunk in, she was forced to grow up and face the ****storm she caused. It didn't occur overnight, or as quickly as I would have liked, but she is evolving and becoming more self aware, and although her old selfish tendencies pop up every now and then, I don't hesitate to call her out of her **** when she does it.
She is a much better W and partner now than 10 years ago, but as truthseeker correctly pointed out, there will always be that shadow over what could have been, and the cost of that improvement was not nearly worth the price paid.
As for your last question, if I do an honest self-assessment of the guy in the mirror, I have a content, enjoyable and happy life. I am healthier than most and looking forward to retirement in a little over 3 years, where I can spend all the time I want with my bird dogs, travel some, and overall enjoy life and my W will be a large important part of that, so I'm not interested in looking for a "soulmate" (even if I believed is such a thing) should such a mythical being cross my path.
Thanks to you and truthseeker for a good discussion.