Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation
Wilderness: I think my approach has been that the past is the past. I did a lot of things wrong prior to and during our separation as well which I think I have detailed before. I've mentioned that I dated a ton of women during the separation, (probably 30-40 over a 2.5 year period) and slept with probably 15 or so of them, including several longer term relationships with a couple. We could argue the semantics of how wrong all of that was of course... yes it was cheating because I was still married (though I was always honest about that) but only after she cheated first and moved out with the guy whom she was living with. So how wrong was it? Depends on who you ask.
The bigger point though, is that she and I have forgiven each other for the past. As I understand and view forgiveness, it means I leave the past in the past, I do not bring it up again, I do not use it against her in the present or future, and therefore I certainly won't "make things much tougher" for her now as a result of her past grievances. I realize that forgiveness doesn't mean you forget the past, and that means I will certainly be slightly more vigilant for signs of cheating and things like that, but unless I were to find out that she has cheated again, I will not treat her any less than any wife deserves to be treated by her husband.
She is getting a "free ride" in so much as any "non-bread winner" spouse does. She helps with chores, she cooks several meals a week, helps with laundry, taking care of our daughter, the pets, etc. (Since she is in school full time and works 10 hours or so per week, vs. me only working full time, I probably do 60% of the housework to her 40%) Early in our marriage, she worked full time while I went to school full time and worked only part time, and the household arrangement was reversed. Was I getting a "free ride" then? I understand where you are coming from and appreciate the feedback (really I do. I'm not upset here, promise!) but if all is forgiven, then there is no free ride. As long as we are married and mutually intend to stay that way, then her schooling is an investment for our family. Not just for her, just as my education wasn't just for me.
Longwalk: That's tougher to anwer, but I do think she feels a deeper connection with me. Certainly we have a long history now, having been dating now since we were 17 years old (now 29 & 30) and have a 9 year old daughter together. She knows I'm a good man, a good father, and after the last three years or so, has come to believe that maybe I can be a good husband as well. Granted, she probably isn't very interested in the prospect of going out to find a new guy, given her past history with men always resulting in tragedy. So why did she want to come back? I imagine a year ago (which is roughly around when we went into "reconciliation mode") it was probably because she was just burned out from being hurt with the the last affair partner, realized that she was comfortable with me, had that history and child together, that I was willing to try reconciling, and that it was at least worth a shot. I'm not foolish enough to believe that she just decided that she really loved me and came rushing back home one day. I think for her, starting the process and even moving back home in June was probably a pretty non-emotional thing for her, more logical. If I had to guess, I would imagine this being her thought process at the time:
"I know I don't love him right now, he hurt and deceived and betrayed me terribly for years. I know I'm not really looking for any romantic entanglements right now either, I'm too busy and I'm utterly burned out from [OM's name] incredible betrayal, even if we were recently broken up. [cdbaker] has been showing (not just saying) that he realizes the things he did wrong and has shown that he's changed his attitude/perception a lot, so maybe he is capable of being a good husband after all. I already know he's a good father, provider, my family loves him, and of course we have our daughter, a home together, etc. Right now, I'm not particularly capable of loving him again just yet, but maybe if he can agree to take it slow and start down that road, things can come together and I could love him again. Or, maybe they don't work out and I'll never have to wonder 'what if?'"
Now, about a year later, I know she has felt moments of love and affection towards me. I know that she still holds back a lot of her though, most even, because of her fear of being hurt. She still struggles to allow herself to be vulnerable around me, and who could blame her? But little by little I DO see regular improvements/growth there.