As far as I can tell, this matches my wife (and me) pretty closely, although we are only coming up to one year since d-day and somewhat less since NC.
I would find it incredible if my wife never thought of the AP and if she told me she never did, then I wouldn't believe her. I believe her however when she tells me that she doesn't think of the affair in a (I am paraphrasing or interpreting here, I should say) pro-affair or pro-AP kind of way. (I think this is a reason why it is important for NC to be a definite and deliberate choice of the WS.)
Clearly, I can't be saying she needs to sort her thinking out and then add, "but you must never think of the AP!" That would be silly.
What might be significant in our case is that the AP behaved monstrously after d-day, so much so that if she thought positively about him now I'd suggest she truly needs to be committed to an asylum. I imagine it would be more complicated if he had turned out to be a great guy instead of pond scum.
Similar to you, my wife is preoccupied with anxiety - about being publicly exposed, and we have moved suburbs because she could not face encountering various people connected with the affair (AP, AP's wife, AP's kids, AP's wife's parents), or the wider community that must have at least shared rumours.
I suppose when you come right down to it, this question is partly the question, "do you ever wish you were with the AP instead of your spouse?" It is because of this question, which is a pretty dreadful one to have in your head, that I have more than once, including right on d-day, really laid out a very easy pathway for my wife to leave me. She has not taken it and that is the best I can do as far as convincing myself she is here because it's her preference.
As for me... I think I am in about the same position as your (UrbanExplorer's) husband. I imagine my wife thinks I want to keep talking about the affair, but I really don't. I am concerned with the present and the future. The affair does affect my current state and my needs and wants quite a bit, but that is not the same as wanting to talk about the affair. I also don't feel like I need IC at all. Whatever else has come out of this, I at least have a feeling that I am okay. My relationship is not okay, my wife is not really okay, but I am okay.
A product of the not-okay relationship is that I am plagued with (a) intrusive thoughts, largely memories of the deliberately cruel things the AP said to me and the unintentionally cruel things my wife said to me, and (b) just a rising feeling of anxiety or panic that I should have left my wife long ago. These are largely things I keep to myself now. They do not make me feel I am not okay in myself. I see them as natural products of the affair and the fact that I am currently in a badly wounded relationship.
I do assume that my wife has private, inner thoughts that I would not like to know about. I have those too. I don't tell her every time I think, "how could you have done that???". What would be the point? And I definitely, definitely don't want to be told every time the AP pops into her head. Hell no. What I actually want is simply to hear that she is 110% committed to getting it right from here, and that staying with me is not some big compromise when she wishes she were elsewhere.
Sorry I've rambled! It's a funny question (it's a good
question but it is fiddly to think about) because there's such a big difference between missing
the AP or longing for
the AP, and just thinking of
the AP. If my wife were still wishing she were with the AP, and I knew it, I'd be outta here. But if she didn't ever think of him, I'd find that really odd.
Here's an example. He had a normal but slightly uncommon name. Like, suppose the AP's name was "Augustus" (it wasn't, but you get the idea - it's a real name but doesn't come up much.) And then suppose we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and there was a string of dialogue going "Augustus" over and over. She was sitting on the floor with the kids and I was on the sofa behind, and she looked back and said, "are you going to be okay?"
It was impossible for either of us not to think of the AP at that time. I was surprised and impressed that she checked in with me at all because the way she used to be, I think she'd have sat there steadfastly pretending there was nothing to take note of. The point is that if a WS never
thought about the AP they'd have to have had a lobotomy.
I have a few exes. I think about them basically never. I would expect the AP to recede to that sort of level for my wife eventually. The only difference is that the AP is associated with all kinds of guilt and shame and that makes it more of an aggressive memory in certain ways.
The wish for the WS to never
think of the AP is basically a wish that the affair had never happened. Totally understandable but just as impossible as a BS never thinking of the affair.