My opinion is that people can stay together and tell themselves they are 'stronger' or 'happier', but I can't see how that is the case. I am 18 months post d-day and see affairs for what they are - abuse. The WS emotionally abuses the faithful spouse by lying and gaslighting, physically abuses the faithful spouse by potentially exposing them to STDs/STIs, and psychologically abuses the faithful spouse by taking away a sense of security and safety.
If my husband punched me in the face daily, no one would question if that was abusive. And, everyone would see me as a fool for declaring that I now trust him 100% because he confessed and said sorry. While it wasn't a physical punch in the face, my WS's behavior did have a very real physical affect on me - headaches, anxiety, not eating right, not sleeping right, depression.
We still live in the same house, but beyond that - there is nothing. I personally am not interested in falling madly in love with someone that can look me in the eyes and lie with ease. I would be a fool to 100% trust someone who betrayed my trust in him for years. He allowed me to disbelieve my gut, making me not trust myself and not protect myself. I put my trust in him before and the cost was way too great.
Do I think he is doing those same things? Well, I don't see any signs, but - maybe he just got better at hiding them. But, I know there is no way on earth I will completely trust him again. I fell down such a deep and dark well when I found out about his betrayal and I will never allow myself to get that depressed ever again. There were moments when I welcomed death, because I just could not believe the only person in the world I trusted with my heart had betrayed me like that.
He lied to me with ease for five years, why would I allow myself to believe that he went from being a very good liar to all of sudden telling to truth without fail? We are "married", we live in the same house, we co-parent, but I am absolutely not happy. The truth is, I don't want this relationship. I just really don't want to be married to a liar. But, I stay 'for the kids' and count this time as my own private purgatory. I have told him in no uncertain terms that I just could never look at him the same way again and asked repeatedly for divorce. He doesn't 'believe in divorce' and is unwilling to sign paperwork and is instead floating around the house talking about 'winning my heart back'.
The winning back part should have come five years ago when I first saw a change in him and asked if we could possibly go to marriage counseling. He said no, said he was incredibly happy and that I was the love of his life. While he was secretly spending thousands on porn and falling in love with webcam girls. Once he 'progressed' to massage parlors, he got to act out all those fantasies he had. He is 'dedicated' to the marriage because he realizes prostitutes aren't as fun as they seem. Why would I give my entire heart back to someone that has to do stupid stuff to realize stupid stuff is bad?
My husband comes from a family full of unhappily married people. His parents have been 'married' for almost 50 years. They hate each other and are barely in the same room, but everyone fawns over the fact that they have been married so long. So, he is perfectly content with living this way until we die. He is a good enough father (now that he isn't spending college fund money on porn), so I can live this way until I know the children can take a divorce. I tried to put him out before and the children did not take it well at all, especially with his sobbing and crying and declarations of love.
On the outside, everyone around us would say we 'made it'. They would say we were happy and fulfilled. I am not faking it for people, I just don't do drama. I am nice, I don't argue with him, I don't cause scenes, and I don't disrespect him. If I cared less about myself I would take his outward antics as signs of a changed man and jump right in. But, I do care about myself enough to know that this is a man that can lie with ease, knows how to delete internet information, knows how to cover his tracks, and has had no problem crossing lines he declared he would never cross in the past.
Everyone I know that has 'made it' has a relationship like my in-laws, they throw big anniversary parties and love it up for the crowds - then go to their separate corners when all the crowds are gone. I didn't even acknowledge our 14th anniversary two months ago. Why pretend?