Just something I pulled up from my personal archives that I thought might make a good thread-starter:
---------------------------- On “having a plan,” and “The Schmuck Factor”:
I think you let her know that you are here for her when she is ready to do the work necessary. She clearly isn't ready to do that right now.
It would convey weakness if you were to be supplicating towards her while she was still actively cheating on you, and disrespecting her boundaries. Letting her know that you are willing to suck it up, forgive, love unconditionally and do the hard work of reconciliation -- when she is ready -- does NOT convey weakness, it conveys character and strength.
Many, many people confuse "unconditional love" with "doormat-without-boundaries." It is entirely possible -- and NECESSARY -- to demonstrate unconditional love and forgiveness, within a framework of healthy boundaries.
Do you not love a child unconditionally, while at the same time not allowing them to use obscenity when speaking to you? Do you not love a spouse, while simultaneously not allowing them to berate you in front of another couple?
Those are just two silly examples, but I think this is where you're getting hung up. Us men have a REALLLLL hard time with the whole "schmuck factor" thing, and it really rears its head when there is infidelity involved. We don't like to be made a fool. But if your "standing" for your marriage is PART OF A PLAN -- YOUR plan -- then who's the schmuck here? You take a position of "Yes, I am, at the moment, deciding to stand for my marriage, even though my wife is having an affair and is refusing to admit it and work at the marriage, but I have made this choice to do this FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, and I will hold out as long as I can, all the while trying to lay out and enforce healthy boundaries for me and my children. My wife is an adult, I cannot control her, and I'm praying that she comes to her senses soon, before my love for her fully runs out, but I can hold on for "x" months and I will do so, to the best of my ability. This is MY decision, this is MY stand, and I am doing it with boundaries, legal/financial protections for me and my kids, and for a finite period (uncommunicated to spouse -- just tell her "I won't wait forever") of time."
My wife asked me both during -- and after -- her affair, why I was fighting for her. Why I hadn't kicked her out immediately. I told her:
- because I took a wedding vow, before God, and I took that very seriously. It was not "for better or for better yet," it was "for better or for WORSE";
- because I loved her, and we had a lot of shared history together;
- because I didn't want to demonstrate to our four children that when things get tough, you cut and run. You make a stand and fight for what is important to you, for as long as you can, to the best of your ability;
- because if the situation were reversed, and I had say a gambling or alcohol addiction, I would hope that she would do the same and fight for ME;
- and because I didn't want to go to my death bed with REGRETS, that I should have tried harder. If I was going to err, I was going to err on the side of trying to save my marriage and keep my family intact.
When you lay out (and maybe even write down), what YOUR OWN reasons are, and give yourself an internal deadline (6 months, one year, whatever) . . . then I think, as a man, we can feel like WE are executing a plan, and that we're not being a "schmuck."
"What is best for my kids is best for me"
Persevere = happily being patient over a long period of time