I've debated, after reading through your thread, if I wanted to pitch in. But I'm going to go ahead ...
If you could look through my posts from the first time I was here 9 years ago, you would have seen a vet named kml drop on my thread and be the first to say: "Your H is having an A." And you'd see my response was: "I guess that's always possible. But I am 99 percent sure he's not. That's just not the kind of person he is. He isn't a womanizer."
And I kept on about my DB efforts, gobbling-up ANY scraps my H would throw at me as I continued trying to be his warm, validating, supportive "friend."
Boy, did I feel stupid when I found out, just a couple months later, that H *was*, in fact, cheating.
I'm not telling you that your W is 100% having an A. I don't know, and you don't know. But you asked what clues you had given to make people think your W is cheating. And that's what I'm going to address here:
Actually, Barry, the good news is: Your situation - as is usually the case here - sounds JUST LIKE everyone else's story. The bad news is: In probably 99% of those stories, an OW/OM is either known about or later discovered.
What we know through lots of our own experiences - and also through reading stories here for years - is that "ILYBINILWY," 9.5 times out of 10, actually means: "I'm cheating." We call that "script" because it is what they allllllll say when they're cheating and abandoning their Ms. Even through my own pain, I've always found it almost comical how they all say the very.same.things, even a country away. It's almost a science!
Why does it matter whether she's cheating? Because, well, it does. And, IMO, in pretty big ways if you want the best chances to save your M.
In DBing without an active A (with exception of the LRT), you are encouraged to become the kind of man your W likely feels she lost during your M: Attentive, validating, warm, loving and supportive. If your W is simply bored or angry or disconnected with you, then making those changes is likely, over time, to create a positive difference in your M, even if you're S.
The problem is: If you become that person while W is having an active A, my experience has been that it doesn't only NOT help your efforts to re-attract your W ... it actually pushes her even further away.
IF your W is in an A, then she's in what we call a "fog." She's not at all in love with you. In fact, you repulse her right now. Her brain is pumping out all kinds of chemicals that make her feel literally addicted to OM. He's like a drug. And if you're being all nice and sweet and warm and kind and validating, it's likely going to turn her off. Because in her mind, you look pathetic ... mainly because she's comparing you to someone else who is a lot more assured and confident.
In more detail: If she's in an A and you choose to "Plan A" her (if you try to be her friend ... if you take-to-heart her complaints about you and try to "fix" yourself only to show her you're changing ... if you placate her and act sweet as syrup around her to "show" her your new-found "changes"), she's GOING to be even more repulsed by you. Because she's looking at YOU, scurrying around to make changes FOR her and practically begging to be her "friend" - when you're actually her HUSBAND - and then, on the other hand, she's looking at a manly, attentive, confident man who showers her with affection and attention. And, what's more, she's "in love" with him.
Now, which of those two men sounds more attractive? (Surely I don't have to tell you.)
So the SHORT answer to why an A is relevant is: Because before you would be able to get to work on busting a D, you'd need to work on busting an A.
SOME of the work is the same. But, IMO, a lot of it isn't.
This is all from my own experience (which includes busting two As, 8 years apart, and now piecing with my H):
Fighting against an A takes A LOT of backbone, willpower and determination. And NO FEAR. It takes you digging deep to find your (ahem) testicles and your strength. It takes you being willing to firmly tell your W that you will NOT live in an open M (if, in fact, you're not willing to) and then being willing to back that up with actions. (And it.is.not.easy.)
Simultaneously, you have to incorporate all those "normal" DB principles: be confident and upbeat and, yes, even neighborly, and put forward the BEST Barry you can be. You DO need to listen to W's marital complaints about you if she offers them. And you need to work hard on fixing those things in yourself and *for* yourself because you want to be the best man you can be for - God willing - your W when she comes around. Or for the next woman you meet.
And, no matter what - affair, or no - you have to be willing to let your W go and start facing a possible future without her, as bad as that hurts and as impossible as it feels right now. GAL will help you A LOT with that ... and with detaching from W's words and actions while she's wayward.
Your goals: GAL and detachment. Those are life-savers right now.
And please listen to theoden and sandi. I've read their posts for a long time, and they know what they're talking about. sandi is as sharp as they come. And theoden's tough stance may come off as a little too edgy and harsh. But that's because he's been here a long time and has a lot of experience and knowledge about what works and what doesn't. (I remember when I came here in 2005/06 and vets were telling me to be tough. I was like: Y'all are asking me to do WHAT?!? ALREADY?!? I don't have the strength to do that! But I, like many others, wish I would have listened sooner. When I came back last year after ANOTHER A - because H and I didn't do "piecing" the correct way after the first one - I followed the advice of my friend Starsky, another tough-guy around here, almost to the letter. And my H's A was busted in less than two months.)
You've come to the right place, Barry. Sending you my best wishes ...
(Sorry for the novella. I'm long-winded.)
M: 40 H: 44 Married 14 years S11 & D6; D20 & D19 from previous M 2BDs/PAs, 8 years apart Piecing: April 2014