I am so sorry you find yourself here. ((((((((Hugs))))))))I wish I had some answers for you but all I can say is you are not alone. Take care of yourself first. There are people here who have plenty of experience, strength and hope to help you through this journey. That's what this ends up being is a journey of self discovery and emotional pain. Keeping coming back here and read other people's stories and hopefully you will find what you need to help you through this journey.
"Do unto others as you would have done to you"
dear dav81, first, i would like to tell you that i am sorry for the pain you are in. your post is heartbreaking to read, your suffering in evidence. a disclaimer from me--i am not a betrayed spouse. i was an "other woman"--caught up in an internet affair much like your wife's. i was in my affair for just over two years. it ended in february.i don't have answers to alot of things, but some of the things you said compelled me to come out of lurking to address you. i can't tell you what you should do from here on out, but i can give you some perspective that you may not have considered. i've been where your wife is, dav, and i hope that in some small way, my words can help you to understand or cope with the situation that you now find yourself in. to start with, this isn't about you. there is nothing wrong with you. you did not, do not, deserve this. there is something wrong with her, and it is her job, as a big girl, to find out what it is. as another person who answered your post said, she is headed for a fall---and in a big way, too. she is filling an important emotional need in her, and if she doesn't figure out a healthy way to meet that need, she will continue to fill it with inappropriate relationships outside of her "real life." affairs are a fantasy way of addressing a real-life problem---they are unsustainable and time-limited. that being said, the emotions that are part of an affair are extremely intense, powerful, and most importantly, addictive. i don't mean that in the theoretical sense, i mean it in a literal one. moral issues aside, your wife is in the grip of a powerful addiction to a fantasy person---and she is unable to think or see clearly right now because of "the fog" you will hear people talk about constantly. this guy who has swept her off her cyber feet---he sounds like a pro. she's not his first, and she won't be his last from the sound of it--but right now she can't see that. she sees him only at his best---and his best is whatever he wants her to see. she doesn't pay bills with him, change his baby's diaper, pick his dirty laundry up off the floor. you are competing against a ghost, dav.
as messed up as her thinking is right now, it is her current reality. she says she feels "best-friendy" toward you but "in love" with him. i could have written those words myself a year ago. i don't believe that women, in general, have the ability to "connect" with more than one man at a time. when i was in my affair fog, i withdrew further and further from my husband and invested my emotions in my affair partner. this is not to say that i thought i had an awful marriage---because i didn't. what i did have was an emotional vulnerability and unmet need that i naively tried to "fix" by myself. to say that i made a bad choice has been the understatement of my life. i guess that the point i would most like to make, dav, is that YOU are her real life, YOU are a very big part of her history, YOU will always be a part of her future because you have a child together. she is headed for disaster, and i promise you that one day she will bitterly regret her actions and will grieve for the pain she has caused and the innocence she has lost. she will long for the goodness that she had in her real life. i am in no position to offer advice on what you should or should not do, but i do believe that if you are able to persevere, she will eventually realize that she stands to lose everything that is really important. in that regard, dav, her "other man" can't ever hold a candle to you.
Why are you not angrier at her? She wants to have her cake and eat it too, with no consideration for your feelings. Consider reading the book No More Mr. Nice Guy. As long as you're being a doormat, she won't see you in romantic terms. If you get some of your power back, perhaps she'll respect you more as a partner and man. Go out on your own or with friends. Pursue independent interests. Do this not just for her, but for yourself.
dav, your wife wanting her cake and eating it too does strike a familiar chord, and from that view i do agree with freelance. how you should approach her behavior will likely be addressed by other experienced folks who have been in your situation and have either rebuilt their marriages or moved on with their own lives. again, i write to give you some perspective on what your wife could be thinking or feeling based on my own experiences.
having talked with and read the stories of many women who chose affairs, i can say that it seems there is something peculiarly similar about us. insecure women with a poor sense of self who are looking--desperately sometimes-- for validation outside of ourselves. the small romantic gestures your wife makes---though cruel and thoughtless of your feelings, i agree---i think are an ultimately good sign. to me, it is an indication that you have something that she needs and does not want to give up. she probably is also feeling some guilt for the suffering she is causing you, too---another good thing as far as i am concerned.
when i was in the thick of my affair "fog" i had withdrawn severely from my husband. about a year into it, i went to him and told him i was unhappy and considering a separation. i did not confess my affair to him, and i will never know whether he suspected, but he is no fool. we had several intense and excruciatingly painful conversations about where our lives were going. he was staunchly in the camp of reconciliation and saving our marriage. i was luke-warm and not-even-half-hearted in my ability to invest in and "be there" during that dark part of my life. i know i hurt my husband deeply--even without knowledge of my behavior--and it has taken some time for me to own my actions and feel the weight of the responsibility and guilt.
my husband is a very self-less guy. he made it clear that he was going to give our marriage his best shot and that if it failed, it wasn't going to be because he didn't give it his all. he stepped up his game, he gave me his attention, his time. he backed off when i told him i needed space. he was very consistent. i was all over the place. i did not deserve his love and compassion, but it was consistently there. maybe if he had been unkind, it would have snapped me out of my fantasy more quickly, i don't know. it may have backfired and i would have self-destructed and thrown everything i had away. what i do know is that in spite of my behavior, my husband's support and opinions have always been important to me. your wife, on some level, knows that you are important to her. important enough to share ten years of her life, important enough to give you a child. that she still makes small gestures towards you tells me that you are still important to her. that is where your power will lie as you make this journey.
I'm sorry to hear what you're going through.
"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." Herb Stein
dav,your post sounds strong and confident. you are moving forward, being realistic and taking of yourself and your son. you have a good head on your shoulders and will come through this scarred but not broken. yes, both you and your wife will live with the consequences of her decision, but i hope that as you heal and come to terms with the upheaval in your life at present, at some point you will see the power that you have to make your own decisions and guide your own life---regardless of what she does or doesn't do. i can assure you that eventually she will realize what she has given up--though it may not be in the timeframe you would wish. she's headed for brick wall--the question being "when", not "if". hold your head high. we're in your corner.