I am in affair recovery too
(not sure smiley face is entirely appropriate!). I am a woman married to a woman, and my wife had an affair with a man in the beginning of August. She was away for three weeks, working as a sea kayak guide in Alaska when the affair happened. I was completely shocked when she got home and told me (after a week of me wondering what the %$*& was wrong with her), since we had just been legally married a month before, and have always been really invested in having an honest and open (with each other!) relationship. I knew that we had become somewhat lost from each other, but I didn't think it had gotten to the point where she would feel the need to look outside our relationship.
When she first told me about the affair, I tried to stay calm and said that we could work through it. Then she said that she wasn't ready to say that she would never see the guy again, or have phone/email contact with him (he lives 4,000 milies away, so real life contact was not going to happen anytime soon). I asked her if she still wanted to be with me, and be a mom to our boys, and she wasn't sure. She told me all of this in a very detatched, distant way, showed no remorse or anything. I knew that we needed time apart to think, so I told her to leave and come back when she knew what she wanted.
It helped that I had had an affair before myself. We had been living together for about a year and a half when it happened, and I ended up leaving her for the other woman. Six months later, we got back together and were married a couple of years after that. We always thought--and still think--that although going through the break-up was terrible and awful, and she was hurt and I was hurt, in the end it was really great for our relationship. We felt like we could survive anything after that. So after Lena had the affair this summer, I looked through my old journals and remembered the feelings that I had been having when I cheated on her. I remembered the excitement of the initial days of the affair, and the resulting detachment from Lena.
After I asked Lena to leave, I mostly tried to figure out if I was still in love with her (I was) and what I wanted to have happen. Did I want us to break up? Did I want to trust her again? I knew that if we were going to make things work, I couldn't be angry with her. I mean, of course I would be angry, but I couldn't ONLY be angry. I had to focus on the part of me that was in love with her. I had to try to show her love. Because anger would just drive her away. After a few days apart, I asked Lena to come back home again, and things were much better than they had been during the week before she told me about the affair. I told her that I wanted her to take one month during which time she would not try to contact the guy she'd had an affair with. I said that I knew she would be thinking about him, and that I wouldn't ask her not to, but I asked that she try not to think of him as a real, whole, "perfect" person, since she'd only known him for 24 hours and couldn't possibly know him as well as she might think she did. The first month was pretty rough. I felt so jealous and angry and lied to. But I really focused on trying to pay attention to our relationship, and to the love. I knew that it would take at least 6 months before things would feel at all normal again between us, and I was willing to wait and work through it.
After the one-month of "no contact" was over, I said that it was okay with me if she wanted to email the guy, as long as she told me about it, and told me when he would email her. I didn't want there to be any secrets. It wasn't okay with me for her to have an ongoing affair (even if it was just an email affair), but it was okay with me for her to continue to have a relationship with him so long as everything was completely open between us about what was going on. They emailed a couple of times, but it felt weird to Lena, and then the guy went off on a 4-month expedition (which he's just about in the middle of now), so that was that. I knew from my own experience that if I told her "no more contact!" it would just make her want to contact him even more, and she would probably have done so secretly.
These days, 5-months post-affair, things are pretty good between us. Maybe not exactly where we were before the affair in terms of trust, but close. And we are more open about discussing the goods and bads of our relationship and parenting and all that. I guess one thing that's changed is that I no longer assume we'll be together forever, but I still do think there's a good possibility that we will be.
In regards to AP causing the affair. . . well, no, of course not. But I do think that we had lost sight of each other in our very intense parenting of twins (also an intense way to begin parenting). Never having our bed to ourselves, never even getting to spoon in our sleep (as we had always done before I was hugely pregnant) had definitely affected our feelings of closeness. But I think the main cause of the affair was just turmoil Lena was feeling within herself about what she wanted to do with her life (she pretty much hates her job), and feeling trapped by having a family and being a mama and never having any free time or energy to even start on a path to a different career. In her ultimate fantasy, she would be living in Alaska and then going off traveling all around the world, guiding outdoor adventure trips. But that doesn't really mesh very well with having a family. It is easy for me to understand why Lena had the affair--that doesn't mean I justify it, but I understand it. And I think that understanding has really helped our healing process as a couple.
We now have a weekly date night, only two hours long, but still significant "couple time" since we didn't have any before. I also nightweaned our boys and moved them (23 month old twins) into their own bed for the beginning of the night (they join us somewhere between 2 and 5). These changes have made a huge difference for us. We have been getting to know each other again, and remembering to remember that our relationship needs attention and nurturing just as our boys do.
So, I think our story is a hopeful story. A few weeks ago I realized that I was again feeling that deep chest ache love for Lena that I hadn't felt since before the affair. And I think for Lena, her decision to stay with our family and not run off to Alaska has made her a more present and committed mama than she was before the affair. We are both a lot happier than we were before the affair because it forced us to evaluate our life and face what parts we don't like, and decide what we want to change and what goals we are working towards.
Sorry such a long post, but I am happy to be a part of this support thread.