Thank you for requesting my help.
You and your wife are caught in a very difficult situation. Although it is common in marriages where someone has an affair, it can be very painful to work through.
Let me reassure you that your wife's feelings about having her own affair are very normal. When you had the affair, your wife was deeply hurt. She lost her trust and her special connection with you. You have since tried to work through it and bring back what your marriage lost. But she may still feel hurt by the fact that you paired up with someone else and she has only been with you. She cannot say that someone else has loved her so she can feel more validated. She can only go by you and she lost that connection with you when the affair occurred. In other words, she feels that she shared you so she no longer feels special to someone.
These feelings are not as much about you as they are about her. She sounds like she is still trying to cope with what she feels about the affair. She also may have low self esteem and the affair has made her question herself more or there is another reason she is having trouble moving on from what happened. Trust can take a while to rebuild and if there are other issues in the way, like low self esteem, then it can take even longer.
Your wife has told you that she has no intention of actually cheating. At some point, it's going to have to be a matter of trusting her unless she gives you reason to do otherwise. In the meanwhile, you can continue to work on your marriage. You mentioned seeing a Marriage and Family therapist which is great. And talking to your friend is good too. Support is very important. Have the two of you been working on this together too? It's important that your wife also has support too and maybe see a therapist herself to help her work through her own issues. Here are some other resources you might want to try:
How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful-Linda J. MacDonald
If you spend time focusing on your wife, making her feel special, and telling her how important she is to you, she may be able to move on from the affair. Go out on dates, spend time together just talking and allow her to talk about how she feels without judgment. Accepting her feelings is a very important part of the recovery of your marriage.
It sounds like she is looking for a way to deal with how she feels. For her part, she is trying to find a way to feel better about herself and seems to feel that she needs to do that on her own. It may be the low self esteem we talked about earlier, and being out with friends and finding a job is a way for her to fulfill that need. But moving away from you is not going to help your marriage. It could be that the pain from the affair is something she has not been able to work through so this is her answer to how she feels.
On your part, you are also feeling insecure about her new independence and her confession to you that she is still not ok with the affair. Although you feel insecure, you do have good reason to. She is giving you all the signs she is moving away from your relationship to find what she needs. That would make anyone feel unsettled and unsure of where their marriage stands.
The key to resolving this is to find out what is the motivating reason for your wife's desire to be more independent and find her self esteem elsewhere. Is it her issue or an issue that is still unresolved in the marriage? Or is it both? These are the questions both of you need to answer.
Also, your wife needs to show she is motivated to keep working on your relationship. Is she getting treatment herself? If not, how does she work through her feelings? Have you both talked to anyone together and has she shared how she feels now with anyone?
This may be a phase that your wife has to work through in order to come back to your marriage. She needs to feel more equal to you and have her own unique experience instead of just feeling like she got left behind in the relationship. Her feelings are natural, but they can also be destructive if her motivation is to hurt you or put herself first instead of working this through. You both need to sit down and talk this out so you can understand where she is at with how she feels. Communication is very important in resolving this issue.
The best way is to talk to her. She needs to know what she is doing is hurting you. There is a small risk that hurting you is what she is looking to do, but from what you have described so far, it sounds like she wants to be in your marriage and may just be hurt.
Another way to think of it is that if she wanted to leave your marriage, she probably would have already. There is no reason for her to stay if she is truly unhappy and wants to go.
Also, she would not have shared her feelings with you if she wanted to leave. She is trying to tell you that she is in pain. By listening to her and trying to talk to her about it, you can create a connection between you.
Make sure you bring this up on Thursday as well. This needs aired out so the therapist can have a chance to help you create a connection and communicate with each other about it.