BraverySeeker, GalaGirl, you both write so beautifully and from the heart--I am straight, but I think I could fall for either of you in a heartbeat. I love your authenticity and how well you express it.
Bravery, I was where your wife's gf was. In a rocky marriage for 25 years, to a basically decent guy who was challenged by an abusive childhood, adult ADD, and being bipolar. It all left him moody, a loner, not big on being touched outside the bedroom, a high-functioning alcoholic, and intensely high-strung.
I was no picnic, either. Contracted a chronic, relapsing-remitting illness early in our marriage. Completely wrecked our plans for me being Type A go-getter corporate girl while hubby stayed home and wrote novels. We never really recovered our balance or made new intentional life plans. We just put our heads down and got through each day. Some days--many days--were really great and really fun and really rewarding. Many others were awful.
I had been telling my husband for several years that I--a touchy-feely extrovert--really needed physical, non-sexual connection with him, and also just plain TIME with him (he spent most of his spare time when not working drinking and either shooting pool or playing guitar in a studio on our property). I told him over and over, sometimes earnestly and slowly and with love, that it did not feel to me that he loved and valued me. (He not only never told me he loved me, he also did things like averting his face when I tried to hug him, and, when I gained some weight, refusing to look at me when I was naked.)
And then I met a guy online--and my world shattered. Perhaps it's more accurate to say it was broken open. I fell, and fell hard. We had three weeks of intense email communications and phone calls before I knew I had to tell my husband--I didn't know what was happening with this poly guy I'd met (I'd never even heard of polyamory), but I knew it was serious and significant and was blowing my mind. So that's pretty much what I told him: I've met someone, and I have no idea what this is, but it's significant and you need to know about it.
He was shocked. Either he hadn't heard me all those years, or he hadn't taken me seriously, I guess. I asked him to please not make me choose between him and my new guy, because I honestly didn't know what my answer would be.
At first he was mildly interested in a quad (but my new guy's wife had no interest in that---and I don't know that I did, either). Three months in, he agreed that new guy and I should meet (we lived in different states). We did, and it was an indescribable experience, as if everything I had been missing for 25 years had been laid before me by a benevolent universe. But I came home to a crushed husband; he truly thought I would "get it out of my system" and be done with it.
I had started seeing a therapist to sort out my feelings. Why was I falling for a virtual stranger? Was it bad? Was it good? Was there something horribly wrong with me? BTW, the first therapist I saw claimed for the first three sessions to be open to the idea of polyamory, but on the fourth visit suddenly lunged at me and said, "Who do you actually know that does this? I don't know anybody that does this! People don't DO this!"
Needless to say, I found another therapist, through a referral from a local poly group in the area I was living then. He was gay and open to all kinds of different lifestyles. He never counseled me to break up with my by-then boyfriend, but he did want me to give my marriage a chance, if only so I could proceed forward with no regrets (especially since my son was still quite young at the time).
I tried and tried to get my husband to come to therapy with me. He did, once. But told me he would only come to therapy if I would "give up" my bf. (Not set aside temporarily, not put on hold, but give up.) At that point, my bf felt like the only oxygen mask in a plane that was going down, my only point of sanity. I refused. My husband refused to go to therapy. And although it took another year for things to grind to an end, that was basically that. He started drinking even more, took to sleeping in the studio, emerging in the middle of the night to appear in my bedroom, drunk, to verbally berate me. I got sicker from the stress.
My husband started looking worse and worse to me compared to my bf, who is a lovely, evolved, open-hearted, wise, conscious human being. I did not leave my husband for my bf--who is married and not available for a primary relationship. But I left because having met him, having seen his marriage and how it works, I knew for the first time in a couple of decades that not only did I deserve more, but that more was POSSIBLE.
So I tell you all this--ALL this, sorry to go on so long!--to tell you I think I get where your wife's gf is. Once my eyes had been opened to what the possibilities for intentional, conscious, mutually supportive, and healthy relationships with actual grown-ups who talked about their feelings and their concerns and co-created their lives, I couldn't go back, any more than I could unring a bell. And my husband proved incapable of moving forward.
No real advice here, just an overly long sharing. My bf, BTW, tried hard to reach out to my husband (he still hasn't given up, after six years!), but has been largely rebuffed and blamed for the end of our marriage. We still remain hopeful, after all this time, that my now-ex will see the advantage of getting on the same page, if not becoming friends. Especially now that my bf has a significant role in my son's life.