So here's the situation. I love my wife. She's my best friend, we do as much as we can together as our schedules permit (which doesn't cause a lot of conflict). We cook together, clean house together, play together, take trips together, we celebrate our love twice a month with date night, make a big to-do about our anniversaries, you name it. We also share a tight group of friends, one of whom is our mutual best friend, call her F. I know, original, huh?
Backing up a little, just to better set the stage. My wife was cheated on in her first marriage. Her second marriage failed after she and he drifted apart mentally and emotionally. I had been friends with her and husband #2 for some years when I witnessed their disintegration and simultaneously discovered I have feelings for her. At the same time, she was also setting her sights on another mutual friend who had drifted apart from his wife, which I had no clue about when I told her about my feelings for her. For about a month, she went back and forth between myself and our other friend, trying to convince us both to share because she couldn't make a decision. I was doing well learning to share her when he, in a jealous rage, physically attacked my wife. That was the end of any contact with him. Also, I'm a good deal her junior and she's always afraid in the back of her mind that I'll stop finding her attractive and leave her for someone my age.
Back to today... F is married to a nice enough man who, due to medical complications, is unable to function sexually. He's let himself go pretty badly, he's become a complete homebody, and has all but alienated F. F has tried numerous times to get her husband to notice her, to take some sort of interest in her, and for a while, she gave up and started to look for a lover on the side.
Several months before F's decision, I came to the realization that I have very strong feelings for her. She's fun, witty and charming, she looks out for my wife and I, and she's a very open and honest person. Very much like my wife.
So, for about a year, I agonized over my feelings for F. I figured if I ignored them, or at least refused to act upon them, they'd go away. No such luck, obviously. So when the internal conflict threatened to drive me bonkers, I sat down and talked about my feelings with my wife. It wasn't pretty. She cried, she was angry, she felt betrayed, and I couldn't blame her. We promised to be each other's one and only, and I broke that promise. I told her I would try my hardest and even offered to seek counseling to align myself with her ideal.
After about two months of refusing to acknowledge my feelings again, I realized it was only making me focus on the feelings and intensifying the desire I feel for F, so I gave in and promised myself I would only indulge them as a fantasy. Which worked until F started being flirty with me. We'd flirt back and forth, nothing terribly serious, but did so out in the open. My wife either didn't notice, or wasn't bothered. This arrangement was working quite well, I thought, up until almost the anniversary of the disastrous first discussion. We three had gone on a trip together, and after some drinking, F told me that she finds me adorable, but that she wouldn't want to hurt either my wife or her husband (in that order). About a week later I had sent a flirty email to F, in which I told her I thought she was adorable, too. My little suggestion to her that what I percieved to be her feelings are mutual. She shared the email with my wife, and my wife confronted me. She was hurt that I still felt the same way and told me she couldn't handle going through this a third time. She said I would lose her if I couldn't get this under control. Later she told me she said a lot in anger that she didn't mean, but I am so afraid of losing her that I won't even ask her to clarify which points.
So, here it is over a year later. My feelings for my wife and for F are as strong as ever. I have stopped being nearly so flirty with F, and she with me. Now I have a great, big hole in my heart. Part of that hole is the layer of intimacy F and I have lost, and part is knowing there's a range of topics, flavored by my love for F, that I dare not discuss with my wife for fear of losing her. I feel terrible about not being completely open with her, but I know I have little choice. At least I haven't outright lied about anything. I've lost my sense of direction, though, and I don't know of anybody I can turn to for advice. Can somebody please help me? Is there a way for me to cope with my situation and not lose my darling wife?