my beloved asked me to offer my thoughts on this thread. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to it. I hope you still get to see them and it makes a difference.
1- We don't get to always get to know what the consequences of our actions are anywhere close to the time of decision making.
There is a lag time between cause and effect that delays the results of our choices from becoming evident to us. For example the generation that was alive during the beginning of the industrial revolution and which started burning fossil fuels never dreamed of global warming. Now 2 generations later we still have a difficult time even convincing some people that it's a reality and it's almost to the point of no return as far as maintaining a livable planet eco-system. Are there consequences to choices? Always! Do we know what they are at the time of decision making? Seldom.
2- Consequences are only effective learning tools IF they can be properly connected with the choices and actions that precipitated them.
Our brains are built to make associations. We form associations based usually on proximity of events. Proximity of events however may have nothing to do with events relating to each other.
The story is told of a monkey that lived in a cage in a zoo which happened to be in the approach path of a local airport. As planes would fly overhead the monkey was frightened and rattled the bars on it's cage. The first time the monkey did this he learned that when he rattled the bars on his cage the noise gradually passed further and further away. The monkey concluded that his ferocious cage rattling was scaring away the monster and so continued doing it. To the monkey it believed that it's actions are what made the planes retreat. How many times are we exactly like the monkey in thinking that our choices and actions are causing things? If then our perceptions can be so far off the mark with causes and effects how can you be sure you have anything that you've experienced properly associated with your choices and actions?
To the heart of the matter then. Does the choice to have an affair have a consequence? Absolutely. But when will you know what that consequence is? Probably not for some time, perhaps not until you are near or at the point of no return. What then do you perceive in your relationship during the time of decision making about having an affair? The consequences of PREVIOUS relationship skills (or lack thereof) and choices that you've made using those skills. As my wife would say the consequences of your character(s) manifest in your relationship up to that point. And I would add WITH the lag time effects of them manifesting to you.
Therefore if you have 'disastrous consequences' shortly after choosing to have an affair guess what you're actually experiencing? You are experiencing the coming home to roost of how you have both been choosing and acting PRIOR to the start of the affair. The fact is that is what led or brought you to that point of making the choice to have the affair in the first place. The lamentable reality is that by the time you've made that choice the 'consequences' of which you have yet to even begin to experience, you are experiencing what you call 'disastrous' results.
I hope this insight serves to sober you a little bit about what you believe are the consequences of your choices. I know this awareness sobers me. (when I remember it) I often remind myself that I don't get to know what the consequences of my actions are when I make choices, not in full anyway. I use this to help me be more careful and stop to think just a little longer before I give in to some compulsive urge.
The last thing I want to say on this is that there is a process of making amends in recovery. If you've ever attempted to make amends for anything with a sincere effort and desire you learn that it involves a change of character to actually do so. Changing one's character is not easy. I don't believe it can be done by a person alone and actually requires the help of a higher power, at least that seems to be the reality for me. Having worked for years to change my own character I've found it to be nigh impossible for me to change without the help of higher power(s).
I wish you and your family every happiness, joy, fulfillment and success.
You and I don't get to know the consequences in time to feel them in time to choose out of mistakes up front. We can however acknowledge our mistakes and amend them hopefully before the things we feel which are the actual consequences of previous choices overwhelms us. That is what we will do if we are wise. If we are not wise we will get to experience the overwhelm. Consequences tend to accumulate as we persist in our beliefs and chosen paths.
While we may not be able to connect the dots directly to our choices we CAN discern if pathways in general are leading us to a happy result or an unhappy one. We need to learn to trust the process and pay attention as we sift out what aspects of our characters are leading us to happiness or to misery.
My suggestion is that you focus on building your character and overcoming those qualities which bring you misery as near as you can discern what they are. Don't wait until you have to feel the consequences of your mistakes before you start working on what led you to make the mistakes in the first place. By then it may be too costly and painful already. Be wise instead and get to work on the roots of your character.
take what helps and leave the rest.