Thank you for the opportunity to serve. After reading your email, I was deeply struck by your courage and willingness to work things out. It seems to me that the core of your question is whether or not you made the right decision.
Here are my insights:
Remember the old acronym, H.A.L.T. (hungry, angry, lonely and tired)? Well, the rule of thumb is to never let yourself get too lonely, too angry, or too tired. Why? Because in these states of mind, our egos tend to be more vulnerable to temptation.
It seems to me that your GF has been lonely. This made her more vulnerable to outside attention (this can happen to anyone of us). So, what can you learn from this?
Well, I believe this is a pointer, that your GF has some growing up to do. So, part of what would be helpful to her is to learn how to be “alone” without being “lonely.” How to be her own best friend, create a positive social network, and become more involved in more things that make her happy — outside of you and your relationship. All of this would add to her self-esteem and help her handle your time apart better.
Something else to consider:
When betrayal happens in a love relationship, the pain is indescribable. I know you’re a tough guy, so maybe you’ve been able to sweep most of it under the rug. But you can’t deny there’s heaviness in your heart and a cloud of uncertainty that surrounds even the tiniest things you do right now.
This is all very normal. Getting over this kind of betrayal, disappointment, and “let-down” is a process. So please go easy on yourself. You love her. You know you do, and at the same time, you’re not fully able to let go and love her with the same kind of trust and innocence you used to.
Why is that? Because the “indiscretion” changed everything. The “bad” news is… there’s no going back to the way things “used to be”. But then again, maybe this isn’t actually “bad” — because in your scenario, the “bad news” is also the “good news”.
What does this mean?
So, things are never going to be the same again, but if you think about it, you don’t really want them to be the same again anyway. The reason? If you go back to the way things were, all that will do is get you exactly what you got before… and that’s exactly what you’re afraid of.
Begin couples’ counseling for both of you, and maybe life coaching for her. There are underlying issues that led to the “rut” in the first place. She needs to learn some coping skills to help her tolerate loneliness if she’s going to be with a Navy man.
The bottom line: Your relationship needs a new road map. You have to learn from your mistakes so as not to repeat them. That’s the only way to ensure your future does NOT recreate the past. For more help on this, read my article Intro to Passionate Monogamy. I believe you’ll find it very helpful.