Is there anything I can do to get my wife to forgive me for having an affair? I had to tell her because I got a case of gonorrhea. We both got treated and the doctor says there shouldn't be any further complications. She says she doesn't want to leave me; she wants to "work through this," but the temperature in my house is below zero. She only speaks to me when necessary. She's very polite, but I would rather she got pissed off and threw some dishes at me. Maybe then she could get the anger out of her system. I know I did something wrong, but I never saw that extramarital activity as a threat to our relationship. We have two children and a comfortable life. I don't want to lose her. But I can't understand why she thinks that refusing to have sex with me will help matters. If anything, it makes it even more tempting to cheat again. Roses and chocolate seem like a cliché, but I'll try anything. I love her, but I don't think I understand women at all.
I doubt that you would be so calm and unflustered if it was your wife who had the affair—especially if that included sharing a dose of the clap. I want you to be honest with yourself and visualize in detail how a conversation about her affair would make you feel. You might believe her when she said she never intended to leave you, and she wanted to stay. But you'd be haunted with images of her having sex with somebody else. You'd want to know if he was better than you were. You'd want to stop thinking about it, but it would be impossible to shut off. You'd feel stupid, enraged, humiliated, and rejected. You'd constantly struggle with feeling second-rate and fucked over. Was his penis bigger than yours? What positions did they do it in? Did she come? How often did she come? Was it better? Why? How could she do this to you? Now try to conjure up the imaginary vulnerability it would take to make love with her again. Not so easy, is it? Now do you appreciate her politeness as a supreme triumph of her will power?
The commitment to monogamy is the one thing that defines a marriage or any serious relationship for most people. Violating that pledge is a betrayal of the first magnitude. To most people, being unfaithful means you no longer love them, and you can no longer be trusted. At all.
If you want to keep your wife, you are going to have to turn the clock back and pretend that you don't have her heart or her hand in marriage yet. Try to remember what it was like when you first met her. What was it about her that led you to pursue her? Get back into courtship mode and start behaving the way you did back then.
Winning a broken heart is not as easy as seducing a girl who's never said "I do." But this is the best way to prove that you are still in love with her and want to be with her. Treat her like a queen, and acknowledge whenever allowed to do so that you are a heel and a hound. Grovel. Sincerely, now!
If all you want to do is maintain the status quo, that's not good enough. The truth is that you weren't happy before. The comfort that you described in your letter to me was a lie. If you were so satisfied with your marriage, you wouldn't have unzipped your pants in somebody else's bedroom. (Or car. Or office. Or sunset beach. Whatever.) At the very least, you fell out of love with your wife enough to take her for granted. You were quite selfish, and I don't think you are prepared to admit just how wrong that was.
Take yourself out for a really thorough talking-to. Maybe you don't, in fact, want to stay married to this woman. Would counseling help, either you alone or the two of you? At the very least, it would get the two of you talking to each other again, without all that icy superficial politeness.
Good luck, man. Roses are the least of your amends. But they would at least show that you're prepared to start.