You didn’t cheat because (nor despite) your wife or your marriage. Nothing external made you cheat or justifies your cheating. The OW wasn’t special, the dream-princess or whatever. She was simply someone that was available at the same time that you somehow justified your decision to cheat.
Not saying that to disrespect her – to her you had the same role and were not Prince Charming. More like Prince Available.
IMHO understanding the above and the implications is key to personal recovery, and personal recovery is the key to discovering if relational recovery is possible.
There are a very typical response people have when they do something they know is wrong. It’s something that was pointed out to me when I was in law enforcement, and I have witnessed repeatedly in life: Even when you know and acknowledge you did something wrong you justify it somehow.
Like "I know I was speeding, but I have a job-interview I can’t miss", or "I know it’s stealing, but my family is hungry" or "He deserved to be beaten, he spilled my drink".
Be careful not to use any excuses to minimize or justify your decision to have an affair.
It’s just "I had an affair". No "because I felt you didn’t love me" or "our sex-life was stale" or whatever. No excuses – no minimization – no justification.
One strong statement you can make is to acknowledge your actions to your wife:
"I had an affair. It is totally my decision and there was nothing you did or the marriage did that can in any way or form explain or justify what I did. The reasons I decided to have an affair are totally mine, and I am going to work on realizing and understanding how I could allow myself to consciously make that decision. I hope you give me time to improve myself, but you are as always totally free to decide if you want this marriage or not. "
Note how I say repeatedly that this was a decision? That is another key factor. If you insist the affair just happened, then there isn’t any way you can tell your wife it won’t happen again. It’s like if you accidentally slip and fall and break her favorite cup you can’t promise your wife that you won’t ever fall again. You DECIDED – probably with a series of smaller decision leading you to it – to cheat.
If you can decide to do something you can also decide not to do something.
I notice above that you seem reluctant to do things suggested if they include shame, sacrifice or pain on your behalf.
For example: The STD test. Why wait? You aren’t doing it for her per se. It’s not that you go and do the test and e-mail her the results. Wait until she indicates she is willing to have sex again? What then – "hold that thought honey, I’m going to pop off to the 24-hour STD clinic and the results should be in next 72 hours…"
You go and do the STD test for YOU. To know that at least THAT issue is off the table – or on it if that’s the case. You don’t announce it to your wife or anything of that nature.
Going to IC… You were thinking about it. Have you done it? How many sessions?
Once again – make an appointment and go! Don’t tell your wife as if expecting a reward. Just go. You are doing this for YOU not her. If she asks, then yes – let her know. What you want is that YOU have a benefit from this. That happens if you take note of what the IC says and try to improve. It’s working for your marriage if your wife sees a change to the better, not because you hand her an attendance slip.
Telling the OW husband. OK… I personally don’t see this as necessary. Morally right maybe, but IMHO exposure should serve towards a goal. Usually, we advocate exposure to end infidelity, and it does sound like the affair is over. IMHO this should be the prerogative of your wife. If she knows who OW is, then you could let her know that she is free to contact the husband if she wants to.
But your reluctance to do it… and the excuses you use… they sort-of support what I said about actions you probably deem painful. There is no way change can be made without pain.
Other than that.
I recommend you be an open book.
Tell her your agenda for the day. Not like you are reporting in, but more in passing over breakfast before leaving.
Without forcing it on her then let your wife know she can see your phone, tablet… whatever at any time she wants.
Be available over the day. In a meeting and she calls? Quick message and phone back. Have the meeting in your agenda that she has access to.
Going to be late? Let her know and where you are going.
I’m not suggesting that until the end of time she constantly monitors you. It’s rather that now she has no trust. If you repeatedly are where you claim to be and she can verify that for a reasonable amount of time she can regain trust. After the nth time of verifying you being in the gym at 6:30 instead of possibly in a motel bed your wife will begin to trust that you are really doing push-ups and not OW.
Never lie. This is something we all do, but "innocently". Like if she asks you to do the lawn next Saturday and you have other plans then tell her so, tell her "I will mow the lawn on Friday because Fred and I have golf at 10 next Saturday" and then do it. Mow the lawn. Promise only what you can deliver, refuse what you can’t.
Stop trying to win all arguments. Look for books and courses on negotiation tactics and conflict handling. There are so many ways, courses, books, dvd’s… on self-improvement, goal-setting etc that always lead to some change and improvement in us.
Find ways to be with your wife. Not date-nights or watching tv together, but maybe you two cook and clean together? Do you both go to a gym? How about sharing the ride and spending the same time in the gym? Would she be willing to take a daily 30 minute walk with you? This isn’t about solving the issues, but about being together. Feeling comfortable and safe in each other’s company.