She said she wants to end our marriage as quickly and painlessly as possible. When I asked her what the hurry was, she said that her feelings could not be changed, and that she did not want to hate me after this. I told her that I would come home, that we could work on it together, and she said that she didn't want to anymore. She said that if I needed to come home, she more than understood, but she was still going forward with this. How do you argue with that? I couldn't!
YES, YOU COULD (and should). You say:
"I'm really sorry you feel that way. I certainly hear you, and that this is what you want. It's not what I want, however, and I think we owe it to our kids to not just cut and run here because one of us suddenly wants out of the marriage."
Gator, this is CLASSIC infidelity addiction talking. Was this woman previously a good mother? A good wife? A woman of good moral character? You seem like a great guy, and I find it hard to believe you would have picked anyone who WASN'T for your life partner. Why would a woman like this suddenly THROW THAT ALL AWAY, WITHOUT EVEN TRYING???
It's the ADDICTION talking. What you need to decide is, do you want to FIGHT that, and aggressively try to bust the affair (separate the addict from the source of their addiction), and then DB ("2a"), or if you want just go the "Setting Them Free" route ("2b").
Here's the thing. A lot of people pick "2b" right out of the chute, or -- worse -- they don't even do THAT right (there's an ART to doing it, as Gucci outlines in his current, excellent thread on the subject). This is NOT the same as "giving up/giving in." And they do that (pick "2b") because they think it's EASIER.
But the sad, painful truth is, no matter WHAT you do ("2a," "2b," "While They Wait," something else), YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WADE THRU A WHOLE BUNCH OF CHIT FOR THE NEXT 3-24 MONTHS. People think if they just stop fighting, the pain goes away. But it doesn't, and it'll actually be WORSE, because you'll be all down on yourself for NOT doing what you think is "The Right Thing to Do," and you won't be setting the agenda for your family.
WHY ARE YOU ALLOWING YOUR WIFE TO SET THE AGENDA FOR THE POTENTIAL END OF YOUR MARRIAGE, when she is the ONE person who DOES NOT HAVE ITS BEST INTERESTS AT HEART RIGHT NOW???
In fact, I'll take it one further: She does not have your FAMILY'S best interests at heart right now.
We can talk about all of the specifics, but this (deciding what you want to do) is really the first thing that has to happen.
"What is best for my kids is best for me"
Persevere = happily being patient over a long period of time