In 2002's Unfaithful Diane Lane meets a handsome Frenchman in a Hollywood-contrived New York City rainstorm, becomes infatuated and initiates a lurid (and oh-my-God-hot) affair. After ninety minutes of sweaty lovemaking in stairwells, Soho lofts and café restrooms Lane is guilt-ridden and decides to call it quits. But not before her husband Richard Gere finds out, confronts the lover and murders him, neatly disposing of his body in broad-daylight.
That's one way to end an affair.
For those of us without a Los Angeles screenwriter scripting our lives, disentangling oneself from an extramarital—or any other "extra-"—affair can be painful, awkward and emotionally exhausting. How do you know that you're making the right choice? What if your feelings for your lover are stronger than those for your spouse? Is it possible to move on in a relationship after a potentially devastating affair? And then there's the big question: Do you, or do you not come clean?
Mira Kirshenbaum, psychologist, relationship expert and author of the recently published When Good People Cheat: Inside the Hearts and Minds of People in Two Relationships says, "if you have ended an affair and made a decision to return to your marriage and work on it, it is a mistake to tell your spouse that you've cheated."
To be honest, secrecy has always been this writer's policy on cheating, ever since I kissed my best friend's brother on the sixth-grade field trip. If nothing in your relationship is going to change as a result of an affair, if you plan to go back and be the best possible girlfriend you can be, what's the point of effing up a good thing? But Kirshenbaum's affirmation is nevertheless comforting: "All it would accomplish is adding a boatload of anger and mistrust to an already iffy relationship." Well said.