Ok, so you've decided not to tell. You want your relationship to work out, and you're willing to put in the time to make it happen. But what about the reason you cheated in the first place? What was lacking in your relationship that made your eyes wander and your Amex bill rack up hotel bills? I asked Kirshenbaum how she recommends talking to your partner about feelings of being sexually or emotionally unfulfilled.
"Instead of telling your spouse you've cheated, you can tell your spouse that you have an unmet need," she explains, and "that it is absolutely crucial that the two of you work at finding ways to meet that need, and that you are scared of what will happen if you don't find ways to satisfy this need." While this may not be the most comfortable conversation, especially after you've strayed, Kirshenbaum has an excellent point: communication, key in any relationship, is absolutely crucial in mending the wounds that an affair can create.
That said, lingering feelings of guilt have the potential to gnaw away at even the most ambitious of reformed cheaters. I say accept your actions and move on if you're truly committed to ending the affair for good. Kirshenbaum concurs. "If your spouse doesn't know, deal with your guilt by being the best partner you can possibly be." In other words, put on your Girlfriend-of-the-Year costume and don’t take it off.
All this assumes that you're ending your affair by choice, and not because your Richard Gere is currently catching the express train downtown to off your lover. If you've been caught red-handed (or panties-down as the case may be) ending an affair is an entirely different ballgame. Kirshenbaum offers this advice: "Deal with your guilt by helping your spouse deal with [his or her] fear, anger, and humiliation. This means a lot of listening, more than you may have ever imagined possible."