If you’re ’fessing up, have a plan. As much as you might long for the catharsis of blurting out “I cheated!!” at dinner, you kind of can’t do that. Nelson says a good place to start is with an “appointment.” Tell your partner you have something you need to talk about, and don’t sugarcoat it. Let him know you need X amount of time (probably a lot) and that you’ve got something not-so-fun to share. And when you do tell, be direct. Just say, “I had an affair.”
Don’t say you’re sorry unless you know why. Which, let’s face it, you might not. Repeatedly mumbling an apology over and over doesn’t move the conversation along (and can come across as insincere). The goal is to be honest and to do that, Nelson recommends you, “1) Not blame; 2) Not deny; 3) Not dissemble.”
Be prepared for the ‘why.’ At the end of the day, this is what your spouse is going to want to know. It’s not an easy question to answer, but Nelson says it helps to understand what kind of affair you had. Was it a “can opener,” or indirect way to get out of your unhappy marriage? Or was it a “wake-up or break-up” affair, in which you disrupted your relationship in order to change something about it? One thing to note: In trying to explain, you should avoid comparing your affair partner and your spouse at all costs.