Outed: What Happens When Your Philandering Goes Public?

"Absolutely [publicity] would have slowed down the process [between her and her husband]," said Emma. "The preconceived ideas that would inevitably come from public opinion, it would have extended the phase of feeling terrible guilt."

"As the adulterer, it's too easy to get caught up in public opinion and think that you're terrible and wrong and there's no hope for reconciliation," Emma said.

But answering to reporters for one's faults can also be the best safeguard against future acts of infidelity.

Willard Harley, a marriage counselor and author of "His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage," said that bringing word of the affair beyond husband and wife is essential to rebuilding the relationship.

Now that everyone knows about the first incident, Vitter will be much less likely to stray, Harley said.

"One of the most important things to do if you've had an affair is to tell the world that you've had an affair. Tell your children, tell your in-laws, tell your friends…and tell them that you want them to hold you accountable from here on out," Harley said.

Johnnie, 72, who nearly cheated on his wife 15 years ago but resisted because his wife came down with a serious illness just as he was about to embark on his affair said, "I think it will help because what he has to realize now as an unfaithful husband is that everybody knows about him now. He's got to walk the straight line." He also spoke on the condition that his full name be withheld.

And Elissa Gough, a marriage counselor who has written several "infidelity guides" for husbands and wives both betrayed and unfaithful, said that public airings of marital transgressions, while painful, helps bring home to Vitter and to the public the consequences of infidelity.

"If you think of the consequences then it wouldn't be that enchanting and that exciting," Gough said. "People in those situations do not look beyond their particular need at the time."

For Vitter "reality has set in," she said.

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