Part 5: Disclosure Do's & Don'ts
The Affair First Response Guide was written to be the first step in navigating the turbulent waters after infidelity is discovered in a marriage. Part five is designed you help you understand when and how to communicate with your spouse about an affair.
Disclosure vs. Discover
You may have suspected something was not right. Discovery is the moment you realize your spouse has been unfaithful.
Disclosure is when your spouse shares with you the truth of what they have done. There are helpful and unhelpful ways for this to happen. We want to encourage you to approach disclosure in the least painful, most productive way. This article will tell you how.
- To the betrayed: What you don't know will hurt you.
- To the betraying: Secrets keep you trapped and sabotage healing. The point of disclosure for the betrayed spouse is having the information you need to a) make wise decisions about the future, b) be able to heal, c) consider forgiveness
For the betraying spouse there really isn't any way to build trust or to be free without truthfulness.
Common Lies About Disclosure
- "I am protecting my spouse's heart"
- A common lie betraying spouses tell themselves is that they are protecting their spouse by not disclosing the truth, which in reality is just self preservation. You are not helping your spouse by lying to them. You cannot rebuild relationship on lies.
- "I don't want to know"
- Denial can be tempting, but it really won't save you the pain. You will never feel safe and secure in a relationship that is not built on truth. Further, future infidelity, if there is not complete transparency, is highly probable
Helpful vs. Unhelpful
Best Case Scenario
"Do I need to know this now?"
- Urgency to "know everything."
- Urgency to take action.
- Urgency to figure out the future.
The sense of urgency comes from feeling out of control and insecure. In our attempt to regain control of our world, we desperately grasp for a solution. Hasty decisions often result in undesirable outcomes. You don't want to make things worse attempting to make things better.
Appropriate Level of detail
It is less about the right or wrong details to share as much as helpful or unhelpful. Details that draw a vivid mental picture do more damage than good. They will likely plague the hearer for years to come. When in doubt it is better to talk with a therapist first before sharing graphic details.
- "Is that everything?" "Yes." Two days later..."There is more..."
- The dribble effect is detrimental. It leaves the hearer always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is much better for there to be full and thorough disclosure facilitated by an experienced affair recovery counselor.
Lying is normal
Not okay or good, but normal as in common in nearly 100% of cases either overtly or by omission
When a person is in panic and are afraid of losing spouse they will omit things or outright lie out of fear
It is common for lying to happen during unstructured disclosure or for facts to be left out
Controlling InformationThe betraying spouse does not get to control what the betrayed spouse gets to know. It is normal for the betraying spouse to be afraid to share certain information for fear of how the betrayed spouse will react. This will sabotage reconciliation and the rebuilding of trust. It is true that certain information or at least level of detail may not be helpful. However, that determination is better made with the help of a counselor rather than being a unilateral decision by the betraying spouse. This would include:Identity of the affair partner(s) Location of affair(s) activity Nature of affair(s) activity Sharing of images, sites, or other graphic detail
Time and Place of Doing DisclosureWe have already said the best way to disclosure is with the aid of an experienced affair recovery counselor.Ways that should be avoided: In front of the kids While intoxicated After 9pm In public (at spouse's place of work, social media, church, etc.) Via text, email, or over the phone In a carThe urgency to know the details of the affair can be felt very strongly by the betrayed spouse. We would encourage you to write down your questions and process with a counselor as opposed to stage an inquisition of your spouse.Note to the betraying spouse: You may feel the desire to spill your guts to your spouse. However, that may be more about your desire for relief than helping your spouse. It is best to process with an experienced affair recovery counselor how to go about disclosure in a way that can lead to healing.
Affair Recovery Guide.
A six part series to help you pick up the pieces after an affair.