Finding out that our husband has betrayed us is a bit like having a bomb dropped on our home.
Sadly, for the vast majority of women (over 75% says research) disclosure begins with us discovering something of his betrayal (porn on the computer/phone, prostitutes’ numbers on the phone, a mistress’s disclosure, arrival of the police, etc.). Where to from here?
Hear no evil
Some women don’t want to know anything more of his activities… at least not for awhile. Processing the “big one” (the knowledge that our husband, and our relationship with him, are not what we thought they were) is all consuming. That’s understandable. However, in order for our healing to progress (which includes getting safe, processing, grieving, and letting go /forgiving) we most likely are going to have to know our full reality. By “full reality” I don’t mean all the gory details of what he did – just the details we want once we have had a chance to give it some careful thought (possibly running this by a coach/counselor). At the very least most of us need to know the range of this thing (even if we want no details) in order to process, grieve and let go.
If you are having trouble facing more disclosure, I’d encourage you to seek help and support. Disclosure may be incredibly painful, but in many instances what we imagine is even worse than the truth – sometimes not though. Support can make it possible for us to face our reality in either case.
Give it to me straight
Of course many women, as soon as they make a discovery or have an initial admission of betrayal, want to know the rest. Now!
Sadly, the man who has been “found out” is rarely ready to come clean on demand. That doesn’t mean the wife doesn’t have the right to ask the questions: it just means that she should set her expectations accordingly. Years of hiding and lying don’t generally disappear overnight. Thus, we are likely to get what is called a “dribbled disclosure” – and possibly one that is mixed with outright lies.
However, if we sense contrition and a willingness to come clean (some men are actually relieved to be found out) then we can explain to our husband that “dribbling” the disclosure is going to make things more painful for us than just “spitting it all out”.
Therapeutic or DIY disclosure?
Some of you will know that I have had a love/hate relationship with therapist-aided disclosures over the years. (If you've read Beyond Betryal you'll have an idea why.) At this point – after yet more years of journeying with women/couples around disclosure – I'm back to favouring "spitting it all out" in the context of the therapist's office.
That said, if we need some answers, "now" in order to not lose our mind (or another reason like fear for our children, the media, etc.) I'm in favor of that too. I just believe that we are unlikely to get everything we ultimately want in terms of a disclosure doing it at home with no guidance.
At the very least I would recommend, if we have to do this without therapeutic support, investing in the Dan Drake/Janice Caudill (his and hers) workbooks on full disclosure. Another option is to do "an emergency" or overview disclosure ("emergency disclosure" is described in these books) at home and then leave the "full" disclosure for our work with a therapist or coach – or even, better, two therapists (ours and his).
What to expect from a therapist-led disclosure
There are are probably as many ways to lead a disclosure process as there are therapists/coaches. However, the aforementioned workbooks, really do offer most of the best practices around full disclosure.
One of the key takeaways from the books: this process is for you (the betrayed partner). Therefore, you should have all the say on the "how's", "when's", "where's" and "what's" of the disclosure. The book can guide you on what your options are, in each of these areas, if you are uncertain.
That said, most women find they need an advocate in this process as well... because what you're dealing with, in terms of the betrayal, is overwhelming enough, without having to fight (yes, I'm afraid that in some cases it is a fight) to get what you want out of this alien process. Please consider contacting an APSATS-trained/certified coach or therapist (like those of us at Naked Truth Recovery) about working with you through your disclosure.
The God of Truth (Isaiah 65:16) wants to make the truth spring up from the earth (Psalm 85:11) and bring you to the place where you know the truth, and the truth sets (both of) you free (John 8:32). He will also be there to support you as you seek truth. In your healing journey: you do not walk alone.