Should I or Shouldn’t I Share?
Most partners of sex addicts first learn about an addict’s sexual behaviors by accident—a coworker of the sex addict tells her that her spouse is having an affair, she accidentally discovers emails on his phone to prostitutes or acting out partners, or she finds pornography on the home computer.
Maybe the addict lost his job because he engaged in viewing porn on a work computer. Or even worse, he was arrested for some type of illegal sexual activity.
ADDICT DISCLOSES FROM SHAME
Some people first find out about the addict’s sexual activities when the addict discloses it our of deep shame or fear, believing his partner has already discovered incriminating evidence. Perhaps the spouse/partner suspected all along that something was going on, and finally confirmed her suspicions by looking through his computer, phone, or email.
FULL DISCLOSURES = TRUTH & HONESTY
No matter how you may have discovered your partner’s sex addiction, the Full Disclosure will help to establish a foundation of truth and honesty in the relationship that previously had not been established.
RECOMMEND THERAPIST BE PRESENT
When couples attempt to do disclosure on their own, they often risk causing additional pain and trauma. The partner often demands detailed information about the sexual acting out that can result in further harm. If the addict gives in to the demands for too much detail, those details may become imprinted into the brain of the partner and make recovery virtually impossible.
PARTIAL DISCLOSURES DESTROYS TRUST
The addict often attempts to disclose only information that he believes the partner already knows or only what he believes that the partner can “handle”. This dishonesty during the initial disclosures often reinforces the partner’s belief that the addict can never be trusted. He may also minimize, justify, or even blame his acting out on the partner. The addict should not be the one to decide what should or shouldn’t be disclosed.
A therapist that has prior disclosure experience should be involved in what is and is not disclosed to insure nothing is left out that should be disclosed and that nothing disclosed that could cause further harm to the partner.
STEP-DISCLOSURES CAUSE DAMAGE
The most common disclosure by the addict is to reveal a little information to test his partner’s reaction and to see if she will stay. Then he reveals a little more. Rarely does the addict bare his soul with total honesty and know how to do it in a healthy way. We remind wives that if he had the ability to be completely honest and vulnerable, then he probably wouldn’t have been acting out sexually in the first place.
If you’ve been a party to the partial disclosure “dump”, you know the pain and detrimental effects it has on rebuilding trust (especially when information keeps leaking out, your desire to trust is undermined).
THE VALUE OF FULL DISCLOSURE
Incomplete disclosure of sexual betrayal can make partners of sex addicts feel crazy. When an addict is still keeping secrets, certain “energy” in the relationship reverberates with deception. More often than not, this tension triggers fear in a partner. She may become a private investigator because she needs to make sense of the discord she experiences between what she knows (or is afraid she doesn’t know) and how she feels as she tries to trust the man who betrayed her.
Off she goes in search of the facts—secrets she believes her husband is still hiding. But detectives don’t make good companions, and suspicion prevents connectedness. Constantly being on high alert for any hint of possible deception doesn’t promote healing in a broken relationship.
BUILDING A NEW RELATIONSHIP FOUNDATION
Knowing the whole truth is foundational to building a new life together because the new structure must be built on honesty and openness. And it doesn’t require the Partner to uncover all the facts.
Honesty and fidelity are implied or clearly stated in most marital contracts or agreements. Many betrayed partners maintain that the dishonesty and keeping of secrets is a greater violation than the infidelity.
SECRETS LEAD TO DIVORCE
Research shows that more marriages end as a result of maintaining the secret than do in the wake of telling the truth. Even though the partner will be angry, she will be angrier if the behaviors continue and she finds out later that the addict was lying.
We advise that in most circumstances, the addict must tell the partner if healing is to occur. When unfaithful behaviors remain secret, communication about other matters are gradually impaired.
REASONS FOR FULL DISCLOSURE
Partners often initially ask for full disclosure because this is a way for them to:
- Make sense of the past.
- Validate their suspicions about what was happening in the relationship – suspicions the addict often denied.
- Assess their risk of having been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, to financial disaster and to shame.
- Evaluate their partner’s commitment to the future of the relationship.
- Have some sense of control.
Therapeutic Full Disclosure
The counselors at Hope Counseling Center have been trained and have experience in the therapeutic process of disclosures. Our focus is to insure a safe and shame-free environment that encourages honesty and truthfulness so the betrayed partner can begin to heal and trust again. Call our counseling center today to setup an initial consultation to learn more about our recovery program.