Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Surviving Infidelity: How Do You Handle The Disclosure Process?

If I asked you to look back upon your own personal D-Day or Ground Zero, what was it like?   (D-Day or Ground Zero are the terms we use to describe the day your, or your spouse’s affair was disclosed or discovered) Did they share everything all at once?  Or, did they make the mistake of leaking out information over a few days or months or quite possibly, over a few years?  We call this ‘trickling-truth’ or ‘drip feeding’ your spouse.  Maybe you’re like many who experience two, three or even four ‘D-Day’s’ where new information is disclosed. New information is not only sad and debilitating for the betrayed spouse, but it inadvertently restarts the clock of both your personal, and marital recovery all over again.  The betrayed spouse is forced to process new information which in turn creates a devastating restart to the recovery process where all momentum and forward progress disintegrates.  At this point, the unfaithful spouse is not a safe vessel for the betrayed to reconnect with. 

Full disclosure is the pillar to a recovery process.  As long as there are secrets, disorientation and disconnection will perpetually have a foothold in both the marriage and in the recovery process.  At Affairrecovery.com all of our courses and intensives are layered with the pivotal truth that in order to truly begin the healing process, all secrets must be brought to the light in a safe environment with expert care and support.  Our EMS Weekend provides a safe haven for those who are looking for direction in even the most difficult and challenging situations.  Remember, there is hope for you and there is hope for your marriage.  It’s our honesty in both disclosure and the recovery process which gives birth to forward momentum. 

Today, I’d like to share with you a free video with personal insight from myself and those who have had to live through multiple D Days and the overall disclosure process:



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So True

So True, DDay 1, 2, 3, trickle truth or whatever you want to call it is a killer. That is what hurt the most. As I stand here today, although I no longer feel pain, I am often wonder if there is more truth....

I agree! The trickle truth

I agree! The trickle truth is what killed my marriage. I cannot live with not being able to trust that I got all the truth. I begged and pleaded, but he still held on to info...even told him the deception is what's going to take us down, but to no avail. Please, as the betrayer, get it all out at once!

I still feel pain.....I'm not

I still feel pain.....I'm not sure I know everything.

Agree 100%

I totally agree! You do start over in the healing process when the revelation of the truth trickles a little bit over time. Or when the unfaithful spouse doea not cease all communication with that other person immediately, yet they want your forgiveness immediately. For me, this unfortunate incident occurred about 7 years ago. I wanted so badly to begin healing right away, yet for the above reasons, as well as getting pregnant about 5 months after the trickling of truth..my healing is just now beginning

You are so right - the deceit is more difficult to get over

How I wish that my first D-Day had been the only D-Day. I can remember that first time like it was yesterday. It had started with lies a week before after I sensed that something was very wrong. I questioned him about it and I got the whole I love you but I am not in love with you email and the proclamation that there wasn't anyone else in his life "or anything like that" involved with his recent weekend away by himself. That was rough, but my blinders were coming off and I saw through the lies and demanded the truth. That is when he admitted that he had been talking to other people and wasn't happy. He still insisted he wasn't cheating on me. It didn't make sense and I persisted with questions. Then he told me that he hadn't been away alone but had flown to another city to be with someone - a woman he had fallen in love with. I was devastated. I grieved heavily over the next few days and just when I started to face a new future without our marriage, he came to me and said he was breaking things off with the other woman and only wanted me. At the time I was happy about that. He did in fact break things off with her as I sat next to him one day. She lived states away so I didn't have to worry about him running into her or anything. We moved on and I vacillated between happiness, anger, and sadness and worked hard move forward. But after your foundation crumbles that first time, you start to worry about the ground you stand on, always looking for cracks. I looked at phone bills from our entire marriage and discovered that my husband had remained in contact with an old girlfriend from college. They didn't talk every week, or ever every month, but I didn't even know they talked at all! Sometimes the bill showed nearly an hour phone conversation. So, a little over 3 months after the first D-Day, I learned that the actual first affair had occurred 3 years earlier, with this old girlfriend. That was especially difficult because they planned this get together specifically for the purpose of having sex. It was also difficult because he and I were in the middle of an intimacy workshop at church in which we were learning about each others' love language. It was also just a few days before our anniversary. He also disclosed that there was another person he had sex with. This woman was local and they had sex in his office. I used to have lunch with him in his office! The thought of my food sitting on his desk where they had sex made me sick. But he insisted there were no more secrets. He also had't started counseling at that point because he thought he didn't need it. He ended things, had gotten honest with me and wanted to be faithful. But just a few months later I found an email that let me know he was still having issues. I told him I thought he was an addict. I needed and deserved the truth. I told him counseling was mandatory and he needed to make sure there were no more secrets. He then disclosed more infidelity, although nothing more physically. There were still only the 3 women he had sex with. We went to counseling over the next year and thought I had a lot of hard times, he slowly built up trust again. I would check in at times and ask if things were still okay. I told him I didn't really expect him to be perfect, but that I needed him to be honest. If he slipped and did something inappropriate, or if he had any kind of contact with a woman I wanted him to be honest about it. I didn't want to be the outsider in the marriage. By the time I regained my confidence and felt like I could trust him again, just a few years ago, my world was shattered again when I saw an inappropriate email from him to another woman. He was flirting with her. She was not a willing participant and was innocent. He swore it was the only time he had slipped up. A year later I would discover another inappropriate action and would learn after much probing that he had met this woman, found her attractive, and had set up an email account to communicate with her. If she had been willing to be with a married man, I feel certain she would have been the 4th woman. Writing all of this out without all of the good parts of our life together makes me feel like a fool for staying married to this person. Maybe I am actually. The thing is, after the last incident, he got more counseling that he sought out himself. That has been 2 years ago and I have noticed an incredible change in him. What is difficult for me now, and most painful is the deceit. I don't find myself thinking about the actions of him having sex with his partners ( like I did in the beginning). What I think about is the way he was expressing his commitment and devotion to me all the while. How he told me he never wanted to be with another woman ever again (all the while he was communicating with someone else). I truly believe I would have trusted him more is he had been honest and told me he WANTED to be committed and truly WANTED to be faithful but was struggling. That would make me his partner and helper. I wouldn't have been on the outside. I wouldn't have been deceived. That is why people say they feel like a "fool" when they are cheated on.


Thank you for sharing this. I am in the same situation so helpful to read this.

We have three kids and practiced attachment parenting. Then she rejected all of us and start down the path of destruction.


Five years later and he still refuses to say anything. At first he made up a name of someone who supposedly moved out of state. The business where she worked had closed down. It's awful to want answers and consistently be told "Why do you need to know? What good will it do?" I'm tired of the stress and associated health issues. I just want to be done.

Oh my lord, I just sent my

Oh my lord, I just sent my husband out of the room and back to the couch! D day was January 7th...and 8th, and 9th, a couple other times, and finally tonight, he dropped 2 more details he'd lied about!! I HATE HIM I HATE HIM I HATE HIM!!!!
He says that now, it's ALL out, and he's told me everything. DEAR GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS STILL HAPPENING!!


So is there a line in the sand that should not be crossed? When a betrayed spouse asks very "explicit" questions that will only lower their self esteem is this really necessary and fruitful?

Not hiding the affair and admitting all the wrong, taking responsibility for the actions and doing all to repair the marriage is correct!

Knowing "all" details to specific anatomy questions gets the across that line in the sand!to me!


So is there a line in the sand that should not be crossed? When a betrayed spouse asks very "explicit" questions that will only lower their self esteem is this really necessary and fruitful?

Not hiding the affair and admitting all the wrong, taking responsibility for the actions and doing all to repair the marriage is correct!

Knowing "all" details to specific anatomy questions gets the across that line in the sand!to me!

I need an answer/ guidence on the line too

My D-Day was in late July 2015, my last affair was in June/July 2014. However on Valentine's Day 2016 (can't make this up) my spouse found my old phone from the times of said affairs (that was buggy and not working right since Aug of 2014). She couldn't help but to dig and dig and dig until she found her way in to old messages, calls and other media, and 'voila' were where back in Baghdad.

My question, Is there such a limit or method limit to finding out information, especially if things where miles and months in the past and much in to the positive side of things.

All I can say

Is that I think full disclosure is perhaps good if the betrayed spouse is committed to recovery. In my case my spouse (now ex) was not actually committed - the very act of betrayal was honestly too much to bear. Giving all the details during the painful counselling sessions was pointlless - caused me pain and difficulty in tearing myself apart trying to do the right thing and he just constantly threw the details back in my face constantly. I regret sharing in that way and now I wish I hadn't because he just uses it against me.

If you are going to share and your spouse is committed - I would recommend going through the details with a counsellor or something like that. It is better to have a neutral "chair" to the discusion .. it will be painful and hard and will be worse if you don't have anyone to help mediate/guide you through

All I can Say response

Full disclosure is essential in order to give the betrayed spouse the information they need to make an informed decision on whether or not to stay. It shows remorse and respect to the injured partner. It should be offered in complete humility and honesty with no expectations of their decision. If they choose to leave, for any reason, that should be respected and your act of honesty, not regretted. The responsibility for the destruction of the marriage still belongs to the betrayer. Never the wronged spouse, regardless of her reaction. Your regret/reluctance for being honest may have been the problem. I hear you complaining about your pain and having to suffer the consequences. Perhaps this attitude was what really made her decide you weren't worth the incredible risk, time and pain that recovery requires the innocent party to endure?

The willingness of the betrayer, as an act of humility and remorse, to give their spouse the information they need to make an informed decision is an important factor in helping the betrayed spouse to decide that it is worth the hell that recovery involves. The willingness of the betrayer to do this - regardless of the outcome - is also an important factor. Probably the most important, as it respects their right to make that decision after they have had time to process the information.

Afer all, did you ask her before you committed adultery, if she would mind? Did you say, "Honey, I'd like to expose you to humiliation, sexually transmitted diseases, trauma, shame, shattered self-esteem, nearly unbearable emotional pain, feelings of rage, jealousy and despair (that you've never before felt) so I can indulge my selfish and sinful desire to have sex with selfish and hardened women? Also, I'd like to risk your emotional and financial health and possibly waste several years of your life, including the safety and emotional health of our children. Is that okay with you?" Bet you didn't!

You took the risk of destroying your marriage by with holding the truth. She gets to decide whether she wants to stay with the truth revealed.

What I would want....

As a betrayed spouse, I would suggest you take the initiative in immediately setting up a time, preferably away from kids and interruptions (a nice hotel for the weekend is a good idea) and say, "Honey, I surrender. I will answer any question you ask, and I will give you as much time as you need to ask, uninterrupted, even if it takes several appointments". Then you do it. Take breaks when emotions are high and just hold her and apologize over and over and over. Ask for her forgiveness over and over and over. Also plan romantic and enjoyable activities. Dinner out, hot-tubbing it, flowers delivered, etc. Do this until she runs out of questions. When more questions come up in the future, and they will, repeat this process for as long as it takes with humility, remorse and love. Do you have any right to limit or dictate the repair process when you caused the damage? Did you ask her permission to commit adultery?

There is no statute of limitations on the truth. If you put up resistance or whine, "Geez, that was so long ago so it shouldn't count", it shows a lack of remorse and commitment. You owe her total and absolute truth in order to get to a place where she can even begin to move forward. Anything she has to find out on her own is confirmation that you are not trustworthy and sets you back to ground zero. It does incredible damage to her emotional health and ability to trust when you don't take the initiative to offer the information before she runs across it. The fact that she has to dig for information, indicates that you have not reached the end of yourself. Whether she consciously knows it or not, yet, there is a compulsion to dig until she feels she knows everything that has been hidden, in order to feel safe and begin to trust again. She can't help herself. It is called a TRAUMA REACTION. You did that to her. You.

Grow up and be accountable. If you can't do the above for her, at least get a good SA counselor and also get in an SA group. If she sees you taking the initiative to change (and yes, there is something terribly, terribly wrong with you), it may help her be patient enough to give you more time to turn into a real, feeling human being.

One of your consequences of going to Baghdad in the first place, is that Baghdad will never really leave. It is a part of you and your marriage. All your wife wants to see is if you are willing to go back to Baghdad with her and let her be a part of all of your life.


Why didn’t you tell her about this? Why did she feel the need to go searching? Is it because you haven’t disclosed EVERYTHING?

Response to line in the sand.....

I am three years from discovery and am the betrayed spouse. Our 35th anniversary is coming up and right at year 32, I found out that my husband was having an affair of about 4.5 years at the time. Eight months later I learned of multiple one night stands, prostitutes, this affair AND at the same time, online dating site memberships and meeting other women, including making "home" sex films. this all started within 2 years of our marriage during our first pregnancy. And he was lying and having sex with other women BEFORE we were married. The Patrick Carnes SA test indicated he is a sex addict (duh). He was only able to hide this activity because of his work travel, incredible deceit and ability to lie, and because I quit work to stay home with our 3 children, one of whom has a birth defect that kept me busy. Also, because of my total trust and naivete'. Also because of his avoidance and emotional and verbal abuse. I slowly became beaten down and depressed over time by his baffling behavior and intimacy avoidance. I have spent almost 40 years of my life with a deceiver and I am out of patience.
At three years out, we are having our first formal disclosure with professional help. Our first one was just us two, followed by a polygraph. It was incomplete and full of lies, mostly because I was too traumatized and didn't know what questions to ask. HERE IS MY LINE IN THE SAND. I need to know that my husband will ANSWER ANY QUESTION I ASK. I am one of those people who needs to know everything that I want to know. Most importantly, I need to know that my husband will overcome his defensiveness for me. I know, that if that need is met, if I am included in every aspect of what was kept hidden from me, thoughts, actions and feelings, I then can move forward with the assurance that I am caught up from all the deceit and exclusion. Some people don't want the nitty-gritty, unfortunately for my husband, I am not one of those women. For me, the deception was so huge, that I need to know that he is now able to not hold anything back. That he actually is able to feel pain and guilt. Right now, he is someone I don't know, and certainly don't trust. In order to "know" him and begin to trust him once again, I need to know that his humility and Godly sorrow is so complete over the pain and destruction he caused to me, AND to his children, that he will do anything to repair it. Including finally bringing me fully into the loop where I should have been from day one. I want to know what ANYONE else knows, who was aware of his true nature. I want to know every detail of conversations and trips and feelings that the AP knows. And I want to know that he is willing to give me that desire. Finally. Exclusion has been a HUGE problem in our relationship and I need to know it is no longer there. The only way for that to be repaired for me is bone deep honesty now.
I believe that if the betrayer even HAS a line in the sand, he is still defensive, hiding something and not willing to do everything it takes to repair the marriage. I also know that until that happens, he cannot have empathy or compassion. He still is hiding behind resentment and secrets AND does not truly believe that I am a partner who deserves the truth and is willing to share with me the power that the truth brings. He is still attempting to manipulate and control me.
What I have longed for for 3 years to hear from my husband is, "Honey, I am so genuinely sorry that I will do anything YOU want and need, no matter how hard it is". And then humbly do it. Quickly. I am sick of the starts and stops and willingness to only do what he has to, or what appears on the surface to be repentance to others. He's always done that, and I can see it now. I want the humility of total truth and brokenness and forward motion that only comes after that.
How many of you betrayers out there have what it takes to give that to the spouses and children they have abused and broken? How many of you are still whining about YOUR rights and hiding behind "SHAME" and, "Poor me, my family of origin made me this way"? Grow up and truly be an adult and accountable for your selfish and evil behavior. Put your money and time and effort where your lousy, lying tongue used to be. Your utter lack of respect, selfishness and self-deceit can only be overwritten with total humility and brokenness. How many of you understand that this is what it takes to be totally restored to your family and to God? Anything else is just limping along and prolonging the agony. Sometimes for the rest of your life and the lives of your "loved" ones. Betrayed spouses, please leave before you let this half-life become your whole life.

Amen! to response to line in the sand.

Well said. Thank you. Your words let me know that I am not alone. I am sorry you are having to walk this journey. I pray that your prayers have been answered and you, your children and perhaps your husband, are now on the path to thriving.

I'm with this guy.

Isn't it more detrimental to the healing process going into more detail about the transgression?


How do you know when the Whole truth is really out?

How do you know response....

Brokenness. Remorse, sorrow. Tears. Willingness to do anything, including a polygraph. And yes, a polygraph is often necessary to break them open. It is terrifying to be honest and vulnerable when you have never told the truth, often in many cheater's lives, ever. Offering the information before being asked, is a great sign. An eagerness to confess and make sure that you know everything. Offers of amends. Willingness to go to counseling, group support. I have a feeling of closeness and an easing of tension in my mind and body (especially the chest) when I can feel that the truth is being told.

Again, polygraphs can jump start the ability to be truthful, and if you have a feeling of lack of truth for a long period of time (talk to your counselor about this), you don't have the whole truth, so ask for one. Why not? Polygraphs are usually the first thing a man who discovers or suspects infidelity will ask for. Why can't women?

There have been so many lies

There have been so many lies and then revelation of the truth, I wouldn't believe him if he said grass is green. All the lies and actions have DESTROYED everything. Once there is initial revelation, the truth has to be told completely. It's hard to trust if you've been lied to multiple times.

This is so true. My spouse

This is so true. My spouse has tortured me for 8 months not with only showing a card at a time. I keep coming across new information and it brings me right back to square one. He doesn't seem to get why this is so traumatic for me. While he seems to be putting in a huge effort into restoring our marriage now, he still will not give me the information I feel I need to know. I've had to find out everything on my own. I don't feel like I can ever truly trust him again and I'm always wondering when the next piece of information will surface that will send me into another tailspin. He hates the tailspins and I have told him the only way to avoid them is to tell me what I want to know, yet he still refuses.

My husband told me he was

My husband told me he was afraid of telling me the truth and preferred that I believe he only had the one affair. In a recent conversation he said I had asked for full disclosure and I had told him that if we were back together in the future and our marriage was great and I found out anything new I would immediately leave him! He said he would give anything to have me back so he figured he would take his chances and if that ever happened at least he had that time with me as his wife. In the last two years of trickle truth my health has suffered greatly and I am being monitored for cardiac problems. The grief and devastation that would befall me for having been manipulated and lied to again would devastate me. I am not young. He did disclose but only after all this work and grief on my part and the fact that I would not reconcile and told him I felt in my heart there was more and I was going to walk. He was willing to sacrifice me for his selfish reasons. I don't consider that love.....just more disrespect and selfish motivation. I know that the keeping of secrets proves he is not well and he would eventually cheat again. Now, I am truly not wanting to continue recovery. I was all in and he was still thinking I was stupid enough for him to pull the wool over my eyes once more. I see him in a different light now.....I have stopped all contact with him and am only focusing on my own healing without him. He never showed me he loved me and this was just a continuation of the same selfish, egotistical, arrogant man that I married. To think he felt he had the right to continue deceiving me after how much he has hurt me already. Truly doesn't get it but I finally did. Tears for what could have been.


I am the unfaithful person in the marriage. I really yearn for recovery but I am lost on how to do it. Last year I engaged with a woman and our first time resulted into a pregnancy. My daughter with this woman is not two months. Since she was born, I have been experiencing so much anxiety and really want to let this secret out of the bag. Nonetheless, my woman has been undergoing a lot of stress that is not related to the infidelity. She has had several episodes where she wanted to take her life, but luckily, I have always been there to stop her. I am very remorseful about what I did. I want to disclose everything but I feel that I should at least wait until she is in a stable mental condition to take the tragic news as I intend to give her every bit of information she asks for. I am so sorry about the affair. I have prayed about it and walk with guilt each and every day and there is nothing better I would rather do than get all this baggage of my chest. I know there are consequences and I am ready to face them but how to tell my wife, under what circumstances, and the fear of having her going off and doing something like ending her life is my greatest hindrance. I know that this might not be my platform but I would appreciate any guidance on how to hop onto the recovery journey

Husband Continues to lie

My husband had continued to lie about his affair even during Theraphy. I asked him to tell me everything about it so we can move forward and heal. Months later I found out he had lied about certain things which I only found out the truth through the mistress. I don’t know why he continues to lie, but yet he says it’s all out and nothing else is hiding. I feel like we keep starting are clock all over again. And I want to give up already. This marriage will not survive.

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-D, Texas