Why it is Imperative to Reach Full Disclosure

affairrecovery-survivors blog-elizabeth-why it is imperative to reach full disclosure

Today I am going to share the biggest mistake that I made since my last affair, and how it almost cost me everything. It was, in my opinion, even worse than my infidelity. That mistake was my inability to reach full disclosure the first time. For six weeks, I held on to secrets about my behavior and I continued to lie about what I had done.

Our world started crumbling down on our wedding anniversary two years ago. Every single detail of the disclosure process is awful, but it really stinks when your D-Day is also your wedding anniversary. That was the day I admitted to my husband that I had been unfaithful to him and I had developed feelings for someone else. But I omitted any other details. In my delusional mind, I somehow at the time was convinced that an emotional affair sounded "better", so I withheld details about the physical encounter. I also never disclosed that I had another inappropriate relationship years earlier. For six weeks, I sold my "cleaned up" version of my truth, which had glaring omissions. During that time, my husband begged me to let him know if that was everything.

Sadly, I lied. It is really difficult to say this, but I had not told the truth in so long I don't even think I knew what it was.

It wasn't until I signed up for Hope for Healing that I started to realize I needed to share everything with my husband. Even if it meant he would leave me. I was so tired of me. I was slowly beginning to let the articles at Affair Recovery sink in and I kept thinking "what am I doing?". I was really getting weary of living with my lies.

Call it my pride still at work, but I guess God will use whatever we will give him.

I refused to spend money on a class that would promise me I could get my life back while I tried to hold on to any more secrets.

Something in me broke. I could not and would not lie to anyone else. I remember on our very first group call, I blurted out to these women, who were still strangers to me at the time, "I have more to tell my husband about my unfaithfulness. I vow to tell him before this class is over and I am going to need help doing that". The very next week, we would have our second D-Day, and our world came crumbling down.

I can see things so rationally now. When you are in an affair, it is very difficult to identify the grandiosity, fantasy, and illusion of it all. It is like a drunk person convincing a cop on the side of the road that he can walk in a straight line. One cannot reach the clarity that only sobriety can offer if still under the influence, and I would be no exception. I had cut off all contact with my Affair Partner, but I had vowed to keep a secret to him and so my allegiance to that kept me from disclosure to my husband. I definitely couldn't see it then, but I had closed the door, just not locked it.

Anything short of the complete truth about our infidelity to our betrayed spouses will deny them of dignity and shortchange their intelligence.

Telling my husband about my betrayals was already like digging a giant hole and throwing him in the bottom of it. With every question he had to ask (because I was so unwilling to offer the truth) must have felt getting shovels full of dirt, mud, rocks, and trash on top of him. Through his pain and reactions, I started to begin to grasp the enormity of what I had done.

It was a precarious place to be. I saw his pain and so I did the worst possible thing. I began to "manage" the information. I was so deceptive by thinking that if I only sprinkled the dirt on him, it wouldn't hurt us so badly.

What I couldn't see then was how much I damaged him and our marriage by prolonging the suffering.

Far better would it have been for me to have had the courage to stand on top of that hole and look down on him and be able to say "I am about to dump an entire ton of bricks and rocks on you. It is going to hurt you, if not crush you."

But I didn't. Instead I chose the path of cruelty and long suffering. For six weeks, I kept the dirt and debris coming. My husband would think he would have the information and then try to manage his way out of the hole before I would knock him back down again with something new.

This made our recovery almost impossible because quite simply, how can a wound begin to heal when it is vulnerable to more injury? Like trying to save the titanic from sinking by using a teaspoon to take out water, carefully measuring out the truth for betrayed spouses is the most hurtful thing we as unfaithful can do. Reaching full disclosure was the scariest point for us in our recovery. I wish I had been able to do it the first time because it set us back even further than when we started.

If you are new to AR and need help and support in being able to disclose, there are so many resources out there to help you. Your betrayed spouse needs this and will not be able to heal or forgive without this. Please don't be like me. You can do better.

In Him,

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Drip feeding

As a betrayed spouse, I thank you for the honesty. I was fed one lie after another, little by little. I didn't even learn HALF of the truth until the day my spouse--the love of my life--moved out to pursue her AP. One year after D-Day I still don't know the truth. I remember one day when I suddenly figured out the truth and told her, "Okay, I know something. I am tired of begging for answers. What I know is really big. But I want to hear you say it. Tell me." She knew just what I was talking about and confessed. She said, "You almost act relieved." I was. Truth matters. But not to narcissistic liars.

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your story. No one should have to beg for answers. I hope you find healing and appreciate the reminder of how much pain it causes when we aren’t able to be honest.

Wow! This was such a great

Wow! This was such a great article. Thank you for it. I cannot even tell you how long I waited for truth. It is so painful. I have been robbed of so much for so long.

"measuring out the truth for betrayed spouses is the most hurtful thing we as unfaithful can do."

This quote stuck with me. I see your attempt to help the unfaithful see the pain they are causing. For me, my H truly did not care about the pain he caused. He didn't care when he was in the adultery and at the time he was "measuring out truth," he still genuinely did not care about the pain I was in.

Your words are so well written. They are so true. I suspect few newly discovered unfaithfuls will take your advice -- but I pray for the sake of their betrayed spouses that I am wrong. Newly disclosed, perhaps will -- if they have disclosed they may be in an emotional state where they care.

I could have died when my H was involved in his adultery and he genuinely would not have cared. When he was discovered, no amount of this article would have touched his frozen cold heart.

I appreciate you sharing it and I pray it speaks to many.

Thanks for your kind and

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words. I’m not kidding that when I read stuff like what you wrote, my heart breaks. You help motivate me to keep seeking and to keep writing, and to use all of my awful choices for some kind of common good.

Thank you Elizabeth for

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing this. I am the betrayed spouse and my H only admitted to an emotional affair when I initially caught him on the phone with his AP. It was then about 8 months of me finding things and he still lying and managing what he wanted me to believe all along secretively still being in contact with AP but only “in a friend level.” Just as you mentioned, sometimes all this is what still holds me back in my recovery. Just felt so cruel.

Thank you for writing this and hopefully will help an unfaithful spouse to realize this and do the right thing and do full disclosure and another person doesn’t have to go through the agony and wasted time.

I hate that I own my

I hate that I own my collective part in holding any of you back. You deserve so much more. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Thank you!

Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s validating for what I have experienced. Every time another disclosure from my UH came to the surface, was another time of being violently thrown back into a pit of craziness. INCOMING! How much can a betrayed person take before they run away for good? Thank you Elizabeth for reaching inside yourself and sharing this incredibly difficult journey with us.

That is a wonderful and

That is a wonderful and incredibly valid question. One any unfaithful spouse like myself should take into question. A person really can only take so much cruelty until they are justified in finding life and love elsewhere. Thanks for sharing.

A Broken Person Can't Be Honest

My husband had an "emotional affair" with a subordinate at work. However, this EA was one more business trip away from becoming a physical affair as well. Long story short, the time came to "blow it up", so I printed out the pictures, emails, texts etc. and my husband had no choice but to at least acknowledge that what I had been saying for a year was true. My husband was about a year away from retirement, so I had to go along to get along insofar as his "girlfriend" still worked under him (Ha! Ha!) really wasn't able to make waves per say. I might need half of that pension ;) Disclosure was absolutely ridiculous. It took 6 months to pry the truth out of him; he was not going to give me anything without a fight. Everyone is different. Some want to know everything, some want to know that it is over and done and that is good enough for them. I had to know exactly what I was dealing with so I could decide if I could stay and try to work things out or if I had to get out of Dodge. My husband is a broken man, so I can understand why disclosure was so hard for him. I get it, doesn't make it any easier though. He is seeing a really great therapist who has helped him immensely. If he had refused to go to therapy I would have left for sure. I went to a therapist for a bit, just to try and get my head on straight and to figure out what was what. Affair Recovery has been a great resource for me. I think the betrayed spouse is entitled to as much as they need/want to know. For me, the hardest part was the type of woman he was truly thinking about leaving me (a loyal and supportive partner of over 30 years) and his family for. Talk about a personal insult. You want to throw me over, ok. Marriages are not always forever. But at least make it for a woman that I could respect. Eh, Rick did say most people "affair down". One day at a time. If it doesn't kill you it really does make you stronger.

Yes, I agree with you. We do

Yes, I agree with you. We do always affair down. You sound very patient and wise. I’m sorry that you’ve been through such pain. I’m also happy to see you seem to still have a sense of humor which I equate to a sense of self. I wish you both the best!

Come clean

Not telling the truth is controlling the other person. The betrayed needs the right to choose, the unfaithful made their choices. To be able to move forward and heal wholly the whole truth needs to be exposed to be able to move forward. Thank you for sharing.

Amen. Well said.

Amen. Well said.


My wife has been keeping secrets about her affair for 36 plus years. She still gets upset when I bring it up! I can’t tell anymore if she’s lying or really can’t remember when I ask a question.

secrets too

I am in a similar situation. D Day was 2.5 years ago. D Day was after 8+ years of accusations about me, drug use on her part and a general downward spiral in our marriage. During those 8 years and years prior I had plenty of reasons to be suspicious of her, girls night out, drinking with friends after work and girl trips out of town. All the girlfriends had already been known to be unfaithful. The accusations were so harshly believed by her and mentally wearing on me. I eventually revealed an indiscretion of mine from before we married, but had been dating. I ended it to be with her. But this revelation was catastrophic in her eyes. I don't know if the pain meds or what was influencing her. I revealed this only to make her feel as if her "intuition" was right and wrong. It was hell for a while. Fast forward its revealed to me (out of the blue) that she had an affair with a co worker 15 years prior. While i was do the little league coaching (oldest kids were 6 and 7 years old), trying to climb the career ladder and finding my/our way she was having an affair. Now I feel like none of my "history" is real. Triggers all the time but are easing up a little, doubts of our youngest child DNA, who else knew...etc. I have gotten very little secret info from her and she seems to like to ignore or move on about it. When I do bring something up about it, my pre marital mistake (I admitted it was wrong and offered to tell whatever she wanted) is made into a much bigger wrong. So now I go through the motions for family reasons 4 grands and youngest is in college living at home. Your statement was brief but inspired me. i think I will follow your lead and write things down, it does release emotions.thank you.

That’s a lot of time and

That’s a lot of time and energy to be spent managing secrets. I hope you continue to find clarity on what to do there and that your wife can find a way to rid herself from what holds her back. I have no more secrets and I have never been so free.

old affairs that I never had answers too

The trickle truth is so hard to deal with...My wife had 3 affairs while we were engaged...before we married. I did find out about them before we married, but we never truly talked through or recovered from those things. I happened to see her right a note to a friend when I was coming back from the restroom (which she crumpled and threw on the floor of the restaurant). "He called me, I am talking to him tonight" Those 9 words set me on a path of "snooping for evidence" for a month. When I finally confronted her...I didn't tell her what I knew, cause I wanted her to tell me everything. I thought she had...and I thought we had recovered and we just swept it under the rug. Another incident happened 10 years later after our children were born...again a few weeks of arguments, then swept under the rug. We have now been married 35 years...mostly good and yes I am 99.9% sure there has been no more infidelities. but about 6 months ago a comment she made brought it all back to me like it was yesterday. This time I have refused to let it go. We have been talking ALOT about it and more new information is coming out. If I had known then would we have married? I don't know, but now she cannot understand why it matters after 35 years...why I can't just let it go. She has apologized over and over again for her poor decisions...but still she will not directly tell me what occurred (not details)...just that "it" happened. The pain is unbearable. I just want the secrets to end.

Go with your gut !

I’ve lived it for 24 years. Can’t tell you how many D Days there have been each one gets worse with each new bit of info that get trickled out. It leavers you not knowing what reality is ! It is cruelty. Go with your gut if you feel there are secrets THERE ARE.

It may be too late

My husband told me NOTHING of his desire to have an affair. She was texting him one night at dinner and when I asked him why she was texting him, he got angry like I'd never seen him. He screamed that I invaded his privacy. I accused him of WANTING to have an affair with her, which was true, but he blameshifted, denied, and gaslit me. He's told me nothing unless I shamed myself by sleuthing and had proof. It took over 15 months of trickle truth (I'd find something else), lying to me, our therapists, both individual and marital. After every time we discussed the situation for that 15 months, there was so much more, he told me I knew everything, that nothing more remains. There was always more. I can honestly say that now, 30 months out, I feel there's still more. My gut tells me. Maybe my gut is wrong, but after so much trickle truth, I simply don't believe him. It may be too late for us, I'm not sure, but I implore every unfaithful out there, please, please, tell all and the sooner the better. Our therapist says I need to trust him implicitly to reconcile. I really don't know if I can.

I am curious if you have done

I am curious if you have done an EMS weekend with your spouse? Or have you all just tried therapy? I’m concerned that you still feel there is more bc that can’t be a helpful feeling. Thanks for sharing your story. Has your spouse done the HFH course? I will pray for you guys.

I am curious

Hi Elizabeth. We did the Bootcamp and I won the Harboring Hope class. He won't do anything else because it's faith based and he's an atheist. I would love to do EMS weekend, but the finances won't allow it and I really don't feel he'd be all in anyway. We are in MC and both of us in IC. I have been told by our MC/IC therapist that I need to learn how to think and speak because if I don't do it properly he might "bolt", as she puts it. She's told me he's owning it so I should be grateful. He's working a bit, but I really don't feel she can handle our situation. I can't change therapists because he doesn't want to start all over again as we've been with her for over a year. I'm soooo frustrated. My gut tells me there are things I don't know, but maybe I just can't rely on instinct any longer. Thank you for your prayers, they mean a lot to me. Thank you for sharing your story. It truly helps to know I'm not alone. I still speak to a couple ladies from my group and they have been keeping me sane by just listening. It's all so confusing. 🤔

This all sounds very

This all sounds very difficult. But I do see hope for you. I love hearing that you are developing an army of women around you that you can lean on in the midst of this. And, I love that you have faith in something bigger than us, and God does promise to never leave us. Your husband must be lonely? Just a hunch. As far as your therapist, that is a tough one. Perhaps you could stay with the current one for MC but think about finding someone just for you for IC, of course as finances allow. I have no answers really, but I hope you know there are so many people at AR who genuinely care, and you are most definitely not alone. This will all play out eventually. I will keep praying.

This all sounds

Thank you for your comments and prayers. I definitely don't feel as alone as I did 2 and a half years ago!

Drip, drip, drip

As a betrayed husband I can relate to every word you wrote. My wife denied, down played, dismissed and tried to sugar coat everything she did. I too begged for the full truth to know exactly what it was I would need to forgive. To this day my wife has never disclosed a single truth about her affair. I learned everything from snooping and hearing it from the AP’s wife. This was more painful than the affair. As a betrayed, you are desperate to latch on to some sort of normal, or comfort. Denying them of the truth prohibits any form of healing or momentum. D day 2 was 45 days later and took away what little progress we had made. We are currently 17 months from discovery and in week 8 of EMS online. Unfortunately, there was a new betrayal 2 weeks ago regarding searching and following the AP and then lying about it. I get the same response now as always, I see why you feel that way but that’s not what happened. I fear my wife is incapable of changing and true honesty. I’m willing to finish the course because I agreed to, but I no longer feel we will survive this. I wish she could have read your article at some point, any point really, and made better choices. I’ve read many of your articles and your situation is very much the same as ours. Good luck to you both and thank you for the insight.

Thank you Chris for writing.

Thank you Chris for writing. I hate in many ways that you have to relate to our story (it tells me you've had to deal with a lot of pain) but Im thankful it hopefully reminds you that you aren't alone. It sounds like your wife is full of shame. Shame is a weird and ugly thing that continues to make us defensive and selfish and hide. I know I catch myself at times getting triggered by a past thought or place or memory, but I know that everything concerning the AP would be a betrayal to my husband. Me even driving by his street would be considered a betrayal for him and I just never want to put him in that kind of pain ever again. I will pray for you guys. And I would stick with the course regardless of what is going on in the marriage.

Unchanged & Stuck

Great article, just wish my spouse would read it. Betrayed husband here. Wife's EA was 5 years ago. YTD I still have not received one piece of truthful information. All I know is what I have sought out and the lies that I have been able to prove. Over the past year I have circumstantial evidence of contact with the AP (former co-worker at our church/school). I have asked for her to read on this site, but that is met with "oh someone else to tell me how terrible I am" response. During this time, she has become increasing distant physically and emotional, and works all the time. She loves her job, but it has become the bain of our marriage, via infidelity and her valuing it over family. I honestly have lost hope, but I also don't want to start over again. And I also don't want to be alone. I put efforts in but it is hollow. It's hollow because I receive nothing back. That's the unchanged part since D-Day. Oh, there was a time of attention immediately after D-Day but it has proven to be superficial. It has been this way for 20+ years. You would think I would learn. Just tired of being unloved.

Gosh, how many times do we

Gosh, how many times do we all "wish" our spouse could do something. I am sure all can relate to that. I am sorry you are feeling so unloved by your spouse. I hope you keep finding the courage to figure out what your best life looks like and your best version of yourself is, in the marriage or out of the marriage. 20 years is a long time to feel so stuck and be in pain and not feel like you know what really happened.

Why after nearly 4 years of reconciliation does this still hurt?

This my not be the place for this but after reading Erick's article on Sexual Humiliation and this one of yours, I can so relate. I am a husband to a wife that had serial relationships after the initial discovery over 5 years ago. I am an emotional mess the last 30 days all because of a flood of newly discovered information about the affairs, the APs, locations, perceived fidelity, who, etc.
My wife barely gave any info about any of it when she came home and for whatever reason at the time, I didn't press about it. She certainly felt entitled to privacy about it and it seemed to trump my entitlement to information.
I discovered what appeared to be a sexual affair with an unknown person on an unusual social media account complete with graphic descriptions and "Selfies", and other porn picture. Something she NEVER would have done with me. When I confronted her about it, she moved out the next day to her mother's house where over the course of the next 8-12 months she had a mixed bag of "relationships" that lasted on average 6-8 weeks each. Each of them becoming sexual either right away or eventually. I knew little of what was going on other than what I could glean from phone records and bank transactions.
We got back together About 7 months and 5 guys later and never discussed any of it really. We just agreed to start over and move forward.
5 months after that she had a 2 week relapse back at her mom's and spent the night with someone.
We reconciled again, she changed her phone number and made some efforts that weren't made before, and as best as I can tell, has been faithful for the last 4 years. It's been tough but we've managed.
In the last 30 days I have discovered some information (Mainly because I never was given any and from time to time I search, I don't know why), a lot of information. I discovered that between the 2 reconciliations the last guy she was with she had been seeing about once every other month for many months, even before we reconciled the first time. I discovered that most of these guys were much older, I discovered hotel rooms, and bars in horrible parts of town, and dishonesty even between the multiple partners.
Our marriage has been going well and we havent really spoken of it much in the 4-5 years. I certainly can't talk to her about it now.
I am crushed and living in my own private hell. I just needed somewhere to vent for a moment.

I can tell that there is

I can tell that there is still a lot of pain there. I probably would have a lot more questions than answers. Are you under the care of a therapist? Have ya'll done any of the groups at AR? I am really sorry for your all of the losses you've faced.

No, no therapy. I just

No, no therapy. I just discovered AR a few days before I posted, so no work done there either.

The last drop

This article resonates with me so very much, as I am the unfaithful. My husband found out three years after the affair ended and when I was confronted, I froze like a deer in headlights. I decided I needed to confess, yet as the words and tears poured out, as I saw his pain, I went into damage control mode and minimized and withheld. He ended up having to practically interrogate me to get details. We went to EMS and each did the other group classes.

A year later, right around the D-Day anniversary, some additional info came out that was incredibly hurtful to him. That was a couple months ago. A very rough couple months ago.
We are finally with a marriage counselor and I have the task of putting together a timeline and validating amends document to share with him. My memory is quite foggy in general, and the affair began seven years ago and has been done (no contact) for years. While digging deep to recover memories for the full timeline and amends, I recalled a detail that I feel I must share with him to ensure we have full disclosure, amends, and healing. I consulted our counselor about it and she said to wait to share with him when I share the full Validating Amends.

I am torn, as we have worked so hard, he sent me a note today saying that he is so thankful for my hard work, that he feels safe and is very optimistic about our future together. His note just opened the shame well because I know he'll be devasted at the final drop of this trickle truth. It doesn't matter that I forgot about it, it matters that I didn't share in the beginning. His heart will be ripped open again, even as it's been tenderly mending itself, and his faith in me and in us will waiver once more. I wish I could have gotten it right the first time, or the second. It's almost Christmas and I dread seeing him hurt again. If you're an unfaithful, please take this to heart. Get it all out the first time. Praying for understanding, grace and acceptance, although I don't deserve it.

Full disclosure

I am begging him for answers amd full disclosure. He has just denied me once again and has now temporarily ended our relationship because he refuses to answer any questions about the betrayals at all. I have said that I need it for healing, but as it makes him uncomfortable, he denies me the truth in its entirety.


I appreciate this article, especially the analogy of throwing bits of dirt on the betrayed-as opposed to the full dumping. I am the betrayed in my relationship- my marriage of 23 years. There is so much I don’t know, and so much that I’m left wondering since discovering some of my husband’s unacceptable behaviors the past few years. I literally only know what I have “found” or discovered on my own. It weighs on me all the time. I’m at my breaking point where I’ve told him the only way I can see us moving forward and essentially “starting over” would be with a guided, full disclosure led by an experienced mediator or therapist. And even with that I cannot make any promises.
So far I haven’t found anyone in my area to facilitate this, and honestly I’m not sure he’s willing. And if he is, how do I believe what he’s telling me in THERE? There have been so many lies…

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