The Dance of Disclosure The affair happens. Maybe the betrayed spouse knows something about it, maybe they don't. In my case, I was very much aware. I asked him about it. Pointedly. Directly. Repeatedly. He lied. He told me I was "crazy," "paranoid," being "ridiculous." He would not tell me the truth. I knew it. He knew it. He knew that I knew it. But, no truth was to be had and we were at an impasse. Maybe you can relate. Time passed. After an excruciating season, the affair eventually ended. Life went on. We both pretended all was 'normal,' but the secret remained between us, a wall that could not be penetrated and would never fall on its own. We had some good times and some bad times. Life seemed normal. I slowly started to let down my guard. I started to soften toward him, and I wanted to get closer. It felt like we were starting to reconnect and I became hopeful. Then "it" would hit me again, and in my mix of fear and hope I would reach out to him, trying to cross the great divide, to scale the wall. I wanted to be close, to know him, to be known, to be "one" with each other again. But he would not take down the wall, or even acknowledge there was a wall. Then we each retreated to our corners; the music box was rewound to the beginning, and the dance would start all over again, all that ground lost with each decision to deceive. My thoughts: I want to be close. I want to know him, and learn the truth about him, about me, about our life. I love him, and all I want is to know and love the real him. I feel hopeful. Maybe we really can have more, maybe we can be more. So I ask him again, "Tell me the truth, what really happened with her?" He denies, deflects, and pretends he is confused. "Nothing. What are you talking about?" and all the other tired and worn out lies and diversions. His thoughts: I can never tell her. She wouldn't love me if she really knew me. She might leave me. I have to keep this secret at all costs. She will never know, so it can't hurt her. I have to deny it. I am so ashamed at what I have done. I wish it had never happened. I love her and I don't want to lose her. I feel so alone. My thoughts: He is still lying. I was a fool to try to get closer. He doesn't really love me. He still wants to keep their secret. She will always be more important to him than me. He just settled for me. I cannot show him my hurt; I have to hide my heart and protect myself. I have no hope. I feel so alone. Lather, rinse, repeat. In my case, this spin cycle lasted for a decade. The damage done by this perpetual dance only reinforced my own inner dialogue that he did not really love me, and that I was never going to be worth enough to him to actually tell me the truth. His inner dialogue told him there was no way I could ever love him - the real him - if he admitted the truth. Ironically, we both felt unloved and alone, neither aware of the other's inner thoughts and fears. We were side by side in isolation, but only one of us had the power to shift the trajectory, and until he decided to do something different, there could be no movement toward "us." In an unexpected chain of events many years later, he was faced with his hypocrisy. He is certain that God intervened that day, but long story short, I asked him again and this time, he finally told me the truth. All of the truth. In one long, painful, gut wrenching, nauseating, horrible monologue he told me a story I never wanted to hear, that my brain struggled to process as the words tumbled out, full of information and graphic images I couldn't handle. After so many years of denial, his words were too much to be absorbed by my panicked brain; it felt like water rising all around me, soon to sweep away my life as I knew it and drown me in a sea of pain and despair. I heard my own voice screaming in my head NO! NO! NO! NO! as he quietly relayed this horrific tale with his head in my lap, while I sat in silence. And then the wall had finally fallen. The bricks lay strewn about in piles of rubble, and years of painful digging lay ahead of us, using raw and bloodied hands to clean up the mess. But the wall was gone, and we could see each other at last. Through every step, all those years, he knew the truth, the whole picture. The puzzle in his head was complete. So much of my life was spent trying to figure out what he was hiding, trying to understand what was wrong with me, why I wasn't enough, why he didn't love me. . . then so much time wrestling against those same thoughts, trying convince myself he was telling the truth like he promised me he was, that despite my uneasiness there was nothing more to know, and so much time beating myself up for being mistrustful. I am sad for us. I am sad for the years we lost not knowing each other. I am sad to think of the man I love believing he was unlovable and unforgivable, and sad for me feeling rejected and alone, when neither was true. We both suffered so much more than was necessary. It didn't have to be this way. If you are an unfaithful spouse and you have not yet disclosed the truth to your partner, you are denying both of you the intimacy of being fully known and fully loved. Yes, there is risk in being fully known, but hiding behind the wall of deception is not really living or loving, so what is the point? You may think you are protecting them, but leaving your partner in the dark is like sentencing them to prison, with no hope of escape because you are hiding the only key. You may still be expecting them to find their way out somehow, but it won't matter how much they try; they will be forever trapped by the deception. Without disclosure your spouse is trapped in the unknown, and you are trapped as well, in a relationship that can never be real. None of us envisioned living in this prison built on secrets when we said "I do," and it doesn't have to be that way. When you disclose, there will be pain, there will most likely be anger and things are probably going to be rough - very rough. But real intimacy requires transparency - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Betrayal is definitely ugly. Ultimately we were all created to be fully known so that we can be loved for who we really are, not just the image we portray or the masks we wear. You might be surprised to see how much you are truly loved by your spouse - despite your betrayal. You owe it to your spouse, and yourself, to break down the prison wall and see each other clearly - maybe for the first time. Registration for Harboring Hope is Open! You don't have to do this alone! Join other betrayed mates on the path to healing with our life-changing Harboring Hope online course. With Harboring Hope, learn how to weather the pitfalls and hardships following infidelity and start a better, brighter chapter. “I just completed the Harboring Hope program. My husband was unfaithful to me emotionally, physically and sexually with a co-worker. What I wished I would’ve known is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. People who refuse to forgive can never live their own lives, they are too busy obsessing about the life of the one who hurt them. They are stuck. They are unable to enjoy friends, family or even their children. They imprison themselves in a bondage of their own making. I definitely recommend the Harboring Hope program as a support for healing. To be in a safe community with other women who know what you’re going through and how you’re feeling is comforting. Whether you’re able to reconcile or not, there is hope.” — M., Michigan | HH Participant, April 2021. Space is limited! Use the button below to learn more about Harboring Hope and enroll in this restorative course. Register For Harboring Hope! Hope for Healing Registration Soon! Space Is Limited! Designed specifically for wayward spouses, Hope for Healing is a supportive, nonjudgmental environment for you to heal and develop empathy. Over the years, this 17-week, small group course has helped thousands of people find hope, set healthy boundaries and move toward extraordinary lives. "I just finished Hope for Healing and am proud of the changes that I already feel in myself and my marriage. I found Affair Recovery when I was at the darkest point in my life, and this course has helped me to get myself on a true path to recovery." — S., Alabama | November 2020 Hope for Healing participant. Spaces fill up quickly for this course. To learn when registration opens back up, click the button below. Subscribe to Registration Notifications!