7 Steps To Incude When Disclosing Infidelity To Your Partner. Heal From Shame and Build Self-esteem
In a recent study, at the University Of Notre Dame, Anita Kelly, a Psychology Professor, reported that when peoples lies went up during the week, their health went down. Conversely, she reported that when people’s lies decreased, their overall health improved. This is amazing news, connecting our emotional life with our physical wellbeing. Anyone who has ever attended a 12 step meeting knows that addiction and lies go hand in hand. People lie for various reasons, if we look at the deeper meaning for the deception; I believe it comes down to one thing, the feeling of shame. Shame is what you believe about yourself, “I am bad, I must hide the bad part of myself to feel okay”. Watch Brene Brown Video on Shame for tips on handling shame.
In our most important relationships, this dishonesty destroys and even prevents true intimacy. What I mean by true intimacy is the feeling of being completely safe with your partner. It is a reciprocal feeling of being fully known and accepted by another person and fully knowing and accepting your partner. It includes physical, emotional, spiritual intimacy. You “get” and protect each other from harm. Deception can distort reality and give your partner a sense of feeling “crazy” if you deny your true self. Partners know there is something off, but can’t place it because they want to believe you are who you said you are. This is especially true if you have had an affair or are addicted to pornography or sex.
The best way to build self-esteem and integrity is to tell your partner the truth by being honest and respectful. Your partner deserves to know who you are, and you deserve a partner that knows everything about you and still loves and cares about you. That’s called unconditional love, which is a powerful boost to self-esteem, and reduces your shame. Being honest does not include vomiting all the details of your indiscretions to relieve you from your feelings of shame. It’s a bit more complicated if you want to save your relationship. You will want to share in a way that is safe and respectful to your partner. 22 Ways Couples Can Overcome Infidelity [EXPERT]
If you are wanting to come clean about your infidelities, the best way to share is to get help from a therapist who specializes in sexual addiction, preferably one who does a disclosure process. So many people are told by Counselors to tell everything to your partner without realizing the damage your partner may experience. I have counseled many couples who were told to disclose everything by a well-meaning Counselor, and the partner had been pummeled with details that caused more pain than was necessary. Your partner needs support when a full disclosure of your infidelity happens. Therapists trained to do sexual disclosures use a process developed to minimize the damage to partners, and designed to build intimacy in the relationship. 6 Ways To Feel Secure As A Couple [EXPERT]
If you want to disclose your indiscretions with respect and deepen intimacy in your relationship, you will want to interview counselors and check to see if they include the following steps. These 7 steps are parts of a disclosure process that should be included.
1. Several counseling sessions as a couple to explain the process and identify a timeline for disclosure.
2. Several counseling sessions individually with each partner to prepare them for the disclosure.
3. Guidelines for individual support and safety
4. Use of a written disclosure letter, detailing only behaviors that you engaged in that affect your partner. In example: you would say, “I engaged in daily online pornography and masturbation for 2 years, and met with a prostitute 3 times.” You would not share all the feelings, details and reasons for behaving in this way, as it can cause more harm to your partner.
5. The partner then responds to the disclosure letter with a written letter expressing his/her feelings about your behaviors and how it affects him/her.
6. The disclosing partner would then write an empathy letter to the betrayed partner with the help of the therapist.
7. A process of forgiveness and rededication for the relationship and one another. Many couples choose to have a rededication or re-commitment ceremony or other ritual to put the past behind symbolically and begin to build true intimacy together.
The process of disclosing is not a one-time event.
It takes time, preparation, and willingness for both partners to go through this process. One of the consequences may be that your partner wants to leave the relationship. The reason this happens, is that their world has just been turned upside down. What they thought was a decent relationship turned out to be something else, and they realize how much they lived in a fantasy world. They now have the reality of who you are and need time to incorporate this new knowledge. Partners need time to heal and recover from the knowledge of the betrayal. 5 Love Lessons From Olympic Athletes [EXPERT]
If you want to be proactive and develop trust and honesty in your relationship after infidelity contact me.
Teresa Maples MS LMHC is an author, licensed mental health counselor and life coach from Gig Harbor, Washington. Connect with her for a Journey to Abundant Life.