Last week, we discussed three important elements needed during a healthy time of disclosure.
Let me quickly illustrate some things that can happen if you don’t have these three elements in place during a time of disclosure.
›A wife nags and rages, attempting to manipulate her husband into telling her the truth. He gives in and hits the highlights, but because he has not had time to prepare, he forgets to tell her about two incidences. Now he is faced with the dilemma of bringing up the painful subject again or keeping the two situations a secret.
›The husband, tired of carrying the burden of his shame and guilt, sits his wife down and pours out his heart. She was unaware of the extent of his addictive behaviors, has no support system in place to help her, and is totally overwhelmed by his revelations. He feels great that the secrets are finally out, but his wife is having thoughts of suicide.
›A husband and wife decide they can handle disclosure without the help of anyone else. They set a time and sit down to talk. The husband begins to share about sexual abuse he endured as an adolescent—a sexual relationship with another man. His wife interrupts with the comment, “Oh, God. Please don’t tell me that you have had sex with other men!” The husband, totally ashamed, is unable to continue and leaves the house in utter despair, his greatest fear realized: she really knows me, and now she doesn’t love me.
›Again, a wife and husband decide to have a time of disclosure without the presence of another person. The husband reveals that he has had sex with numerous prostitutes. (The wife was only aware of pornography usage.) Enraged, the wife begins to hit her husband and scratch his face and arms.
›Same scenario. This time as the husband shares, the wife constantly interrupts with questions about details: What turned you on? Where did you meet? What position did you use when you had sex? The husband doesn’t feel comfortable reliving all of the details, but when he declines to answer her questions, his wife accuses him of hiding things from her. The already difficult conversation turns into a disaster, and both the wife and the struggler leave the situation feeling angry and hopeless.
›A husband and wife plan a time of disclosure with their pastor at their home. Everything goes as well as can be expected but now every time the wife walks into the living room of their home, all of the painful memories of that evening are triggered for her. She no longer feels comfortable in her house and wants to move.
›A couple plan a time of disclosure at the church with another couple they love and trust. Although they have reserved the church’s conference room, in the middle of some of the most painful and graphic disclosure, two of the church gossips walk in unannounced and inadvertently hear the word “prostitute.”
Do you get the idea? The best case scenario for disclosure, in my opinion, is a planned time with your husband’s counselor in the counselor’s office.