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Getting the full story of "what happened" during the betrayal out of the closet and into the open is best handled in through a structured process designed to provide the betrayed partner some peace of mind. This process is referred to as a Formal Therapeutic Disclosure (FTD). 


Without an FTD, secrets have a way of surfacing later, causing great damage. Thus, it is imperative that the offending party reveal these secrets in a controlled setting so that the couple can move forward in recovery with minimal worry that more painful surprises are lurking around the corner. Additionally, the unfaithful spouse usually experiences a huge sense of relief and new-found freedom as keeping secrets can be a heavy burden..

Another purpose of an FTD is that it serves as a clear marker of change in the unfaithful partner's life. For the couple to heal, the unfaithful partner must make it crystal clear that he/she is saying goodbye to the old pattern of deceit. The FTD serves the couple by giving them a strong shove forward, leaving behind a relationship poisoned by secrecy and deception, and opening the door to a new relationship built on honesty, transparency, and integrity.

  • Restored truth

  • Confrontation of deception

  • Hope for a future relationship

  • Unfaithful spouse is able to get free from secrets and shame

  • Betrayed spouse is empowered to make informed choices about the future

  • Increased shame and guilt if response to FTD is not managed well

  • Temporary separations or divorce if the FTD presents more than the betrayed spouse can handle

  • Financial, legal, or professional consequences

  • Changes in family functioning, including limited access to children

  • Loss of trust; the relationship may get worse before it gets better


A study was done by Schneider, Corley and Irons to see how couples felt about an FTD before and after the disclosure event. Both partners were asked:

“Initially, how did you feel at the time about the disclosure?”

“Looking back now at the disclosure, how do you feel about it now?”

What they found was encouraging:

  • Unfaithful partners: 58% of them said the therapeutic disclosure was the right course of action before the event, and 96% said they felt it was the right thing to do after.

  • Betrayed partners: 81% said they believed the disclosure was the right thing to do before the event; and 93% felt it was the right course of action after the disclosure.


Nonetheless, even though we strongly recommend an FTD, as the betrayed partner, you have a right not to receive a disclosure if you don’t want one. Couples should have a say in their healing process as they usually know when something feels like a bad fit for them. In such cases, please share this feeling with your therapist.


If you, the betrayed partner, has been wanting a disclosure for some time and the acting-out partner has been unwilling or has repeatedly stalled in following through, it is completely reasonable for you to request to join him at his next individual session with his therapist to discuss your requests and ask any questions you may have.

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