2. GETTING THE STORY
Sadly, most partners of acting-out partners experience what is commonly referred to as “staggered disclosure” or “leaking disclosure.” Staggered disclosure is when an unfaithful partner gives a partial disclosure due to:
his or her shame, or
a well-intended effort to protect the partner from more pain.
Almost always, the betrayed partner eventually discovers new information about the partner’s infidelity or other breach of trust, either by accident, investigation, through the affair partner, or by the unfaithful partner’s own admission.
TRAP OF SECRETS
Staggered disclosure is also counter-productive for the unfaithful partner because, as long as secrets exist, he/she remains trapped in shame which may be a driving force in the original betrayal.
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
Staggered disclosure is extremely painful and traumatic for partners. It causes the couple to start the recovery all over. Both partners find this to be extremely discouraging.
LIE ABOUT THE DECEIT - DOUBLE WHAMMY
To make matters worse, after acting-out partners disclose incomplete or even misleading information, they again tell their partner, “I’ve told you everything”; however, prior to Formal Therapeutic Disclosure (FTD), the statement “I’ve told you everything,” is almost always a further deception on the part of the acting-out partner. This tendency to lie about the story full of lies often feels like a "double whammy" and may cause the couple to give up.
PATIENCE REQUIRED BY BETRAYED PARTNER
For this reason, we encourage the couple to refrain from having detailed conversations about the story of the betrayal prior to formal disclosure.
As a betrayed partner, your initial response to being told to wait feels unfair. In fact, to hear that you cannot ask questions about the betrayal until the Formal Therapeutic Disclosure (FTD) often sparks outrage. After all, you’ve been intentionally and repeatedly deceived, possibly for years.
Why should you have to wait even one day longer for the truth?!!
You may also wonder how you’re supposed to protect yourself if you don’t have all the information. Your questions are completely reasonable and understandable.
WORTH THE WAIT
Nonetheless, because of the high likelihood and severe negative consequences associated with a staggered disclosure, you should wait and get the WHOLE story in one coherent truthful package.
The only time that we advise otherwise is if there is an imminent risk of harm to:
your reputation due to a public disclosure of the unfaithful partner’s behavior, or
to your children.
However, while waiting, you need to protect yourself sexually and emotionally, thus boundary work at this stage is crucial.