You may have been keeping a secret from your spouse for a long time. There may have been times in the past when you wanted to disclose the secret, but the fears of the unknown reactions kept you from saying anything. Maybe you had no desire to share the secret, but it was accidentally discovered. Anyhow, when secrets come out, the relationship will be rocky for a while.
Once the secret is out, you may have thought that your spouse would be mad and hurt for a couple of weeks, then get over it. That is probably not the case. Whether the secret involves infidelity, compulsive pornography use, drug use or other acting out behaviors, you spouse is likely to be in pure
disbelief at first. Then there may be anger, confusion and pain. There is no time limit on how long the healing process takes as it’s a very individualized.
Your spouse will need time to heal, recover and eventually learn to trust you again in order for the relationship to survive. Going forward, you will need to practice rigorous honesty. You will need to be sensitive to your spouse’s needs and understand that the pain of the secret keeping will take time to heal. There may be times when the relationship seems to be worse as you go through the healing process. The relationship is actually not worse. The relationship has now become honest and sometimes honesty really hurts. Many things that have not been talked about in the past will now need to be addressed. There will be feelings that need to be processed in order to move forward. It will be uncomfortable and painful at times.
You can apologize for the pain you have caused, but you can’t go back and have a redo. What you can do is to stay in the present. Listen to your spouse and ask what you can do to help. Do not tell your spouse how they should or should not feel. Do not get angry or defensive. Research shows that couples who are able to keep the communication open and honest are able to heal faster. If you feel like you can’t talk about it and just want to “hurry up and get over it,” you will only prolong the recovery process. There is no way around or a quick fix.You will need to answer questions, display complete transparency and implement boundaries for yourself and the relationship. It is hard work, but it is doable. Many people report feeling stronger and more confident is their relationship following all the work that both parties need to invest in in order to restore the relationship.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS specializes in helping individuals and couples
heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. Ingela Edwards Counseling serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist