Dealing with Disclosure

Adopted by Pure Life Alliance from © 2005 A L.I.F.E. Guide for Spouses
by Melissa Haas
used by permission

What is disclosure and how do we do it?

When we talk about disclosure we are referring to the process in which a person struggling with sexual addiction tells others about his/her sexual behaviors. Although there are many scenarios in which a person's sexual behaviors outside of the marriage might be discovered and confronted, we believe it is important to have a formal time of disclosure between addict and spouse that is planned and in a safe place.

Guidelines for disclosure we generally suggest to couples in recovery:
  1. The addict works with a counselor or mentor in his small group to create a timeline of all of his sexual behaviors beginning with childhood and ending with the present. (The timeline includes any sexual abuse, first sexual experiences, as well as acting out behaviors before and after marriage.)
  2. When the struggler is confident that the timeline of sexual experiences/behaviors is complete, he and the counselor/mentor talk about what needs to be shared with the spouse, what may be shared with the spouse, and what details need to be avoided during disclosure.
  3. A formal time of disclosure is planned with the spouse when the couple can meet together in a safe place. We do not recommend a restaurant as a safe place due to the public environment. This can prohibit or inhibit freedom in sharing or responding on the part of either the addict or the spouse.
  4. During the time of disclosure the addict discloses the extent of his sexual behaviors while the spouse listens.
  5. After disclosure the spouse is allowed to respond and ask clarifying questions.

What do I need to know about my spouse's sexual behaviors?

What is shared during a time of formal disclosure is very important. There are some things that absolutely must be shared in order for healing to take place in the marriage. There are other things that may be shared if the struggler feels safe enough to do so. And there are details about sexual behaviors that should not be shared with a spouse. Let's talk about what these look like.

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