Disclosing Your Secrets: It Can Make It Worse
All of us occasionally do things that are not in the best interests of our partner. As a consequence of this, we often need to come clean about what we have done as keeping it secret would be a further transgression. Both parties in the relationship deserve to know what’s been going on so we disclose, telling them about the things that we have kept private from them. Disclosure can be very helpful for healing the relationship, but sometimes it works the opposite way. When does disclosing your secrets actually do damage?
Disclosing your secrets
Disclosure, when it’s done well, puts each party on an equal footing; it brings the partner who has been excluded from the secret up-to-date. Now they can know exactly what they’re dealing with, and hopefully can feel that there are no longer any secrets in the relationship. This process can work to free the partner that has transgressed, but also to give the partner who has been transgressed more information to work with. (before you do this, get clear on what your actual pornography use is)
When you are disclosing your secrets it can be hard initially, but it soon feels very good. In fact, clients often talk about how free they feel afterwards.
However, the difficulty lies in what comes after that. One of the problems with disclosure is that, because it feels so good to the person doing the disclosure, the secret-holder starts to disclose too much. They confess every small thing, every errant thought, every selfish feeling. And they feel good about doing that, freed up. Because men and women think differently about pornography, this is often a secret in partnerships.
The problem with this is that their partner now has something difficult to handle. If taken to extreme, the partner with the secret washes themselves clean through confession; their partner is left with the dirty water. Partners understandably get to a point of saying that they just don’t want to know this information, it doesn’t help them process the transgression and all feels like a self-indulgent confession.
Sorting it out
Partners need to know when to shut up. They need to know at what point they need to hold and process their secrets. This is required, rather than piling them on their partner to sort out. Counselling is a good place to sort through these secrets and misdeeds. It’s a place for working out what needs to be confessed and what needs to be carried.
I counsel individual counselling and couples counselling for pornography use in Richmond in Sunbury, as well as counselling for partners of porn users. This counselling can be very helpful for disclosing your secrets in a non-judgement atmosphere.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about pornography and trust, and what makes it difficult.
– Tim Hill
Many thanks to Dr Barbara Winter’s thoughts on disclosure for her inspiration for this post.
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