- Exposure: Should You Expose the Affair?
- Exposure: When and How to Expose the Affair
Expose early, but not until you are certain or have sufficient evidence. Once you are certain, do not delay in starting to expose. If your MLCer lives at home with you, consider exposing to them first if they are not aware that you know about the affair.This gives them the opportunity to end the affair–though in MLC this is unlikely. Then give your MLCer a few days to end the affair before you expose to anyone else–with the possible exception of your pastor. Exposing to your spouse without exposing to anyone else feels, to your MLCer, as though you are allowing the affair. Only expose to someone if you have a good reason. This may sound confusing, but the reasons to expose and the reasons to expose to a specific person or group may not be the same. Expose to a specific person or group for how they can help you—directly by supporting and comforting you or indirectly by their influence they have over your MLCer and as Michele Weiner Davis advised: expose only to those who are marriage-friendly.
Reasons for Exposing
- To End the Affair
Though exposure may not directly end an affair, it can start the process of its demise.
- Bringing Together Friends of the Marriage
- Support for the betrayed spouse—telling friends or family who will become a caring group of supporters and provide comfort.
- Make those who have influence over your MLCer aware in order to encourage him or her to end the affair.
- To Bring an End to the Fantasy
- The Race to Give Reasons
Often the person who speaks first is the one who people will support and believe. Your MLCer may give people false reasons for why they are leaving you, though in MLC they may believe the reasons they give.
- Take Back Your Power
Pretending there is no affair is akin to doing nothing and you risk feeling like a helpless victim. Take back your power and show that you will not allow your spouse or the alienator to control your marriage and life.
- To tell the truth about the person they are claiming is a friend.
- Once the secret is exposed they are no longer protected from the disapproval of others.
- Forcing a Choice.
This sounds like an ultimatum, but it’s not because it is indirect, whereas an ultimatum is when you directly tell your spouse to choose.
- Staking a claim/boundary: This person is mine; there will be no sharing.
- If the alienator is married, exposing to their spouse brings additional pressure into the affair.
- Forcing consequences for actions; to not expose is a form of enabling.
- Time may normalize an affair if people know without knowing the details—your MLCer may tell them your marriage is over and this new relationship started after you separated. Time may also normalize it if it appears that you are accepting of the affair because you are doing nothing about it—so it may seem to others.
How Do You Expose?
If you go into the situation looking and acting like a deer caught in headlights people will recognize you are weak and see you as a victim and they will pounce on you with their own agenda for what you should do.
- Be strong!
To gain the support of others you need to show a strong conviction for your Stand—some people may only be marriage-friendly when they feel you are approaching the situation from a place of strength rather than panic and desperation.
- Write out what you will say and practice.
You may need to practice what you are going to say to avoid seeming jitterish and uncertain; work in front of a mirror if it helps.
- Arm yourself with information about MLC.
You may not need to use this information and some people may see it as an excuse and a weakness and use it to refuse or withdraw support; accept that not everyone believes in midlife crisis as anything other than an excuse to fool around.
Seven weeks after Bomb Drop I met with my family—I asked for everyone to meet me at my Grandma’s; I told them that Chuck was a 39-and-a-half year-old teenager who was running away from home. I then told them that I was Standing, that I did not believe in divorce and that it was a midlife crisis. I think I told them that MLC lasts a long time—a few years—and that there was an affair and he was talking to a lawyer about divorce. What I was trying to do was normalize his actions within the context of MLC. I told them that I needed their support and if they were unable to support me that was fine, but they needed to step aside and be quiet as it was my choice. I’m sure I was jittery, but I recall feeling certain about Standing and what I had learned about MLC and so I also felt confident.
The Aftermath of Exposure
Your MLCer will tell you that the reason they are leaving or not reconciling is because you exposed their affair. This is just MLC script; MLCers need to blame someone else for their actions and yes, your MLCer will likely go Monster on you. Prepare for their wrath and stay strong. This is MLC, so exposure is unlikely to immediately end the affair and bring your MLCer home—this is true for many non-MLC affairs as well. What it does is start the demise by inserting a sort of slow-acting virus into the affair. Exposure is a tool, but like so many of the tools in your toolbox, it may not show the desired results until months or even years after you have applied the tool.