10 steps to heal the relationship and rebuild trust with your partner. Focus is primarily on men.
- Step One: Total Ownership Of The Infidelity Companion
- Addendum: No Apologies
- Step Two: Be Sincere, Show Empathy For Your Partner Companion
- Addendum: How Men Get Disconnected From Their Feelings or The Socialization Of Men
Screwed Up By Screwing Around? Gentlemen, Please Take Notes…..
“What Do I Do Now?”
If you’re reading this, then you are probably in this following situation:
You got caught screwing around in your relationship, the shit has hit the fan, and you’re scared shitless because you want to salvage the relationship and you don’t know if you can. She’s hurt and angry, and you don’t know what to do.
Sound familiar? Keep reading……
Here are Ten Steps to heal the relationship and rebuild trust with your partner. For explanation purposes I will be using a hypothetical male/female characters called Mike and Jessica. (Note the ten steps apply to women as well.)
Step One - Take Total Ownership Of The Infidelity
First thing, Mike (you) must take full responsibility for the infidelity. There will be no apologies, no pleading, no promises of, “I’ll never do this again”, and no explanations. (We’ll explain this later).
More on: No Apologies - See Addendum
All that Mike wants to say to Jessica (be it explaining, apologizing, pleading) will not register with Jessica and the same is true for you. Jessica (as is your partner) is in shock, is hurt, and feels betrayed. She is emotionally devastated.
News flash: an infidelity is a huge trust violation and Mike (you) must take total responsibility for what has happened if they as a couple are to heal.
Addendum - Why Apologies Don’t Work
In working with many clients over the years, I discovered an inevitable truth:
Apologies are way overused and don’t really help you get out of the situation
We apologize way too much: We do it because it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to step up and take ownership; we do it to get our partner off our back. We do it because we believe that by saying, “I’m sorry”, it lets us off the hook and we are free to do it again and again and again – all we have to do is say we are sorry.
News flash: your partner doesn’t want to hear your apology. S/he wants you to take ownership of what you are doing and stop doing it.
Does this mean you should never apologize? What do you think?
Yes, there are times where an apology is appropriate because it is an integral part of the healing process through words or action or both.
What does a “REAL” apology consist of? What do people really want when there has been some transgression either through words or actions?
The offended party wants the following:
The offender takes absolute ownership for the hurt or transgression (“I did ____ to you”)
The offender has sincere empathy for the offended party (“I see how it has impacted you”)
The offender has insight about their actions or is seeking insight (“ I understand why I did it” [no excuses!])
With insight, the offender will have a goal to change the behavior so as to not repeat it (“Being open with you about my change is important to me”
The process of healing can only move forward when the offender takes these four pro-active steps. Then the offended party can build and maintain trust with you.
If you sincerely follow the four pro-active steps, you’ll find that you’ve apologized fully, and the words, “I’m sorry…” may not be required.
However, very serious transgressions to require a deep sincere apology, but we’ll talk more about that in a later section.
To hear more about this subject, pick up our DVD and listen to Disc ___, part ___
And, stop apologizing - just don’t do it anymore.
Step Two - Be Sincere, Show Empathy And Understanding For Your Partner
The key question for Mike is, “if you were in Jessica’s shoes right now, how would you feel?”
Jessica will be deeply experiencing a myriad of feelings and judgments. These feelings will include anger, sadness, embarrassment, humiliation, judgment of Mike, judgment of herself (“how could you have done this to me and us?”, “what am I going to do now?”).
The two biggest emotions attached to Jessica’s trust violation are hurt and betrayal.
Mike has to be able to hear all the feelings and judgments Jessica is going through. Mike cannot hear all of this, however, if he caught up in his own feelings of guilt and shame while he’s trying to listen to Jessica.
At this point, Mike needs to be present for Jessica. He needs to sincerely hear and validate all of Jessica’s feelings with total understanding
How? Mike, through being very present and sincere hearing has to validate all of Jessica’s feelings with total understanding.
Mike has to take those feelings of guilt and shame and set them aside to work on later (see step three). Put those feelings elsewhere, dude, this is not about your feelings, it’s about what she’s going through, so be perfectly present for Jessica.
(A little insight: empathy comes from knowing your own feelings. Many men are disconnected from their feelings and typically resort to lots of apologies to their partner at this step.
I strongly urge that you don’t get caught up in your own guilt and shame: your apologies don’t cut it.)
More on: Male Emotional Disconnect - See Addendum
Addendum - How Men Get Disconnected From Their Feelings or The Socialization Of Men
Socialization Of Men
By Tom Burke, MFT
. See if any of these sound familiar:
• Stop Crying!
• Stop Acting Like A Baby
• Stop Acting Like A Girl
• Suck It Up, You’re Okay
• I Don’t Want To See Those Tears
• Stop Being Such A Wimp
And my all time Favorite: You Want Something To Cry About-- I’ll Give You Something To Cry About
These are the messages most men get when they are growing up; these are unhealthy messages about what and how to be a man.
Welcome to the socialization of men.
I am in the same boat as you, and I’m here to say that by no means is this offered up as an excuse