RESOLVING THE ISSUE AND REBUILDING TRUST—PART I

Zachary struggled even more. Rather than talking about how Jacob violated his expectations by applying for jobs on the opposite coast (descriptive), Zachary told Jacob, “You fooled me into thinking you wanted to be with me!” to which Jacob replied, “I knew you’d overreact” (an accusation followed by a defensive response).

If you’re having a hard time coming up with a descriptive way to discuss the problem, think about how you would like your partner to address the issue with you. It also helps to focus on the key facts of the immediate betrayal rather than elaborate on every single detail of what transpired. Focusing on the key facts makes it easier for your partner to hear you out.

When Brian started to talk about why he was so upset with Ashley, he did a good job of using descriptive language and focused on the main issue: “I was really hurt when I found out you slept with someone else,” rather than overwhelming her with everything he knew.

Finally, it also helps to try to remain as calm as possible. Pay close attention to your nonverbal behavior and the tone of your voice. Try not to let your hostility or anger show. The more you can talk about the details of what happened in a calm, direct manner, the better.

Repairing Betrayed Partner’s Trust

If you’re the betrayer, it’s critical to admit the facts of what you did. Denying the truth or withholding information will only make things worse in the long run. If your partner describes how you actually behaved, admit it. Owning up to the basic facts demonstrates your willingness to be cooperative and take responsibility for your actions. This isn’t the time to offer long apologies, make excuses, or engage in other attempts to explain your behavior. This is the moment to simply say, “Yes, I did that.”

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