When Brian tried to talk about how Ashley betrayed him, she wanted to explain her actions, rather than simply owning up to the facts. She told him, “I never meant to hurt you.” This frustrated Brian; he didn’t feel as if she was taking responsibility for what she had done. Brian finally asked her to just fess up and stop making excuses, which she eventually did. Don’t force your partner to make you take responsibility for your actions. It doesn’t demonstrate a willingness to be cooperative or make things right. There is a time to explain your side of the story, but you need to acknowledge your mistakes first.

When people have been hurt, they want to know that their partner not only understands them but also acknowledges what they did. George had an affair. Ashley slept with someone else. Ethan exchanged sexual text messages with a coworker. And Jacob applied for jobs on the West Coast. All of these things happened, and the events need to be acknowledged. As difficult as it may be to discuss the basic facts of what transpired, such honest conversations are part of the process of rebuilding trust.

Step 2: Clarify the Facts

When a betrayal comes to light, the person who has been betrayed typically knows some of the details, but not all of the facts. Maria knew that George had been cheating on her, but she didn’t know the extent to which he was involved with Teresa. Was George in love with Teresa? Was he thinking about ending their marriage? Brian knew some of what happened between Ashley and Alex, but he had questions he wanted answered. How long had their affair been going on? Did they ever have sex in their bed?