RESOLVING THE ISSUE AND REBUILDING TRUST—PART I
If your partner apologizes, listen to your partner and resist the temptation to immediately ask, “Why did you do this to me?” First, acknowledge the fact that your partner took ownership for the harm he or she caused you. Rebuilding trust requires both parties to acknowledge what the other person is saying. Take a moment to make your partner feel understood: “I needed to hear that.”
After multiple conversations about the ways George had betrayed her, Maria needed some time to think things through. She wasn’t sure that a future with him was possible. When the two got together to talk again, George started with an apology.
He said, “I’m so sorry for what happened. It’s my fault.”
“I appreciate hearing that,” Maria replied.
Although they were talking about a painful experience, Maria somehow felt connected to George; she experienced a moment of intimacy with him. When two people take the time to listen and show each other respect, it creates a sense of closeness and trust, even when talking about difficult issues.
A similar outcome occurred when Ashley and Brian finished discussing the details of her sexual encounter with Alex.
“I’m sorry,” admitted Ashley. “I really screwed things up.”
Although Brian was extremely hurt, he felt the conversation was headed in the right direction and said, “Hearing that helps.”