Making direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I love the saying "The best apology is changed behavior" while behavior is crucial to recovery and healing, you can also be white knuckling it. It can appear to be manipulative, as well as complying to earn the trust back in the relationship that has been violated. An attitude of "HUG" is what I came up with in a session with a couple that are in process of recovery/healing in the aftermath of a discovery/disclosure. H is for humility/humbleness, U is for understanding, putting yourself in the others shoes, attunement at its best, G is for grace. When the attitude is one of victimization, anger, bitterness, or resentment creep in, it makes it difficult to be in a place with HUG. Your emotional sobriety is in jeopardy, and flirting with your middle circle behaviors/triggers, can lead to problematic behaviors.
Worthy of her Trust, by Jason Martinkus, is well worth the read regarding making amends, (page 199). I have copied a shortened version of Jason's model of making things right with your partner,and I would recommend as soon as possible. whether its a slip, relapse, crushing someones spirit, manipulation, lie, ommitting the whole truth, the sooner the better to make a repair. The amends matrix takes you into the past, present and future. The 7 steps to the matrix guide you and directs the nature of the offense, I like that it also has you write/ speak into empathy, and how it makes you feel to see your partner hurting.
Take your time to write out each step, and ask for a time when you can read it to your partner. the couples I know that include the amens matrix in their recovery process have said its been very helpful and they experience a better outcome of HUG.
The 7 Steps of the “ Amends Matrix “
Taken from worthy of her Trust, Jason Martinkus
Each example progresses with the added steps in the matrix. Examples are met to exemplify the follow through with the admit of past and present wrongs that trigger your wife’s wounds of the past, and present conflicts. Use this model, following the 7 steps, on a separate paper, taking your time to answer each step, with your heart and head in a place to love honor and protect her heart, will ensure a better result.
Step 1: What’s happening now that connects to past pain or disappointment
Trace the touch Point.
Identify what event is taking place in the present that has a touch point in the past. You’re looking for experiences that can be connected to painful emotions for your wife such as shame, disappointment, mistrust or fear. These events may be connected to sexual integrity issues, but they could be separate and distinct, indicative of your hurtful character traits. When you notice the connection it is important to ask yourself, what and how is it connected. Men usually experience this as guilt and shame, but it could also be noticed as anger. A touch point is occurring when you get a sense that the current situation or circumstance is familiar in a negative way.
Let me be absolutely clear; you are looking for things that might trigger your wife’s pain. When you identify with something, you should attempt to connect with why it would trigger her pain. Once you connect with it, you are ready to move to Step 2.
When you perform the amends, you should began by clearly stating what you realize in the present is connected in the past. Your job is to describe the current situation that you have identified.
Example: Sitting in the restaurant together, in the past your attention would have been everywhere but your wife.
Step 2 : What exactly happened in the Past
Tap into the Past
Bringing up the past for healing is different than bringing up the past for pain, especially if you work on step 6-7 of the matrix. If your focus is only on the past without so much as a nod to a different future, that hurt will win the day. If your focus is on a better future, while not belittling the past, than hope will take the day.
While a wife wants to forget a lot of what has happened, she certainly does not want her husband to forget. She wants you to remember the pain you have caused, hoping it will be a deterrent to engage this behavior again. If you talk through this within the content of the matrix, you actually reassuring her that you understand the past, you are in touch with her hurt, you caused and you are not inclined to forget it.
It’s important for you to cite specific examples in this step. Sometimes a husband will give this a glance and speak only in general terms. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t shy away from it, cite specific examples.
Chances are your wife remembers specific instances, and you will do well to recollect them yourself.
Example; On our honeymoon, when we ate at the seafood restaurant on the beach, as well as last year when we ate at a steakhouse for our anniversary, I was not paying attention to you. I was watching other women at the other tables as well as the female waitress.
Step 3: Why did you behave this way in the past?
The why behind the what.
This step requires that you dig into the underlying reasons for your behavior. It is to simplistic and shallow, and also not new information, to say you behaved this way because you were selfish or a jerk or prideful. This step is only meaningful if it includes a description or explanation that delves into the behind the scenes mechanism that were driving you. You must take sole responsibility and you must own it completely.
Engaging in this step means elaborating on the what and why of your attitudes and actions.
Example; In the past I would pay more attention to other women in the restaurant because I was trying to shore up my insecurity. I was trying to make eye contact with a woman who would look back so I could feel significant and desirable. Engaging a false form of intimacy with them meant that I did not have to risk rejection. I have lived most of our life terribly afraid of your rejection, which is a function of my insecurity, not your judgment.
Step 4 : How do you think she must have felt?
Presence in Pain
Empathy, That is the entire meaning of this step. True empathy, especially with your wife, means getting out of your world and into hers. It means trying to see life through her eyes. It requires taking into account her past and preset life
Experiences, which may both precede and include you. To engage empathy, you have to extract yourself from the equation and attempt to be enveloped in the circumstance of the person with whom you’re trying to empathize. Walk a mile in her shoes. Consider what the other person is bringing to the situation. What has gone on in the other person’s life that would play into the hurt you have caused. This step offers you an opportunity to communicate to her that you get it and our committed to not subjecting her to that pain again.
Example: At the restaurant, when I was looking at other women, you must of felt insignificant, undesirable, and rejected. You probably questioned your beauty and your value. It must of felt very lonely even though we were in a crowded place.
Step 5; How does it make you feel, knowing she felt this way? (Apology here)
The goal of this portion of the amends is to communicate the impact of the other person’s pain on you.
How do you feel for them? How do you hurt for them? You want your wife to know that you understand her pain and are truly convicted and repentant, fully intent on never inflicting the same kind of pain again.
Also, it is within this step that a formal apology is made. I suspect that if you are amending a past wrong, you may have already apologized. However, an apology in itself does not count as making amends. How many empty apologies have you made to this point? We have an incredible opportunity to facilitate healing in the person we’ve wronged if we will earnestly admit it, realize the harmful ripple effect, repent and confess our ownership.
Example: What I’ve done and how I hurt you, with respect to the restaurant and our time together, makes me feel so remorseful. You should not have had to endure nights like that where I took your vulnerability and your heart for granted and wasted your time.
Step 6: How do you want her to feel now?
How do you want her to feel now?
Begin to paint a hopeful picture. This step speaks to the heart and in some sense is the antithesis of step 4. The goal is to state the positive emotional experience you want the person to have in situations like the one you listed in step 2. Instead of pain and discouragement, you’re trying to convey healing and encouragement. It again requires empathy, only this time empathy is based on what-if scenarios:
What if things went really well and there was healing and restoration?
What if you could erase the past mistakes and create a new landscape for your relationship?
What if you could rewrite the script to be a positive one, devoid of the hurt you’ve caused?
How would you want your wife to experience you and any situations like the ones you recounted in steps one and two?
You want your wife to see that your taking her feelings into account. The message you are sending is that you’ve thought through how much it must of felt, and through empathy, you can now see what she desired to feel.
Example: Regarding restaurants and our going out in public, I want you to feel confident, secure, and protected. I want you t o see that I am enamored with you. My hope is that you’ll feel like we are the only two people in the entire restaurant.
Step 7: What do you want the future to be like?
Cast the Vision.
We must detail the path to get there. We’ve got to create a plan to get there. Then we have to effectively communicate the plan, path, and end goal to our wife. We can’t prove what were not doing wrong; the only thing we can prove is what we are doing right. Our vision, which ideally inspires hope and relational redemption, will become experientially evident to our wife. Craft a vision in your mind and communicate where you want to go. Express how you want life to be and how the two of you fit into it. Specifically, you want to paint a picture of the scenarios and life context where the positive emotions you listed in step 6 can become a reality.
Example: When we go out to restaurants together, I want you to know that my eyes and mind are solely on you. I want our conversation to be rich, deep, and intimate. I can see a day when my level of communication is creative and intimate enough to hold your attention and you’ll know my love is reserved for you only. My hope is that you’ll feel like were the only two people in the entire restaurant.