So many couples avoid discussion with their partner when one of them “screws up”– because they fear their partner’s reaction.
Actually, both sides need to make an effort to repair this situation.
Here are the steps you need to take to find peace within yourself and with your partner, according The Couples Therapy Institute.
Tolerate the discomfort created by this situation and explore your partner’s disappointment.
Take role of a journalist collecting the data about your partner’s reaction. So, go ahead and ask as many questions as possible so as to see the situation through your partner’s eyes. You can ask, for example: “How did you feel while it was happening?” “How did you interpret my actions/behavior while it was happening?” “What do you wish I had done differently?”
Repeat back to you partner what you heard him or her say to check whether you understand correctly.
Act like a journalist, collecting the data and reporting what you have learned about the situation/problem. It will be difficult to stay at that moment and tolerate the discomfort, because you don’t like what you’ve been hearing from your partner.
Nonetheless, say back to your partner what you heard him or her say to you as accurate as possible. Check you body language and tone– it is very important how you present the data you have collected.
Try to see the situation through your partner’s eyes, acknowledging their suffering. Say something like this: “Given what happened, I understand why you would feel what you are feeling.”
Step #4: Apologize.
Summarize the talk. Example: “When I forgot to pick up kids after their swimming lesson when I promised to do so, you felt very hurt and angry, and you thought that I don’t care about our kids, about you or our relationship.I can understand how hurtful it was for you. I never intend to cause those feelings in you.”
Step #5: invite your partner to discuss how to prevent future mistakes.
Your partner will hear that you are taking responsibility and want to prevent the problem from happening again. You can say, for example: “Going forward, I will put all events on my calendar so that I won’t forget.” Or “Can we discuss a more effective system for coordinating events so that this won’t happen again?”
In relationships, there are going to be screw ups. The most important thing is how you handle them. Practice will help you grow stronger as an individual and as a couple—it’s the kind of thing that helps keep a good relationship working. Keep practicing to enjoy the rewards!
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