A spouse relationship can be the most intimate, warm, and beneficial relationships you ever have. However, being that close to someone inherently opens you up to heartache. Being close to someone requires vulnerability and openness. When that vulnerability and transparency are abused or betrayed, this can lead to intense pain and grief.
However, when a relationship is worth saving , worth fighting for, (and most are people!) forgiveness and healing is the key to getting things back on track. Forgiveness can restore a broken relationship and help you find that place of happiness and harmony once again.
The problem comes when the pain and grief are still too raw. Forgiving can be extremely difficult when the hurt caused can’t be forgotten. Today, we are going to share with you ways that you can move toward a restored relationship through forgiveness, even when you can’t forget.
Begin by Believing
The first step in any significant change happens within your mindset. If you do not believe that something can happen, chances are, you will not truly invest all that you can to try and make it happen.
It is essential that you begin by believing that rebuilding is possible. Elsewhere on the MarriageWorks.com.au blog, you will find an excellent piece about this very topic.
They offer some much-needed hope for people struggling with reconciliation after a spouse has betrayed their trust. On their blog, they say that with professional help, reconciliation is not only possible, but it is also probable.
When you sincerely believe that something is possible, those positive thoughts will inspire positive actions. And what is rebuilding but a series of positive actions encouraged by positive thinking?
Even if rebuilding your marriage is not possible, believing that forgiveness that moving on and enjoying life again is possible will go a long way in helping you reach those goals.
Stop Trying to Forget
When a spouse hurts us, the pain can seem unbearable at times. Since they are often our closest friend, our spouse can hurt us more than anyone else. Dwelling on this pain can be extremely damaging, however trying like mad to forget can also be detrimental.
The way our brains work, trying to forget rarely works. Often, actively attempting to get rid of a memory will lead to that memory cement itself in our brains. And in the case of pain and heartache, that is the last thing that you want.
Sometimes people will work themselves into a rut where they try to forget; the memory comes back, they try to ignore it, the memory reasserts itself stronger yet. This leads to intense frustration and can drag out the healing process for much longer than necessary.
So, stop trying to forget. Stop focusing on the wrong and turn your attention to the things that bring you joy. The memory will fade away in time, but not if you are always trying to forget it.
Forgive for Yourself First
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Studies have shown that people who forgive often can lead happier, healthier, and more productive, meaningful lives. Is that the kind of life you want to live? I think most of us would have to say ‘yes.’ We all want to have abundant lives that make a difference and allow us to enjoy the moments that we are here on earth.
Often forgiveness is viewed as something we must do so for the benefit of the person who wronged us. However, if you shift your perspective and realize that forgiveness has perhaps more to do with your quality of life than anything else, you will begin to see that not only is forgiveness important, it is vital to you living the life that you want to live.
A life free from bitterness, a life that releases the hurt and pain, is a life that is enjoyable to live. Forgiveness is the path to this kind of life. But if you can’t forget, remember that you owe it to yourself to forgive so that you can live the best life that you possibly can.
Remember, Forgiveness is a Choice, Not a Feeling
There are many things in life that we may not feel like doing. However, we do them, knowing that they are the right thing to do. Sometimes, forgiveness is one of those things.
If you are waiting for a feeling to come before you forgive, chances are you will be waiting for a long time. Instead, take the proactive approach and choose forgiveness even if you may not feel like it.
There are few things as painful as a broken relationship. However, our goal today was to provide you with some hope, knowing that forgiveness is possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is that professional guidance is sometimes needed. For most of us, this kind of heartbreak is all brand-new territory. Having someone with the experience and training to guide you through the process can make a world of difference.
Note: Many thanks to Danielle over at RP Emery Legal Kits for sharing these tips with us. Protecting yourself ahead of time before getting into any new relationship is always a good idea.
Love to hear your thoughts, feelings and experiences on this topic please add comment in the box below.
A huge thanks to Bethany Hatton for our guest article on addiction:
ADrugRehab.org states, “Addiction is tricky and calculating, and it’s the only disease that can take more than one person down with it, if it is left unchallenged. Addiction dramatically alters the lives of not just the addicted person, but of everyone within his or her vicinity, namely family and friends.”
Addiction in Australia
Millions of Australians are affected by drug addiction and alcohol dependency, either directly or indirectly. There are dozens of different drugs that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. ABC reports that the number of drug overdose deaths in the country has risen to the highest levels in nearly 20 years. It can be difficult, however, to determine if your loved one has a drug problem because different drugs have different symptoms, and people react to drugs in ways unique to them.
Identifying a substance abuse problem
Addiction to anything, whether it is drugs, sex, gambling, or food, can leave a person feeling socially isolated. According to ReachOut.com, a few social signs of a substance abuse problem include:
Avoiding non-users becoming isiolated
Feeling uncomfortable when unable to access their drug of choice
Going into debt to fund habit
Other indications include:
Poor attention span
Depression, often severe
Declining health, specifically heart problems
If you suspect that a friend or family member has an alcohol or drug problem, the first step is to help them recognize and admit it. Understand that you cannot force them to undergo treatment, but they may be more willing to get help if they are sure that they have a strong support network. Once they are willing to consider treatment, reach out to their doctor or healthcare provider.
The end goal of drug treatment is for the user to have the self-control their use if possible or to avoid taking drugs in the first place. But quitting cold turkey can be very tough and is often not a good idea. Withdrawal, the body’s response to craving a specific substance, can have debilitating symptoms including high blood pressure, anxiety, and shakiness. A person with an addiction to alcohol or a benzodiazepine, such as Valium, may even be at risk of death due to a sudden shock to the system if they quit using unexpectedly. The National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney reports that opiate withdrawal, which was previously believed to be non-life-threatening, can result in death due to dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
Approaching an addicted person
Opening up a line of communication is an important part of helping your friend or family member seek treatment for their addiction. PositiveChoices.org.au explains that you must prepare ahead of time, however, before beginning the conversation about substance abuse. Gather information about the drug and decide exactly what you want to say about how you feel that the drugs have affected your loved one’s life. Come at them with compassion but be ready for some push back and negative reactions. More than anything, stay calm and be willing to listen to what they have to say. If you are intimidated or believe approaching them on your own may put you at risk, have a friend, family member, or mental health professional join you. You could also work with other close friends or family members to stage an intervention.
Type of treatment
There are dozens of residential treatment centres throughout Australia and even more outpatient facilities that can help. Long-term treatment, those programs designed to last between six and 12 months, offer 24-hour care and begin with a thorough medical detox. Community counselliing and support groups are also of offer.
Throughout treatment, patients are taught both how to live independent of chemical dependency and how to reenter society in recovery. The type of treatment your friend or relative seeks will be dictated by number of factors including their willingness to undergo treatment, time constraints, and finances.
For more information on alcohol and drug treatment, contact the Alcohol and Drug Foundation at 1300 85 85 84, your doctor or a psychologist. If it is a life-threatening emergency, call 000 or seek immediate medical intervention.
Can you guess the number one presenting problem couples have when they come in to see me? Yes you’d be right if you’ve said it is communication. Complaints begin with s/He doesn’t communicate, or s/he never listens are catch cries repeated in my office.
Accusations fly and a load of words move between the spouses like arrows. The discouraging thing is it’s usually totally negative. Making it virtually impossible to stay connected and positive.
When we feel attacked and criticized we usually get defensive, worn down and ultimately one or both withdraw, shutting down in sheer frustration.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you can see how this applies to your arguments and attempts to talk on the hot topics – parenting, finance, the in-laws the list goes on.
Now it’s not that they can’t talk, the truth is they can’t communicate effectively. When I listen it becomes clear key skills are missing. Communication is often misunderstood, especially in partnerships. That’s why couple coaching works.
Learning the techniques to communicate clearly will allow you to find freedom, joy, love and genuine connection. Disconnection is the second major complaint couples have.
When you communicate clearly you create:
Clarity and perspective
Better outcomes for all
Who doesn’t what these life-enhancing benefits?
Where Couples go Wrong.
If you have ever found yourself in the equivalent of a communication traffic jam, then you will recognise the roadblocks. Once you realise and release these barriers, next time when you see the signs you can take a different route entirely. You are in the drivers seat!
Missing the message
Lack of politeness
As I promised here are 8 Potently Powerful Communication Skills
1 Create Connection.
Before we even start to have a discussion we need to ensure we are ‘with’ the person. This means getting in synch with them. In therapy speak we call this joining. What we want to do is build rapport.
Communication experts believe the majority of the message being both sent and received is nonverbal. Words only account for a lousy 7% of communication is the oft-stated figure.
We have amazing things inside called mirror neurons, which, allow us to understand and feel what other people are going through.
That’s why when you watch those kids on TV bouncing off the see saw hard your body winces and you go ouch! And possibly laugh.
Mirror neurons give us this capacity for social synchrony, promoting bonding and empathy in our relationships. Scientists have determined analytical thought destroys and creates misunderstanding. Stop any analysis paralysis.
How do I create connection?
Simple you copy and match your mate’s body language as your chatting to them. It’s human nature we like others like us. Pay attention to your partner’s gestures, placement, and tone of voice.
If they tilt their head to one side you match this. If they are speaking slowly, so do you. When then breathe you breathe with them. They have crossed legs you might cross yours at the ankle. The key is to do it subtly.
Next time you are with someone and having fun, you will most likely find yourself doing this automatically. It is an unconscious process. So get back into synch with your partner today.
2 Forget Mind Reading. Become a Body Reader.
It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Too many partners are busy reading their significant others mind and totally missing vital information.
You won’t be surprised to hear body speak is a vital component. Don’t worry you don’t need to be an Allan Pease body language expert to decode your partners message.
What you do need is an idea of what their body is signalling to you. Is there a sign of relaxation and ease or discomfort?
Signs of comfort and ease are leaning towards, physically coming closer, twinkling eyes, turning to face you, a head tilt, a pat of the hand, a smile and touch.
Signs of discomfort appear as head or neck touching or rubbing, head turning away, arms crossing, body angle or feet turning away and poor eye contact or looking away.
What you want to do is note where the person’s general comfort levels are. High comfort gives you a green light to keep going and low comfort you may need to back off a bit.
For example I am in connection with my partner and I notice he goes rigid and starts smoothing his hair with his hand frequently, his face looks taut. I know that he is in discomfort and most likely not able to hear things clearly. So I soften and go back to creating connection.
3 Own It.
They best way to own your communication I know is with the tried and true “I Statement.”
An I statement is where you describe your experience and feelings on something. It is the gold standard in assertive communication.
If it goes something like: Hi honey did you take the garbage out (you know they didn’t as you can see the overflow out of the corner of your eye). They say Sorry I forgot. I’ll do it, why do you have to keep asking? Don’t you trust me? You respond you take forever to do it.”
You get the picture and I am sure you know where this one goes off into the ditch in your own life experience.
When you use a you statement which is sadly often followed with a never, always don’t, it will come across as an accusation. No one likes to be accused. Naturally they go into defense mode. These are part of what John Gottman refers to as the four Horseman of the Apocalypse and good predictors of divorce in communication patterns.
Read this statement and see what is wrong with it. “ I feel/think that you….” Warning this is not an I address of usefulness. The You overtake the I.
Bad news right? So the antidote is the “I Statement.”
An “I” offers an objective opinion; it opens space and gets your message across. Try taking a true I statement personally. Use this vital skill today in all your relationships and interactions. Watch the change.
4 Be Open.
This should really be at the top of my list, please make it your priority.
When you are vulnerable and open to others real magic happens. People will feel safe and will be open towards you. True vulnerability builds trust and strengthens bonds while deepening connection. See why it’s a priority? This will give you increased joy and security in all your relationships. Vulnerability is the cornerstone of intimacy.
When we feel safe we are like the flower opening to the sun, the bird spreading her wings to soar and the dolphin dancing in the waves.
Vulnerability advocate and researcher Brené Brown has improved our knowledge tremendously. I recommend her books and you will find these in the Book Resource section.
If you want your partner to be open and share their vulnerabilities you are going to have to take the lead and be the first to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability and gentle honesty can provide you with a powerful relationship, now who doesn’t want that? Let’s have a go at increasing your joy and stimulating satisfaction.
Yes the next thing you need to do is to shut up. Finding silence helps you listen intently to understand.
Quietness is a true gift for your spouse and you. This gift will create a deeper soulful relationship.
The stillness of attending silence offers you the opportunity to be a better listener. It is an active process of being soft and taking things in without interpretation or reaction.
Creating a silent space for others encourages them to talk more. (Yes I can hear some people cheering at this. Talkers, get ready to listen more.)
Interruption and its accomplice inner rebuttal (thinking of what you are going to say, how wrong they are in your mind while the other is speaking) are the murderers of silence. These shut down and diminish relationships.
True silence gently allows your significant other an invitation to help you both learn more about each other and the situation. Offering you real growth potential. Sit in attended silence more.
While respect is not so much a skill as an attitude. It says to your loved one you matter to me. I will show up in this discussion. If you wish to be an influential parent, a thoughtful partner or caring friend this outlook is the key to successful interactions. It all starts with you.
Respect is shown is a light tone of voice, it says I am here ready to hear you. I care about you, your issues matter to me and I want to help you.
Opponents to Respect are:
Thinking of your answer
Asking too many questions
Talking over another person
Intimidation – yelling, aggression or worse still throwing property or making threats
Bringing out all the issues at once
Dredging up the past resentments– dirty fighting
So as Aretha Franklin say show a little Respect! Forget any interjection, and relax. This alone will go a long way to resolving your issues and makes for a safe landing zone.
7 Reflect for Clarity.
In therapy we us a term called reflection, or mirroring. Basically this is where you paraphrase the other person’s comments back to them. It’s an integral part of a listening exercise using called Imago dialogue many couple therapists employ.
You let your partner speak and feedback what you have heard. This allows both you and them to really feel heard and attended too.
The real power here is will provide clear communication. No longer will you misinterpret your mate. You will check in with them. They will even help you if you have missed something.
When you partner has said their piece you paraphrase back to them. “So what I hearing you saying is… is a good starter or From what you said I heard … did I get that?
Practice, practice and then some more practice. Here you do not add anything in this process is for creating connection.
8 Add in Empathy to the Mix.
After you have reflected for clarity you can add the most potent communication enhancer empathy to your skills.
This is where you have a guess at what the other person is feeling on an emotional front. Connecting with a partner on a emotional basis will advance your relationship to a new level of fulfillment. Empathy is the healing influence. It is also the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.
So work at developing this and the above core skills to advance your relationships and connections to a higher level today. Challenge yourself to take these words off the blog and into your life, have fun!
Please let us know in the comments below what have been your bugbears and what has made a difference. Perhaps you have a suggestion you would like us to help you further with in your communication quandaries or would like to share your successes – we would love to read about them.
We are super excited – Marriage Works is expanding with the talents of Rachele Davis coming on board. She starts 28th July so hurry to book as she has limited availabity and we certainly don’t want you to miss out. Rachele is seeing Individuals only at this stage.
Rachele has a wide variety of experience working with clients in her career already. We feel so lucky to have a provisional psychologist with access to the latest therapy innovations joining us in Randwick.
You are getting a fresh face as Rachele heads towards completing her psychological registration with the College of Professional Psychology.
This means Rachele graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology Honors), with a major in Psychology and minor in Philosophy. Rachele is a dedicated and skilled therapist, she completed her Clinical Resource Therapist qualification in 2016 with the Resource Therapy Institute of Australia.
Her skills include working across the lifespan with children, adults and families. Rachele wants you to know she work from a strengths-based frame work with a client centered approach. Since provisional registration she has gained experience working with physical/intellectual disabilities, a range of mood related and developmental disorders, anxiety related disorders and personality disorders. Rachele’s therapeutic toolkit includes Resource Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy.
Rachele’s specialty areas of interest
include working with those of you who have phobias – fear of flying, addictions, social phobia, agoraphobia anxiety, depression, trauma and stress-related difficulties.
Rachele is available on Fridays for individual adult appointments in Randwick.
You will also benefit from a special session rate. Please enquire with me Philipa 0434 559011. Book early to get your preferred time, as she has limitd appointment slots.