Archive: July, 2012

Lost Trust in Your Partner? CORE Strategies Help You Regain It

Loss of trust in a love relationship can come about as a result of infidelity, a partner lying about money, one partner failing to be a loyal ally when needed, and many other ways. Regardless of the cause, when couples are faced with the dilemma of rebuilding trust after a betrayal, there are four strategies that can help. We call these CORE strategies. CORE is an acronym for Communication, Opportunity, Renegotiation, and Empathy.

Let’s say your partner cheated on you. You are stunned by the awareness of his or her actions. You feel lost (Should you stay or go?), alone (The person you sought comfort and support from is now the very person who is causing your pain), ashamed (What are people going to think of you?), and may even question your role in it (Did you help cause it?).

Don’t make any decision too precipitously. You are overwhelmed by very powerful feelings that push you in opposite directions from one moment to the next. It’s difficult to take a step back and put things into perspective at this stage. It’s impossible to look at the events and your feelings from a logical, rational point of view, as emotions are distorting your perception of reality right now. Instead, we encourage you to take some time and apply theCOREstrategies we suggest.

Let’s examine them one by one.

Communicate with each other openly and honestly.

A survey conducted by infidelity expert Peggy Vaughan, with 1,083 people whose spouses had affairs, found that the more couples talk about the events of the affair and their feelings about it, the more likely they were to maintain and rebuild their marriage, recover from the damages caused by the affair, and heal.

The betrayed partner has a need to know what happened. The betrayer, on the other hand, while possibly wanting to “move on” and not revisit events likely to bring up uncomfortable emotions, has an obligation to be responsive to the partner’s needs.

The betrayed person should be free to ask all the questions he or she has, and the betrayer  should respond in ways that are not defensive but supportive, understanding, and caring. Furthermore, the betrayer should be patient and not pressure the partner to move through this phase faster than required. It takes time to rebuild trust, and it is rebuilt one step at a time.

Opportunities emerge from tragedies.

Nobody creates tragedies in one’s life in order to see opportunities in them. However, tragedies can be the red flags that force couples to pay attention to areas that might have been ignored or glossed over in the past. Making a conscious effort to use this opportunity can improve, strengthen, and deepen relationships, even relationships that have been ruptured by a major betrayal.

Of the couples inVaughan’s survey who chose to stay together and talked a lot about the facts of the betrayal and their emotions about them, 43% said they were “a good bit better than before the affair,” and 59% reported that they were “a lot better.”

Renegotiate the rules and norms of the relationship.

After a betrayal of trust, the relationship will never be the same as in the past, so new rules and norms need to be laid out. Perhaps your old norms were never openly discussed, but just assumed. Now they need to be spelled out clearly, discussed, and agreed upon. This process reduces fear and anxiety about the future and contributes to the creation of common expectations and directions.

So, for example, if the betrayal was about money, the partners may decide that all purchases over $200 have to be mutually agreed upon. They may also decide to go over the books together once a month to discuss shared and individual debts, budgeting, and spending.

Empathy leads to healing.

It is not enough to answer questions and to give time to the other person to heal. Emotional healing occurs when empathy is present. The betrayer needs to feel what the other person is feeling, while acknowledging his or her part in the pain. One’s ability to feel empathy, or to step in your partner’s shoes, naturally leads to feeling remorse and contrition. Contrition, in turn, drives one’s commitment to change those behaviors that caused so much pain.

This process helps to establish new foundations for the relationship based on openness, honesty, and increased empathic knowledge of oneself and each other.

Daniela Roher PhD

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Breaking Up but Still Living Together

When couples living together break up, sometimes no one moves out. Why? The answer is usually money. Some people who can’t save the relationship still live together out of financial necessity, or because they want to save money in the short-term so they can buy out their partner.

How can two people live in this situation? It can be done if both partners commit to communicating and cooperating. Here are five tips.

Sit down and go over the finances before discussing anything else.

Leave feelings out of this as much as you can manage. Come up with a plan that both housemates feel is fair and feasible. Try to divide bills and household chores up as closely as possible to 50/50 so that, as housemates, it feels equitable for both people and does not lead to resentment or unnecessary conflict.

Set a time-frame or financial goal for the end of cohabitation.

For example, “We are going to be living in the same place until…” This could be a time frame, such as three months, six months, or a year. This could also be a financial goalpost: “We are going to share our house until we both have paid our joint debts” or “…until one of us has paid off what he or she owes the other” or “…until one of us finds a job.” Such financial goals should be tied to a time frame: “This should happen within a certain number of weeks/months.” Make a mutual commitment to respect your joint plan and not change it unless you discuss it first.

Share with each other information that affects both of you.

Did one of you find a new job, or did you or your ex-partner lose one? Is there a major change that may affect your mutual agreement, such as a major health issue or an inheritance? Housemates should also share minor changes that affect each other. For instance, if you decide to spend the night somewhere else and you have always been very consistent with your schedule, leave a note or send a text to your ex-partner about this turn of events so he or she does not worry about your whereabouts. This doesn’t mean you need to tell your ex everything you do and everywhere you go, but it is common courtesy to let a housemate know that you are okay, or that you might be coming home in the middle of the night.

Talk about your feelings for one another.

Quite likely one of you is emotionally ready to move on, whereas the other person may still be mourning the end of the romantic relationship and hoping it can be repaired or rekindled. It is important you know where each of you stands. Remember that you once became a couple because you loved each other. Even if your feelings have changed, your ex and current housemate still deserves respect.

Discuss how you want to handle new relationships.

As housemates it’s necessary to come up with an understanding of how to manage the other person’s romantic partners. How does each of you feel about the other getting involved with someone else? Is it okay to bring a new friend home? How can you do this in a courteous and respectful way? Sometimes housemates may agree to use separate entrances or bathrooms, when possible, to assure maximum privacy and discretion.

Bottom line: When couples break up but decide to still live together for a while, it’s important to have clear, mutual agreements and understandings about how to manage the household. It is possible for people who once loved each other romantically to transcend the hurt and anger, and to transform their relationship into one of friendship and cooperation. If you can’t manage to do this, then living together out of necessity, even for a short period of time, is not a good idea.

Daniela Roher PhD

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