I knew this guy who caused some serious damage to his relationship. His fear of losing his partner became greater than loving his partner.
He decided to seek help for the relationship and his lady agreed to the plan. They began attending couple sessions. The instructor encouraged power thinking by engaging couples in exercises to measure relational level, identify commonalities, the variations of differences, and projects that engaged couples in working together in order to stabilize the relationship.
At first, the guy appeared to be fine with the sessions, until the instructor performed a 4 week assessment of each couple. The instructor explained to the guy how he had not done a great job in the healing process for the relationship, how to remove the constant reminder of his indiscretions and how to incorporate more daily actions in healing the relationship.
The guy became angry, and extremely emotional. He stormed around the room and babbled some curse words. The instructor remained calm and told him to let it out, but the guy walked out of the session with his apologetic, yet emotionally injured partner in tow.
Everyone in the room knew they were not coming back. What adult storms out of a room, not as the victim, but as the one who damaged the relationship? It was because of him they were in the sessions to begin with.
Surprising, they returned to the next weekly session, but the guy was shut down, uncooperative, and his responses were poorly communicated, long winded, condescending and unintelligible after every exercise. For a while, I thought the poor woman was in love with a guy with some sort of mental disability.
The next two sessions, he continued to be disagreeable, to the point where the session’s agenda was sidetracked. It became apparent he was sabotaging the sessions.
If his partner said one thing, he was mostly always in disagreement, and saw things differently, which was not a problem— providing his responses were logical and made sense. They did not. There was a contradiction in practically everything he said. He was so focused on being negative, that his responses were not well thought out.
For example, the instructor engaged the class in an empathy exercise. The objective was clear— to answer a set of questions in the mind of your partner. You had to respond as if your partner was responding— not as you thought the response should be. It was like walking in the shoes of your partner.
No couple in the room got a perfect score. The guy and his partner finished with a grade of 50%. When the instructor went around the room asking for input about the overall exercise the lady of the guy said, “We don’t know each other as well as we thought we did”.
The guy spoke up and said something like, 50% was a good grade and they knew each other just fine. The instructor asked him, if the exercise was a scholarly test, would 50% be passing? The guy answered no, and came back with, “But with a relationship this grade is different. It shows we know enough about each other, but we just don’t like what we know”.
The instructor proceeded to ask the guy if he and his partner answered the questions honestly. (We knew the answer was yes, because every couple graded each other’s response.)
Seeing things through the eyes and mind of his partner was the point. He missed the point. Every session we observed this guy relive his indiscretions again and again. His partner was constantly reminded of why she didn’t trust him, by him saying she did not trust him.
The instructor explained that it is very difficult to build the relationship in the areas of trust if you constantly accuse your partner of not trusting, especially when you caused the breach. Your partner cannot trust when you have the same behaviors, and giving your word alone is not enough.
You must make an orchestrated effort to rebuild trust like, calling throughout the day, and making your life as transparent as possible. Saying the words, “I am sorry” with deep and sincere felt emotion. Making every day count where your injured partner feels your pain as you bear the pain you have caused.
Rather than providing her security and showering her with all the love he had, he wanted her to trust him, simply because he said so. He also stopped making a higher salary and wanted her to accept his salary reduction, because he wanted to work less. So not only did he do damage to the relationship, but he also decreased the financial income of the relationship. His value as a partner was on the decline.
The guy began to complain saying he did not see the value of the sessions, and he did not see any improvement from his partner. She asked him point blank— “Are you saying I am not trying”? He never answered her.
The guy got up and walked out of the session, again, with his lovely partner in tow, yet disappointed and embarrassed again.
It was then the instructor said, “The demonstration you have just witnessed was a classic example of no empathy. The guy is solely focused on his problem and is looking for an immediate solution for the layers of damage he has created. He destroyed not only his partner’s trust, but he severed the communication, emotional intimacy, the sexual intimacy, and his partner is continually reliving the pain, because every session he accuses her of distrust. The question is what has he given her to replace the distrust”?
He was so focused on her needing to trust him, that he didn’t focus on how to help her to trust him. He was so focused on the fear of losing her, that his fear overshadowed his love for her.
The couple never returned. He rejected a process to help him to get his relationship over the pain he caused, all because his fear of losing her was greater than the love he had for her.