Today we discuss two practical tips for getting you out of the negative pattern. You might want to know "how do we get out of this negative cycle?’
I had a couple recently, who asked this same question. In typical therapy fashion, I like to give my opinion, however, I always like to defer to the spouse first because they usually have the best answer.
Now, this is somebody who has been betrayed, hurt deeply, and she said "you know, when I get hurt and I've got these ptsd symptoms that I'm working through, there are somethings I need you to do.
Number one, I need to know that you care. I need you to keep being vulnerable and show me that you care. I need the vulnerable side of you and I need to see your heart through your emotions."
And the great part is, he's been doing that. He's been, he's been showing her his tender, vulnerable side and letting her into his inner emotional world.
She said, “when I get really frustrated, I get triggered, the trauma hits me. What I need from you is to just grab me and figuratively shake me and say to me, stop.
Just let me hold you right now. I want to be here, I need you here. Don't go off. Don't attack me anymore. Let's figure this out.” And she said, “I also need you not to take no as an answer.”
So to recap what the points that our couple said helps them get out of the negative cycle are:
- Keep being vulnerable, keep letting your partner know that you care for me emotionally and I can see your tender side and your vulnerability.
- Keep being honest.
- Be assertive, don't take no for an answer (this can be hard to do, withdrawer often avoids, but step forward, lean in and that will help)
From a personal perspective, here something that happened in my own relationship recently. Apparently, I'm really bad at laundry. Morgan comes to me this morning she's like "did you leave this on the washing machine?!". I said “Yes, I did”, and she got angry with me.
What I did next, was what the pursuer was recommending. I saw her getting angry, but I had her come and hug me anyway. That doesn't always work though. You will have to figure it out with trial and error. However, that's one way to stop the negative cycle.
Here's the other way to stop the negative cycle. Sometimes pursuers have questions after an affair since they've been betrayed. They have questions, they want answers, they are really hurt. And so, it's not always a good idea for them to hold these questions back, dwell on them and think about them.
The outcome then becomes a bigger negative cycle, a harder to manage negative cycle than what we needed.
So what this couple said next was, "you know what? It's totally OK to come to me as you have these questions, as they build". And what I liked about his answers, is he was saying, “I'm an open door. I'm here for you. I'm a shoulder for you to lean on.”
What I would say to virtually anybody who got caught in an affair, who was a betrayer or was involved in an affair is, “I would rather you come to me when it's kind of a smaller issue than when it's a bigger issue”.
Because when it's a bigger issue, there's an explosion on our negative cycle. There's anger - and then it will be really hard to not withdraw from and get defensive. So what needs to do happen, is when it's more of a small problem it needs to be discussed.
These are two things I want you to think about; and I want you to do because they're going to help you work through the negative cycle and help you heal.
Here's the other kicker, if you can get through this part, it makes everything else so much easier to discuss. It makes working on a marriage so much easier, it makes everything else easier. If you can get through that part, the rest is, I don't want to simplify it, but it's a lot easier.
You can get out of the negative cycle! These are two ways you can do that - being vulnerable, showing your heart, being able to not take no for an answer.