By Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D., LPC, C-CSAS
“I’m lost,” said Charlie as he attempted to answer how he could help his spouse Amy heal from his numerous affairs. “She gets upset, and it seems there is nothing I can do to calm her down. She wants me to talk with her, but everything I say is wrong. So, I’m lost.”
Charlie is experiencing what most betrayers go through in the recovery process – shame. Most betrayers cannot help but feel shamed when their spouse is grieving. And this shame worsens the problem as they withdraw or become aggressive to shut down the grieving process.
They allow their emotions to trump the feelings of their hurt loved ones. And if this cycle is not broken, the reconciliation process never begins.
Pursuit of Confidence
To assist his spouse, a man must fight through shame and bring himself to a place where he projects strength, reliability, and confidence. Without these attributes, keeping her feeling protected and safe will be impossible. Instead, you will continue to fail her even if you are sober by not providing her with a sense of reassurance that you have genuinely changed. So, she remains in the dark, wondering if her nightmare is over or taking a pause. If that happens, there will be little or no peace in the relationship because she will not know if you are in a place where you can overcome future temptations and maintain your focus on honoring her and your marriage.
Becoming a Strong Man
So, how do you go from being a limped washrag who wallows in self-pity to a man who possesses and demonstrates Integrity, compassion, and patience?
1. Own Your Stuff
You start by taking full responsibility for your past, present, and future actions. There is no minimizing or rationalizing infidelities. You also own current actions such as relapses or objectifying. When confronted by his wife when she thought he was looking at another woman, one client told her, “if that is what you said I was doing, I will not argue with you. Perhaps I was, but I wasn’t aware of it. I am sorry and moving forward, I will try to be more focused.” Some women may be thinking, “what a cop-out,” but the truth is often, men go into a disassociated state and are not mindful they are looking. But even if when this is the case, men must learn to be more aware when in public, whether with or without their spouses.
2. It’s About Now, Not the Past
Your confidence comes from the fact you are:
- Working steadily on your recovery and are aware of your core emotional triggers
- Fully committed to honoring your wife and marriage for the rest of the days of your life
- Feeling different and believing you are emotionally maturing
- Focused on your spouse’s pain points and not feelings of shame
You remain living in the present, even when your spouse reminds you of the scars you have caused. While it saddens you she is hurting, the focus should be staying focused on her pain and validating her emotions. You no longer defend yourself or give explanations when you believe she has presented information incorrectly. That doesn’t matter. Instead, you no longer lose sight of the main objective – helping her process pain.
3. Practice Being Confident
Confidence appears when you work on it. You cannot wait to get into the trenches to make the changes required to keep shame at bay and allow you to be a pillar for your spouse. Take time to write down how you want to approach situations when your wife is grieving. Outline how your confident approach will look. Take time to review what you have written, so you will be prepared the next time she needs you to show confidence.
Finally, it is essential to understand confidence is not arrogance. The confidence we seek comes with humility. We were wrong. We made terrible mistakes. However, we are on a new pathway to becoming a new man who is determined to finish strong.
Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D., LPC, C-CSAS, specializes in treating Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB). He is the creator of the Inner Child Model, a trauma-based approach for treating PSBs. He is the author of Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction and Why Men Struggle to Love: Overcoming Relational Blind Spots. Visit his website at http://www.innerchild-sexaddiction.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.