We all make mistakes, but some are more harmful than others. What do you do when you’ve made a big one, and your partner is now hurt and angry? Maybe you’ve had an affair or done something that has caused a major upset in your life and the life of the man you love.
Situations like this are a test. It’s a test of your relationship and whether or not it is solid enough to repair the damage done to it. The situation is also a test of your character. It’s important to do the right thing.
The first step is to be accountable. This is hard; do it anyway. No excuses. Offering an explanation (“Our sex life has been rotten for months”) is only going to add fuel to your partner’s anger. If you lied or broke an agreement between the two of you, it’s important that you acknowledge what you did. Doing so can begin the long road towards repairing your credibility.
If you’ve had an affair, answer your partner’s questions without giving him more information than is helpful. Own up to what you did. Keep in mind that this is about helping your partner work through his pain; it’s not about unburdening yourself. Avoid saying things that may make you feel better for getting them off your chest if your lover is going to feel hurt even more by the information.
Apologize and mean it. If you want the relationship to continue, say so. Understand that your partner may not be as clear as you are about what he wants. What does your partner need from you now? Understand that hiding information your partner has requested is likely to make things worse. Understand that your partner may find it difficult to trust you and may want to know where you are going and whom you’ll be with, for instance.
Be willing to listen to your partner’s feelings. This is not likely to be easy, but it’s what needs to happen. Expecting forgiveness before your partner is able to extend it is not going to help you. Be willing to hear what your partner has to say. If you can do this without being argumentative or defensive you’ll have gone a long way towards helping the wound heal.
Time heals many wounds. Make time for healing by being available for your partner if that’s what he wants; if what he wants is some space away from you right now, let him know that you will be around if he wants you.
Understand that forgiving is different from forgetting. You can ask for your partner’s forgiveness, but it is up to him to determine whether he can pardon your offense. If he’s able to do that, see if you can also forgive yourself.
Relationship or individual counseling may be needed to help you both move forward. One of the great things about being human is that we can learn and grow from even the most painful and difficult of situations.
Sometimes we become stronger in the broken places.
John R. Ballew, M.S. author & contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER or John R. Ballew, M.S. - www.bodymindsoul.org. or at (404) 874-8536.