Be aware of your blind spot.
If you ever took driver’s ed classes, you were probably taught about the blind spot in a car. This is the field of vision you do not have access to when sitting in the driver’s seat and looking out your side view mirrors. If you’re changing lanes, you may not see a car beside you because it’s out of range of your mirrors.
There are high-tech vehicles available today that address the blind spot, but it’s still safest to physically turn your head and check to make sure all is clear before moving into a different lane of traffic. Plenty of accidents occur because people don’t check their blind spot.
Did you know that there are blind spots in your view of your relationship too?
Some blind spots are the things we haven’t really thought about or considered before. Other times, they are simply beyond comprehension– we just don’t see because we’ve never experienced it. And other times, we don’t want to look at a situation or dynamic. We intentionally avoid, deny and focus on anything else…even though we know we probably should pay attention.
When trying to rebuild trust after an emotional affair, any of these blind spots can come up. If you’re working to repair the damage and re-connect with your partner but you aren’t feeling the improvements you’d like, your own blind spots could be the reason why.
There is so much to think about as you pick up the pieces of your relationship and it could be that you’re focused in on some areas but not aware of others. This is also likely to be a strange and new place for you. Maybe you’ve never been through an emotional affair before and you don’t really know what’s best.
And, of course, there’s the possibility that, deep down inside, you know there are habits you would be better off facing and dealing with, but you simply don’t want to. You try to ignore the questions nagging at the edge of your mind because you really don’t want to go there. It’s too painful or even scary. It seems somehow easier to fix your attention and efforts on other areas.
We invite you to find the courage to acknowledge what your blind spots are when it comes to healing and moving forward after the emotional affair. Asking the tough questions after an affair is an effective way to do this.
Be sure to examine these “blind spot” areas with as much kindness and compassion as you can. Always remind yourself that your intention is to learn and understand so that you can heal trust. Rather than searching for people to blame and someone to be the “bad” one, be willing to uncover what needs to be uncovered so that you and your partner can return to trusting and loving one another fully.
Gentle and powerful questions to ask yourself…
“How do I react when I feel suspicious or mistrust?”
“Which of my habits puts distance in my relationship?”
“What do I say or do that seems to push my partner away from me?”
“What are some alternatives to my usual reactions and habits that are doable, feel genuine and would benefit me and my relationship?”
Gentle and powerful questions to ask your partner…
“Are you willing to work with me to rebuild trust in our relationship?”
“What is one specific thing I could do differently to make it safer for you to be completely open and honest with me?”
“Will you agree to ________ to strengthen trust?”
What’s essential to remember is your ultimate goal: To rebuild trust and move closer to your partner. When you go to your partner – at a time when you both can focus and are calm – and you aren’t coming from a place of resentment, bitterness or sarcasm, you will find that questions like these help you communicate and better understand one another. Working together to find the next best step is easier.
Be willing to own your role in whatever dynamics pulled you apart and possibly contributed to your relationship being vulnerable to an affair (this may still be pulling you apart today). The set of questions above to ask yourself are tools to use to uncover that. Share with your partner your plan to change your own behavior when you ask him or her the second set of questions. Remember, owning your role doesn’t mean that your partner is “off the hook” for the emotional affair.
The less that either of you is on guard and defensive, the better chance you’ll have of moving beyond the painful past.
Susie and Otto Collins are experienced relationship coaches who have helped individuals and couples heal the damage caused by infidelity and re-gain trust, love and connection. Click here for more on Susie and Otto’s Relationship Breakthrough Coaching options.