Here are some of Steve’s most blaring characteristics…
Refuses to talk about affair
Lacks remorse – or at least the outward appearance of remorse
Emotionally unavailable to his spouse when needed the most
Impatient with his spouse’s healing process
Continues to lie or releases details in “trickle-truth” fashion
Defends affair partner
Rewrites history of marriage to rationalize behaviors
Blames his marriage and/or his spouse for the affair
Favorite saying is “Just get over it!”
Won’t go to counseling. Thinks therapists are quacks.
May still be involved in the affair
Selfish and ego-driven
Lacks any knowledge about affair dynamics and relationships
Regularly makes use of flight or fight instinct through a variety of tactics that border on emotional abuse
Lacks any depth of understanding why he had the affair
Takes no initiative in the recovery or self-change processes
Prefers to sweep things under the rug rather than address them
Steve can be any age and sex. (We are using a male in this case but Steve can certainly be a Stephanie.)
He can be in any socio-economic class, race, profession faith, etc.
Demographics do not matter.
The inside characteristics, like personality, dreams, fears, desires, etc. are what matter most.
It was these inside characteristics that fueled my Steve-like behaviors. I was birthed into the world as a Steve.
I didn’t know what the hell to do.
But I was motivated.
And with that motivation I went to work. I had to.
Now, Let Me Introduce Tom...
Here are some of Tom’s vital characteristics…
Understands the depth of pain suffered by spouse and demonstrates empathy
Shows deep remorse and has offered a sincere apology
Is sensitive to and aware of spouse’s triggers and emotions
Willingly talks about the affair – and in fact often initiates discussions
Is actively working on individual change and self-awareness
Trying to understand the real reasons for the affair
Has taken responsibility for actions and inactions
Rebuilding trust with appropriate actions
Committed to a life of honesty and transparency
Reads books on affair dynamics and on relationship complexities
Realizes that the healing process is on his spouse’s timeline – not his
Creates a safe environment for spouse to share and express emotions, opinions, and desires
Has ended the affair for good and committed to no contact with the affair partner.
Demonstrates gratitude for the grace being offered by spouse.
Open to individual and couples counseling when ready.
Focused on recovery needs of the spouse before all else
As you can see, Tom is entirely different than Steve. (Again, Tom could just as easily be a Tammy.)
Tom understands that he needed to make massive change in virtually every aspect of his life and the way he relates to his spouse if he’s going to have any chance at all of rebuilding.
He is driven to be different. To be the catalyst for change and healing.
Tom isn’t selfish and is willing to suck it up and do what he needs to do throughout this healing journey.
Tom realizes that the affair does not have to define who he is. But that doesn’t happen by itself.
And all these things were the realization that hit me when I opened my eyes and saw things for what they were.
Previously, I was so focused on myself and self-preservation that I had missed the “truth” of the situation.
When I look back after all these years, the right path seems so obvious. But it can be easily lost during times of stress and crisis, selfishness, ego, cowardice and when bowing to irrational fear.
So, when I put all this stuff to work, things turned around overnight. NOT!
It still required lots of work and there were many ups and downs. But it’s safe to say that if I would have been Tom from the get go, our recovery would have taken far less time and we would have avoided a ton of mistakes and setbacks.
The good news is that you get to choose to operate and think and behave as Steve or Tom.
It’s just a decision. And it’s all on you.
As Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art,“You have a choice. Do it or don’t do it.”
There is no easy way though.
It doesn’t exist. If you think there is, you’re wrong.
There’s only a hard way, fraught with trauma and obstacles.
Lean into it, because it’s the only way to breach the membrane shielding Steve from Tom.
If you’re a Steve and want to transform to a Tom, we can help with that. Or if you’re already a Tom, but wanna level things up a bit, we can help with that, too.
Maybe you just need a nudge in the right direction. We’re great at nudging.
If we can’t help, we’ll tell you, and point you in the best direction. We don’t have all the answers. And what we have may not be for everyone.
What we have here is for the few who choose to enroll in the journey and do the hard work.
If you’re interested, I want to show you behind the curtain just a bit and reveal some of the ways you (or your spouse) can help in the recovery process as well as some of the mistakes to avoid.