How do we know if our spouse is taking responsibility for their infidelity? How do we know if we are really moving forward or just doing the same things we have always done? How long do we wait for something to happen before we make something happen ourselves?
These are questions I hear a lot, and ones that are important to answer. Part of re-building trust after infidelity is knowing that our partner is not only being transparent with the facts, but also holding themselves accountable for the choices they made.
Another big piece in moving forward is understanding where we are taking too much responsibility upon ourselves for the actions of others, and where we are not holding ourselves accountable for our own growth.
In this episode, you’ll learn the difference between taking responsibility and passing it off to someone else, and specific markers to look for in evaluating the progress of your partner. You’ll also be able to see in yourself where you are passing off responsibility to someone else, waiting for them to change so you can feel better.
I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast
Episode Number 68: Effective Communication.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast for courageous women
learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently living, but
don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around
to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is it
possible? It is. And I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea Giles.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, everybody. Episode Number 68 here. Today we are going to talk about
communication. Now, if you go several episodes back, I did another one
about communication. I can’t remember the exact name of it, but it was
about communication. But the more that I learn about my clients, the more
that I learn about fears and about feeling safe to communicate, the more I
see that I want to add to it. There’s some things that we can continue to
learn, things to continue to try to communicate more effectively and also
to feel more safe while we’re doing so.
Much of the reason why we don’t say what we want to say is because we don’t
feel safe, because we’re scared, because we’re afraid of rejection. We’re
afraid of the pushback and so we don’t say it. And so in this episode, I’m
going to talk to you about what it looks like, some different ways of going
about communicating that I hope you will find helpful. And that I hope will
encourage you to go say those things that you’re carrying around that you
want to say. Okay?
You hear me talk about vulnerability a lot that becoming more vulnerable is
key to leaning into to growing a relationship. So for those of you who are
in the space of considering staying with your partner, being vulnerable is
something important. And it can feel a very scary, but it is important.
Because it’s in vulnerability that we let ourselves be seen, that we share
our true feelings and that we invite the other person to share theirs.
Now, if you go back a few episodes, I did an episode about attachment
styles. They’re anxious, avoidant and secure. And depending on what your
attachment style is, it can show up in communication. It can make us feel
even more unsafe. And then when trust is broken, we even feel more unsafe
on top of it. So let’s say you already felt unsafe and then maybe you feel
even more so now. And so these tips are to help you to feel more safe and
to go have those conversations. Okay?
So first of all, I want to talk about what many of us do in these
situations. This is many of my clients. This is myself at times. Instead of
having the conversations we wait, we wait and wait until it feels safe
enough to talk. And guess what? Often that day never comes or we just avoid
it all together and feel frustrated and trapped. Like we can’t move forward
because we can’t talk to our spouse. We feel so much of our own discomfort
at just the thought of the discussion that we talk ourselves right out of
it before we begin. While this is understandable, it is not serving us.
We could just end the relationship without the discussion and say, “I’m
done. It’s over,” but we still have not grown in our ability to feel safe
in conversations and will likely carry that pattern with us. So where do we
begin? A huge first step is teaching your brain that you’re worthy of being
heard. You’re worthy of having a vote, of having an opinion. Reminding
yourself of that again and again that you’re more than this people-pleasing
machine that’s there to hustle for your worth. You’re more than the person
who says yes to everything to keep the peace. Okay?
The more you practice this thought that you’re worthy of being heard,
worthy of having a vote, having an opinion, the more your body will respond
to it and believe it, and will feel more comfortable in it. For some of my
clients, they can’t quite get there logically yet. They don’t believe it.
They don’t believe that they’re worthy of being heard or maybe they do
believe it logically, but they don’t believe it in their body. Their body
kicks it out and gives them this sense of fear around that thought.
So what I do is I encourage my clients to practice feeling what it feels
like to be safe. Okay? Not intellectually safe, but inside their body. And
this happens through many modalities that you’ve heard me talk about.
Meditation, prayer, journaling, breathing, tapping. The more we practice
these things, the more we are reminding our brains that we are safe. That
is when we can use our prefrontal cortex or our wise brain to help us to
take courageous steps forward.
We know at least on some level that we can handle the discomfort of that.
That this is the crux of building trust. Okay? Building trust with yourself
that you can handle it. Okay, next, being really clear in your own mind,
getting really clear on what you want as an outcome for the conversation.
Okay? What is it that you want? We may want to be heard of what our opinion
is. We may have a request. We may want to express our frustration with how
something is being handled.
We may want to communicate a boundary. We may want to share the hurt we
feel without our spouse shutting us down because they are uncomfortable. We
may want to see how the other person responds to us as data about how
willing our partner is to move forward with us as we try to heal and create
something better in our marriages. Knowing what you are coming for, the
result that you want will help give you the courage to say the hard things.
Next, strategy. There is some strategy to how things are said. Have you
ever felt attacked when somebody’s talking to you? Like they would come to
communicate and it feels like they’re just coming at you. What happens? I
know for me if I feel attacked, my walls go up. I shut down. I don’t want
to talk at all. Okay? So our approach matters. And it’s the difference
between the person on the other end turning to you or turning away from
you. In Dr. Julie Hanks book that I’ve talked about before, it’s called The
Assertiveness Guide for Women, she talks about something called the soft
start. It’s a way of approaching a conversation that helps both people feel
at ease. Okay?
So I’m going to give you some tips from her book. It’s not all from her
book. Some of it is modified by myself about what a soft start looks like.
Okay? Here’s some ideas. Number one, time it right. This means paying
attention to the surroundings. Are they on their way out the door? Are they
in the car and you’re calling them on the phone? Are you feeling highly
emotional? This will not help you.
Remember when we feel highly emotional, our brains danger. This was
developed as a way to keep us safe from physical danger, such as being
attacked. If we go into it in this way, our brains will already be in
fight-or-flight mode, and our true wise selves will be put on the back
burner. Okay? Safety will seem like the most important thing. So don’t have
the conversation if you are highly emotional. Wait until you are calm. Wait
until you are both somewhat at ease.
Number two, ask for permission. So remember we are not asking permission to
speak, to share, et cetera. We are extending an invitation to someone we
care about to engage in a conversation with us. This looks like saying to
our spouse, “I was hoping we could figure out a time to discuss some things
that have been on my mind. What would work for you? Or are you open to
talking about some concerns of mine? Or I would like to talk about a few
things. Is now a good time?”
This may feel uncomfortable because there is some vulnerability in it. They
may say no. They may not agree to a time. In this case, you can try again.
You can step into a conversation and just talk from a calm place without
waiting on them because it may never come. Or you can use this as data and
information about the willingness of your partner to be open to you. Either
way, you are learning something. Another thing that you can do is follow-up
with is now a good time? And if they say no, then you get a time, a
commitment. Then when is a good time? And get a commitment. Okay?
Number three, keep it private. Sometimes we feel safe if we’re saying
things with other people around. For example, our spouse may have said
something we don’t like in front of other people and we may feel hurt by
it. It can be very tempting in the moment to lash out, to call them out in
front of others, to let people know we aren’t being walked on. But really
embarrassing that person in front of others won’t have the desired result
of growing closer. It will push you further away from each other. In
private, we can share our feelings about the matter in a non-reactive way
when we are calm. We can respond to the thing we did or said without
escalating things more.
Okay, number four. This is a really important one. Put down your crystal
ball. Okay, what does that mean? It means assuming that you already know
how something is going to go. He always responds in this way. You know
what? It may well be that when we approach things in a certain way, we can
pretty much predict the outcome. Okay? If nothing changes, nothing changes.
So for example, if I have a bone to pick with a child of mine, if I go to
them and they feel attacked, they get defensive. If I talk to them is if
I’m on their team and want what is best for them, things go differently.
What would not be helpful to me is going into that discussion assuming that
they’re going to respond in this certain way. And then the thing is I would
create that very result. Okay?
So if I go in there annoyed already with this all or nothing thinking that
this is the way it’s going to go, I’m going to create that. Because I’m
going to show up the same way I always have, which means the kid very
likely will show up the way that they always have. So if you put down that
crystal ball and go, “I really don’t know how this is going to be received
because I’m approaching it in a different way.”Then it allows you to be
curious and open, which will be much more beneficial, right? We can have a
much higher chance of influencing the conversation to go the way we hope it
does if we are open to waiting and seeing what happens, right? Not
determining beforehand that it’s not going to be received well,
Now, you can still rehearse conversations in your mind ahead of time in
your mind or on paper, and that’s okay. But if you find yourself feeling
emotional as you rehearse and even annoyed at what you think the response
will be, you are likely holding tight to that crystal ball. Are you willing
to set it down? I love the thought I am willing to be wrong or I am willing
to be surprised. It helps me to open up. Part of putting down that crystal
ball is really listening to what the other person has to say without
assuming you know what they will say.
Listen, focus on what they are saying. As I have heard my husband tell my
kids at least a thousand times, “Listen to understand, not to respond.”
I’ve heard him say that so many times when they are so fast with the
comeback, right? He’ll like very calmly say, “Listen to understand, not to
Number five. Okay, breathe and pause. So let’s say you have jumped into the
conversation and you feel some anxiety rising up in yourself or some other
emotion. I want to give you some tips on what to do here. First, it’s okay
to just monitor your breath. You can listen and notice your breath at the
same time. You can notice if you’re getting out of breath. You can notice
if your heart rate is climbing. You can practice deep breaths as you are
listening. This will help to calm your nervous system and help you to be
more present and remind you that you’re safe.
If you are still feeling really anxious or whatever that other emotion is,
it’s okay to push pause. If things start getting heated if you don’t like
the direction things are going, you can pause the conversation. I teach my
clients to push pause before reacting to an emotion. And this is the same
thing. If we become highly emotional, we may just react in a way that makes
that crystal a ball prediction come true. So take a pause. You can simply
say, “I need a moment to collect my thoughts” and stay in that same space
just quietly for a minute. Or you can ask to revisit the topic at a later
time. Both are okay. Being honest with yourself and not just pushing
through here will ultimately get you the result you want most.
Lastly, watch your body language. Sometimes our body language can be a big
giveaway of what is going on in our mind. If we are standing with our arms
crossed throughout the whole conversation, our partner may not feel like we
are being open or if we’re quick to roll our eyes or to scowl or to back
away. Our tone of voice is huge too. You can be saying the kindest words
with a hard or fake tone and that is usually what is heard, not the words
Okay, so how can this help you? Whether you are staying or going or in the
middle of that decision or if the decision’s already done, these tools can
help you. And I’ll give you a few examples of how. Okay? Client number one.
One of my clients is married and she’s trying to decide what to do. For a
long time, things have been stalled out, no progress, avoiding each other.
Because so many things have been ignored, my client does not feel like she
can in integrity just walk away.
She wants to at least give the opportunity to hear and be heard. So she has
been practicing these tools to step into conversation and gather more
information, which gets her closer to her decision. So even though she’s
not sure, she’s able to have these conversations that give her the clarity
that move things forward.
Okay, client number two. She’s navigating divorce and all the things that
go with it. Finances, custody, cetera. Going into those conversations open
and wanting to find a solution greatly improve the odds for her that she
will get the outcome she desires. If she goes in on the fight, human nature
is that we will automatically pick up our swords and try to fight back.
Things can escalate real quick, cooperation can come to an end and that
person becomes the enemy, and we don’t get what we want.
Client number three. She knows she wants to stay, but she can see how many
things have been misunderstood over the years. Both of them have fallen
into patterns that have been to major problems in their marriage. So she is
practicing creating a space where communication becomes safe and open, and
they are able to become closer and closer. And I want to address a couple
We often think that saying hard things will drive people away from you. We
are so afraid of being further rejected that we don’t dare risk being cut
off altogether. But the truth is that real intimacy comes from really
knowing the minds and hearts of another even if there is initial tension in
speaking your mind. These conversations have huge potential of bringing you
closer as you clear up any assumptions you have been carrying, know more in
detail why things happened the way they did, et cetera.Even though some of
the details can be hard to hear, truth is a healer. Truth is a healer. It
can help mend things to know you’re both being honest with each other even
if the truth hurts.
Next, I hear people ask why they have to try so hard. “Why am I the one
having to learn all of these things and initiate the conversations and put
myself out there?” My answer to you, my friends, is why not? You? Why not
you? Aren’t you worth the growth required here? Aren’t you worth developing
these skills? There is no downside to this work period, none. Whether you
stay married or not, whether your partner responds well to you or not,
learning to communicate better will serve you in all of your conversations
throughout the rest of your life. You will respect yourself more because
you will know that you are not hiding from yourself. You’ll can stand up a
little taller and see your own growth.
You can know that you’re living more in courage and less in fear. You’re
living more in integrity and less in fear. You’re not letting fear dictate
what conversations you have and what things you say and don’t say. There’s
no downside. So I challenge you, my friends, to think about something
that’s been on your mind. What’s something that has been on your mind? I
want you to use this format and I want you to think about how you can have
that conversation. I want you to think about how you can have that soft
start, how you can go into it in that is inviting and open.
Most important of all, how you can create within your own body the safety
that you need to step into this conversation. How can you remind yourself
that you are worth it, that you’re worth being heard? You are worth having
an opinion. You are an individual. You are not an offshoot of somebody
else. You are your own person with your own mind, your own brain, your own
thoughts, your own experience, your own gifts. Okay? You have genius to
share. You have beautiful things to share and beautiful things to give.
Practice believing that and then practice communicating it.
That’s all I have for the podcast today. I want to just tell you that I’m
getting very close to having my baby. I’m coming up here, coming up. So I
wanted to let you know that I plan to have this podcast still come out
every week while I am on maternity leave. But if for some reason one does
not get dropped, it will the next week. Okay? If there’s any gaps, I don’t
plan for them to be any gaps. But if there are, I’m kind of leaving myself
open to trying to be flexible with this baby as I’ve not had a baby in 12
So I’ve done some pre-recordings, lots of guests that I’m going to be
bringing to you while I’m out, things like that. But if there’s any gaps in
it, please know that I will be back that it’s temporary, that I’m coming
back with the regular schedule. Okay?
All right, my friends, I will say one more quick thing. I am working hard
to make a program for you that is going to be amazing. I’m so excited about
it. It’s going to be amazing. And soon I will have a wait-list that’s going
to be offered and you’ll be able to go either grab your spot. It’s very
limited for this first group. It’s very limited. You can grab your spot and
get that spot know that it’s yours, or you can get on the wait-list for
when I have my official launch, but it’s coming. I am working on last
minute things to get ready to present to you. And I’m very, very excited
about it. It’s been special for me to create.
Anyway, so much love to all of you. I hope you’re doing well. I hope you’re
feeling like you’re moving. Like you’re progressing and I will see you next
time. All right? Bye-bye
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/ Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/ I will see you next time.