Mark Goulston, M.D.
Rebuilding trust after abuse
Rebuilding an abusive relationship is a long process. Your partner has been hurt in several specific ways, and you have to respond to each of those specifically. This is the 2nd of a two-part series on how to restore trust after abuse or betrayal in which Dr Goulston prescribes the four “H’s” and four “R’s“. Your partner has been hurt in several specific ways, and you have to respond to each of those specifically. Set goals for recovering from abuse and hold each other accountable.
Now, the third H is that they’re still Hesitant to trust that you won’t do it again. And the third R is Rehabilitation, meaning they need to see that you have learned a new way to deal with situations, other than abusing or betraying them. But, what they need to see more than that is that you actually like your new way. Because if you’re just doing it to appease them, they won’t believe that you sincerely mean it.
Now, the forth H is they Hold on to a grudge. What they need to see is the fourth R, which is Requesting their forgiveness. After you have a track record from a minimum of six months or maybe a year, have gone through the first three Rs (Remorse, Restitution, and Rehabilitation, and have earned back their trust; then, you get to request for forgiveness.
Now, what I say to people who are really sincere about earning back trust is this: “You can’t change the past, but you can exercise those three Rs. If after six months to a year, you request forgiveness, and the other person still can’t forgive you; then the problem switches to not you being unforgiveable but your partner being unforgiving.”
Your partner may say, “I don’t want to let it go. It’s just the way that I am.” Then my next question to them is this: “Who does that remind you of? Who did you say you’d never grow up to be like?” And often they’ll say, “Wow, I’m just like my mother, or I’m just like my father.” Then, I say, “Well, do you want to be unforgiving that way?” And often, that provides a motivation for that unforgiving, hurt or abused spouse to finally let go and forgive.
Summary of the 4 “H’s” and 4 “R’s“
- Demonstrate remorse to ease the hurt.
- Show restitution to ease the hate.
- Rehabilitate yourself to lower their hesitation to trust.
- Request forgiveness to have your partner stop holding onto a grudge.
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