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How to Help Your Partner Trust You Again, Part 2: The New Model of Accountability

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

Trauma recovery is a process of writing your new life story

"When you own your story, you get to write the ending."

-Brené Brown

You’ve accepted that your old relationship with your partner is over, and you’re ready to start over and build a new one together. You should know that it will require what will probably feel like an excessive amount of accountability on your part – what we often call “radical honesty.” So what does that look like?

"Most people in your partner’s shoes will need to hear these words on an almost daily basis for a year or longer."

When it comes to taking accountability, most people have experienced little-to-no modeling from their caregivers or their community on how to do it. “Forgive and forget,” right? Or, “actions speak louder than words.” That’s the old model, and it is insufficient for your partner’s recovery. While it sounds nice in theory, it just doesn’t work to relieve your partner’s pain.

The New Model of Accountability: Own It, Apologize, and Commit

sex therapy couple forgiving one another

The new model of accountability expands the focus of accountability to accompany your actions with words of affirmation. While I have worked with some partners who struggled to accept the words initially, I have yet to meet a couple recovering from betrayal in which the partner did not need to hear these words regularly. In fact, most people in your partner’s shoes will need to hear these words on an almost daily basis for a year or longer:

1) Own it: Acknowledge specifically what you did that hurt them (past).

2) Apologize: Express the guilt and remorse you feel now (present).

3) Commit to how you want to improve moving forward (future).

Sounds easy, right? But don't let the apparent simplicity of these three steps deceive you. I find that many people can go through all three steps and still not get the result they're wanting. That’s why I want to dive into each step in a lot more detail over the next few posts and clarify exactly what I want you to be thinking about as you engage with this model. But first, let’s talk about why it works in my next post, "The Trauma Buster."



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