When Sherri and Ed met, Ed was involved in another relationship. As Ed and Sherri got closer, Ed told Sherri that he ended his former relationship. However, a number of months later, Sherri found out he was still involved with his ex-girlfriend—Sherri was betrayed.
Since Sherri’s feelings of resentment and hurt weren’t dissipating, the couple came to couples counseling. Sherri shared the triggers that were setting her off. She recently woke up thinking about Ed spending New Year’s Eve with his ex and making an excuse why he couldn’t spend it with Sherri. I had Ed listen to Sherri’s upset feelings but this time without saying, “What do I need to do to fix it”? It’s not about Ed doing anything to take away Sherri’s painful feelings. It’s about Ed’s ability to listen to Sherri’s painful feelings and possibly make a supportive or validating response—I coached Ed how to do this.
Sherri was also triggered when Ed threw a concert brochure on the table. Rather than being excited about choosing a concert together, Sherri thought of all the concerts and events that Ed attended with his ex-girlfriend. Ed said, “We do lots of things together. Why don’t you appreciate that”? Rather than this defensive and critical response, I had Ed listen to Sherri and his response expressed remorse for hurting Sherri.
Ed’s ability to listen, support and validate helped Sherri move through her feelings of betrayal and eventually moved her to a place of forgiveness.