Episode 65: When You Want to Move Forward (but can’t let go of the past…)

by | Last updated: Feb 28, 2024 | Podcast

When one of my clients discovered her husband’s betrayal, she consciously chose to stay in the marriage… but she also struggled to know how to move forward from there.

Would his past behavior determine their success or failure? Could new patterns of behavior “save” their marriage?

In this episode, I’m talking about the problems with ONLY looking to the past for predictions of the future, plus how we can start trusting ourselves and move forward after a marriage upset.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

2:10 – The best predictor of the future is the past, unless…
7:05 – How new patterns of behavior *change* your relationship
10:07 – You can’t have one foot in the past & one foot in the future…
13:08 – Here’s how you can start trusting YOURSELF

Featured On When You Want to Move Forward (but can’t let go of the past…)

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If you have a suggestion for a future episode or a question you’d like me to answer on the show, email us.

Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?

Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.

Welcome to the Loving Truth Podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope. Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is the Loving Truth. Today we're going to be talking about when you want to be able to move forward in your marriage,

but you can't seem to let go of the past. Whenever there is an upset in our marriage, we often want to be able to forget about that upset so that then we can move forward together as a couple. But that is easier said than done sometimes. I wanna share with you the story of a client of mine who I'll refer to as Beth,

that is not her name, but Beth had found out that her husband had been carrying some secrets for many, many years that were betrayals to the marriage. So he had been fostering a, an addiction to porn. He had been in many different online chat rooms, sexual chat rooms, and he had been giving women money for sex. And one of those had turned into something that looked and sounded and felt a little bit like an affair.

So now two years later, she's still hurting from that and she's still upset and she's still angry, and she doesn't feel like she's able to move forward from it. Now, she wants to move forward intellectually. She loves her husband, she wants her marriage to work. He's doing some of the things that give her some reassurance. Now, granted, he could do more to give her more reassurance so that he could help rebuild that trust at a quicker rate.

But he's not, but she's still not ready to give up on the relationship. She still wants to remain in it and to keep trying and reaching for a greater level of communication and trust and intimacy. So here's where I wanna go. The best predictor of the future, yes, is the past, right? And so that would be making a case for why she should never trust her husband again,

unless there's something to interrupt that pattern. Okay? So the past is only going to become the present if we never have anything that's going to interrupt the pattern of behavior. So let me give you some examples. When you learn something new and now you're conscious of it, and now you start making new choices, then you can interrupt a pattern of behavior,

right? So let's say, I don't know, we'll pick on caffeine. That's an easy one. Let's say that you learn something new about caffeine, where it's not good for you in some way, shape or form, and it impacts you. Maybe it's impacting your sleep. Okay, let's take that. And you're realizing how important sleep is to you.

Well, now you're aware that that coffee isn't helping and you're feeling the effects of the lack of sleep in your life and all the ways that it's impacting how you feel and how you show up at work and how you show up as a parent and in your marriage. It's impacting everything. And so now that new information, that new awareness, can help you make a new decision,

which is, oh, I'm only gonna have one cup of coffee. It's gonna be half calf, not full caffeinated, and I'm gonna make sure I have it before 9:00 AM so that it doesn't interrupt my sleep later. That is now an interrupter, where now my going forward behavior is going to be different than my past behavior. Does that make sense? So new awarenesses,

new learnings help you make more conscious choices, and that can be an interrupter. Then over time, those new things that you're doing, you create a new habit, right? And so now I make sure I get my coffee in before 9:00 AM That becomes a new habit because I've done it now, let's call it 60 days in a row. And now it's not even a lot of effort.

It's not a lot of work because now I've created this new habit, or let's say that there was an upset inside your marriage. An interrupter can be creating a new system to help the two of you communicate better or help the two of you understand one another better. Like maybe there's a new ritual that you put into place. For instance, every night before you go to sleep,

you sit there in bed and you talk for 15 minutes about whatever you want, but you talk for 15 minutes just to connect before you fall asleep at night. Now, that's a new ritual inside your relationship that can change a lot of things that come after it. Okay? So yes, we should look to the past to predict the future, unless of course there's something to interrupt those past behaviors.

Okay? Now, if there is no interrupter, then what happens? What happens is that we're only drawing from our past experiences, our past failures, our past habitual responses, and even our past relationships, which obviously didn't work. Otherwise you wouldn't be in this new relationship. There was something about that past relationship that didn't work, otherwise you'd still be in it.

And you know how sometimes we create similar dysfunction over and over again inside relationships with different people. You know, it's like when someone will say, oh, I'm just unlucky at love, when really what's happening is that they're creating similar dysfunction inside of relationships with multiple people, because it's not really about the other people, it's about who I am and what I'm bringing into the relationship.

And so until I can see those things and then change those things, make more conscious choices about those things, I'm going to keep recreating the exact same experience over and over and over again, either inside my existing relationship or I'm going to create those with new people in the future. So it's really worthwhile to uncover and get really curious about our choices, actions,

our patterns of behavior, so that we can move forward from upsets inside of our relationship. Because oftentimes, the upsets, they're the same upsets that happen over and over again, aren't they? Like there's probably something you and your spouse argue about, and you've had that argument five times, 10 times, a hundred times, right? And so we often will argue about those same things over and over again because we're not getting resolution on them.

And so we just continue to do battle. Now, if we go back to my client, Beth and her husband, so think about how past patterns of behavior created this upset situation in their marriage, and what could be done differently. So if we go back and we look at, let's say I'm making this up because I, I don't know her husband,

okay? But let's say that he feels successful as a man when he is successful in his career. And then let's say he starts having challenges at work. You know, maybe he got a new boss and the expectations have changed, and his new boss feels like he's not quite measuring up something like that. And so that starts giving him feelings of insecurity in the very area that is super important to him being successful as a man.

You know? And maybe from that place of insecurity, he starts to withdraw at home. He goes within himself because he is got a lot to think about, and he's trying to navigate all these changes, and he's feeling insecure about it. And that withdrawal behavior makes Beth lean in and want to try to understand. But he's just disconnected because he's like,

I got, I gotta figure this out. And he's not sharing with her. And so she feels that distance him sort of pushing her away when none of it has anything to do with her, it has to do with what's going on at work and how that impacts his identity as a man. It doesn't have anything to do with her, but she feels that disconnect.

She feels him pulling away and she doesn't understand why. She's probably making up stories about how he doesn't trust her or, or he doesn't love her, or something like that, right? And so then that disconnect just gets worse over time. And let's say, because now not only is his job in jeopardy, now his marriage is in jeopardy, now he really feels less like a man.

And after a while, you get tired of feeling that insecurity and you want to feel more powerful and more successful, even more desired. And so what does he do? He goes to where it's easy. He goes to porn, he goes to an online chat room, he goes to where he can pay someone money so that he can be in charge and make sure that he gets his need to feel powerful and successful and desired met.

Because trying to feel that way inside his marriage felt too risky, right? That's complicated, right? Because there's a whole nother person there with all their feelings to consider, and he's disconnected from that, gone within himself and is just seeking this validation. Now, if that pattern doesn't change, then the next time he gets in trouble at work or he feels stressed or insecurity at work,

why should she expect that something is going to change? And so my friends, the reason I bring this up, it's a complicated issue, is because oftentimes when there's an affair, but it doesn't even have to be an affair or a betrayal, it can just be some something that felt like a really big upset, or it could be a betrayal, but it looked like lying or some financial infidelity or something like that in the relationship that caused you to now second guess or mistrust your spouse.

And the thing is, you can't have a foot in the past and a foot in the future. Think about that. Think about you standing there, but you've got one leg that's two feet off to the left, and you've got your right leg that's two feet off to the right. Now, try taking a big step forward, right? You just can't,

you, you just stuck. You're just straddling the present so you're not present and you're definitely just stuck, stuck in the past and you're not able to move forward. And that was, that's really Beth's challenge, is how do I move forward? So remember at the beginning when I said there are things that he could do that would give her more trust,

that next time will be different, right? So next time you get stressed, next time you feel insecure, how do I trust that you're not just going to pull away from me? Or how do I trust that you're not gonna pull away from me? And then go do these things like porn and chat rooms and affairs and all those sorts of things.

Well, one of those things could be that when I feel you pulling away, I'm gonna talk about it. I'm not gonna just shut down and go, oh, I guess he just doesn't want to talk to me. Or I guess he doesn't love me. Nope, we're diving in and I'm not gonna let up. When you pull away from me,

I know something is going on and we are going to address it as a couple. Are you down for that? Are you game to play this with me? Right? So that's a a way for her to be able to trust herself so that next time she feels him pulling away, that she leans in and she doesn't just give up after the first or second time that he doesn't wanna talk about it.

And she's getting his buy-in upfront that, Nope, we are going to talk about it. This is the price of the past hurts, is that now when something comes up and you're wanting to just go within and handle it all yourself, now you've gotta bring me in with you, because as a couple, we need to share our experiences even when they're tough,

even when they're challenging. And we've gotta be able to talk about, you know, those insecurities. And we've gotta be able to talk about the vulnerabilities and the things that are really difficult. Because if we can't lean on each other, then we don't have anyone to lean on, right? And so this is the challenge of you can put two feet into moving forward together,

but sometimes we just need to make sure that we've got some tools to be able to help us so that we can either trust our partner and or trust ourselves better. And from that place, from that place, we can move forward and not be so tied to the past. You see, sometimes the reason we stay tied to the past is because it helps us feel safe.

It's sort of like, if I have my eye on the problem, then the problem can't sneak up on me and get me. And what I want you to know is that if you take the lesson, you take that interrupter, that new awareness that you have, that can be the thing that you now keep your eye on, keep your eye on the awareness as opposed to what happened in the past.

Keep your eye on the awareness so that then you can trust yourself and or trust your partner and you're able to move forward together. Alright? I hope that gives you something to think about. I know that that is a complex topic because part of it is about affairs and trust, and it's also about how to move forward after an upset. But that's probably the biggest upset you can have is an affair inside of a marriage.

So I hope that gives you something to think about and really chew on. Until next time, take really good care. If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team. On the call,

we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage. Go to clarity for my marriage.com to fill out an application now that's clarity for my marriage.com.


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