Posts Tagged: forgiveness

After Betrayal: Now What?

You didn’t see it coming. But your broken heart tells a different story. You’ve been betrayed. The pit in your stomach, the inability to think clearly, the loss of security and everything you thought you knew. You question your future, your kid’s future, and worry settles in like an uninvited cat. You’re faced with decisions on how you will respond. What do you do next?

How Should You Respond?

The feelings of betrayal can be so intense that you can feel completely off your game and unlike yourself. I think that is where the phrase, “beside myself” came from- feelings of betrayal give us a sense that we are outside of ourselves powerlessly watching the bad thing happen. Last week, we discussed what true repentance looks like, and without true repentance, reconciliation is not possible. If you missed it, click here to read.

trustworthy again


How do you put together the pieces again, and make sure that you move forward instead of get stuck in anger and bitterness?

  1. Determine the state of repentance your partner is experiencing. Repentance means that your partner identifies the gravity of the injury, makes reparations and commitment for change. Last week’s post addressed the steps in true repentance. Click here if you missed it.
  2. List your needs: this may be difficult if you haven’t been in the habit of recognizing and asking for your own needs. You may be out of practice when it comes to identifying what you need, because you’re used to feeling other’s needs first. Take some time to list some things that you’ll need, in order to move forward. Maybe you need your partner to go to counseling, go to a 12 Step program, come clean to your family, switch jobs, join a marriage group at church with you, or take a parenting class.
  3. Determine if reconciliation is an option. Remember, forgiveness does not mean that you have to trust or reconcile with the other person. You do not. Reconciliation is a much different process than forgiveness. Forgiveness can be done with or without the offending person’s repentance or willingness. If the offending person has proven himself emotionally safe, trustworthy and remorsefully repentant, then reconciliation can be an option. If he only offers lip service, without true behavior change, then reconciliation is not a safe idea. If the offending person offers no admittance of wrongdoing at all, he is showing you that he is not a safe person to trust again.
  4. Recognize your own part, if appropriate, in the breakdown. I’m not saying that the betrayal is your fault. Not at all. However, it is important to identify your contributions to the breakdown of the relationship whatever they may be. Maybe you ignored some warning signs, or neglected to set good boundaries in the beginning. Maybe your people picker was broken and you picked the wrong person. Maybe you tolerated disrespect too long. This is an important step to your recovery because it prepares you for self-forgiveness.
  5. Determine what Forgiveness looks like for you. Forgiveness is choosing to no longer hold the person accountable for that particular transgression. It’s as if the trial is over, the sentence is in place, and you no longer have to be the judge, the jailor, or the enforcer. You may be experiencing fear of getting hurt again, but don’t let that fear determine whether you forgive or not. Forgiveness may mean that you reach out to the person and offer to take steps toward reconciliation. Or, forgiveness for you may mean wishing the person well, and keeping your distance.
  6. Signs of forgiveness. How do you know if you’ve really forgiven or not? Well, you’ll experience less anger, hurt and fear when you are with or when you think about that person. You feel confident that you can take care of yourself, and wise about decisions you make. You feel compassion for the other person, and truly wish the best for him/her. Whether or not they have changed, you have peace with yourself and extend peace toward him/her. Forgiveness is the freedom from the power of past pain.


Before agreeing to “Work things out” after betrayal, it is important to take the time you need to discern your true feelings about this. Since trust has been broken, it takes time to see whether your partner has what it takes to repair trust. True friendship and love cannot exist in an unsafe relationship, so give yourself permission to take your time and space to determine the safety of the relationship.




Is Your Partner Truly Sorry? Or just Sorry they got Caught?

How do you know when someone is really sorry? After a relationship betrayal, a heartfelt apology is the first step needed for relationship to continue or heal. If you want to work things out, it’s important that neither partner skip any steps in the healing process. An apology sets the stage for more repair work. So, what is true repentance?
sorry not sorry

How can you tell if your partner is just saying “Sorry” to stay out of trouble, or to cover up a deeper secret? How can you tell if the sorry will stick? Is it safe to trust again? These are the questions that victims of relationship betrayal ask themselves.

A Story About True Repentence

An old Hebrew tradition, I once heard seems to say it best. The story goes like this. Benny and Lucille were next door neighbors. Benny trained sheep dogs on his little farm, and Lucille raised goats. One day, Benny’s friskiest dog chewed out of his pen and attacked Lucille’s baby goat, Abigail and killed it. Lucille was sick about it. She cried and cried over her little Abigail. When Benny discovered the news, he couldn’t believe it. How could his dog do such a thing? And especially to Abigail, Lucille’s pride and joy?

Benny knew what to do, however. He knew he had to make it right with his neighbor. A simple apology wouldn’t do. When he went over to Lucille’s house, he could tell that she had been crying and he knew then just how much her little goat meant to her.

“I know I can’t bring back your little goat, and I’m so sorry that my dog attacked her last night. I’m just sick about what happened. I know you loved your little lamb. I want to make it up to you. I want to buy you two little goats of your choice. One for Abigail and one for our friendship.

Lucille knew that she could never replace little Abigail, but she appreciated Benny’s sincerity so much, she wanted to extend her hand in forgiveness.

“I also found a new home for the dog that did this,” Benny said, “So he won’t be a threat anymore.”

This is just a little story, but it does help to understand what is needed for a broken relationship to feel whole again. The old tradition basically states that the responsible party replaces what was lost, and then adds a 1/5 to restore the relationship. It emphasizes that an apology should not merely be words or sentiment, it must also include an offer to make amends. It should cost something. It must repair the emotional and relational damages, not just the financial.


If you have sustained an injury, like betrayal or broken trust or damaged reputation- a simple apology may not be enough to repair the relationship. Here are some steps to recognize a sincere apology.

The responsible person:

  1. Recognizes the extent of the damage done, and accepts his/her responsibility
  2. Actually feels some of the pain he/she has caused through empathy
  3. Doesn’t minimize, excuse or justify the wrong-doing
  4. Doesn’t say things like, “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’ll say sorry if…”
  5. Asks, “What can I do to make amends?” and insists on making reparations.
  6. Doesn’t shift the blame to you, reporting that “It is really your fault. If you wouldn’t have….”
  7. Follows through with his/her commitment. This may be a promise to seek support, counseling, rehab, extra accountability, or change bad habits. This usually takes time and consistency.
  8. Helps in other ways, like helping with the house, the finances, the kids, and general willingness to serve.

If you see evidence that he/she is truly sorry for the relationship transgression, you will slowly be able to trust and forgive. However, if you sense that the “Sorry” is half-hearted, lip service or just for show, then trusting again is a big mistake.

Learning to trust is a very long process. It’s ok to take your time to figure out what your next steps are. Sometimes the best solution is to “wait and see” if the changes are short lived or not. You can take all the time you need to discern if the relationship is safe enough to move forward. If the other person is pressuring you to hurry up, that is a strong sign that he/she is not truly repentant.

The Five Best Lessons from Dogs about Self-Love

Good Morning and Happy Valentines Day! My daughter is taking Spanish this year and reminded me that Wednesday’s Spanish name is miercoles. Come on! Is that the prettiest name for a day of the week, ever? It sounds like “miracle.” So Happy Miracle Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this blog is for you and you alone. Valentine’s Day reminds us to show love to the people around us, but it is equally important to show love to ourselves. Who better to inspire self-love but good natured, lovable dogs?

One night, my 105 pound black lab, Frisco attacked and destroyed a birthday present I was planning on giving a friend. He ate the contents (yes, there was chocolate and no, it didn’t kill him, much to Mr. Dashing’s disappointment) and then projectiled-it-out both ends. He shredded the paper, slobbered on the hard woods, (dried slobber is really tough to get up, it turns out) and marked the fireplace as his personal territory. He seriously went full-lab bonkers. He greeted us at the door with wild, caffeinated eyes and a happy tail. No remorse, no regret, no shame. All happy. I’m scrubbing stains out of the carpet and he’s wapping me with his happy tail.

It got me thinking, why can’t we be more like that? Why can’t we get over our mistakes as quickly as our dogs do? Granted, he did slink out the back door once I started yelling, but after a little while, he was back to his normal irritating self, without a care in the world. I don’t know about you, even after I make things right, I find myself rehearsing my mistakes, regretting my choice of words, and feeling guilty for my indulgences about an hour too long after they’ve happened. Who am I kidding? Ok, about two ½ days too long, actually.

So, I think I’m going to adopt Frisco’s style. I kind of admire the way he gets over himself. I kind of like how he forgives himself quickly and gets to his happy place again. What if we all could do that? And I have a sneaking suspicion, that if we forgave ourselves quickly, we’d be better able to do it for others too. Here are some things that Dog’s Just Don’t Do, and that if we followed suit, we just might wag our happy tail.

1.       Dogs don’t have self-doubt. You know the worry that sneaks up on you that you’re going to bollix everything up? That you could single handedly cause world mayhem? That you could do it so badly that you’d never live it down? Yeah, that’s called self-doubt, and I’m pretty sure dogs don’t have it. I’m pretty sure they don’t even think about the future or their place in it. Can you imagine Frisco saying to himself, “Oh, gee, I don’t think I’m a very good hole digger. There’s probably better hole diggers than me. I should just stop trying before people find out I’m such a failure of a hole digger.” No, he doesn’t judge his work, his hole digging performance or his behaviors at all. He just digs holes.

2.       They don’t feel guilty for napping and over eating. Dogs embrace the simple indulgences in life- napping in the sun, laying on the couch, sneaking food off the counter, chasing their tail, inhaling their food, throwing it up and eating it again. Yes! Dogs really know how to live in the lap of slothful luxury! What’s more, they do these things without a hint of Guilt. No remorse. No apologies. What would it be like to eat your meal, lick your lips and then roll around on the floor exposing your bare belly to everyone in the living room saying, “Look at this,people! Rub my belly!”

3.       They don’t get embarrassed. Mr. Dashing and I had a beagle named McKenzie before Sweet and Sassy were born. One time she raced off the porch at top speed and completely missed her landing. She rolled a few times, shook off her surprise and kept running. I’m pretty sure she didn’t say to herself, “How could I be so clumsy? I’m such an idiot! I shouldn’t even be allowed to run anymore! Look, everybody’s laughing at me!” No, dogs don’t have that thing inside them that says they should be embarrassed at mistakes. I’d say that dogs don’t feel shame, but I’ve seen a poodle with a hair cut, and a collie with a cone, and I’m confident that dogs feel shame. But they don’t feel shame or embarrassment over mistakes. That’s a human thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to feel awkward or embarrassed over missteps, mispronunciations, misunderstandings, mis-communications and ordinary mistakes?

4.       They don’t hide their pleasure. When you do something that makes a dog feel good, they don’t keep their feelings on the inside. No! They groan, and moan, and roll their eyes back in delight. Their back leg involuntarily does that kicking thing, and they embrace ecstasy with full expression. Their whole body feels and expresses their joy. They chase and bark and run like crazy. A friend was baptized last week and when she came up out of the water, she jumped with hands in the air and water flying. That’s how I want to be about the things that bring me happiness. I want to embrace the fullness of joy and feel it to the maximum. I want to laugh loud, cry often, and feel to the depths. That’s where it’s at.

5.       They don’t do it alone. Dogs are pack animals and just can’t stand being without their family. If they are not with their pack, they don’t feel at peace. They don’t say silly things to themselves like, “Well, I shouldn’t need help from anybody. I should be able to do this on my own. I should be more self-sufficient! Maybe God just meant for me to be alone.” No! they love to be with their pack. They understand that doing life together with other people is not a weakness, but a strength. They understand that they need their pack, and their pack needs them. Your friends, family, sisterhood, and bros are the life blood in your veins and the reason you go on each day. Don’t deny them the gift of you.

There are more things that dogs don’t do, like clean up after themselves, stay off your bed, keep their hair to themselves, or respect your personal space but I can’t think of anything positive or inspirational to write about those things.

Much love to you all on your journey to relationship happiness and health. Give yourself a break today, give yourself the same love that God has for you.

When “Sorry” Isn’t Enough

Have you ever received an apology you knew wasn’t genuine? The classic example is when a brother and sister are fighting and their mother makes them say “sorry.” The children’s eyes are downcast with furrowed brows. One is kicking the dirt beneath his shoe and the word “sorry” is more grunted than spoken. Each child knows that saying “sorry” is what’s required, but neither say it willingly.

Apologies are hard to give, except for when they come too easy. Today, we are going to talk about when “sorry” isn’t enough- when the hurt is so deep and the offense is so bad that a simple “sorry” is not going to cut it.

Years ago, I heard about a principle that changed the way I give and receive apologies. I call it The 20% Rule. It’s an old Jewish tradition. If your neighbor accidentally kills your $100 cow, they pay you for the value of the cow and then they add 1/5 of the value on top. The $100 is for the cow, and the $20 is to repair the relationship.

The 20% Rule takes into account not only the value of the cow, but also the value of the relationship. When your neighbor gives you 20% on top, it’s as if he was saying, “I’m really sorry about that cow, and I hope that we can still be friends.” The 20% is for the pain. The 20% is for the offense. The 20% is for the relationship breakdown.

If you’ve been hurt, offended or even betrayed, then you know how important “making amends” really is. But what does “Making Amends” look like? Feel like? Sound like? How do you know when Sorry is really sorry? How do you know if you can trust again? Here are some things to think about when you have been done wrong.

  • What is your cow worth? If you’ve been hurt, and the other party wants reconciliation, think of how much your cow is worth. The word “Sorry” is rarely enough for big hurts, so think of what you need to make it right. If it’s your spouse, will you require him/her to move into another room? Separate bank accounts? Commit to counseling? Find an extra job? Get into treatment for his/her addiction? Move out? Get some accountability? Your Cow is worth his/her effort to make things right. If you find he/she is not willing or able to make things right, replace what was lost, or take responsibility for his/her part, then you know that he/she is not ready for the relationship.

  • Hold out for your 20%. If your heart is hurting over the wrong that’s been done, that is a clear message that the relationship is still broken. It may not be severed, but it is broken. You will need a little extra to love again, to trust again, and to feel safe again. You can’t force these feelings, nor should you. It’s ok to take your time with healing, waiting and seeing, and keeping your verdict status as “out.” Your 20% may look like quality time together, or listening to your needs, or time for intimacy, or special gifts, or helping out with house or kids. You should see some extra effort so you feel valued again.
  • What will it take to trust again? Take time to list several things you need and want in order for you to trust your partner again. These things are specific to you and your needs. Your trust, more than anything has been shattered, and will take time and effort to heal.

What if the other person doesn’t replace the cow or cough up the 20%? What if he/she doesn’t see the necessity? What if the other person doesn’t hold the same value for the cow or the relationship? What is the person wants to buy you a goat or a chicken instead? Oh, this is a real pickle! Because it appears as though the person is sorry, and they talk as if they regret their actions, but when it comes to taking full responsibility and valuing the relationship, they just don’t. Their actions and their words are not congruent.  This is  a difficult spot for you to be in, because you may have to make serious decisions in order to value yourself, your cow, and your relationship. Only you know when enough is enough.

  • The bright side. Every bit of emotional and financial investment you put into your relationship adds up. Your relationship can become richer, deeper and more fulfilling when the 20% Rule rules the day. You can be at peace with your partner, and that although mistakes happen, forgiveness is possible. Intimacy is possible. Happiness will come back. Trust will come back. Couples who face betrayal and the path to forgiveness with these concepts as their guide, often come out stronger and better than before.

The 20% Rule is a great guide in reminding us all that the relationship is more important than the cow, that it’s ok to value yourself, and that investing in the relationship is worth it.

Why We Love Once

Sweet and Sassy have been counting down the days until the season premier of Once Upon a Time. Last night, we nestled ourselves on the couch, fought over the blanket, and begged Mr. Dashing to make us some popcorn. Of course, our  Prince Charming can never tell us “no.”

We are entrenched. Addicted. Happily so. Partly because it’s great family fair, plenty of suprising twists and turns, and some villains we love to hate. Or is it hate to love?

The Evil Queen, Regina is just so hard to hate now. She was so evil for so long, unleashing murder and mayhem throughout her realm. So what happened, why did we now want to see her get her happy ending?

Because we see her as human instead of just wicked. We identify with her pain, and her past mistakes. We get it that people are three dimensional. People aren’t all good or all bad. We’d like to think of them as all good or all bad because we have a place in our brain for all good and all bad.

You can trust the all good people, and you should avoid the all bad people. And if an all good person hurts us, then they become all bad, and we kick them out of our club. Seeing people two dimensionally releases us from having to do forgiveness work.

Forgiveness work causes us to see ourselves as three dimensional people too. Forgivenss makes us realize that though we try to be all good, sometimes our motives are all bad. We want Regina to get her happy ending because we want ours.

Storybrook is a special place that villains can find redemption.

We can identify with Red, who is sweet as honey most of time, but once a month she turns into a real bi&@%… er, beast. Familiar. And how about Emma. The savior position was thrust upon her even though she never felt adequate. Also familiar. Not the savior part (pshaw!) but the feeing inadeuqate part.  

So, since we can relate to the colorful characters in Once, and all their goodness and badness, the characters also ask us to look at ourselves. 

Accepting forgivenss from The Author of all Redemption is the first thing, and then offering it to the villains and heros operating all around us is the second, because at some point, we will occupy both positions.

Thank you, Regina and Emma and Red for helping us accept ourselves just as we are- good, bad, and all the in between.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

Subscribe to our mailing list