Episode 54: What Does it Look Like When My Partner Is Choosing Recovery and What Do I Do For Myself and Personal Healing - With Guest Geoff Steurer LMFT

Our guest today is Geoff Steurer. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 22 years of experience helping couples and individuals heal from the impact of sexual betrayal, unwanted pornography use, and partner betrayal trauma. He is the co-author of, "Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity" and the host of the weekly recovery podcast, "From Crisis to Connection". He has produced workbooks, audio programs, and online courses to help couples rebuild broken trust. He received a bachelor’s in communications studies from BYU and a masters in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He maintains a private counseling practice in beautiful Southern Utah. He's been married for 25 years to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.

Geoff is offering my listeners a discount on his trustbuilding course. To take advantage click the link and use the coupon code.  This will give you 15% off the course! https://www.geoffsteurer.com/a/18461/ncZcL9iX Coupon Code: CHOOSEIN15

Website: www.geoffsteurer.com

Instagram: instagram.com/geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Episode Transcription:

(This transcript was created using software. Please be advised that it won't be 100% accurate, and it may contain formatting errors.)

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  0:29  
Welcome back to choose in. I'm your host, Roxanne Kennedy-Granata. And I am so excited today because I have one of my most favorite people in this world of therapy and trauma that I met quite a few years ago now. And surprisingly, my very first podcast I was on as a guest on, was his. So it's kind of cool, because he is the first guest on my podcast. This podcast has been open since January of 2020. And it's just been me this whole time. And now I'm so excited to introduce you to Geoff Steurer as my very first guest on the show. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. And He is an expert in rebuilding relationships that have gone through hard things and crisis and bring them back into a place of connection. So welcome Geoff, I'm so glad you're here.

Geoff Steurer  1:18  
Roxanne, I can't believe we're doing this. It's awesome. Finally!

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  1:22  
It's amazing. It's so great. So great. So Geoff has, he was my neighbor. I met him after I'd gotten divorced and,  I ended up just moving right down the street from him. And he just kind of took my family under his wing of his family and we had pizza together. And they just were so kind and loving. Because with divorce, so many people don't know how to treat you. All of a sudden, they're like, I don't know what that looks like. I don't know what that means. They just don't know what to do. But Geoff, of course, did. And he was there. And he also was kind and offered to edit my book. So he was one of the editors on my book. And he did that just because he wanted to help me. And then he introduced me to my final editor as well.

So okay, so back to Geoff and what he does. So he helps with relationships. That is his focus. That's what he loves to do. It's kind of his passion, it is probably what his calling is really in life, he could probably share more about that. But he also has his own podcast is called from crisis to connection. He also has courses and all sorts of things that at the end, he will share with you what that is, so you can find him so that you can take advantage of all that he offers. He also spoke at my first retreat that and which was so great, I loved having you there. How did you feel about that?

Geoff Steurer  2:38  
Oh, my gosh, the energy was unbelievable. I walked out of there with goosebumps, I'm not joking. And I was like, wow,

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  2:44  
wow, that's amazing. They loved you, too. They were like, they had so many notes. And after the fact they're like, oh my gosh. And then he said this and then this and it just you really did offer so much change to their lives. So he's going to be a guest again at my upcoming retreat in September. So go ahead and get registered for that. So you can be a part of it with both of us.

On today's episode, we are going to be talking about relationships, we're going to be talking about what it looks like when your partner is choosing to do recovery work. So that you know you're on the same page, what it looks like when they're not how to have boundaries, how to see things clear, really, as you guys all know about me is I like to see reality. I want the truth, even if it's hard, even if it's not what I wanted. I want to know the truth so I can make healthy decisions. And so we're going to talk about not just the relationships and those of you who are striving to reconnect your relationship after trauma or betrayal or anything that you're going through, but also what it looks like when it doesn't work out that way. So Geoff, I'm just going to turn things over to you, you can share kind of getting us started into that topic. And then we'll go from there.

Geoff Steurer  3:55  
Yeah, awesome. Once again, thanks, Roxanne. And yeah, I hope that I get to meet a lot of you at Roxanne's retreat. It was super awesome. And relaxing. The vibe in the energy was so nice. And I'll just put a plug in for it for sure. Because I think it's important to gather and if 2020 taught us anything, we need to gather we need to be with people. And so I love that you're doing these in person retreats, and getting people together just to heal. That's awesome.

So let's talk about couples recovery. I mean, one thing that I tell couples all the time, a lot of betrayed women that come in and talk, one of the first questions is should I stay and is this safe? There's so much disorientation about, should I hitch my wagon back up to this person, is this even a stupid decision to even be trying to work on this? And I think just a good general guideline is is to move from feeling like a victim to moving to an observer. And so a lot of women have definitely been victimized and say they've had something happen to them that they didn't create something was done to to them. And so in that sense that traditional sense of the, I guess, the literal word of being victimized, absolutely 100%.

But one thing I loved about you, Roxanne, when I met you is that you were you were a good observer, you were willing to look at things speak the truth, just notice what was happening to you. And it was super uncomfortable. And I think that position is critical, because that allows a betrayed person, in our case, like betrayed women to be able to really decide if their partner is going to be really working this and that there's even a chance for couples recovery. Because without that in place, then,  those are two very different directions.

So you've got some betrayed partners that will over function and end up doing all the recovery work for everybody trying to make it all happen. Or some that will just become kind of frozen. And no judgment on any of these, by the way, this is all very normal to sometimes they'll just be frozen or indecisive or unsure. And so even if their partner is actively trying to work recovery, they can't either see it absorb it, it's just like they're just stuck. And then you have kind of this middle area, which is doing their own recovery work, but also observing and noticing and allowing and expecting the other person to do that same kind of work. And then that's when that merging can start to happen.

And you kind of got to get organized in the beginning, though, to really be able to see that to absorb it to allow it to happen. So is that a good starting place Roxanne in terms of trying to organize this a little bit?

Absolutely. And so many thoughts came into my mind because I was in that place of I was for a while the one that was doing all the recovery work. Okay, we are in this I mean, date 24 hours a day, practically. I go to sleep with it, wake up with it. What's the agenda today for recovering? How can I make this person do this? And it took a while to accept that I couldn't change him. I couldn't make him do the work. And if I kept doing that I was just going to be on that roller coaster of crazy. I was just going to be like, Oh good, he went to a meeting or Oh, good, he's doing recovery work, only to fall so far down. When that really wasn't what was true for him. Right? He really wasn't.

Yes, that's the key thing exactly like observing and noticing what's really true for the other person, because what may be really true for him is that he might be ambivalent about giving up that other life. He may be mixed or on the fence about it, or he may be totally like uninterested. But all of the flurry and activity that you might have as a betrayed partner might give you the illusion that we're doing this together.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  7:43  
It's so true. And for me, I think that I went so into it just hyper focused, because the fear of it ending or the fear of him not choosing was so great. The fear of the unknown of what will I do and how and what does it look like if my marriage ends was extreme for me. Like, I just thought there is no way this is not how my life is going to go. And so I  just didn't see the observer side at that point. I was only the doer. I'm only going to do this because this is the only outcome I can handle. And it was so freeing when I did learn how to be the observer. Scary, but finally letting go and going, Okay, okay, I actually can't control any of this. So all I'm going to do is work on my own healing. And then that means I know I'll be okay. In the end, that whatever that looks like.

Geoff Steurer  8:35  
Right, exactly. That is such a scary thing. Because I don't know if this is true. I this is something I've observed. I don't know if it's like an actual universal truth. But one thing I've observed with a lot of the women I've worked with is it's almost like the amount of anxiety and hustle that they feel like they need to do seems to somewhat correlate with how low the interest is in from their, their husband is that, do you see now?

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  9:02  
Wow. Yes, that is that is profound, because it's almost like we make up the difference exactly yet. And we're grasping, please, please, please. So we're going to do more so that we're they'll see, they'll see that this is worth it that we're worth it. Right, right. So what do we do? How do we do this then?

Geoff Steurer  9:19  
You got to notice the energy. If you are so panicked, like you said, You're waking up every day, eating, breathing, sleeping, drinking, recovery, and you're just like, I can't not think of this or we're gonna die, the marriage will die. That's some important feedback, because it's really only going to work from a couple standpoint, if he is carrying that emotional load that mental load that awareness that drive as well. And so you're right,  it's terrifying, and it's a lot to ask. But the truth is, is that the first task is just to notice.

Obviously we talked about self care support etc. A ll that stuff matters, but that allows you to notice and observe to be still and recognize, wow, our energy levels our, involvement, our motivation, we are so mismatched. I'm the one asking all the questions. I'm the one setting up all the appointments. I'm the one reading all the books, I'm the one that's wanting to talk and engage and like figure this out? And could that again, could that be in direct proportion to the to the lack of energy motivation connection on his part to try and do something about this?

And I am the last guy that's gonna blame any partner for creating any of this, but there is an interaction effect that women have to look at honestly and say, could my over anxiety about this my over anxiousness my over functioning, be stalling things out for not only the couple, but for herself? And for him? That's a really hard and honest question to look at and say, Okay, I'm part of a system. I'm part of a dance here. And if I really want to make things better for our future outcome, I have to allow that space to see what he'll do. And that is so hard to do, right? But it's critical,

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  11:19  
it is critical. And you made a good point there with when we get so caught up in doing all of it, where it's that grasping feel, it's like we're chasing somebody trying to pull them and they're just backing away. now in this situation, there's a lot of trauma and fear and all that stuff that's going in our mind. So we're working from a place of panic versus that's wrong place, right. So even in what we've talked about, so far, I could feel the energy shift, because I remember when I felt all of those things, so if you're feeling the same way, right now, just take a breath, just Breathe it out for a minute, and just go, Okay, I'm here because I want to see things clear, I want to know truth. And I want to see what my situation is.

So if you're starting to panic up in your head, then it's hard to gauge, it's hard to make take action when we're in our head like that. So just take a breath. But when we are hyper vigilant, and we chase after people, which is what I did, I did that for quite a while in this process, because of the fear, right? So I'm chasing, but think about that in other relationships, ones that aren't heightened by trauma, when a parent or your kids or somebody is chasing after you trying to get you to do something that you're like, Hey, hold on, like, I don't want to do that right now. Or I that's not where I'm at we back away, we we kind of take a retreat, we stop talking to them, we don't text back for a while we don't answer our mom's calls, whatever it is, because we feel the grasp that they have.

It's because the energy has shifted to this unhealthy place. And that's why so we want to be careful. So to notice that in ourselves is so important, hard to hear when you're in the middle of trauma. But that's okay. Because Geoff is going to talk to us about what that actually looks like and about if your spouse is trying to work on it, how you connect versus grasp. And and then of course, on your own your own healing.

Geoff Steurer  13:10  
Yeah, exactly. That's, that's a great segway. Because when you observe when you get into that place of recognizing, okay, my energy is way too high with this, then there can be a conversation. I don't think you have to play games. I think you can say to your husband, you can say something like, or your partner, whatever, to say something like, I care so deeply about this, that I am like losing my mind every day trying to figure out how to hold us together. And I cannot be the one that does that.

I want us, I want this to work. That's why I'm freaking out. And why I'm so obsessive about this, or why I've pulled back so far. And I'm in trauma all the time. But there's two of us. And the bulk of the responsibility early on here has to be you like rebuilding some kind of safety and trust. And I need to see that, you care about our commitments that you've broken. So again, these are just my words, but it's just basically this message of describing the movements, describing what's happening. It doesn't mean you're prescribing anything. It doesn't mean that you're bossing the other person. It doesn't mean that you're even making some final decision about anything.

What you're saying basically, is this dynamic is not working for my mental health, my physical health. I am a mess, but I'm gonna have to make space for you to fill in whatever you want to do with this. And so I'm going to take care of myself. I'm still going to show up every day in the ways that I can with my other responsibilities, and I'm not just going to disappear, but I'd like to know what you're willing to do or what matters to you. And then just this is the hardest part, is just to allow it to happen. And that's the scariest part is closing your mouth, allowing the other person to fill in that space and he may not fill it in. He may not make appointments. He might not pick up a book. He might not listen to a podcast. He might not do anything. He might just be totally passive. And that is actually really important feedback. That's really important information. Because you can trust that.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  15:14  
yeah, he's showing you his actions

Geoff Steurer  15:18  
Absolutely. It's hard to trust when you're doing all the activity, because you're like, what's his what's mine? Who's doing the work? What is it? But boy, when you really  allow the other person to take charge of their own recovery. And you are honest about what you want and where you're at and what your hope is. And then you just observe that; that's the thing you can trust. And a lot of times people that the trust is so low starting out with this, that you almost already believe you know, what the answer is going to be. So then most of us won't accept that right? And then that's when the activity starts.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  15:51  
Right? We don't want the answer to be what the truth is. We Don't. What I really liked about the dialogue that you said, where you're asking your spouse, what you're telling them how you feel, hey, I can't do this by myself, there's two of us is it puts responsibility back on that person. But when we blame and we're like, well, you never do this. And you and I always write all of that kind of verbiage, it changes the energy and feeling where then now they're on the defensive and nothing is nothing is resolved. And you are still left in that position of it's either me doing the work or no one.

Geoff Steurer  16:24  
Exactly. So where do we go from here? Well, you know, again, this is kind of the crossroad. And I can't tell anybody how long to give that, you know, for some people, they may stay in that place of just watching and observing and seeing what they do and give them weeks or months to make some movement. Some people at the beginning of their journey, if they've never had any other major betrayals, and this comes up, they may have more gas in the tank, if you will, to sort of give that some space. Others that may be literally the last straw, and they need to see action like today.

So every partner has got a different capacity, and you can't judge some woman for staying in it longer than another. As you know, they're all different. But at some point, there will be a decision point of, I'm gonna either have to start doing this on my own and move toward, whatever that looks like, for me, whether that's separation, or living parallel, and just keeping things really distant, or divorce or whatever. Or we're actively now working together as a couple.

One of the big challenges of doing individual work, whether it's 12-step, or individual counseling, or just your own, private work, is to know how to bridge over to your partner how to bridge over and actually work together as a team, because sometimes there can be a lot of fear that like, well, I'll lose myself in his work, or I'll get too close again, or I'll try and like manage it, or he'll try and control me or manipulate me. Or you might feel like there's other people that have a lot of opinions about your safety and how you should do things. And so bringing these two recoveries together, if your husband or your partner is really working on trying to be healthy and accountable, and doing that work, that blending those two worlds together, in my experience, happens through the door of his accountability, through a disclosure generally, or some sort of experience or event, if you will, where you're basically released from responsibility from creating the situation.

That to me is kind of the invitation into like working together. Because that basically puts the responsibility where it belongs, which is I created this situation. It's not you, it was me. And then that initial work is really about the person who betrayed the trust, leading the charge, if you will, doing the work to create conditions now where things can start to feel comfortable and safe. And there's like a, you're being invited into a space instead of being expected to somehow just carry the relationship. I don't know if that makes sense or not.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  18:59  
It totally does. It's the bridge concept that is so great that I liked that you were saying, because you're doing your individual healing work, you have to do that, right? Whether it's addiction or anything else, you have to do that part. But at some point, you have to be able to integrate and then practice what you're learning what beliefs and things are coming up for you in your personal therapy so that now you can practice in the relationship. So as you're having these disagreements or things that you're left disconnected or you're left feeling like he doesn't get it or she doesn't get it, this makes no sense. And there ends up being gaslighting or projection, any of those things that happen, then there's still that major disconnect.

But as we are doing our individual healing, then coming together gives us that practice and it bridges it and I like that I think it's important I think both have a a purpose and a reason to bring you back together. You said something about I don't remember exactly but something about the relationship and how important is it when you're coming back together, and doing some couples work: how do you know you're ready for that? Like, what are you looking for in their personal healing to know that you're not just going to be re traumatized in couples work? Or? And maybe you don't even think of it that way? What is your kind of like if you're meeting with a new couple or an individual, and then you're going to bring them into couples? What does that process look like?

Geoff Steurer  20:22  
I mean, the key thing is, is a lack of resentment, compassion, deep empathy. Like that's when the couples work. It's hard because I had a woman that that I say something, she goes, it's just so painful for me, because right now, I need more emotional, like intelligence and compassion and empathy from him more than I ever have. And he's in  the worst possible place to do it, because he's been so deep in his addiction. So she's just like, the irony of it just is like killing her right? Early on for a lot of guys, they may not have a lot of emotional awareness, or, you know, as we call emotional intelligence, or compassion, empathy, that, that that's something that is developmental or needs to be learned.

But they can have accountability. That is critical early on to know if the relationship even has a chance. So let's just take like a standard formal disclosure, which is a whole nother podcast, I guess we could talk about that forever. But the basic idea, of course, is that there's a formal opportunity where you know, a betrayed partner gets to hear what really happened when there's been secrets and lies and manipulation. In that experience, there's the quality of how it's done, or the tone of it really matters big time. I generally won't facilitate a disclosure with a guy who is still in kind of a victim position, if you will, or believes that somehow his wife is making him do this, or he has to go through this really hard thing. Like if he's licking his own wounds. And feeling like this is something that's being done to him that he's not ready for couples work.

The couples work I would do with him at that point is usually just going to look like a lot of boundaries and reality check kind of stuff and just trying to help structure this to create safety. But if a woman is living with somebody who is constantly acting as if this is such a burden, or this was so this is hard on him or hurting him; her pain is never going to be something that he could carry and heal and care about. And it's just not going to happen. But what I love about the disclosure, and the reason I'm talking about this is a pivot point or a crossroad is because if a disclosure is done thoroughly and slowly and carefully, that can actually wake up his compassion. It can wake up his accountability. It can wake up his ability to see what he's done to her.

And then if she can share back like some kind of an impact statement, there can be this back and forth of... here's what I did to you. Oh, well, then here's how that affected me. Oh, I see that. They basically start to join their hearts a little bit more. His heart is coming from a place of I feel regret, I feel accountable, I recognize that I did this to you. And then she can share her heart, which is hurt so deeply in these ways. And then he can respond back and basically say, I see that and it touches me deeply. I mean, that whole process that I just described in like 10 seconds, there usually can take 10 months. Or 10 weeks.

It's something that is definitely not instant. But when that starts to happen, it really does lay a foundation for the couple to have the conditions now to start building intimacy. A properly done disclosure, along with her being honest and clear about how things have affected her that is intimacy. That's revealing opening up...the whole into me see. You're now cracking open stuff that both of them are probably afraid to share with each other. But now they can. So that's a long answer Roxanne to how I start to help couples get into the couples work is through that door of deep accountability. And then her being able to share impact. And then we can kind of start to shape the relationship a little bit after that.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  24:09  
There were so many good pieces of information and knowledge and insight in what you just shared. So many of them and accountability was the main one that I heard that really that's what it comes down to kind of a step one. They have to be accountable in order to be able to move forward, in order to have that. To get to that place where you're doing a disclosure that doesn't have the blaming in it and it doesn't have the victim mode stuff in it. Right it the partner can actually share how it's impacted without receiving more trauma after the fact because now she's blamed or something. So to have that, oh gosh, right. I do that work r ight now.

I am an advocate for people going through disclosure, the partner and so I walk with them through that developing their impact statement, going through those processes. And it's important to me to know that the the other person To the person who's doing the disclosure, that their therapist is making sure that disclosure is accountable and not victim because we're not going into that disclosure together until that's out of there. So I was just so glad that you shared that. I'm sure there are many of you listening that are probably feeling excited because your partner is doing this work, and they are accountable. And they do have that empathy. And every time you have a trigger or trauma response, they're saying, I'm so sorry, I know I did that to you, I am so sorry, of course, you're hurting.

And there's others of you that are listening, that you are so hopeful that your spouse was accountable or being accountable, and you're finding out other things that maybe they're not so much yet. So we're just gonna keep on working on this, right, Geoff, we're gonna keep on talking about it. And, and we're going to keep seeing the truth. Because again, like you said, at the beginning, even these hard things, when we can actually look at them and accept them and be like, okay, that's true. Dang it, my person, as I thought, okay, that so hurts my heart. But now we know where we are right now we know where to start and what to do.

Unknown Speaker  26:08  
Exactly, and, that's where it's critical for a woman in that position, to not give up on expecting that accountability. A lot of women understandably feel like, well, I can't make him be accountable. And so I guess I should just lower my expectations, or go back to maybe old patterns of carrying the relationship or doing all the over functioning, or just shutting down her own emotional state and just becoming sort of cold and, you know, bitter and just sort of accepting like, well, this as good as it can get whatever, it's better than being divorced.

Geoff Steurer  26:42  
You can have all kinds of reactions, but all I would say, as an invite to all of you listeners is, if he's not ready, if he's not soft enough, if he's working through the process, and there's still that victim that blame, just highlight it, acknowledge it, name it, describe it, this is not a time to settle. And set in motion patterns that will not serve you long term and the relationship. You don't have to be mean about it, you don't have to be rude about it. You don't have to be you know, aggressive or bratty about it. Or sarcastic, you can just basically say, this does not feel right to me. We're not there. This does not feel safe to me, it doesn't feel comfortable.

I still am identifying and I can feel kind of large amounts or trace amounts of whatever it is of blame of entitlement. And I'm not comfortable with that. And trusting your own feelings around that trusting your own gut around that. Because a lot of the times you might be told that you're too sensitive, or you're taking too long, or you're too controlling. And, sure, look at yourself, do an honest assessment, get some feedback, see where you are in the process. But ultimately, in my experience, most women know when they're safe.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  27:58  
That's true. We definitely do. We know because we feel it, we just feel at ease in ourheart, our body, it feels at ease.

Geoff Steurer  28:05  
Exactly. And it's like you can't fake that. And it's like, okay, I didn't feel safe before this. And then after this, I feel safer. So I just think it's critical to trust your own body, your own emotions, your own feelings around that, your own spirit with that, because it's not something that anybody should be able to talk you out of. If you don't feel it, you don't feel it.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  28:27  
So true. And something that you said about when it's not working, you don't need to make yourself smaller to accommodate their behaviors. You don't have to now not have the desires and the wishes and the wants for healing and recovery, because they're not doing it. You can do that. But you go back into that survival mode place or hyper vigilance or like you said, just kind of detaching from the person. But you have the opportunity to thrive too, and you can progress. And by doing your own healing work in those moments waiting, you can still wait, you can still wait and see. Maybe he will jump on board in a little bit. But while he's not because now I know the truth he's not right now, I'm going to work on me at the same time.

Geoff Steurer  29:09  
Exactly. And, if you do have a situation where you know your husband, partner is  accountable is soft, is compassionate, you know, has moved out of the victim mindset, the blame, and they're in a place where they really want to, as Mark Lazar says, "do whatever it takes for as long as it takes", then you have the opportunity. This is where where betrayed partners need to really step up. Because if you've got somebody that's done the accountability, work disclosure, they're like really working hard to create safe conditions, but you're not open and honest about how you feel or what you need. And you're just kind of holding your breath hoping something will change, then that's really going to stall out the process.

It's not a level playing field in the sense that you're both responsible for the crisis. You're not. It's absolutely on the person who has betrayed the trust. But you are both responsible for honesty, you're both responsible for openness, you're both responsible for showing up and identifying what it feels like and what you need. And even someone who's betrayed the trust, like, they absolutely need to be able to say, Hey, the way we're talking about this is really hard for me. You're yelling at me all the time. A lot of guys feel like, well, I can't ask for that, because I have no right to ask for that. Well, we all have a right to be treated with some level of dignity and respect, even if it's hard stuff.

So this is where partners can start to lean in and look at the way that they show up, they respond, they can ask questions share with what's going on in their heart. And this is where the couple really starts threading together their two recoveries is understanding how they're impacting each other, how the betrayal has impacted her, her starting to really share more deeply what was lost him caring about it, identify him needs, and they start blending this together in a couples recovery. And that's what long term couples recovery looks like. And then you start integrating getting into more specific kind of more areas like parenting, sex, touch, even spirituality, and extended family and all kinds of other areas that maybe need to be worked through have issues, but you're really learning how to how to like work as a team, and you're starting to really learn how you impact each other.

And the playing field, if you will, starts to become a little bit more level. I often use the metaphor of like a bomb going off, when there's a betrayal, and there's a huge crater, and she's at the bottom of it. And it's his job to bring in the heavy equipment to start filling that hole in with accountability, truth, other things like compassion, and kind of raise her backup to the level of the relationship where things feel more level, and then together, they can walk forward away from the scene and start building a new life. But there's no movement until that holes filled in. And a lot of guys don't do that work to fill it in, or a lot of a lot of betrayed partners don't expect it or don't know that they can expect it. And so it just kind of sits there with this hole. And so all I'm saying ladies is expected and, and if if he won't fill it in, if you have someone who won't do that work with you, then don't just act like you can move on. Because what'll happen is, you'll just be walking in circles down in the hole, and that's not gonna work.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  32:24  
No. And that's why that's so important with couples work what you're saying, first, the individual healing, right if she's down in the crater, and he's has to do the work to fill it in, even if he is if she doesn't do her healing work, she will still be lashing out she will still be the victim as well. And yes, all that trauma is real. But it takes effort and time and she actually has to heal from that. So as she does that, and he does his accountability work and fills in the hole, like you said, they're up on that level playing field, then having couples counseling, when you're having those situations, like you were talking about where she's always yelling at me and and you know all those things, you can actually take those to your session and get that feedback of how you would ask that, okay, I guess I am coming from a place of anger.

And that means there's something inside of you that still needs to be healed, but but we want to if we want to heal, then it's not just them healing, I find all our wounds to we're gonna have childhood stuff, everything is gonna come up. And we have an opportunity to become a better person through this really hard trial. It's going to uncover a lot of vulnerability is huge. And yeah, we have to share the same stuff. If they're being open and accountable and sharing a disclosure than just like you said, we as the partner need to come forward as well open and saying what we need and what those things are and not being fearful that if I tell him, he's going to squash on it, and then I'm going to be hurt more, we have to just risk it. It's a risk, but you have to do it.

Geoff Steurer  33:47  
Exactly. I do tell guys like, you know, if you want like your wife opening up to you, is a gift to the relationship. And if you act like this is like she's hurting you by sharing how she feels or what's going on for her. You're not ready to hear it. You've not earned the right to hear it.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  34:02  
Right. He didn't create a space for her to do that. And then there's the accountability. Right? So it's that yeah, that is just so so amazing. Okay, so let's for just a second talk about so you have this couple, and they've done disclosure, and he's all in and she's in, what does it look like so that she knows he really is doing it and not just kind of pacifying her or giving her one foot in the door? What does it look like besides the accountability and empathy that you talked about? What does that look like that he would be doing? So she knows that she can start building that trust that he's not that he's really striving to do this, that he's in it? Does that? Does that make sense?

Geoff Steurer  34:42  
Yeah, absolutely. Some of the things that are I guess, measurable. Obviously, like you're looking for consistency and for patterns. And like the saying goes, I think it's Johann Hari that said you know, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it's connection. So you're looking at the quality of the relationships. Is this person still isolating? Are they still avoidant, distant or they still closed? And this isn't about being an introvert. I know lots of introverts are able to share and open up and talk about what's on their mind if they're given the space for it. So it's not about having a more quiet personality. This is about is this person valuing connection with other people? Are they living a life that's open, accountable, transparent, you know that spending time with children, if you have children that's engaging with other people? The quality of those relationships to me is, it's not just like superficial relationships, because a lot of people with addictions can be very charismatic and charming have lots of acquaintances, but they're not really sharing or opening up or being very deep or having meaningful connections with you or with other people.

And so it's really just about saying, does this person have a depth to them? Do they have like, like a spirit that like, is becoming more wise, more aware? Are they less impulsive? Are they much more tuned into the needs of other people around them, including our family? Is there less selfishness? These are sort of the qualities of like living for someone else now, instead of just protecting and living to cover up or manage their own pain. There's a kind of an other quality to it, where they're, they're now sort of, like, more connected in these ways. So that's, that's definitely one thing you want to be looking for. And I also, I mean, I know you, we sort of talked about accountability and compassion, but the way that that will look in a long term relationship is like, you know how the triggers go, you know, you could be three years down the road and have something that just all the sudden takes the wind out of you.

And the response to that, ultimately, needs to circle back to that makes sense why you would feel that. What do you need to talk about with that I'm here for you. What you're experiencing totally is legitimate. That level of like, I'm here to hold that and be accountable for it and, and protect that for life. Instead of a woman feeling like, she's sort of like used up all the grace, she's used up all the time, she's, she's not allowed to bring this up anymore. There has to be a culture in the relationship where they've sort of integrated these wounds as part of their story. And he can talk about it freely, she can talk about it freely.

Doesn't mean they have to start their podcast and talk about it, it just means that they can talk about it to each other without there being all this reactivity, right. These are some signals that something's really healing in the couple, and that there's a deeper commitment. And then of course, I mean, the obvious thing to me would be like that he's taking charge of his own healing. He's doing his own work, whether through, you know, his spiritual practices, therapy, reading, self help, connected to others, like those kinds of things. Hopefully, are already on board. Those are pretty essential.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  37:21  
Well, that's showing the work they've done when they're doing all those things, you say, because the humility is there, the pride is not skyrocketing, right? If you're bringing up something three years later, they have no shame around it anymore. So that shame isn't driving them for that pride to go high, and their ego to be through the roof. And so they can come from a place of love, empathy, humility, which makes that triggers just so quick. It doesn't last very long when you have somebody who's out and then you can be back connected. And that builds so much trust, because you know, you get to be seen, wherever you are, however you are. And it's okay. You get to share that with your spouse.

Geoff Steurer  38:26  
Yeah, exactly. And I love the way you put that, which is, the trigger goes away, because the trigger is really based around, Am I safe? Does this person care about me? And if the response is caring, and safe and accountable, then it almost answers that question, and then the trigger, it loses all of its power. It's like, well, that's not threatening anymore because I'm secure. You have enough of those experiences and it starts to feel like okay, this person starts to feel like, you know, they feel more secure, they feel more safe, they feel like there's somebody you can actually, like I said earlier, hitch your wagon to her lean up against or they're, they're just, they're not going to move. And that's a process that takes a long time. It's not something that you can just know, within the first few months.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  39:04  
No, it's a lot of effort, for sure. But what I love is that you're showing that there is hope and giving almost like a visual of what it looks like. What this looks like when your partner is doing these things look similar to this. And this is how it will feel. And if you feel like you can hitch your wagon, and you can lean up against them. That means you feel like you can breathe, and you can kind of like, oh, that sigh of relief that this is not all you. You are not in charge of all of this. And you know that you have somebody that's also doing the work. It's huge, really. So that was good to show everybody what that looks like so gives people hope. So those of you who are in this situation right now and you're feeling hopeful, just know that it does keep going and it can keep going if both of you are invested into your healing.

So for just like two minutes, will you share what if that isn't your situation and you've been trying and you thought you were trying to hitch your wagon and you thought he was on board and you thought this was happening, and now you're realizing today right now in this podcast episode, that the realization is that your partner isn't actually doing it. That they aren't going to do it. What do you do for yourself and not saying that you choose divorce today? But what can you say to those women, or men, in whatever case it is; Where do they go now where they're not feeling hopeful at the moment?

Geoff Steurer  40:25  
Yeah, I'm glad that we're including that as a piece of this, Roxanne. The first thing I would say is I genuinely mean this from the bottom of my heart that like, please be gentle with yourself. You will have so much self blame and self criticism about why you didn't see it, or how stupid you are for staying in it for so long. And you can really get into the kind of a flurry of shame and for yourself your own self blame. And it's just important to be very gentle and forgiving with yourself and recognize that your intentions and your commitment, and your willingness to say this like are important to acknowledge and to validate, because you obviously care deeply.

So the first thing is just to be really, really gentle and safe for yourself. Because that will spike pretty hard when you start to realize, Oh, my gosh, you'll feel stupid, you'll feel like a fool. The next thing I would say is, I mean, this goes back to the observing thing, which is, don't panic, don't just make a bunch of quick decisions and decide exactly what this is. It might be a time to enforce some sort of limit or boundary on what you can give, that will change the quality of the dynamic, it's not to control the other person, of course, it's just to say, I can't keep operating at this same level of closeness or I can't keep operating in this same way. I can't keep giving this much because it's diminishing me as a person. Or I have no confidence that it's, you know, we're not working together in a unified way. And so that may be everything from, I'm not going to share as much.

I'm not going to be physically as close. I'm not going to sleep in the same bedroom as you. I'm going to pull back and start to create some space that really honors and reflects the lack of connection and unity. I mean, you almost sort of physically have to make the relationship look the way it feels. Sometimes it's like it can be crazy making to be looking like it's physically and intimately clos, you're having sex, you're talking a ton you're sharing, you're crying you're trying. But it's empty. It's vacant. And that's pretty punishing. I think what Liz Gilbert said, she says, "notice the resentment, and then figure out like where that line is, and then back that line up until the resentment goes away. And there's your boundary."

Back it up, back it up, back it up, the resentments gone. Oh, wow, we're not living together. And I don't feel resentful now. Okay, well, that's pretty reflective of where we're at, I guess. Or, wow, we stopped having sex, and I feel like less resentful. Okay, that feels good. And then from that place, it's time to have a conversation. And that can be in person, that can be written, that can be some signal that says, this is where I'm at, this is what I hope this is what I expect. And then again, put that back in their court. Sometimes that feedback can be very jarring and very important for them to see that and embrace that. And sometimes it's just basically you knowing that you've said everything and done everything you can do to give them every chance. And then you either stay there or keep moving the boundary back. But the key thing is not to keep playing along and just hoping it'll self correct. It won't.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  43:31  
Right. No, that self correction, you think or playing along, like you said, doing all the things just keep doing it, but you still feel empty. Yeah, that's because there's a lack of that equal partnership, where both people are trying to figure this out together. And so then there's an endless reeling and you're still lonely, even though you think, well, I'm doing this and this and this, and we're doing this together. So we should be okay, now, but but we're not okay. And that's, I like that going back finding that root cause of what's bringing your pain and creating the boundary around that root.

That's a lot of good hope, even for those who their partner might not be doing the work, because it gives them also kind of a benchmark of where to start from, what to do, how to figure it out, how to see where they're at. And again, acceptance, right of where it is they are at. And is okay, wherever they are at. And just just knowing that's where they're going to start. Because if we start way at the top, it doesn't resolve anything. We still have all the underlying issues or fears or resentments or whatever they are. Exactly. Wow, this has been so amazing. I just I've loved our conversation.

I feel like there's so many more to cover, because all of those things kept bringing up stuff like oh, I get so many questions about how do you integrate sex back into your marriage when trust is starting to rebuild? And how do you you know, just so many different things you talked about? I just had so many different questions. But this has been amazing and helpful for both sides of this to really know like, I know what I'm doing my my relationship. I know what I can do, and I know  that I'm going to watch now what my partner is doing so that I can make healthier decisions. So is there anything final that you would like to share you already shared so much. But if there's anything final that you just want to say, Yeah, go ahead and say that and then after that, will you tell them where they can find you? what it is that you offer? How they can get in touch with you so that they can also get this help that that you already have?

Geoff Steurer  45:21  
Sure. Yeah. I guess my parting words on this topic would be, and this is something I feel like again, I've we've we've already talked about this a little bit, Roxanne. But one thing that I feel like you do really well. And I don't know if this is something you learned or just kind of how you show up in the world, but just the refusal to like, not speak the truth. And this doesn't mean that you have to be rude, or that it might not hurt somebody's feelings or whatever. But but the truth will set you free. That is absolutely essential. That could be facing the truth of something that goes completely against your deepest dream and desires and ideals for you and or for your kids.

But nobody has ever been served by just performing and pretending it just doesn't work. And your life. Roxanne I think is a great example of your refusal to just play out some role and just hope the performance will pay off. You've had to make some agonizing, embarrassing, humiliating, challenging decisions that people would very easily misunderstand. But you just stayed very honest. And I see it, I see how it shows in your kids faces and in your face and in your family. It's just made all the difference in the world. And so regardless of the outcome, stay committed to what you're feeling and what's real, and what's happening and get lots of reflection feedback. And look carefully at that. Because if you're so tied to the outcome, you might put up with something that's fake for a long time. And that's not healthy.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  46:50  
Wow, I'm gonna jump in here before you finish, because that is so true. It's that trust in that truth. trusting yourself that matters, and that you matter. That you don't have to play out whatever everybody else thinks. And you're right, people did not understand when I chose my second divorce, they did not understand. But I knew that that was how it had to be. And I was doing the right thing. So when you do that, you have so much more support even for your own self. It's like you feel supported, you're like, I'm doing this regardless, because the people who don't understand it, they're not even in your arena anyway. They're not even in that field. Most of them haven't ever been divorced anyway. So they don't know. But I just chose I wasn't going to be in anything that was harmful to me, or my spirit. So thank you for that. Thank you for that. Okay, so where can these people find you?

Geoff Steurer  47:38  
Thanks to my parents, I have a really tough name to spell. So I came up with a second website. So GeoffSteurer.com is my main website. But if you don't really want to have to go through the spelling bee to figure that one out, you can just go to fromcrisistoconnection.com. And it'll take you right there. That's my website. I've got a I've got a 12 week online video course called the trust building boot camp, that lots and lots of people have gone through that it's really designed for the person who betrayed the trust. But it gives them very specific exercises, lots of video instruction from me, and a community where we do monthly webinars, right answer questions about trust building, and, and they get that access for a whole year of the webinars, but they have lifetime access to the course. And so some people go through it in 12 weeks, some people take 12 months, it's fine.

It's a lot of support to help create accountability to create safe conditions, and Roxanne, I'll create a coupon for your listeners to give them 15% off the course. And we can put that in the show notes. So I'll send that information to you. So just look in the show notes for that coupon. And that'll give your listeners a discount on it. It's really something that is designed to help create conditions where trust can be rebuilt. And that's obviously up to the person decide if they want to do that work. But boy, it makes a huge difference if they have like a roadmap for sure. And then I have Yeah, and then I have my podcast from crisis to connection. I do a weekly article every every week online and answering questions and, and that if people want to work more directly with me, that stuff's available my website, I do kind of more intensives with people all of that's on there. But yeah, that's, that's what I'm up to. And I just love being part of people's support and solutions. Because this work is hard. And it's long term. So I'm not going anywhere.

Roxanne Kennedy-Granata  49:26  
That's so great. The trust, this trust is what everybody wants. We all want that in our relationship. So the fact that you have courses around that, and you're doing these intensives, those people who are at that point, at least in their relationship, that's huge. Those of us who didn't get that opportunity to do that in our relationships, we can still take those kinds of courses so that we know what it looks like. We build trust with ourselves and we'll know how to look for that in a new partner. So thank you so much, Geoff, for being here for all of your insight and wisdom. I truly appreciate you doing that. And if you want to join me at the retreat and hear Geoff speak again, make sure you do that. That retreat is in September, it's on my website, Roxannekennedygranata.com and there are 11 of the 25 spots filled at this moment. So there's plenty of space, but we just have till the end of June or before it fills up and then that will be closed. So yes, so thank you for listening and I will see you next time.