No Explanations, No Excuses – Just Shut Up and Listen

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

After seven long years, Frank finally got sober. Now, he’s starting to fully comprehend the pain his wife suffered. Loyal through it all, Christine stuck by Frank’s side despite the disappointments, lies, broken promises and deep hurt.

As Frank comes to grips with his past, he and Christine try to put the pieces of their marriage back together. Their biggest stumbling block is Frank’s tendency to offer explanations and justifications. When Christine brings up his past behavior and her concerns about the future, Frank’s quick to jump in. He wants her to know the reasons he did those things (even if they weren’t good ones.) Frank doesn’t want to repeat past behaviors, but he feels the need to justify his actions.

Christine doesn’t want to hear him try to explain away his behavior. She needs Frank to shut up and listen.

Now’s Not the Time

The need to be heard is universal – especially for those who have been hurt by a loved one’s addiction.

After hearing excuses, lies and rationalizations for years, friends and family don’t need to hear any more explanations. Even if you’ve come to a better understanding of why you did some of the things you did, this is not the time to share them. Your loved ones need a turn to talk.

It’s tempting in early recovery to offer explanations and justifications any time past behavior is brought up. You feel guilty, ashamed, or regretful about the actions mentioned, so you want to help them understand what was going on with you at the time. Ultimately, this is an attempt to make you feel better, not them. During this time of relationship rebuilding, it’s essential to remember how much your loved one is hurting. This is especially important if they have seen you relapse repeatedly. They’re carrying a heavy burden, and they need the opportunity to unload it.

Mending a Broken Heart

For trust to be restored and healing to occur in the relationship, the explanations have to stop.

Now is the time to simply listen to your loved one’s hurts, experiences and concerns. They need to share how your addiction affected them and be allowed to express their thoughts. Give them the chance to share their feelings, fears and needs. This allows them to heal, and in the end, that’s exactly what they deserve.

Additional Reading:   Mend Your Heart by Forgiving Their Hurt

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