Lapses are Painful

It is so very painful when our loved ones lapse. Such lapses bring back all of the emotional baggage once again—the mistrust, resentment, hurt, fear, self-blame, bitterness, betrayal, inferiority, anger, hopelessness, and more. One wife said, “Here we go again, I’m being dragged through this mess one more time. I just can’t do it anymore.” Although it is very hard to get refocused after our loved ones lapse, we should let our emotions settle down before we make any major decisions.

Planned for Fire Drills

Let’s think back during our elementary school days when we participated in fire drills. Our school principal and teachers were planning for a fire but not planning to have a fire. What is the difference? If we plan for a fire, we are more likely to stay calm and keep our heads if there is a fire. How do we plan for a fire? We outline an evacuation plan. We practice the execution of the plan. We sound the fire alarm and begin. We tell the children to stay calm and to walk single file from the classroom. The teacher leads the way. The teacher’s calmness and poise sets the example for each student to follow. We teach the children the buddy system—to watch out for one another. After each class is safely outside, we take roll and make sure that everyone is accounted for. This is how we plan for a fire. Just because we plan for a fire it would not give license for an arsonist to set a fire. Similarly, just because we plan for a lapse in inappropriate behaviors it would not give our loved ones license to act out. If we plan for a fire, we will likely be more calm, think more rationally, and get through it with fewer injuries if a fire occurs. We experience the same benefits by planning for a lapse. We are more likely to stay calm, think rationally, and experience less emotional injury if one occurs.

Don’t Want to Think about a Lapse

Our natural tendency is to say, “I don’t even want to think about a lapse. That would be terrible!” But what if we used that same logic regarding fire drills? “I don’t even want to think about a fire. That would be terrible!” A fire could happen—and it might. Therefore, the wisest thing we can do is to be prepared in case a fire occurs. Similarly, the wisest thing we can do is to prepare for the possibility that a lapse might happen.

Preparing for a Lapse

  • How do we prepare for a lapse? We talk openly to our loved ones about preparing for a lapse in sexual acting out or dishonesty.
  • If a lapse occurs, what would we do? Our loved ones have the responsibility to tell us about the lapse. Healing requires complete honesty with self and others.
  • How soon will our loved ones tell us about the lapse?
  • How much information do we want to know about the lapse?
  • What will the consequences be?
  • What can our loved ones learn from the lapse to significantly reduce the possibility of future lapses?
  • How can we be supportive to each other after a lapse?
  • What could the husband say to the wife?
  • What could the wife say to the husband?
  • What would we do to stay on the healing path?
  • What additional things will the loved ones do to prevent a future lapse?

© 2015 Rod W. Jeppsen