Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

helping our spouses with triggers

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

rachelc posted 12/9/2013 12:54 PM

I've known about this for a while, but thought it might be helpful to post for others. For instance, my AP made me a snowman and my husband hates that so I threw away every snowman looking or related ornament I have....(I copied and pasted this from somewhere else)

She (Spring) states that genuine forgiveness requires a "TRANSFER OF VIGILANCE." That is that the responsibility for being aware of the hurt shifts from the hurt person to the offender.

When someone experiences a trauma, their brain becomes more sensitized to the hurtful event and it's properties. For example, I hate snakes as a result of several terrifying experiences as a child. Unfortunately, throughout the years my brain has become hypersensitized to snakes. I now have a startle response when I stumble across a garden hose in the grass. In psychoneurology, this is called the "kindling effect."

After a hurt, the brain is like kindling wood--it only takes a small flame to ignite a big fire. Any sign of danger becomes the spark that lights up the brain by broadcasting "Danger! Danger! Danger!" Any event similar to the hurtful event triggers the alarm and the reactive behaviours!

With genuine forgiveness, the offender takes on the role of attending to the perceived or real danger. The offender becomes vigilant--on guard and protectively watching--to any way in which their hurt partner maybe reactive to any number of signals that remind them of the traumatic event.

For example, say you had an affair. Your partner discovered you and your lover went to Cuba together (rather than the business trip you said it was). You would imagine that any mention of Cuba (in a song, in a movie, on a billboard, etc.) would remind her of the affair.

Transfer of vigilance means rather than "hope she doesn't notice" or rather than denying or minimizing the event when she is upset, you take action. You inquire how she is feeling, apologize again for the hurt you caused, and ask her how you could make it better.

Rather than requiring her to be responsible for attending to her emotion (to not bother you with it, to calm down, to "get over it"), you would be the one to pay attention to her suffering and to hold yourself responsible for it. From there, healing will proceed much more quickly and there can be genuine repair to the hurt.

You might say, "Sweetheart, I notice you're quiet again and you seem sad/angry/hurt. I'm sorry that the movie we're watching is filmed in Cuba. That must hurt you all over again. I want you to know I am so very sorry for hurting you with the affair. It will never happen again. I want us to be together and to work this through. I want to earn your trust again and for your hurt to end. What can I do to make this better right now?"

[This message edited by rachelc at 10:04 AM, December 10th (Tuesday)]

gotmylifeback posted 12/9/2013 13:51 PM

Well stated! Great way of explaining what a WS can do to help with the healing process.

helpemegetoverit posted 12/9/2013 14:42 PM

A nice timely reminder for me right now. December is hugely trigger-filled for my BH. While my affair was about a year long so there are no 'affair free' months, this month was when things really kicked up in intensity and frequency. I've been trying to stay vigilant with my response to the triggers, but this was a good read for me this week. Certain things this month have really intensified the triggers which has not been helping, but I am trying and remaining open and fully honest with him as we work through this month and the coming months.

sodamnlost posted 12/9/2013 14:54 PM

As a BW, wow the power this would have. Great post, WS's - this is great advice!

qwerty2012 posted 12/9/2013 23:30 PM

Timely post
I screwed up again . after a recent trigger, i had the audacity to ask my W what i did now and what was the trigger!!! Obviously i was referring to the immediate present .
- Frigging dumb ass!

Transfer of Vigilance - i like it. Thank you.

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.     Privacy Policy