Are you and your spouse struggling to keep your marriage together after one of you cheated? Do you wonder if it’s even possible for a marriage to survive an affair?
If so, you’re not alone. Dr. Juan Santos has spent a decade helping couples process their emotions and harness the skills they need to repair their marriage after one of them has had an affair.
In this podcast episode, Dr. Santos shares valuable insights and actionable tips on how couples can heal the hurt that threatens to destroy their relationship.We also delve into the complexities of recovery, the disruptive role of shame, and how to bridge the disconnect that an affair creates between partners. By the end of this episode, you'll gain a deep understanding of how couples can not only recover but also thrive after an affair, and how to effectively communicate with each other to rebuild your relationship.
About Dr. Santos
With over ten years of experience in the field of helping others make transformations in life, Dr. Juan Santos is listed in the ranks of the top 3 marriage counselors in his local area. He brings new perspectives for mental health and wellness, for helping individuals and couples build empowerment and take charge of their relationships and their lives. He is a first-generation immigrant, originally born in the Dominican Republic and raised in North Carolina.
Dr. Santos utilizes a unique mind and body-approach to teach individuals how to go from surviving to thriving in life.
His work on improving your mental health and quality of life has been featured on radio, tv, magazine, and podcast. Dr. Santos has presented on topics ranging from managing anxiety to addressing workplace mental health issues at organizations, higher education spaces, and community agencies.
Where to Connect with Dr. Santos
You can find Dr. Santos on LinkedIn at Dr. Juan Santos CRC, LPC and on TikTok at Dr. Juan Santos. You can also connect with Dr. Santos and find transformational courses and coaching on how to build better relationships with yourself and others at his website Juan Santos.
Dr. Santos has generously provided our listeners with a discount for his self-help courses. You can access his courses on his website at juanbsantos.com, or by clicking here. Use coupon code OFFTHEFENCE to claim your discount.
Key Takeaways From This Episode with Dr. Juan Santos
- Recovery after infidelity is possible if both partners are committed to the process, even though it will involve pain and hurt. Compassion and kindness are important, even when the natural reaction is anger and defensiveness.
- The road to recovery is not linear - partners may be at different stages of healing at any given time. Creating structure around communicating about the affair can help both partners feel heard.
- Coaching differs from therapy in that it is less structured, more flexible in format, and focuses on mindset and behavioral change rather than clinical psychology and mental health. Self-help courses can be useful for people who prefer a more independent approach.
- Before getting married, couples should have intentional conversations to get on the same page about values, goals, roles, finances, religion, and other important topics. This builds the foundation for a successful relationship.
- People who avoid conflict can learn to confront issues by reframing confrontation as a transferable skill and giving it structure. Taking personal responsibility is key rather than blaming one's partner.
- In affair recovery, both partners need attention and healing - the betrayer often experiences shame and depression as well. A collective effort leads to stronger relationships in the long run.
- Special discount code "Off Defense" offered on self-help courses at juanbsantos.com for podcast listeners dealing with anxiety, relationships, etc.
Do you like what you've heard?
Share the love so more people can benefit from this episode too!
Can Your Marriage Recover From an Affair? Tips From Dr. Juan Santos
Dr. Juan Santos
affair, relationship, communication skills
Karen Covy, Dr. Juan Santos
Karen Covy Host00:10
Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can discover what keeps us stuck and, more importantly, how we can get unstuck and start making even tough decisions with confidence. I'm your host, karen Covey, a former divorce lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, turned coach, author and entrepreneur. And now, without further ado, let's get on with the show. With me today is my guest, Dr Juan Santos.
With over 10 years of experience in the field of helping others make transformations in life, Dr Juan Santos is listed in the ranks of the top three marriage counselors in his local area. He brings new perspectives for mental health and wellness, for helping individuals and couples build empowerment and take charge of their life and their relationships. Dr Santos is a first generation immigrant, originally born in the Dominican Republic and raised in North Carolina. Dr Santos utilizes a unique mind and body approach to teach individuals how to go from surviving to thriving in life. His work on improving your mental health and quality of life has been featured on radio, tv, magazines and podcasts. Dr Santos has presented on topics ranging from managing anxiety to addressing workplace mental health issues and organizations, higher education spaces and community agencies. Dr Santos, welcome to the show.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest01:43
Thank you for having me. Thank you, I'm excited.
Karen Covy Host01:46
Oh, I am really excited too, because I know you have done a lot of things already, but what I'd like to focus with you in this podcast is on your work with couples, with marriages and specifically with infidelity, and I'm going to lead out of the box with the big question Is it possible for marriages to really recover and thrive after there's been an affair?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest02:14
You know it's interesting. That question is one of the most common questions that couples come in with. You know, right after an affair they're asking and they're saying, hey, is this possible? Are we actually going to be able to navigate through this? I like to start with like a deep breath, you know, just really inhaling and exhaling and looking at it is possible, but a lot of that is based off of each partner's commitment. You know they're willingness to experience the pain. There's no way around that. They're willingness to experience the hurt, the trauma which infidelity recovering after an affair it's a traumatic experience. They're willingness to go through that. And as you're going through it, this is the next hard part Going through it in a manner of compassion, of kindness, right, interesting words, because when something like that happens is the opposite. You want to just get those fighting gloves on.
Oh, yeah, so you can lash out and attack or be defensive and protect yourself, and often those are the behaviors that sabotage the process.
Karen Covy Host03:18
But how do you? Those behaviors are so human.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest03:21
There's some natural.
Karen Covy Host03:22
How do you get past that? How do you, you know, get past the fact that you want to, like, scratch your partner's eyes out?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest03:31
Yeah, good question, right, and I think part of that is recognizing that that's going to happen. You know, very similar to you're out in the sun all day and you get home and you're like why is my back hurting? Right, it's like sunburn. That's what happens when you're out there and you didn't wear sunscreen. So after an affair, this trauma that takes place, it's like you're standing on a rug and it's pulled out from under you and you're looking every direction. You feel numb, you feel anxious, you feel hurt, you feel anger. And it's accepting that those feelings are taking place versus running away from them and giving those feelings space, giving them go ahead.
Karen Covy Host04:08
What does that mean?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest04:10
Yeah, good question, giving them a safe space. So very similar to like a person being at work and they're pissed at their boss. What makes sense to go up to your boss and give them the middle finger, and that's very similar to relationship, because more than likely, this person that went through this affair if part, if there's just something up there that they want to recover that means, to an extent, they like their life, they like the aspects of it, they like the tree that they planted and they like how it's growing. So it's looking at a safe place. A safe place could be that you're working with a coach. A safe place could be a journal. It could be going for a walk. You know these spaces and there's many of them that you connect to each of those feelings the anger, the frustration, the sadness, the numbness and allowing yourself to process them.
Karen Covy Host05:01
Okay, that is a beautiful. I want to follow up on that because you know a lot of people I don't think they understand. What does it mean to process an emotion Like what is that? How do you do that?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest05:16
Yeah, you know, let's tie that to something interesting when we look at NAMI, an organization that focuses on mental health one in five adults in the US experience a mental illness, and I think I think this is something that it's important not to overlook. Many of us have five friends and we go, oh shit, one, maybe one in five. Right, one in one. Five of us are struggling with some sort of mental illness. So I think it's important to acknowledge that, within the layers of an affair, more than likely one or both individuals are struggling to some aspect with their mental health, and that may mean that, when we talk about process, they just may not have had the skills to process certain aspects of what has taken place in their life, such as, let's say, an affair, and it's connected to disconnect. Maybe they weren't processing that in the relationship, they were avoiding it. Maybe they were. You know, instead of doing that the hard conversation I'm going to work my butt off and focus on that instead for years and years after that, there's more and more distance and maybe somebody else comes in. There's an emotional bond that builds and, before you know it, we're in that category of an affair.
Karen Covy Host06:25
Yeah, and that's interesting. All right, I've got a question. This might not be a fair ask away. Okay, so do affairs only happen in relationships where there's an issue like a disconnect, or can it be that the relationship is going along in a fairly healthy way and someone just makes a mistake or screws up or, does you know, has an affair? What do you think about that?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest06:54
Yeah, great, great question again. You're just killing it with these wonderful questions, Karen. There's like I think there's the, the social media, or getting on TV and you're watching affairs happen right through these sitcoms, and maybe it's often due to some issue right, the guy's a jerk, or there's no sex in the relationship. So then many, many of us go, oh, I guess to some degree that makes sense. Right, we're connecting the dots. We don't agree with it, but we're connecting the dots.
There are other Factors, though, that can lead to an affair, and it can be. Here some examples, and there's many of them. It can't be that you grew up as a child in a home where that took place. You saw one of the parents actively engaging in it, and maybe that parent talked to you about it. You know that they said, yeah, I'm going out with this person. Maybe you went out with them while they're engaging in that, knowing that the other parents there and that parent told you don't say anything. So you didn't want to break that bond, you wanted to keep a good relationship with that parent. So it was okay, and years after years, the parents never got separated. So you're like it's fine. So now there's a system that created in there and that could lead to, even if you're in a healthy relationship on an Individual level, because it's different. Many affairs aren't often connected to both parties Right. Without your partner, there's still you and you.
Karen Covy Host08:12
Yeah it's your own stuff that you, yeah, have it dealt with.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest08:17
Correct. Now there's different Coaches and mental health professionals that engage in supporting individuals in affair, in different avenues. They may go. We had the affair both of us.
When I'm working with the individuals in couples, I try to get to the root. You know, if I see a plant that's sick, I'm not just gonna ride away Maybe put some new soil on it. I want to pick the whole thing up and look underneath the root system, and there's two people in the relationship, and often what I find is that, individually, we make decisions right. If Work is shitty, then we individually make a decision to be maybe really upset and throw a chair at work. Not our boss made us do that Right.
There are factors, though, in a relationship where, if you're with a partner and it's been years since you've had an intimacy that you're able to justify and say, well, I had an affair, because there's years of lack of intimacy and I've spoken to my partner and they're not willing to do anything about this. So we just pause for a moment and go. You made that decision right. Yes, we comprehend that your partner was involved in that process. Then here's where I find this helpful. I think it's a tough pill to swallow. I find it helpful.
When we look at growth, growth is heavily connected to an individual level of accountability. Right, your own level of accountability. That same person can say you know what? There's been a lack of intimacy for years. Here's what I'm going to do. I want to, and then they have a hard conversation, the ones that we often avoid. They go. Maybe I want to stay married. However, I feel that in our relationship not all of my domains are being met. I'd like to bring a third party in where that the domain of physical intimacy is met. Are you willing to remain in this marriage, knowing this new context has taken place and right?
Karen Covy Host10:10
Yeah, that's out, that's so. You're getting to the heart of what I hear in my work with so many people. It's the unwillingness to have that hard conversation, to be honest, sometimes to even be honest with yourself and say you know what I don't like what's going on in this relationship? I'm not happy, I'm not fulfilled, so I'm gonna have. Instead of saying I'm gonna go act out, say I'm gonna start with having a conversation with my spouse, with the other person in this relationship, and see if we can come to resolve it. And the Interesting or ironic thing is that you're afraid to have the conversation Because you're afraid that the relationship will dissolve. Yeah, but You're still. By having the affair, you're doing the thing that will cause the relationship to dissolve.
So how does like in the human psyche? How does this work?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest11:08
Yeah, so you know, and when I sit with couples, I helped them together. We look at what's this? The sign of the relationship dissolving, and often this is just a loud one. This is the one that maybe you walked in and saw your partner, or you picked up the phone and saw messages. And we go a little bit deeper. We pick up the plant, we look at the root and then we identify that the relationship was already dissolving in the beginning. You were dating once a week. You haven't been on a date in months, so there's a lack of investment in that category. Right, your bank is your relationship and that's and I goes into what you're sharing with. Those are those hard conversations that we avoid. So we may focus more on work, focus more on the kids, focus more on something else, and we hope that it goes away. But it doesn't go away, you know, indirectly, it stays there.
Karen Covy Host11:57
I hear that. And so let me take you back a little bit and let's say there's a couple and one of them has had an affair. They find themselves in your office for the first time. They've got all these emotions right and you help them process the emotions. But then what? Because if their marriage was working, they might want to go back to it, but chances are, from what I'm hearing you say, there's other problems. How do you help them deal with all of that and create the relationship they really want to be in?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest12:39
Yeah, there's so much to that equation. Part of that is, if we want help, we have to be willing to receive help Right. We have to put our own mindset aside, our own ego, and say, okay, I'm in this space and this, you know, if it's a personal trainer, I'm going to listen to them and do the squats they're telling me to do, and it's hard to get out of your own way, yet necessary. So that's. I think that's one aspect. The other is when you're in the space, being able to acknowledge that it's probably going to be these ups and downs. You know these valleys that go high, they go low, and there's often times where one partner is at a closer point of healing. Like you know what I'm feeling really good about this. I think we've made a lot of progress.
Karen Covy Host13:21
And the other one's like I'm way back here, I am way back here.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest13:24
I am not, you know, I'm not healed. I'm at a four out of 10. So that creates a bit of a difference there.
Karen Covy Host13:32
Yeah, I think that's important. It's an important point for people to hear that the road to recovery isn't a straight line up. That it's got those peaks and valleys and that both people in the couple may be on the journey at different. You know they're different spots in the journey I guess would be the best way to say it. So how do you help the people when one person's an eight out of 10 and one person's a two out of a 10? What do you do with that?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest14:03
Yeah, that's such a tough area because we often want others to be very similar to where we are at. You know, if I'm in pain, I want you in pain, and if I'm doing great, I want you to be doing great. And we see that even in normal occasions you're at a birthday party and you have a good time you see some more of the poor attitude and you go. What's wrong with them?
Karen Covy Host14:21
Dr. Juan Santos Guest14:22
Exactly 100%. Such an interesting item there. And when working with a couple as a recovering after an affair, I try to encourage them to share that, to be open and vulnerable, to hear one another, so that one's able to say you know, I feel like I've processed a lot of the affair and I feel like I don't think about it as often and then the other one may go. That's so different than me. I think about it every day and now you have this potential clash because the one that thinks about it every day, they may want to talk about it every day with the other one, but the other one they're further ahead. They may say, hey, it doesn't, when we talk about it, I just feel worse and worse. So with that I try to encourage them to create structure around it.
We don't want to avoid one another, so we have structure very similar to you know work, you go in and you clock out, then you're done. So we structure time on. When your partner wants to share aspects of the infidelity, the affair, let's do like your own 20-minute session on it and let them know what you're needing, guide your partner. I need you to listen. I just need you to listen and say nothing and then you speak and then, after that 20 minutes and you share those thoughts that you had of the affair, provide gratitude, right, no one has to listen to us, so we provide gratitude for their willingness to be able to listen to something they do not want to listen to because they're further ahead on healing.
Karen Covy Host15:43
That is. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that before. That's got to be. That's so interesting and so challenging at the same time, because let's just say that, you know, for let's talk about the victim of the affair, the person who was cheated on be able to have a conversation with the cheater and say, okay, thank you for listening.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest16:04
Right so crazy. It feels like you know because it's like you hurt me now. Now I'm showing you gratitude, but we look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is these two people. They're raising their hand and saying we want to go through the trenches and try to make this relationship work. So that means you're going to have to do hard things to grow.
Karen Covy Host16:24
Yeah, and how do you like? Have you ever had the situation where the couple comes into you and one person says I really, you know, I really want to make this relationship work, I want to work through this, I want to heal, and the other person's like you know, I don't know if I'm in or if I'm not in. Convince me you know, like what do you do with it, with the situation where you have two people who are in like, how do you help them make the decision about whether this is even what they want to do?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest16:58
With those, often shift them into more individual coaching so they may come in with that, and then from that point I look at them and say it's difficult because you're, you don't have a common goal. You know, if you look at the seven habits of highly effective people, Steven Covey like me, only no relation The end in mind. So that's one of those pillars and I bring that up with them on. You both need to be on the same page of knowing what is the end in mind, and if yours is, you want to work on it and the other partner is I don't know, we're not going to get too far. We're probably going to bump heads along the way. So individual work through that, individual work with process, and then we, they see what they want to do with it.
Karen Covy Host17:45
So alright. Another burning question that I hear from my clients a lot is if one person isn't willing to work on it, they don't want to go to marriage counseling, they don't want to go to even individual therapy, they just think that they can handle this themselves. Right, can a couple do this work alone when one person wants to move forward and the other one's like yeah, yeah, great, you know, I guess that question goes a lot back to the individual.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest18:18
I've worked with the individuals and one on one setting where in to know the person they shared that they recover from the fair and they didn't go see a coach, they didn't go into any of these professional settings. So you know a lot of us. We have many skills, maybe emotional intelligence, maybe a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, so we may have some of these skills to support us to go through these traumatic, difficult experiences. Now, I'm sorry, go ahead.
Karen Covy Host18:49
How do you access those skills, though? Like we, I think we have things inside of us that we don't perhaps realize. So that person who has the capacity, the capability to get over the affair by themselves, how do they access that part of them that allows them to heal and move on?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest19:09
Yeah and I think you mentioned this earlier being willing to like look at your reflection in the mirror and really think about you know, how am I living my life? What are my values? Am I living by those you know and my connecting to my mission statement very similar to a business, where all these wonderful businesses have missions and visions and they are so active with it and so, given them business coaching, they take you through that, making your own mission and vision. So many, many, many couples that I work with in individuals we do very similar work to that and I think that you know, in the community, these individuals are able to do it on their own. They're probably pretty connected to what their values are, what their habits are. Maybe they're reading certain books and then applying it.
Karen Covy Host19:52
Interesting. So I know you've also, as part of what you do, you've also created self-help courses, because certain people like I've worked with people who they're like, yeah, I don't do therapy For whatever reason in their past. They're just, they have a very negative idea of what therapy is. And you've created some self-help courses. Can you talk a little bit about those and what they do?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest20:19
Absolutely and you know, part of that message is what led to myself going into the coaching realm. So my foundational education, going through master's, master's and doctorate is in the clinical, academic, mental health space, you know, license and so forth, and working with more clients. Some of them will come up and have shared, you know, I want something a bit different. I don't want the structure that comes with maybe insurance. I want to be able to, you know, work with you for like four or five hours. I want to be able to maybe text you things that are happening in my life, and all of those have a lot of like privacy aspects that a typical counselor wouldn't be able to do.
So that's where I started to bridge into coaching and taking on clients on providing coaching and courses. Courses are for my individuals that they may work with me one session and then after that they're like we're going to go in and we're able to do it on our own, so that I find that wonderful for them. I'm one of those where if I want to learn something, I may hire a consultant, do one initial session and then I see what products they have and then I'll go and pick up the book or pick up the course and I can hold the discipline to engage with it. Yeah, you've just brought up.
Karen Covy Host21:35
Sorry I'm going to take us a little bit off path. I'm sorry to interrupt, but coaching versus therapy. Can you speak to what's the difference between the two?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest21:46
Yeah, there's a lot of aspects that do differ from a very basic model, the counseling. So the mental health counseling, especially here in the US. For a map, there are a lot of criteria that hone it. Criteria could connect to if you take insurance Now with an insurance patient or client, you're bound to like a 45 or 50 minute session. There's a lot of HIPAA in there where I have to make sure that all of our conversation is extremely confidential.
Coaching differs in the aspect of we don't go as deep into the clinical psychology of mental health. We weren't going to say a mindset on behavioral modification and so forth, but we don't have those bounds. I could see you in a session like this using zoom versus having to go through a more private process. You can have my number and, as you're navigating life, shoot me a text or an email and then we can go back and forth. I find that with executives typically high functioning individuals that are on the go the coaching model works really well because they're wanting that support during those situations. I think they're both great. There's just different individuals that go into each category.
Karen Covy Host22:59
That's interesting. Now that we've gone on that little side definition, let's get back to the courses. It sounds like for those high functioning individuals, the executives, the people who really they don't have a serious mental illness, they just have a problem that they're dealing with, that the online course model, the self-help model, could work for them.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest23:26
Yes, I'm not just going to put them in that category.
There's other individuals I think many of us. I don't see the course getting in the way for the average Joe. There's courses in there that I have that focus on anxiety, which is a common mental health challenge. But maybe this person doesn't want to go into a whole counseling session and go from session after session. They're able to come in and get the tools, put them into play in their life. If they find that the tools aren't taking them to the exact level they wanted to get to, then there is the additional avenue. There's courses for couples to help them recover after an affair. Courses for couples that haven't tied them yet but they know the divorce rate is extremely high. There's a course in there that they're building the fundamental tools, the foundation to a successful relationship.
Karen Covy Host24:16
That's really, really wonderful too. I know I've spoken. I've had another guest on here too that does what she calls intentional relationship design, where it's sitting down and having the difficult conversations before you're even married so that you understand what you're getting into and can create a relationship that maybe gives you a step up, that gives you a little more protection against that high divorce rate although there's never I mean nothing's 100% but at least if you've had the conversations. That's why I tell my clients about I really believe in the value of prenups, even if you never write it and you never sign it, because having it forces you to have financial conversations which are full of emotion before you tie the knot. What kinds of subject matter do you think that a couple should like if they're contemplating marriage? What are the areas that they should focus on, talk about and deal with before they say I do?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest25:29
Yeah, and these just as a side note. They relate heavily to recovering after an affair and if we're trying to tag that for a moment, what helps couples is knowing that you're not going back to the same relationship.
Karen Covy Host25:44
What do you mean?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest25:44
Right. Well, if we go back to the same relationship, we're probably going to go back to another affair.
Karen Covy Host25:50
Dr. Juan Santos Guest25:52
So you really got to think about the mindset in that that this thing didn't magically happen. So we don't want to go back to the same relationship. No, you want to go back to the same version of you. And within that fabric is the framework that goes into developing a strong foundation to couples before they get married. Like these tools and as you share, they're not bulletproof, but if we use them and we consistently polish them, they're going to get us very far.
Karen Covy Host26:18
That's interesting and see the parallel. I mean the concept is the same, the circumstances are different but it's about actually creating a relationship that you want to be in, with shared values, shared goals, shared ideas about lifestyle. The question is, how do you do that? How do you? Is there a framework for having those conversations, and what is it you should be talking about? Is it like money? Obviously would be one thing. But what else? You know, what should couples be talking about? Is there some guide for them of what to do?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest27:00
Yeah. So there's a guide, there's these factors that go into the exact conversations. And before I go heavily with them on the conversations, I work a lot on learning how to listen, learning how to have hard conversations, right. So I go into, like those mindset hacks. You know, are you able to process? Are you able to stop what's up here while your partner speaking? Are you able to remove that need to prove your point? And we work on those areas, especially with my coaching clients. Before really going into, let's talk about money, let's talk about religion, let's talk about your roles. So there are those variables. Those would be some of the premarital topics, such as I have a new couple and there's no kids. I said let's talk about what your roles are right now. Right, you just applied for a job and your job is this relationship. What is the job expectation? How often is there a performance evaluation?
Karen Covy Host27:56
Dr. Juan Santos Guest27:57
so there's the type of aspects, and then then I go into well, what's going to happen when you have kids, because I'm pretty sure your roles are going to change and you both need to catch up to each other. So that's where relationships can get really in difficult moments where they don't refresh. And then that is one area Money I love that you know you brought that up being able to bring that with the couple, and all of these have to do with just tough, tough conversations that we often avoid and we don't want to hurt each other's feelings, but we have to be willing to do that.
Karen Covy Host28:31
Yeah, I've had so many clients and different people reach out to me and say I don't like conflict, I am conflict avoidant. But how can I help my relationship?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest28:45
Karen Covy Host28:46
What do you say to someone like that? How do you help? It sounds to me and I'm not, I don't have your credentials, but it sounds like it's almost a mindset thing where they've decided I don't do conflict and therefore, they skirt it, they go around it, they never have the conversations. How? What hack would you give to somebody to help them to start embracing conflict at least a little bit, rather than avoiding?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest29:17
Yeah, this ties heavily into the affair recovery and overall, just a life hack here. I like to listen, so, and I have many individuals share the same thing. Like you know, I avoid conflict. It makes my stomach hurt, it doesn't feel good, and they give me all these reasons why they do it. And you know what? They all make sense, like they all make sense, and I share that with them, I validate it. I go, hey, that that makes sense, me too. Then I ask I said I'm gonna ask you a question. I want you to think about your entire life, the entire life. Tell me, what areas of your life do you confront? And they think on it. They go Huh, what do I confront?
And I go think about like mundane things, like you have to grocery store and they range you up for $100, but you just bought a $10 item. You know, tell me all these examples. And they're like, well, you know, yeah, I guess a target, if I, you know, I'm always looking at the cashier and the dollar sign and if it's wrong, I go, hey, that one's actually on sale. And I go, well, look at you.
Look at you confronting out there in the world, and what it does is it hits the brain in a really wonderful way. It's like this immense feeling of oh, I can do something that I thought was really hard, and we go into the aspect of what's called a transferable skill. So we're transferring skills here.
Karen Covy Host30:32
Okay, what does that mean?
Dr. Juan Santos Guest30:33
Literally, it means that you transfer the skill so they're able to, we're able to, together acknowledge at the grocery store you're confronting the cashier, so that's a skill that you're doing. We're going to transfer it over to your relationship.
Karen Covy Host30:48
Wow, and you actually talk to them about transferring the skill.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest30:51
Karen Covy Host30:52
Wow, okay, cool.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest30:54
And from there they feel great. At that point I look at reducing stress that comes with confrontation by giving it structure. So structure would be where we create a timeframe, maybe sending their partner a text ahead of time and saying, hey, tomorrow let's sit down, here's a topic I want to talk about and let's do it just for 15 minutes. So now it's time bound, it's specific Whether in and out. That reduces even more of the stress, and maybe I add more to that if I'm working with the other partner on highlighting rules. Now here's some rules on confrontation we're going to do keynote speaker One person speaks, the other one just listens and now that goes well and because that is a positive experience, the brain goes ta-da, you have this positive experience to rely on. And the next time they engage in confrontation, instead of going back to all the negatives, they think about the positive one they have and they think about the areas that they were already doing a great job with.
Karen Covy Host31:53
I love this. I think this is so. It's so powerful. What you're teaching them is not only relationship skills, but communication skills, which are all tied into a relationship.
It definitely applies to people who have had an affair. Because you get the people, it's a natural tendency to wanna engage in name calling and you say this to me and I'm the victim, or for the person who had the affair to take too much responsibility, like to the point where it's like, yeah, it's all my fault, it's all my fault and I'm done, by the way. You know, and it's so interesting. What you're teaching people is just basic how to talk and listen. How to listen and hear somebody how to help somebody feel heard and I often talk with my clients about that. Until your spouse feels like you heard them. They keep repeating all the same nonsense, because they don't feel heard.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest32:59
Yeah, and it takes a skill to do that. I think it was Maya Angelou that said people remember how you made them feel. I always like to remind those that I work with speak to be heard, so it makes you really I think.
Karen Covy Host33:11
Speak to be heard.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest33:13
And if you think about that and you're like, okay, I'm gonna speak, I'm gonna say some things, but before I say them, my focus is on being heard. So if I get home and my spouse is doing something with the kids and I start blabbering off about something, I'm sabotaging myself because I'm speaking but it's in a setting where, more than likely, I will not be heard.
Karen Covy Host33:36
That makes sense.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest33:36
And it's easy for me to blame her and go. You never listened to me. I'm not gonna get too far blaming the world, but I will get really far if I point that finger myself and look at vulnerability and accountability.
Karen Covy Host33:47
It sounds like a lot of what you're talking about is personal responsibility.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest33:51
Karen Covy Host33:54
And that's the thing that so many of us it's hard to do, but and it's hard to understand that until you do, you can't ever have the relationship that you want. Because if you're always blaming your spouse or whoever you're in, it doesn't have to be a spouse. If you're blaming your partner all the time for everything that's wrong in the relationship, that relationship isn't gonna thrive for very long.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest34:20
Yeah, there's just one aspect that I wanted to touch on it because I think it's often not spoken about when it comes to recovery after an affair. And there's the victim that there's heavy communication on and what they're going through, but then there's also the betrayer, the one that committed the affair, and that individual often experiences, from my experience, heavy amount of depression, heavy amount of shame, and if we look at shame, we look at depression. There's connection there to suicide. Not saying that that's a direction the individual's gonna go to. I just want to shed light on it's important that when a couple is working on recovering after an affair, sometimes we go really internal and we go look at all the things I'm going through. It's important to take a moment and just jump out of your own shoes and think about what both parties are going through. There's the one that committed the affair and they're gonna live with that and that may be a shame that they hold.
And if any of us have ever felt shame in life, you can right away acknowledge what that does to you it doesn't feel good, it lingers, it eats up at you, it steals away your joy. So now, if you have this couple and they're trying to recover after an affair and the attention is only on one person, only on the victim, over time something's gonna happen and there's not gonna be something good.
Karen Covy Host35:45
Yeah, I mean I've spoken with, I've worked with a lot of people who are, I mean, in both roles, but the person who had the affair, like you said, I mean they have the disconnect of. I never thought I was the kind of person who would do this, but I did. And now what does that mean? And I mean there's a lot of guilt, a lot of shame, and so I think it's really valuable that you say yeah, I mean there's two people in the relationship and both of them have to heal and both of them have to deal with their stuff and get attention to their issues in order to collectively move past them.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest36:28
And that's the strength that I find there. Like the couples that thrive versus survive, they acknowledge that they look at this journey as a collective effort, like they wanna hear about what the other person and they'll say that and the other one goes what Like the betrayer will say to the victim. Like you actually care and wanna hear that. I think about how shitty was this, what type of person am I? And they're like, yeah, because if I didn't know any of that and not knowing any of that makes me think that you don't care- yeah.
And that's extremely powerful to know the impact in the beautiful transformation that can happen in a relationship.
Karen Covy Host37:12
Yeah Well, this has been such an enlightening conversation, but I don't wanna leave it before we talk about. I know you and I have talked offline about a special discount you have for signatures to this podcast, so tell me more about that.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest37:28
Yeah, so you can visit Juan B Santos, and that's juanbsantos.com website. On there you're gonna see link to all the courses, so find the one that fits you. If you're struggling with anxiety, go for the anxiety one Relationships. Go into those and you're gonna have a discount. The discount's gonna be using the code Off Defense.
Karen Covy Host37:51
I love that. Thank you so much. This has been such an enlightening conversation, I think, one that's gonna help a lot of people on so many levels. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
Dr. Juan Santos Guest38:02
Karen Covy Host38:03
For sharing your wisdom and for those of you out there who are watching, who are listening. If you like what you heard, it will help this podcast immeasurably. If you just like, subscribe and share, I would really appreciate it. So, thank you all for listening and I will see you again next time.