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In my last post, I introduced the three phases of repair you’ll need to walk through with your partner after a major breach of trust: atone, attune, and attach. (These are based on extensive research from the Gottman Institute.) We talked about atonement in detail. Today, we’re tackling the second step: attune.


In all relationships, we need to learn how to attune to one another in order to build trust. When trust is damaged — as it can be through traumatic experiences like affairs, addiction, or hiding key information like financial issues from your partner — we need to find a way to reconnect. 


Renowned relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, has found that attunement is the mechanism. It is the basis for building trust. (For more on the topic of attunement, check out this episode of the Gottman Institute’s Small Things Often podcast.) 


Dr. Gottman also created the ATTUNE acronym to help couples have these essential “attunement conversations,” learn to trust each other with their emotions, and, ultimately, make deposits into each other’s emotional banks.


Here’s what is required to effectively attune to your partner:


Turning Toward






What does that look like, practically speaking?


Recently, Eric and I have been feeling pretty stretched, helping our kids and my aging mom. And after one particularly busy weekend of caring for others, he told me he really wanted to make sure we have time for ourselves and each other. At first, I got a little defensive because I really love helping with the kids and have no choice but to care for my mom. But as I became aware of his intention to be present for me and our relationship, I turned toward his need. I had to tolerate some difficult feelings both from him and from myself, but it led to a deeper understanding. I began to understand his longing for connection and closeness to me that has been lacking recently. As I began to absorb his heart into mine, I was eventually able to respond in a non-defensive way. And an empathic response from me made him feel heard, understood, and like we could come up with a plan to make things better.


Of course, this is a relatively simple example of how to attune to your partner, but in affair recovery, as difficult as it may be, attunement is critical. It is an attitude of the heart — one of believing the best and restoring hope in your partner and relationship — that leads the couple down the path to true recovery and wholeness. 


Consider this, too: even if you and your partner haven’t experienced a full-blown affair, attuning in these ways is a great way to make your partner feel like you are there for them, in general. You can show your partner love and care by attuning to them when 

  • they are having a difficult time,
  • they are not in a good place, personally, or
  • you want to celebrate and share in positive events in their life. 


As always, if recovering from a breach of trust is something you’re struggling with in your relationship — whether because of an affair or due to some other betrayal — we’re here to help. Our experienced counselors can help facilitate these difficult conversations and guide you and your partner in repairing that breach. Don’t wait. To get your relationship the help it deserves, reach out to us today.