In this phase, we create a safe space for partners to talk about the story of the affair. During atonement, the focus is on the betrayed partner and their understanding of what happened. This is a stage where the betrayed partner is able to ask the many questions about the affair that have been unanswered or remain unresolved. At this acute stage, both partners are dealing with a wide range of emotions including anger, disbelief, fear, shame, depression, and PTSD symptoms. Frequent triggers are also common, and I guide my clients in learning how to cope with the triggers individually and as a couple. The atonement phase requires transparency and honesty from both partners. It also requires that the partner who had the affair take full accountability for their actions. According to John Gottman, “atonement cannot occur if the cheater insists that the partner takes partial blame for the affair “. Here, the partner who strayed must be transparent and take full responsibility for the betrayal. To begin trust building, partners are also coached to express what they need in terms of transparency and security at this early stage.