We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step Eight is about those people—including ourselves—who have been harmed by our couple dysfunction, such as family members, children, friends, and co-workers. In this Step, we continue to take our coupleship inventory. This Step helps us to interact with other people in new ways. It calls for changes in our behavior.
In Step Eight we need to determine the harm that we have caused. What is the exact nature of this harm? It helps to categorize our wrongdoing into the following four groups:
- Holding grudges
- Withholding information
- Giving our partner “the silent treatment”
- Making shaming or blaming statements
- Borrowing, spending, or withholding money selfishly
- Cheating, or not abiding by terms of couple contracts
- Disregarding others’ boundaries regarding personal things
- Destroying or violating joint property
- Setting bad examples
- Engaging in infidelity, broken promises, lying
- Engaging in emotional, physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- Neglecting obligations to ourselves, family, support group, or community
- Avoiding self-development
- Lacking gratitude
- Neglecting our spiritual quest
- Lacking humility
- Being self-righteous
- Preoccupying ourselves to the point of emotional unavailability
Now we suggest that you look at the facts and ask yourselves:
- What are your thoughts and feelings about the harm you have done?
- What are your fears about making amends?
- What causes your resistance to making amends?
- What consequences of your harmful behavior are you willing to accept?
- What are the ways you plan to make amends?
Now that you have a better idea how your coupleship dysfunction has affected yourselves and others, make a list of people you have harmed, including yourselves. Review your amends list with your sponsor couple. Now ask for guidance on how to make amends that will not hurt others. When direct amends are not appropriate or possible, we suggest you devise alternative amends, such as praying for the well-being of those people, being kind and responsible to your partner and others, doing community service, or donating to a charity.
We become willing to make amends to our partner, our-selves, and others by admitting the harm we have done. As we become willing to look at our own behavior, we tend to become more tolerant and
forgiving, less rigid and judgmental. Our viewpoints, attitudes, and beliefs will begin to change as a result of our participation in this process. Now we should be ready to move on to Step Nine.