Restoring Trust in Your Relationship
When trust has been bruised or completely shattered in a marriage or relationship, there is a lot of work to do to restore it. Because trust is the foundation of a relationship, it is very much a case of starting over and rebuilding your relationship from the ground up. It won’t be easy, but you can do it if you are both willing to work hard, be patient, learn some new relationship skills, be patient, commit to the process, be patient and give it time and be patient. Did I mention “be patient”?
Restoring trust in your relationship is a huge step and can make it healthy again if you do what it takes. In fact, in many cases in which couples have worked to restore trust, the relationship is stronger than it ever was before. They wanted it. They worked for it. And now, they are reaping the reward.
It is possible to begin to trust your mate again after a betrayal, as difficult as that may be to believe. And for the betrayer, it is possible to begin to restore your partner’s faith in you and your commitment to them and the relationship.
Following are some steps that each of you can take to begin to restore your relationship. As the title of this blog post says, this is a simple guide to restoring trust, but it is NOT EASY. Simple, but not easy. You will no doubt struggle with part or all of these steps, but they are critical to take if you want to save your marriage or relationship.
IF YOU ARE THE BETRAYED PARTNER
- Your first step is to forgive your partner, your betrayer. Yes, you must be willing to forgive the person who has hurt you the most and possible rocked your whole world – emotionally, financially, socially and deeply hurt your children and/or other loved ones. As difficult as it may be to swallow, the affair or betrayal did not end the marriage or relationship, but your unforgiveness will. Your hurt or bitterness will permeate your home and, at some point, one or both of you will likely leave the relationship. Here’s some forgiveness tips:
- Acknowledge the hurt and pain and grieve what has been lost.
- Name all of the offenses and hurts one by one and release each one, one by one, in forgiveness.
- Tell your mate, when you are ready, “I forgive you for everything” and mean it.
- Repeat the above as many times as it takes until you are free of it.
- Remember that forgiveness is for you. You will never be free of the anger and bitterness until you forgive. It will affect every relationship in your life and block love. Whether or not your relationship makes it, forgive your partner so that you can be free to live and love.
- Set boundaries. Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues. Just because you forgive you mate it doesn’t mean that you now return to the way things were. Remember, they must earn your trust. For more on this, see our blog Rebuilding Trust.
- Be honest. Let your mate know when you are feeling insecure or threatened and what is triggering those feelings in you. They need to know what to correct and what to be aware of.
- Take care of yourself. This is not the time to neglect your health or your overall wellbeing. Your emotional and spiritual healing depend upon it. Surround yourself with support and love. Find strength and comfort in your faith and spiritual practices.
IF YOU ARE THE BETRAYER
- Communicate your remorse. Nothing is more invalidating to your mate’s feelings than to say something like, “I admit I was wrong. So, we’re just going to move past it and never discuss it again. It’s all in the past.” First of all, it’s not all in the past and there is a lot of work to be done to heal in the present. A better statement would be, “I am so sorry that I have hurt you and betrayed you. I’m sorry for the pain that I have caused you, our kids and our family. I don’t expect you to trust me, but I will do anything that I can to restore your trust in me if you will give me the chance. I love you and I am so very sorry.”
- Answer your mate’s questions. There will likely be many questions and they will continue to come up for some time. Remember the “be patient” instruction? This is the time to be patient and answer any questions that they may have regarding the betrayal.
- Reassure them. Any time that they need it. Give them all the security that you can and help them to feel safe with you and be patient.
- Make yourself accountable. This may feel invasive or controlling and even hurt your pride, but it is not about you at this point. It is about your wounded mate and what it takes for them to heal. After all, you are the one that injured them, so be patient some more!
- Agree to boundaries. You and your spouse/mate will need to set boundaries so that people, places, behaviors or activities that would tempt you are off limits. If you have had an affair, there must be absolutely no contact with your affair partner. This is a non-negotiable.
- Practice self-care as well. You may well feel stressed and anxious over the state of your marriage and personal life. It will not all be fixed in a day or two. Take care of yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally. Reach out to a same-sex trusted friend(s) who is healthy and can help you with accountability. Draw strength from spiritual practices and your relationship with God.
Don’t lose heart! This season of your life and relationship will not last forever, but it will require commitment, hard work and…you guessed it…patience! And by all means, seek help through marriage seminars, marriage retreats or life coaching. Take advantage of all the resources available to you as you rebuild your relationship into the strong and mutually-satisfying relationship that you both have dreamed of.