When trust has been damaged or destroyed in a marriage, the rebuilding process takes a huge amount of patience, skill, and–above all–time. After your very foundation has been shaken, restoring trust in your marriage is literally a relationship makeover.
You and your spouse must work together over time to rebuild the trust you lost, and both of you have a lot of work to do to get there. But with determination and an absolute commitment to restoration, your marriage can be healthy again.
You might not realize it now, but if you’ve been betrayed by your spouse, you can begin to trust them again. And if you betrayed your spouse, it is possible to restore their faith in you.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss some of the steps both of you will need to take in order to rebuild the trust in your marriage. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
For the Betrayed
As the betrayed spouse, you must be willing to forgive your husband or wife. It’s a bitterly painful experience to be betrayed by the person you love most in the world, and the betrayal can wreak havoc on your life.
Taking on the hard task of forgiveness is, at best, a huge challenge. Forgiveness happens gradually, in stages. You can’t snap your fingers and suddenly erase what your spouse has done, just because you’ve decided to forgive. You must allow yourself the time to grieve, heal, and name the hurts in order to surrender your need to inflict hurt in retaliation.
In addition to maintaining a forgiving attitude toward your spouse, you must be open about the anxiety your spouse’s betrayal has caused. Be honest about the times that you are most likely not to trust your spouse, and tell them the things that trigger your sense of betrayal.
Although it’s important to name your spouse’s offenses and be open about your triggers, it’s also important to know when to start stepping away from the painful memories. As your spouse begins to prove his or her trustworthiness over again, you’ll have to discern when it’s time to start letting go of the offenses, a little at a time. This is part of your forgiveness process.
In order to truly forgive, heal, and avoid the seeds of bitterness and contempt taking root in your own soul, it’s critical for you to be able to know when to let go and allow your spirit to heal.
Take care of yourself and do whatever it takes in order to recover. As the betrayed spouse, it’s tempting to focus all your attention on what your spouse did and what they’re doing to set things right. A huge part of you is very invested in your spouse’s efforts to right the wrongs they inflicted. But if you don’t care for your own health and wellbeing in the process, your emotional and spiritual healing will be prolonged–or could even be prevented.
Above all else, stay in God’s word and keep your prayer life active. Surround yourself with support and love. And take comfort in the fact that your spouse is doing whatever it takes to make things right between you again.
For the Betrayer
No matter what you have done to hurt your spouse, you must make yourself open and willing to answer any questions they may have regarding your betrayal. The more serious your offense, the more likely it is that you’ll have to answer a lot of questions. And those questions may come up repeatedly over a period of time.
When you’ve betrayed the person who loves you most, assume that you have inflicted a great deal of anxiety, insecurity, and pain upon them. Since the two of you are working together to restore trust, you’ll need to be willing to provide reassurance and security any time your spouse expresses a need for it–and then some.
For a time, you’ll need to make yourself accountable for your time and actions, particularly surrounding your offense. This will feel invasive, but extra accountability is non-negotiable.
Accountability can hurt your pride, but leave your ego at the door. It’s hard to have to earn your spouse’s trust after you have injured them. You’d rather them just take you at your word and begin trusting you again since you’ve apologized for your actions, but you have to be willing to surrender that.
You and your spouse will have to agree on boundaries that surround the offending people, activities, or places. Keep temptations for repeat offenses completely off limits.
If you had an affair, have no further contact whatsoever with that person. Have no presence near the things or places that are tempting to you. You must be 100% determined to stay accountable. With effort and time, accountability will play a major part in the restoration of your marriage.
Reconnecting with God and healing yourself spiritually will also go a long way toward helping you and your spouse grow closer again. Spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and seeking Christian counsel (either from others in your church or a trusted professional counselor) will help you to resist temptation and strengthen you for the days ahead.
Don’t lose heart. The season of rebuilding trust and restoring your relationship is a very trying, painful time for both of you. But with grace, hope, kindness, and a lot of patience, the two of you will come out on the other side stronger than ever.
Have you faced seasons of trust-building in your marriage? How did you overcome hurts and betrayals, and come out stronger when it was all over? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.