Happy marriages are built on many things, but one of the most important elements of any successful relationship is trust.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of ways trust can be betrayed. Whether it’s something as damaging as an affair, or the accidental missing of dates and appointments, or just plain dishonesty about any part of the relationship.
When trust falters, it throws the whole marriage into a tailspin – if you can’t trust your spouse with one thing, how can you trust them with anything else?
First, remember that trust can be repaired. It will take work and patience, but it is possible.
Regardless of how the trust was lost, there are a few important steps for the rebuilding process.
1. Admission and Acceptance
The first part of rebuilding trust is acknowledging the problem. If you have broken your spouse’s trust, but want to gain it back, you need to be willing to openly and honestly admit to yourself (and your spouse) that you made mistakes in the past, and have every intention of never making them again. It goes without saying that you must end the untrustworthy behavior before you can get to this point.
To gain your spouse’s trust back, you have to own what you did wrong, without excuses or backpedaling.
For the betrayed party, rebuilding trust is a leap of faith in many ways. To begin the process, you’ll have to accept your spouse’s apology, and give them the benefit of the doubt (at least tentatively) that they are making effort to change their ways and regain your trust. You have to accept that they made a mistake, and allow them to make it up to you without holding it over their head.
Communication is important at every stage of a relationship, but when you’re working on rebuilding trust, it’s the most important thing there is!
Openly communicating your feelings and fears, without judgment or blame, will help you get to the root of the problem – and begin the process of solving it. It’s important to keep your temper in check, and to realize that rebuilding trust is something you have to work on together.
This part requires relinquishing some armor – you’ve got to let your guard down to be able to communicate from the heart. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and let your spouse know that it’s ok for them to be vulnerable too. The loss of trust is likely painful for both of you, and you have to confront this pain to get past it.
3. Start Fresh
When you’ve confronted the issue, hashed out your fears, and made promises to end any dishonest behavior – it’s time to start anew!
From whatever moment you select, start living the new, trustworthy you (or, if you’re on the other side, the new, trusting you). This is simplifying to some degree, but it’s essential to move forward – and the best way to do this is with a totally fresh beginning.
To truly rebuild the trust though, you’ve got to stick to your guns – and that means total honesty, accountability, and openness from this point forward, and at every turn after.
4. Be Patient
On either side of the trust issue, the rebuilding process will take time – so be patient! If you are both making your best efforts to be open and trustworthy, spending time together and communicating effectively, the trust will start to rebuild itself naturally. You can’t force it.
As time passes without incident, as you begin to show each other how much you care, and as you’re reminded of your marriage before trust was an issue, things will get easier with time.
Instead of dwelling on the issues, work together to overcome them, to shutter them away in the past as old news, and to focus on building a future life together based on love, honesty, communication, and of course, trust.