How to Rebuild Trust and Really Move Forward (Part 1)

Trust assumes you will act, respond, think and believe exactly as I would in the same situation.

Trust assumes you will act, respond, think and believe exactly as I would in the same situation.

When Trust is Broken

Lisa and Emily had been best friends for years. When Lisa told Emily of the fabulous blockbuster movie she had just seen with her husband, Emily was eager to see the film with her husband, too. What a letdown! The movie was nothing like the movies Emily normally liked. How could this have happened? Emily felt totally bewildered. She had trusted Lisa’s opinion and the disappointment was unexpected. Disappointment comes when you expect one thing (a fabulous, over-the-top, hit movie) and receive something else (a dud that you may watch while folding clothes on a Saturday – if there isn’t a good rerun on TV).

That’s the problem with trust. Most people don’t have the same understanding or agreement about what trust is. This is especially true in a marriage. My assumptions about trust may be totally different from my spouse’s assumptions. These different assumptions however aren’t usually a problem until the trust is broken. Emily had no problem with Lisa’s judgment about movies until she saw a movie she was expecting to like but didn’t. Well, this is pretty simple because it’s just a movie. It’s very simple to forgive Lisa and move on with their friendship. But how do you rebuild trust when there has been a significant breach? First, let’s make sure we are clear about what trust actually is.

Trust involves uncertainty, risk, faith, and assumptions. Trust assumes you will act, respond, think and believe exactly as I would in the same situation. When we trust God we are never disappointed. We know exactly – through the Word – how God will react and respond. News flash: people are fallible and will disappoint you. So in trusting people there has to be an expectation of failure. The only one who will never disappoint is God – we will talk about that later!

For now, let’s make this a little more personal . . . in a marriage trust is expecting your spouse to be faithful, honest, open, sharing, intimate and committed. Well, isn’t that what marriage vows are all about? Making promises and placing trust in another? Of course! So let’s just get to the crux of the matter. You only have to rebuild trust after that trust has been broken. Trust and betrayal go hand in hand. If you are reading this to learn about rebuilding trust, I must assume that like Emily you have been betrayed.

To rebuild trust we will have to talk about betrayal, truth, forgiveness and patience. First, betrayal . . .

BETRAYAL -Feelings! Feelings! Feelings!

The first response to betrayal is always shock. How could you do this to me? I can’t believe it! This is not true! When you have placed your trust so completely in another person, you never expect to be betrayed. So naturally you are surprised when it happens. Emily was not expecting to see a bad movie. It was only natural for her to then question Lisa: “How could you recommend that to me?” “I trusted you.” Again, it was just a movie; so the betrayal – although real to Emily – is not very significant. In a marriage the stakes are much higher.

Betrayal means that you were deceived and lied to. Deliberately! You will feel shocked and then angry. How dare you! Next, you experience denial and sadness. I just can’t believe you would do that. Wow! You really hurt my feelings. Finally, there is doubt, distrust and a loss of self-esteem. Did you ever love me? All of those late nights, long phone calls – were you dishonest then, too? It must be my fault. What have I done to deserve this?

Processing all of these emotions can be exhausting. You will cry. You will want revenge (remember that is God’s!) You will want answers. You will be confused and downright mad. Betrayal will upset your normal flow. It is not uncommon to be really depressed. Don’t despair! There is hope. Surely you are familiar with the phrase, “This too shall pass.” And, it will.

If the stakes are high for a marriage, think about Jesus. He suffered the ultimate betrayal and it cost him his life! Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’ friends – His disciple. He spent countless hours tutoring, mentoring, correcting, eating, traveling, living and loving his disciples. And for money (Mat. 26:15), Judas betrayed Jesus.

He, if no one else, understands the hurt you feel. And it is He who will show you a way to truth, forgiveness and patience. He will help you to move past the betrayal. Of course, you won’t have to die to do it!

Moving beyond betrayal in marriage is hard. You have invested so much – time, money, kids, emotions, grief, celebration, prayer, fears, victories, jobs, families – the list can go on and on. It is NOT easy to just get up and walk away. And, you shouldn’t.

Let’s just stop here and let me give you (if you have been betrayed by your spouse) some personal advice born of experience. DO NOT listen to the “Divorce Doctors.” Well, that’s my personal term for those people or websites that advocate divorce as a first response to affairs.

In my search for answers, there are so many who jump on the if-you-cheat-on-me-I-am-out-of-the-door-the-first-time-no-exceptions bandwagon. The context of their advice is not to help you rebuild your marriage but how to rebuild a life AFTER the marriage is over.

Naturally, there are situations where divorce is the only or best option. However, if your marriage is something of value to you, then it is worth fighting to keep. If you need a valuable resource to help you keep your head on straight while you decide how to work this out, check out: www.SurviveAnAffair.com and www.marriagebuilders.com.

If something has value, it is worth working for – even if you feel like you are the only one working. Don’t give up! After your initial emotions – which may take weeks to sort through – remember that the offending spouse has feelings, too.

WHAT! Who cares about that so-and-so’s feelings? After the way they hurt me? Hard to believe but the offending spouse is probably feeling very guilty, sad, depressed, confused, having mixed emotions, and truly scared. Have they really messed up this badly? Will I lose my wife and kids, my social respect? What am I going to do now?

To really get through and over betrayal, there must be truth.

Read Part 2: Do Over – How to Rebuild Trust and Really Move Forward

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Evelyn Ransom

Evelyn Smith Ransom is still trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up! For now, she is: a wife of 24 years to an Army colonel; a mom to two boys, 24 and 18; two girls, 17 and 13; a kindergarten teacher, an avid reader; a lover of scented candles; and an ever-developing Christian.

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