Trust. In any kind of significant relationship, trust is about as fundamental as it gets. In a healthy marriage, trust is essentially necessary to building a strong structure. What do you do when trust is broken and your foundation is shattered? What do you do with the remaining pieces? How do you sort through the shambles? How do you take broken dreams, broken promises, and broken hearts and rebuild?
Grieve Your Losses
Before you can begin to repair the damage that has been created either by infidelity, lies, broken promises, or emotional unavailability, you must first be able to hold your losses in your hands and be allowed to feel your feelings. Yes, it hurts. Yes, you may feel angry, and betrayed, and devastated. Your feelings of loss and the emotions that go along with it are all part of the process of examining what was broken, what was lost, and what can be salvaged moving forward.
Next, when we have honored our feelings, and grieved our lost dreams of what we thought our lives and our marriages were going to be like, then comes the arduous and soul-wrenching task of evaluating the collateral damage. This requires couples to get honest. This is done through a process that I like to call relationship honesty. Relationship honesty consists of an accurate assessment of the couple’s strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, you need to look at what is working, and what is not? What do you want to change, and what do you want to strengthen? And perhaps, most importantly, is each member of the relationship willing to put in the time, effort, and cost that it will require to rebuild trust in the marriage?
You’re Not Alone
Sometimes it can also be helpful to recognize that you are not alone in this. Many marriages, at some point or another face a relationship breakdown. It is not unique for couples to find themselves in struggle, and thus assessing the role that trust and broken trust is playing in their relationship. And while comparisons are never helpful, being able to look around and see that you are not the only one in “this mess” can provide an element of empathy and compassion. And seeing others working through their struggle can foster hope that moving forward and rebuilding a stronger relationship is a realistic option.
Most importantly, in order to rebuild trust, both parties must be willing to recommit to being “all in”. It will require changing bad habits, working through fears, letting go of resentments, and choosing love over hate and anger. Some days the pressure will feel like too much. Additionally, there will be reminders of old pain, and stings to unhealed wounds that may cause one or both of you may be tempted to abandon your resolve to stay committed to the relationship. It is in these moments that it is important for you to do what you can to work through it, if possible.
One Day at a Time
Finally, rebuilding trust requires living your trust one truth, one “I’m sorry”, one day of forgiveness at a time. Rebuilding trust is going to be a lifetime experience, if you are willing to work through it. There will be good days and hard days. There will be times when it will seem easy, and others when it will feel impossible. When it feels like too much, reach out for help. Trained professionals can assist you in your process of rebuilding trust. There is hope. There is help. You can be rebuild trust in your relationship.