Forgiveness, sex and trust…three of the biggies to repair in a marriage after an affair.
Learning to trust again after a partner has cheated is tough and just like forgiving and having intimate relations again, it takes time. I’ve written about sex, in “After the Affair: Sex & Weed” and forgiveness in “Forgiveness after Infidelity, is it possible?” now it’s time to tackle trust. When trust has been broken by an affair, it touches many dimensions of our being including, faith in our partner, our self confidence and of course our hearts.
If you can’t trust the person who vowed to place you above all others, who can you trust? Hopefully you have people in your life you can trust to help through the rough patches, a good therapist and of course there’s you. YOU can trust your instincts & intuition and trust the proof you see to know if it is safe to stay with your partner, confident the past will not repeat itself. During the last almost four years it’s taken to repair our marriage we’ve had our trials, hurdles and celebrations to get to the healthy marriage we now have. He’s had the determination to take the hard road back, doing the work necessary to regain my trust.
Below are a few things to help rebuild trust and get your relationship back on stable ground:
- Build your team. Many of the couples I admire most work as a team for the betterment of each other and the marriage. It is clear by the support and respect they show each other in public, and I’m sure privately too. Winning teams trust their teammates to have their back, put their teammates first and work together against any opposition. I can’t tell you how important this is and how good to finally feel like my husband and I are a team. I know for sure I am his #1 priority and I can trust him to be there for me, (and me him) as we live our best lives together.
- Open and honest communication. We all know honest communication is the foundation of a good marriage, and even more so when rebuilding your marriage after an affair. Husband and I will always have our weekly “CALIBRATION”, where we take time to to talk openly and honestly about anything we are feeling. We deal with most things as they come up, but it’s also nice to have the time set aside to “calibrate”.
Fall is my favorite time of year but it’s also when I found out about Husband’s affairs, so I’m a little extra sensitive. Things still come up and, though they don’t trigger me like they used to, they remind me that my heart is still a little bit tender. Even a silly TV show with an actress that looks like the other woman can put me in a bad mood. But we talk about it, and get back on track. As Dr. Parker once told me, “you can’t let anything slide or it will grow from a pebble under the rug to a boulder.” Good advice.
- Zero Lying! Lying does more damage than almost anything in a relationship. It is a fallacy that someone lies to protect you, they lie to protect themselves. When a lie is uncovered it takes the person lied to, back to ground zero. Once he realized that lying caused the worst damage in our marriage and the loss of trust, Husband promised to never lie again. I’ve had my lie radar turned up extra high and now I believe he will always be faithful and his lying is in the past. We learned that as much pain as the truth can cause, a lie is a hundred times more hurtful.
- Access to all passwords and free to look at any texts, emails, voice mails, etc. any time. At first I checked these all the time even though intellectually I knew he could hide or delete them if he wanted, but in rebuilding trust it’s an important step to have complete transparency, in everything. There are different rules of thought on this, and it’s a personal choice, but I believe it should be up to the injured spouse, if he or she needs this kind of access to help bring back trust. What do you think?
- Learn each other’s LOVE Language. This has been a huge help for my husband and I to reconnect. I’ve shared before that my top two love languages are “acts of service” and “quality time”, while Husband’s are “words of affirmation” and “physical touch”. Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages, The Secrets to Love That Lasts” lays out how to touch the deep part of your spouse that makes them feel loved. When I verbally tell my husband how much I appreciate the hard work he’s done on our relationship or how delicious the dinner he made was, he lights up. Just like when he plans a trip for us or we go on a hike or bike ride, I feel loved by the quality time spent together. I was surprised when I learned what my love languages were and I make more of an effort to speak to his. When he speaks my love language, I’m not sure why but, I feel closer to him, which in turns helps build trust.
The answer to “after trust has been broken, can it mend?” is yes, you can mend broken trust with transparency, openness and honesty in your relationship. It’s worth the effort!!
One more thing:
Here’s a tough love article from Psychology Today by Robert Weiss, LCSW: After Cheating: Restoring Relationship Trust that gives warning signs of when it might be too soon to trust your partner again, if ever. It is also about why earning back your trust is so essential to getting the marriage back, and what it takes.
Till next time…
Peace & Love,