When your spouse violates your trust, it hurts, bad. It feels like a punch to the gut, knocking the wind out of you and possibly your marriage. For many, a breach in trust can be a foundational collapse in the marriage. Marriage is built on trust, right? So once it’s gone, how can the marriage continue?
The simple fact is, during the course of your marriage, it is extremely likely that your spouse will breach your trust. Like marriage, trust has its ups and downs, twists and turns. I’ve yet to meet a seasoned married couple that hasn’t dealt with the issue of trust at some point in their marriage. So, you don’t trust your spouse? You think you’re marriage is over? Well, here’s some tough love. What are YOU going to do to move your marriage forward? Rebuilding trust in your marriage always starts with you.
While every situation is different, there are some sure fire ways to begin the process of rebuilding trust in your marriage.
Have Courage: Maya Angelou said it best. “Have enough courage to trust  one more time and always one more time.” When your spouse violates your trust, the natural reaction is to withdraw. If you’re anything like me, you erect walls around your heart and keep your spouse at bay. Self-preservation is the name of the game and becomes the priority. But when it’s all said and done, it all boils down to this. Do you want your marriage? And if so, do you want a thriving marriage? If your answer is yes, then you must make the mental choice to trust again. This courageous first step will put you on the path to rebuilding trust in your marriage.
Forgive: I know it sounds cliché, but if you want to rebuild trust in your marriage, you have to forgive your spouse and let it go. The deed is done. No matter what your spouse says or does, the deed can’t be undone. So what do you do? Forgive and move forward. Otherwise, you’ll be in a vicious cycle, reliving the issue over and over again, with your marriage stalling or worse, dissolving. Forgiveness is not a gift you give your spouse, it’s a gift you give yourself. Forgiving your spouse will enable you to put the issue behind you and begin to exercise trust. Need some motivation here? Think about the fact that God forgives you every day and allows you the opportunity to do better, be better. Now I get how difficult this may be. My spouse cheated on me years ago and it was a HERCULEAN effort to move past it. But once I made the decision that I wanted my marriage, together we embarked on a process to bring that desire to fruition. Part of that process required me to make the decision to forgive. Like courage, at the end of the day forgiveness is a choice. Choose it and in time you will be able to trust again.
Be Transparent: You and your spouse must commit to being upfront and honest with each other. Discuss the transgression and what you two can do together to rebuild the trust. It will take both of you and it will not happen over night. But in time, with effort and consistent communication, you can rebuild the trust.
Transparency will be key. Set expectations, but make sure that the expectations are realistic and will foster trust. One of my clients, for example, was dealing with the infidelity of her husband. She told him that, going forward, she expected him to share every move he made. She needed to know where he was 24/7 in order to trust him again. This was an unrealistic request, not sustainable, and ultimately not a solution. And even more importantly, it would not foster trust. Trusting your spouse is a proactive measure that YOU must take. Make no mistake, your spouse MUST show true remorse and MUST demonstrate on a consistent basis that he or she is trustworthy, but your spouse can’t rebuild your trust. Only you can do that. Working with your spouse to develop and implement a plan that will allow you the opportunity to exercise trust is vital.
Make it a Daily Commitment: Every day is a new opportunity to move your marriage forward and, relevant here, rebuild your trust. Take advantage of opportunities to trust your spouse. For example, if you are dealing with infidelity issues and your spouse advises that he or she will be home a little late that night due to a last minute work event, trust that he or she is telling the truth. Don’t drive by the office or call every 15 minutes to see where he or she is or if they’ll pick up your call. Make an affirmative decision to believe your spouse and in time you will.
I know firsthand that the foregoing is much easier said than done. But if you and your spouse are willing to roll up your sleeves and work together, you can not only rebuild but fully restore the trust in your marriage, regardless of the breach. My husband and I are living proof of that. Make the decision to start. Implement these principles and you will be on your way.