Have you ever been hurt by somebody that you loved or trusted? That betrayal can begin to affect everything about you and make you question what’s true and what isn’t. The feeling of betrayal might not stem from just one incident, but instead, many different times that your trust was violated where now you don’t feel like you can trust anyone. You might begin to close yourself off because you expect to be hurt. So, how can you start rebuilding trust in a relationship once it’s lost?
First, it’s essential to understand what trust is. Trust is when you feel safe and secure with another person. At Marriage Helper, we use a term we call PIES to describe our physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being. These same principles can be applied when understanding trust.
Physically, you want to feel that you’ll be protected, and your partner won’t let anyone hurt you. But you need to have intellectual trust as well, the feeling that you can share and talk about things even when you disagree. Emotionally, you want someone who can empathize with and understand your emotions. And lastly, spiritually, you can only trust someone if your values and belief systems align enough to have mutual respect for one another.
We all go through periods where it’s hard for us to believe that someone can love us for who we are. We are all flawed. But trust is based on intimacy. We like to pronounce it “into me see,” exaggerating the pronunciation to show precisely what intimacy is – a window to see inside you and understand your beliefs, feelings, wants, and desires. But what happens if someone violates that trust?
It Is Possible To Start Rebuilding Trust In A Relationship
Trust can be broken in many ways. Your spouse might have had an affair, a gambling problem, or an addiction to porn or other substances that tore your relationship apart. Your trust issues might go as far back as your relationship with your parents. Regardless of how or when the trust was broken, you’re afraid to be open, to be transparent, or trust anyone. You expect that everyone at some point is going to hurt you.
As deep as your mistrust might be right now, you can rebuild trust in a relationship. At Marriage Helper, we’ve worked with thousands upon thousands of couples and helped them rebuild trust in each other. Many couples felt there was no chance of reconciliation because their actions towards each other had caused such pain. Yet over our 25 years, we’ve witnessed these couples overcome the hurt and get back on the love path. How were they able to do it?
Honesty Builds Trust
The first step in rebuilding trust in a relationship is through honesty. Telling the truth might be scary, especially when you think your partner is judging you, and you might face rejection. But until you can get to the point where each of you can be honest with the other about what you do, think, act, and feel, things won’t improve. When you can finally do that, trust starts returning because you’re not expecting something else to happen when you’re away from each other. You know where the other person is, what they are doing, and what they are thinking or feeling.
Be careful how much detail you go into when being honest, though. It’s important to answer questions your partner might ask, but be cautious when giving answers that might paint a detailed picture. For example, if your spouse asks you about an affair, admit it, but don’t go into detail about what happened. If they insist, tell them that you’re trying to move on from your mistakes and that you feel it would be best if they didn’t hear and visualize every detail. It’s crucial that your spouse is genuinely ready for the answer to some questions.
That honesty must not only be about the past but also extend to the future. For example, your spouse might ask you if you’re thinking about returning to your old ways the next time your relationship gets rough. They deserve an honest answer here. Even if you have thought about it, reassure them that you’re still there and want to improve your relationship because the cost of returning to your old ways is too much. You understand that the cost would be losing your relationship with them.
Rebuilding Trust In A Relationship Takes Sacrifice
The second part of rebuilding trust in a relationship is sensitivity. You should always be aware of saying or doing something that causes your partner distress. For example, if a song reminds them of the past troubles in your relationship, and it comes on the radio while you’re together, change it to a different channel. You’re not changing the station because you think they haven’t forgiven you, but because you’re trying to be more sensitive to what’s important to them.
And lastly, but possibly most importantly, is accountability. It’s hard to rebuild trust when your spouse is wondering what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, and where you’re doing it. If you’re trying to rebuild trust, you need to be as open as possible so your partner feels safe. In fact, do it to the point where it’s a little burdensome. You don’t want to live the rest of your life this way, but showing that you’re willing to make some sacrifices to rebuild trust in your relationship goes a long way.
We Can Help
We have a free resource that can help you. “It’s called How to Get Your Spouse Back.” This free mini-course can help teach you to be the best version of yourself. We’ll give you conversation starters and teach you how to respond in a calm and gentle way.
Honesty, sensitivity, and accountability can rebuild trust. No matter how badly trust has been broken, it can be rebuilt and be solid again. You can get your relationship back on the love path, but it requires work and patience.
If you are not sure what to do next in your situation, contact us. You can also schedule time to talk with one of our client representatives, who can direct you to the best resource for your marriage!