How do I regain the trust I once had for my spouse?
This is a question I am often asked in my counseling office. Spouses, girl or boyfriends, friends and family members have committed some act that has caused the offended party to distrust them.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Without it, the relationship is like a house built on the sand. Any wind can knock it down. To build your relationship “house” on a rock to ensure solid stability against the challenging winds of life you must have trust. Once it is shattered, by whatever means, it must be rebuilt by the offender and regained by the offended. Sounds easy, but anyone who has been caught in such a dilemma knows better. It takes time, energy and a willing spirit.
The offender who is truly remorseful will work hard to rebuild his (or her) trust. He will take the initiative to build it and will not show a negative or impatient attitude if he is questioned during the rebuilding process. The offender will need to “walk in the other person’s shoes” and seek to empathize. True empathy enables the offender to work diligently to rebuild what he has destroyed. This may mean letting the other person know where he is going, when he will return, who he will be with and the purpose of his goings and comings. It may mean that he allows controls to be put on his computer. It may mean he chooses an accountability partner to help keep him on the trust track.
The offended party must choose to allow herself (or himself) to trust again. She must forgive. She must respond kindly and not bring up the offence once it has been forgiven. She must clearly speak her needs telling the offender what actions or words would help her to trust again. She may ask that he not go to certain places or befriend certain people if they were involved in the mistrust. She may ask to have him share his phone records or email with her for a period of time.
Both the offender and the offended must set boundaries around their relationship to protect it. Depending on the offence, professional help may be necessary. It takes a lot of work to rebuild and regain trust once it is lost. But, it is not impossible if both parties are genuinely concerned for the well-being of one another and the relationship.