This is a tough, tough subject because there is such a misunderstanding of what trust entails. Many people think rebuilding trust is tied in with forgiving someone. But in reality, forgiving someone and trusting them are two different acts of faith. You can forgive a person without trusting them. But you cannot trust a person without forgiving them first.
It’s important to realize that trusting a person is not a prerequisite to forgiving them. Trusting God is. You are trusting God, when you forgive. Please don’t mix and intertwine the two.
Rebuilding Trust: Releasing Yourself
Forgiveness is something you give to release yourself from carrying the burden and the pain any further. Your trust is in God. You trust God to carry that burden and to eventually bring justice (in this life and/or the next). It is separate from your trust in that person. Nonetheless, it is difficult.
“Forgiveness is one of the most painful decisions we can make. We know that somehow we’re supposed to forgive. But when we step right up to it, we feel as though we’re being asked to turn ourselves inside out, tear out our hearts. And then we give them into the hands of our enemy.
“…Forgiveness is not a cruel demand that a sadistic God imposes on the hurting. It is the painful but healing door to freedom. It is surgery on the heart that extracts the poison of bitterness so we can move forward into a healthy life.
“Forgiveness is a choice we make intentionally. It is not because we just want to put the memory behind us, because we’ve been told we must, or because we think it will cause God to give us what we want. We choose to forgive because we recognized the tremendous mercy and power in God’s forgiveness of us.
“If God is able to forgive us our enormous cache of sin, our forgiveness of one who has hurt us is small in comparison. (Linda W. Rooks, from the book, Broken Heart on Hold)
Something else to consider on the subject of forgiveness is that:
“Forgiveness is not a feeling.
If you are waiting until the feeling to forgive comes upon you, it’s unlikely to occur. Forgiveness should be an act of obedience to God because we trust him. It’s because we believe He has our best interest at heart. God knows that hanging on to revenge, anger, and rage can destroy us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Christ paid too much for his Beloved ones to have them a slave to anything, much less hatred. He wants his children free. And a person is never free when weighed down with the ball and chain of bitterness. When the cold shackles of revenge are tightly clasped around our wrists, it’s impossible to lift our hands in praise to Him. (Laura Petherbridge, from the Crosswalk.com article, What Forgiveness is NOT)
I could continue on with this subject MUCH further. But instead, I want to focus on rebuilding trust. If you are struggling to forgive someone, I encourage you to read through the QUOTES in the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic. And then go on to read more articles in that topic, which you perceive will help you in this mission.
Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage
But as your work through the process of forgiving someone, the question is often raised to us here at Marriage Missions, “how do I trust this person again?”
My answer is perhaps you will be able to eventually do that and perhaps you won’t. Trusting someone is dependent upon the actions of the person you are placing your trust in. Plus it is dependent upon allowing yourself to have faith in him or her that he or she will not violate your trust again.
“Forgiveness is not saying what the person did is okay.
Many people reject forgiveness because it feels as though the wrongdoer is getting away with the offense. Our human nature wants the person who hurt us to suffer. Forgiveness isn’t ignoring what the person did, or pretending they are wonderful.
“Forgiveness is not trusting the person. The majority of incorrect teaching on forgiveness typically and destructively falls under this category. After a betrayal it is crucial for trust to be earned over time. Trust is not an automatic right of the offender. Forgiveness does not mean you immediately allow the person back into your life or your heart. If they are repentant, and willing to work on restoring the relationship, you might be able to trust them again eventually. However, sometimes those who wound us shouldn’t be trusted again. A truly repentant person doesn’t make demands or misuse Bible verses in an attempt to make you feel guilty. They humbly accept complete responsibility for the sin and willingly accept the consequences for their poor choices (Psalm 51).
“I have people in my life that I have forgiven. However, I no longer trust them because they have chosen to continue in the same negative life patterns that caused the problem. (Laura Petherbridge, from the Crosswalk.com article, What Forgiveness is NOT)
Phases of Rebuilding Trust
Anne Bercht, who wrote the book, My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, gave the following point on this issue of trust:
“One lady shared a valuable graph regarding the phases of trust pertaining to infidelity. Before disclosure of the affair, trust is high. After disclosure of an affair, trust plummets to an all time low. Through SINCERITY (breaking all ties now with the third party) trust climbs perhaps 30%. Through ABILITY (discussing the affair, answering questions and proven behavior during this time) trust climbs another 30% or so. Also, through DURABILITY (being faithful, open and honest —proven behavior —over an extended period of time) one can regain full trust. IT TAKES TIME, WITH WORK AND PROVEN BEHAVIOR.
“Bottom line: You shouldn’t just blindly trust anyone. We all have to develop skills in discerning who to trust and when to trust. And we need to JUDGE THE BEHAVIOR AND NOT THE WORDS.” (From the Passionate Life Seminars web site article, “Building Trust After an Affair”)
But how do you trust that your spouse is truly sorry for what he or she has done? Here’s a related article, written by Leslie Vernick that I encourage you to read and glean through:
• HOW DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE IS TRULY SORRY?
To explain this point further, Paul Byerly (The-generous-husband.com), wrote on the subject of trust that has been lost. He puts it this way:
“What happens when trust is lost?
It is not a simple matter of doing once again what was required to earn the trust in the first place. Earning back lost trust is far more difficult than earning trust in the first place. Each additional violation of trust makes it even more difficult to earn back the trust. And if trust if violated too many times, it becomes humanly impossible to it get back.
“If you have violated your wife’s trust [the same advice is true if the wife’s trust is violated], you need to understand that her unwillingness or inability to trust you again is not about her. It’s about you. If she trusted you originally, that means she is able to trust. If she no longer trusts you because of your actions that means it’s on you. She can’t read your mind. She has no way of knowing you mean it this time. But she does know you didn’t mean it last time.
“Getting upset with her for not trusting you is only kicking her while she is down. Being mad that she does not believe you, when you have proven you cannot be trusted, only makes the situation worse. This is especially true if you have violated trust multiple times, be it the same issue or different ones.” (To read more, please click into the article, “When Trust is Gone“)
What Caused the Break?
One of the many aspects of building trust is to try to figure out what caused the break in the first place. There are a variety of reasons the original offense or offenses occurred. Of course, we know it is because sin was given its opportunity.
Sometimes it is the person who commits the wrong-doing (or sin) who is alone responsible for every part of what he or she committed. And ultimately, that is true. No one else MAKES him or her make this wrongful choice. But as one counselor wrote, “there must be understanding of what is going on in the relationship for the behavior to occur.”
“…An example may be of a husband who lies.
When he tells the truth about a matter, he pays a high price. His wife may yell and criticize him so he deals with it by avoiding confrontation and continuing to lie. While you are not responsible for the choices your partner makes, it is important to reflect on your contribution to the dynamic of the marriage. Understanding where your communication with each other breaks down and your responsibility in that, is important to healing and rebuilding trust.
“During the process of rebuilding trust, it is important not to do more damage. There is no room for punishment. This may feel better in the moment. But to use the incident as ammunition does nothing to heal and rebuild trust.” (Dana Vince)
It’s difficult NOT to retaliate, but it will undermine the building process. That doesn’t mean that you don’t confront and deal with the issue at hand. But while you are doing so, remember that it’s important to do so in a way that will not contribute to killing the marriage relationship in the process. You are not alone responsible for this. But for your part, you want to cause the least damage you can.
Rebuilding Trust is Difficult
Lets face it, there is nothing easy about the process of building trust again. But again, please know that in order for it to eventually happen, it is not dependent upon you alone.
As we touched upon earlier, one of many steps in being able to rebuild or repair trust is repentance or true sorrow on the part of the one who hurt you. Counselor and author Steve Arteburn, writes:
“There must be genuine sorrow on the part of the betrayer. This also is a key to rebuilding trust. Without it, it’s like building a brick wall without cement. The goal of rebuilding trust is that at some point there is genuine sorrow on the part of the one who lived the lie, and genuine forgiveness on the part of the one betrayed. Without both of these conditions, the marital reconciliation is going to be very superficial and very unsatisfying to both parties.”
To learn more, please click onto the Marriagetrac.com article:
• 4 STEPS TO REPAIRING TRUST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Marriage and family counselor, Lynette Hoy, in an article posted on the Counsel Care Connection web site talks about another participant in repairing trust:
“…Trust begins and ends with God.
The next fact is that trusting another person has to have a certain expectation of failure and thus be combined with a willingness to forgive.
“Another point is that you don’t put in a quarter and out drops a can of trust. Trust grows over time. People are complex. Broken beings therefore, previous hurts, fears or losses can impede their determination to trust and/or be truthful in a relationship. But, people have the capacity to grow in trust and truthfulness. You and God can help build trust into your relationships.”
To learn more about this process of rebuilding trust, please read the following articles written by Lynette Hoy. You will see that part of the advice will overlap. You will see though, that there is also unique information and scriptures given in both:
• HEALING YOUR BROKEN MARRIAGE BY RE BUILDING TRUST
• 4 WAYS TO HELP YOUR SPOUSE TRUST YOU AGAIN
There is a lot that goes into repairing and rebuilding trust. Much of it is out of your hands. But to the degree that you can participate in the process, the following scriptures comes to mind to embrace:
“In God I have put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:11)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness Surviving Infidelity
29 responses to “Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage”
I could use some help in this area. My husband and I have been married 30 years. Fifteen years ago he confessed to both our pastor and me to porn use. In addition to this being sin, it also was a trigger because porn was used in my childhood sexual abuse. It was very difficult and painful to trust him again, but through prayer and counseling we rebuilt that trust.
Between then and now many different things have strained our marriage, but most fall into the category of him choosing to please himself at the sacrifice of our relationship/ family. Then, last year he confessed to me that he had stopped the porn only a short time, and had been using ever since, but was now repenting and stopping. He was preparing to convert to Catholicism (against my desire).
Not only do I struggle with trusting he has really stopped, but he confessed that this went back to his teen years. That made me angry because he supposedly told me everything before we married, and we vowed to never lie to each other. Plus, he knew how anti-porn I was. I gave speeches and went to protests and meetings about porn while we were dating in college. I asked why he didn’t tell me before we married and he said he “knew I wouldn’t marry him if I knew.” So for our entire marriage he has been lying to me and he tricked me into marrying him in the first place. How do I even desire to rebuild trust with this man? I feel like he stole my life.
I am writing for a friend of mine, Carlton. I am very worried about both him and his wife, Charlotte. Carlton resently left Charlotte, recently meaning the last 3 months or so for another woman. We live in a small town and I fear that once it becomes public about his affair he will face terrible shame. It is a surprise to the few of us who know of the affair. His wife, Charlotte adored her husband, Carlton.
It is my understanding divorce papers have been filed. I do not know which of them filed for divorce. I feel this couple, my friends got off track and need to realize what all they have together. I worry about my friend, Carlton. The shame, humiliation and shunning he will face from cheating on Charlotte will be astronomical. I would like for him to rethink what he has done by bringing this affair between him and Charlotte. Carlton could not possibly love anyone more than he loves Charlotte. I fear he got wrapped up in the affair and lost sight of what he has in Charlotte. He will face terrible embarrassment, I wish to save my friend from this embarrassment.
How can I help him to see what he has done is wrong? How can I help my friends? This woman who came between Carlton and Charlotte needs to go on about her business and leave Carlton alone. Carlton needs to remember the love and care he has for Charlotte. I hate, I mean hate to see Carlton and Charlotte to divorce.
Please help them, help me to help them. Please help me to know how to bring my friends back together, to save Carlton from the shame and the hurt he will bring his family. Carlton’s granddaughters are young and will be embarrassed. I know, we know Carlton would not want this. Concerned friend.