How To Rebuild Trust In A Marriage (Step-By-Step)
Broken trust is extremely difficult to repair. Lies and broken promises can all tear at the foundation of the stability and security you’ve once built.
That said, it is not an impossible task – Just a challenging one.
Let’s look at how we can take positive steps to rebuild trust.
1. Be Willing To Start
Before we even begin to contemplate accepting/ making reparation efforts, both parties have to be willing for this process to start. That is rule #1.
Without two people genuinely coming to the table wanting to resolve the trust issue, there is zero chance of succeeding.
If you’re the party that has been gravely hurt by events that transpired, pause and look at where your partner stands, and you’d likely have your answer. Let’s not pick battles we can’t win – We’re not here to convince the other party to make amends with us if they’re the person who broke the trust in the first place.
2. Come Clean With Any Wrongdoing
This probably requires a great deal of courage from the person who committed the wrongdoing. However, it is a necessary step in mending the fences and building trust back.
We need to re-establish trust at this juncture, gently, patiently, and lovingly.
What led to the events of the betrayal? What went down? When, and where?
Details are important. Ask, so you have a clearer idea.
3. Create A Safe Space For Both
Both parties need to be able to feel safe in an environment before the healing process can begin. Do your best to create such spaces for yourself, wherever that might be, even if it’s in a corner of the living room, or just sitting out on the balcony in solitude.
Only where we have a sense of safety can we start unpacking things mentally and emotionally.
Under more serious circumstances, if and when one party prefers to leave home to stay with their parents, or a friend temporarily, allow your partner to do so.
Of course, that is a big step, and this move can scare the other person. So, if you’re the party intending to move out for a bit, recognize that this can be destabilizing for your partner and that it might cause fear. As such, do your best to remain in communication (if you have the emotional bandwidth to do so), and reassure your only temporary partner. If you want complete peace and prefer not to communicate at all for the period you’re away, inform your partner upfront. Let your partner know where you will be staying, and maybe agree on a set period you’d be away.
The whole idea here is to be as kind as possible to each other. After all, both of you did once stand up at the altar committing to loving and protecting one another for life. Remember that, because right now, it would be incredibly easy to slip into a space where both are spiteful, hateful, and even passive-aggressive towards each other. All that achieves though is inflicting more hurt and pain, where it is already plentiful.
4. Process Your Emotions Objectively
Even if you went into the uncomfortable conversation wanting to salvage the marriage, and came out feeling confused about whether you should sit with that feeling. Give both your heart and mind quality time to process.
It will be a difficult thing to face – The realization that it takes two hands to clap. What your husband/wife did might be wrong, though there might be past unresolved resentment or feelings driving your partner’s behavior that you both have to now look into.
If you’re the offending party, give your partner time during this trying period to process. This time frame works well for you too - Get some space in to think about what led you here in the first place.
Both of you could’ve been caught in the grind of life, sweeping things under the rug until this day has arrived. This now gives you both an opportunity to hit the reset button.
5. Rely on a Strong Support System
No, this does not mean tattling about your partner to the whole world.
Reach out to a trusted family member and/or friend, if you need to. Protect your partner though, especially if you intend to continue fighting for the marriage. This will be truly at your discretion.
You can always say something along the lines of, “I don’t wish to get into details at this point as I am still processing everything, but I’ve hit a rocky patch in my marriage and am going through a hard time. Could you check in on me over the next two weeks, if possible?”
This gives your family member or friend(s) a glimpse into what you’re facing without revealing too much and also allows you to receive the support you need.
Or speak to a professional whose specialty is in marriage counseling and/or relationship issues to help you through.
6. Reconciliation Efforts
Once emotions have been processed, come back together for a chat.
Be very careful during this chat to not turn it into me vs. you conversation, but rather us vs. the issue. Share how you feel, and hold space as well for your partner to share his/her feelings.
For the offending party, show remorse over the incident. You’d likely need to anchor this phase and show more commitment than the other party for starters to allow him/her to step forward again to trust you.
7. Be Open to Growth
Listen without prejudice to what your partner’s feedback is, and if objective, be open to self-improvement so that the marriage can flourish once again. Rather than have the unrealistic expectation that everything goes back to normal, build emotional closeness and deeper levels of relationship to handle rough patches in the future together.
8. Renew Firm Boundaries
Speak openly about what the new boundaries or realistic expectations are, and discuss how both can meet that.
This will be a painful time for you both, and it is also through pain that we will grow. Both parties will have to make a conscious effort to forgive and to be forgiven. It is important to give time to build trust through care, trust between partners, and trust in marriage.
The upside to this is if you both make it through together, your marriage becomes stronger as a result. Celebrate that union, and thank each other for the company on this beautiful journey.
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Deborah Choo loves discussing relationships, platonic or not, as that remains at the heart of human existence. She draws upon learnings from couples’ counselling, and continues to celebrate an incredible journey of growth.