A reader sent in a question about learning how to trust again. This is a common question after experiencing betrayal with in the marriage.
Let’s dive in…
Q. My spouse betrayed the trust in our marriage. I don’t feel like I can ever trust him again. Is rebuilding trust even possible?
A. The question of learning how to trust again and if it’s even possible comes up in marriage counseling often. My answer is a resounding yes!
How to Trust Again
Step #1: Two People, One Goal
Most importantly, you and your spouse both have to want to rebuild trust. It’s very important that you guys are on the same page about this one goal.
Step #2: Correctly Define Trust
It’s important to define trust. This puts all parties on the same page. Being on the same page about the struggle to trust and the expectations surrounding trusting again helps get the ball rolling in the right direction.
There is one word that stuck out to me in the question. I noticed in the word “feel” came up. I don’t want you to look at rebuilding trust as a feeling. Making feelings our guide will be problematic! Feelings are simply too unreliable.
“Feelings are simply too unreliable.”
Imagine if you’re feeling insecure or emotional on any given day. Guided by feelings – learning how to trust again will seem impossible. When healing after a betrayal, you’re not going to “feel” like learning how to trust again.
Instead of viewing trust as a feeling, I want you to view trust as a choice. I often get furrowed eyebrows when I say this period but bear with me…
“Trust is a choice, NOT a feeling.”
Step #3: Identifying Tangible Evidence of Trustworthiness
I recommend making a concrete list of the efforts your spouse is making to rebuild trust. Refer to this list when you’re not “feeling” like trusting. It’s not unusual to take steps backward out of fear of being hurt again and not identifying reasonable effort on the offending spouse’s part. Making a concrete list of efforts your spouse is making toward being trustworthy helps build courage to practice trust. If you don’t see tangible evidence, then practicing trust is an unsafe choice.
Step #4: How to Trust Again by Practicing
Trust is a choice we make. Each time you step out and choose to trust again you’re rebuilding trust. You’re literally stretching your trust muscle.
The flip side of this coin is the offender must work on being trustworthy. Learning how to trust again requires complete transparency and honesty.
Keep in mind, trust is conditional. This means that trust must be earned via tangible evidence. If the offender is making all the reasonable effort to be trustworthy… then it’s time to make that choice to step out and practice trusting. I recommend practicing trust by starting with the small things and moving on to bigger things.
Learning how to trust again is risky – down right scary. However, trust can only be rebuilt by practicing the choice to trust. With each effort to step out and trust, you are rebuilding what has been broken.
Step #5: Keep Communicating About Trust
Sometimes, healing is rushed by not talking about it. Unfortunately, this only delays the process. It may seem like everything is okay on the surface, but the issue of trust will come up again. Despite the discomfort that comes with the topic of trust and betrayal, I recommend setting time aside to discuss efforts being made on both spouses part to rebuild trust. If there is an area or action that you’re questioning – talk about it. Shed light on it!
Wrap it up: How to Trust Again in 5 Steps
It is most definitely possible to learn how to trust again.
- Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about the goals.
- Correctly define trust as a choice, not a feeling.
- Identify tangible evidence of trust.
- Practice trust based on tangible evidence. If there is no tangible evidence then trust would not be a safe choice.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
Encouragement for Learning How to Trust Again
When both parties keep the goal of rebuilding trust on the forefront, I’ve seen marriages bounce back and be better and stronger than ever. Trust takes time. Be patient with the healing and rebuilding.
What is hard about trusting for you? Leave a comment!