Trusting After Trust Has Been Broken

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Woman thinkingTrust is one of those things that when it’s broken, it’s very hard to rebuild.  In marriage, or in any relationship for that matter, trust can be broken in many ways—lying, cheating, abuse, infidelity, addiction, disrespect, etc.—and the list of violations is infinite.  The unintended consequence of broken trust in any relationship is that the person who violated the trust will always be regarded as dishonest and untrustworthy in the eye of the person who was violated until the one who was violated sees AND has sufficient reason to believe otherwise.

Some folks will argue that once trust is violated, it’s unlikely that trust can be restored in that relationship; regardless of the type of relationship that ended because of the act that violated the trust.  It’s easy for us to get stuck in a place of unforgiveness when we feel as if we’ve been wronged in some way.  It’s even easier for us to stay stuck when we’ve been wronged by someone close to us—someone whom we love, trust, and respect.  That’s why it’s so hard for the person who was violated to either accept or believe that any effort or action made by the offender to make amends for their actions is coming from a genuine place—especially is the offender is inconsistent in their efforts to right their wrongs.

On the other hand, there are those folks who believe in the power of forgiveness to right wrongs.  These are the people who are more likely to take a chance and trust again because they understand that forgiveness, in-and-of-itself had a healing and restorative power that is the key that unlocks our ability to give and receive love unconditionally.  The love that springs forth from the well of true forgiveness is the foundation on which our strongest relationships with others is built.  Nowhere is that statement than in marital relationships.

The Process Rebuilding and Restoring Trust

So, the question becomes whether it’s possible to rebuild trust in marriage after trust has been broken, and, if so, how can that broken trust be restored.  The short answer is YES…it IS possible to rebuild trust.  The not-so-short answer to that question is that while it is possible to get to get to a place of forgiveness and restoration as you work through the process of rebuilding trust, the “process” of rebuilding trust in-and-of-itself can be a bit complicated—especially when you consider the offense that caused the breach of trust in the first place.  

The ONLY way to rebuild and restore trust after it has been broken is with complete honesty and absolute truth—yes, there’s a difference in that you must be honest in all of your dealings and you must speak the truth at all times.  In other words, you must do whatever is necessary to reestablish your integrity while you work through the process of rebuilding and restoring the trust that was lost.  In reality, there is no single process or set of steps that you can take to magically make things right to rebuild and restore the trust that what was lost.

The process of rebuilding and restoring trust will not look the same for everyone, and should be guided by an introspective process of self-assessment to help you determine the extent of the work that needs to be done to rebuild and restore trust.

When we don’t’ fully embrace the power of forgiveness, we tend to default to using a de facto level system of accountability to guide our ability to determine the level of forgiveness we’re willing to extend to cover a violation of trust corresponds with the emotion that we felt; based on the type of violation that was committed against us.  The problem with this “system” is that it’s counterproductive in that it keeps us bound by negative emotions, which limit our ability to be guided from a place of love.

So how, then, do we get to a place of determining how long it will take for the healing process to repair and restore what the trust that was broken so that everyone involved can move forward in love?

The Power of Self-Assessment

To answer either of those questions, you must be honest enough with yourself to own your part in the breakdown that’s contributing to the trust issues that pose a threat to your marriage.  You’ll need to take a long look at yourself in juxtaposition to what’s happening in your marriage to help you identify how your actions, your attitude, and your inaction (in some instances) contribute to the trust issues that are infiltrating your relationship with your husband, and opening the door for mistrust to take root.

Of all the reasons why marital relationships breakdown, broken trust is likely to be at the top of the list.  Trust gets broken in marriages when one spouse begins to feel as if their needs aren’t being met, which makes that spouse more susceptible to venturing outside of the marriage to get those needs met—whatever they may be.  This is why some spouses risk compromising their integrity as they pursue “outside” interests to get their needs met.  This reckless, self-fulfilling behavior is yet another contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage itself.

If you’re consistently unable to identify your flaws or see how you contribute to the trust issues, it’s likely that you’ll always stay “stuck” because you’ll never be able to see how you contribute to the problems that could potentially lead to the violation of trust.

Key Take-Away

Trust is the foundation that all strong relationships are built on, especially marriages.  Whenever trust is violated, you must be willing to work through the process of rebuilding and restoring trust through truth, honesty, forgiveness, and love.  You must also be willing to work through the process of self-assessment to identify how your negative behaviors contribute to the types of breakdowns in your relationships that could lead to violations of trust.  Then, and only then, will you be able to take responsibility for your actions with consistency and integrity as you work to rebuild and restore trust in your relationships.

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