Trust is one the greatest foundations of a relationship. It is something that can only be built over time and it deepens as you grow. Unless the person deems themselves not to be trustworthy, then you have some hard choices to make. In new relationships people put their best self forward, they portray themselves as something they aspire to be, not necessarily who they are. Therefore it takes time to see if what they say and what they do line up. Trust is like fabric, the threads are so integrated to make something strong and beautiful. But once you have a tear in that fabric you need to mend it or it will all fall apart. Sometimes it takes a seamstress. One of my favorite articles that I believe says some pretty profound things about trust is from care2.com I want to share a few things they mentioned.
From Dr. Bill Cloke on www.care2.com:
“Trust is the bedrock of what makes relationships work. It is the fundamental process of love and intimacy. When trust goes, what goes with it are safety, security, respect, love and friendship, replaced by anger, insecurity, anxiety, fear; the aggrieved person becomes like the police, the FBI, and/or the CIA. Distrust causes spouses to look through cell phones, check emails, and ask endless questions about “Where have you been and who were you talking to?” Life becomes laced with arguments, large and small, about what is really going on, rather than taking what is said at face value. In the intervening thirty or so years of doing therapy, there is not a thornier issue than the loss of trust, in whatever form it may take.
Trust can be lost through lies, rage, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and, most prominently, sexual infidelity. Once it’s lost, there is usually a Humpty Dumpty effect: hard to put it back together again. Usually the behaviors that created the distrust are difficult to change, because they are complex and convoluted. These little critters skip and jump through our system like ciphers popping up in unexpected places, while giving our mind the best of reasons to be doing whatever it is that our bodies are pushing for.
The reasons why men or women cheat are multifaceted. They can range from loneliness, poor self-esteem, cultural entitlement, arrogance and/or sexual issues within the marriage or relationship.
- Coming clean does work—but not completely clean.Denial only leads to more distrust, so the truth has to come out along with the willingness to take responsibility for your actions. However, detailed truth can sometimes make the hurt even worse and compound the pain, and therefore the healing process. Couples can spend tons of time on details while losing the thread of what needs to be done to correct the misconduct.
- Being defensive, righteous or casual about the problem never works.There must be a sincere effort to work out the issues, or the wall will never come down. The angrier you are, the less you are able to hear what the aggrieved one has to say, and the worse what they feel will get.
- Talk about what made you do it.Opening up about your own struggle, the need to get help, and the awareness of what got you there in the first place will help to prevent further infractions. If there is a sexual addiction problem, you must be willing to attend SA (sexual addiction) meetings or do what is necessary to make it better. If there is loneliness in the marriage, take the initiative to make an appointment with a counselor. Talking about your feelings of alienation is the best way to connect again.
- Be an open book.That means open your cell phone, email, and appointment book for a period of time. This is usually the hardest part, because any person who has lived that clandestine underground life of secrecy likes it that way. They feel entitled to privacy, and they become righteous and indignant. At this point, you will need to take a moment and ask yourself what is really important: your relationship or your privacy? It really comes down to that.
- Renew your vows.Whether married or not, there is a need to discuss values about living life and what that entails. This may be the most important part of the process. Take time to talk about what you want, what got you into this mess, and what needs to happen moving forward. Write it all down and make a ceremony out of it. Invite your friends and family. Tell the world what you are going to do and mean it.
A word here to all those people out there who are contemplating something strange: there are a lot of people who are hurt by the actions of destroying trust.
Renewing trust is not just a decision—it’s a lifestyle change. It’s about coming home to yourself and your mate, and making it work. Keeping a relationship clear and open is a valuable process. When we lie, cheat, steal and do bad things to ourselves or others, we pay the ultimate price, and we lose what is most precious to us. If you need help, get it. If you need a change, then make it. Creating trust is a big deal, so treat it that way. There are many facets and turns in this very delicate and daunting process of trust. If it’s not dealt with properly, then it will torch your relationship until what remains are ashes and regret. If you can look at the restoring of trust as a learning process that will hopefully bring with it greater intimacy and love, then go ahead on. If not, then make other plans.”
Most importantly it takes time. How long? Until. We can lose trust so fast but you can never gain it back as fast as you lost it. I know in my life I have thought, “How am I going to get through this? How do I continue this relationship?” Day by day, step by step. When I was 16, I was in a relationship where my boyfriend was quite a bit older than me. He cheated, lied, was abusive in every way, and didn’t like to work. The one thing he had going for him was his looks. Unfortunately all the girls noticed! After a year and a half of trying to make the relationship work I ended it. My trust was absolutely demolished. I worked so hard to put it back together and to make the relationship work. After everything I am the only one who was changed. I promised myself I would never be hurt like that again. A few years later I went to the doctor because I was having so many issues with my stomach and not being able to eat. My doctor knew my story and told me he could prescribe medication or I could learn to trust again. I was baffled at why he would say that. What did my stomach have to do with trust? He then told me if I keep going like that I was going to give myself an ulcer. I stood my ground and pleaded my case for why I would never trust again. He then said something to me that changed my life forever. He said, “I promise you, you will get hurt. In this life, people are going to hurt you and you are not going to want to forgive them. But I would rather be happy, knowing people are going to hurt me, than be miserable the whole time trying to “protect” myself from getting hurt. So be hurt, bitter and miserable your whole life or enjoy life knowing you will be hurt.” That really sunk in as I realized in this life people do stupid things, including myself. I can choose to be happy and deal with it as it comes or just be miserable. Needless to say I have never gone back to the doctor for those stomach issues. I have had my trust broken numerous times but I have a choice in how much I am going to let it control my life. As a married woman I have been hurt by my spouse. But the man I married is committed to mending the wounds. Sometimes the “seamstress” needs to bring a bigger needle and lots more thread but in the end he is committed to working on it. One time he said to me, “I don’t know how to change.” I responded, “The first step is you have to want to.” He took that step and continues to do so. I am grateful. Take a step, know if the person is worthy of rebuilding the trust and if they are committed to doing the work to change. My belief is if they are really sorry they will work on not doing it again.