It’s pretty evident that one of the biggest struggles that our readers are experiencing is rebuilding trust after an affair.
If I were to summarize what a betrayed spouse needs for trust to be restored, I would have to say that there are basically three things in general:
- They have to find a way to cope with the immediate emotions, pain and stress (both physical and mental) that is caused by the affair.
- They must believe that their spouse is committed to the relationship.
- They must determine the chances of an affair happening again.
If these three things are not addressed, it is highly unlikely that trust can be rebuilt.
So what can a cheating spouse do to help their spouses in each of these three areas?
Rebuild Trust by Helping Your Spouse Cope With the Initial Emotions and Pain
Stop the behavior that is causing the pain. End the affair and cut of all contact with the other person. Communicate to your spouse if there is any contact attempts by the other person or yourself. Stop whatever it is that has caused the trust to be broken.
Own it. Take responsibility for what you have done and the pain you have caused. Do not blame your spouse for your actions. Be remorseful and express grief for what you have done and communicate that you understand what you have done to them. Let your spouse know that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make amends. Allow your spouse to express their anger and emotions.
Commit to change. Taking responsibility is one thing, but you also have to prove that you are ashamed of your behavior by working to eliminate the causes of your behavior. Show your spouse you want to save the relationship. Ask your spouse for forgiveness
Understand their pain. Express your sincere concern for the pain you have caused and make an effort to understand how the affair has impacted them. Show them that they really do matter and that you care for them.
Rebuild Trust by Showing you are Committed to the Relationship
Be truthful. The betrayed spouse will more than likely have trouble believing they have all the truth after the discovery of the affair. If they believe the truth has been withheld, then they will also feel that you’re not committed to them or to the relationship.
Be willing to share details of the affair. Let go of any secrets. Be honest, as the betrayed will withhold trust and will not be able to move past that if they feel the truth is still unknown. It’s best to do this completely upfront and not subsequently in bits and pieces.
Answer all questions from your spouse in a non-defensive manner – no matter how difficult or painful they might be.
Rebuild Trust by Proving That You Will Not be Unfaithful Again
Just do it. Words are cheap. Show you are trustworthy and committed by your actions. Be consistent in your actions in everything you do – even the most remedial daily tasks. Show that you can handle your life in a competent manner by working hard, being a good parent and working hard at your affair recovery.
Be thankful. Your spouse didn’t ask for all of this pain and to have to go through this. Let them know on a regular basis that you are appreciative and grateful that they chose to stay with you and didn’t kick you out on the street.
Really listen. Show that you care for your spouse by your willingness to listen to their side of the story and how the affair has impacted them. Let them express their pain without getting upset or angry. Let them know their pain is important to you. Trust is about what they need, not your discomfort.
Transparent communication. Communicate openly and honestly at all times with respect to your actions, intentions and motives. Your spouse is not a mind reader, so let them know what’s going on and trust will grow. Let them check up on you or monitor your activities if need be.
Be trusting yourself. Be willing to trust your spouse and they will be more likely to trust you in return. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t battle for control in the relationship. Share the decision making and the process for healing by validating their needs, opinions, interests and abilities.
Get rid of self-centeredness. Be focused and sensitive to your spouse’s needs and desires. Do things that are in your spouse’s best interests and do not pursue self-serving activities. Show real concern for your spouse.
Be proactive. Make sacrifices in order to help build the foundation for your spouse’s security and happiness. Help them as much as possible during this healing process. Do not be hesitant. Your actions will only serve to reveal your heart’s intent. Discover what it is that you can do to help in the healing process.
Well, I’m sure there are some of you who can add a thing or two to this list, so feel free to do so in the comments section.
As you can see, the cheating spouse has to do quite a bit to recover, heal and rebuild trust after an affair. The cheater’s willingness to do what’s necessary will show that they are committed to the relationship and are interested in their spouse’s healing and eventually trust can begin to grow.