Many have found something in the aftermath and decided to rebuild the trust after infidelity.

trust after infidelityBy Linda

For the last few days I’ve been reading a book that was recommended to me called “Let it Go” by T.D. Jakes. The book is primarily about forgiveness.  However, in one chapter he addresses an issue that always seems to be a struggle for our readers – rebuilding trust after infidelity.

One of the points that the author brings up is that after you’ve identified the offense (infidelity) and have accepted the apology of the offender, we often find ourselves in the unique position of having to rebuild something that crumbled before our very eyes.  Trust.

He adds:

“Understand that trust is a valuable commodity that cannot be purchased with credit. In its purest form it cannot be based on the benefit of the doubt. Trust is far more expensive and far more exotic than what can be attained through happenstance. It is based on probable behavior. Trust means being able to predict what other people do and what situations will occur.”

As we’ve stated a few times on this blog, the duty for restoring trust after infidelity lays with the cheater.  There’s good reason why the betrayed cannot bear the brunt of responsibility to trust again. And that’s because they were already willing to trust in the first place and ended up getting burned for it.

Trust can only be formed from the basis of experiences that we’ve had in the past.  In order to rebuild the trust, the one who destroyed the relationship’s structure must now create an atmosphere in which what they say and what they do align.  Otherwise the entire foundation of the relationship may be destroyed if the cheater once again betrays us in any way.

The Challenge of Rebuilding Trust

The bad news is that trust does take a while to rebuild. However, the good news is that with adequate investment and a willingness to endure a lot of inspection and transparency while rebuilding,  Jakes maintains trust can and will be restored as long as there is sufficient time to reestablish itself.

Unfortunately, a lot of cheaters have a tendency to minimize how long it takes to rebuild it. They’re very anxious to rebuild quickly and become inpatient if the other party takes longer than they think they should. The cheater does not realize that it’s easier to climb back in the saddle than it is to regain the confidence of the woman who broke her hip from the last time she rode the horse.

Opt In Image
Journey to Trust
Rebuilding Trust after an Affair

Discover that trusting again is indeed possible and is a natural process, if you both are committed to putting forth the effort that is necessary.

Follow our own journey to trust and the exact steps and experiences along the way.

Mutual Efforts in Trust Restoration

Though without doubt it is the burden of the cheater to put the work in to rebuild the trust, it’s also the responsibility for the betrayed spouse to demonstrate that they are willing to rebuild the trust. Both parties must commit to the rebuilding process before trust can fully be restored and the relationship gets back on sound foundation.

However, the author is careful to note that you must understand that yes the person who lost trust has to work to be opened to trusting again, but they must come to such a willingness by their own decision. They can’t repair the loss of trust by coercion or guilt placed on them to hurry to heal. Therefore, the person who has violated the trust must be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort towards that healing.

Another quote by the author that I like:

“Real love has nothing to do with trust.  Neither does forgiveness. It is highly possible to love someone you do not trust. It is also highly feasible to forgive someone and still not trust them. We are never commanded in Scripture to trust someone. I’m convinced the reason God doesn’t command us to trust others is because trust is not something we can establish on our own. Trust cannot be restored by only one person in the relationship. So it would be unfair to command us to do something that has so much to do with someone else’s behavior!”

Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity Takes a Long Time

As I stated in our book “Journey to Trust,” I’ve been asked many times about how long it takes to rebuild the trust.  That’s a tough question because it’s different in every situation and there is absolutely no simple answer. I guess it leads to other questions as well.  How deep was the wound? How fast does the victim take to heal? And how patient is the cheater in allowing the betrayed to vent, to cry, to complain, go through mood swings and everything else that they go through in order to regain their trust? It’s so true that a tragic betrayal such as infidelity can take years and years to restore all the trust that was lost.

In the book, Jakes compares the rebuilding of trust to that of a construction project. And if you think of any construction project, there are numerous workers that come together in a joint effort to build the house, bridge or skyscraper.

The author offers the following “workers” to help rebuild trust after an affair:

  • Honesty lays a new foundation. You can’t rebuild trust if you can’t admit that trust has been violated.
  • Understanding why the cheater betrayed you is often a necessary part of rebuilding trust. What was the cheater’s motive or gain for the affair? If you can’t discuss why it happened, trust will remain uncomfortable.
  • Consistency provides the structure for renovating trust.  There needs to be a continual practice of conduct to keep moving forward. It’s difficult to expect a scab to form and the skin to heal fully over a wound that you keep re-injuring. No, the wound must have constant care and ongoing protection if the body is to heal completely. A constant, steady diet of care helps trust to heal more rapidly.
  • Communication, open and ongoing, allows trust to bloom again in depleted soil. Trust needs to talk. If trust can’t discuss, it can’t rebuild. Some of the hardest things to heal are the things we hide and the secrets we keep. They are hard to heal because trust needs to clear the air. You can’t push the mute button and expect trust to incubate in the silence of suppressed expression.

The 8 Pillars of Trust  – Ways the Unfaithful Spouse Can Help Rebuild Trust

Sometimes You Lose Trust in Yourself

It’s also important to remember that trust restoration varies. Not everyone responds the same way or at the same pace.  Some people have a higher capacity to shrug off pain than others. For many, the incident that caused trust to be lost isn’t their only experience with such pain.

So when a person is looking at the re-injury of a past wound, often the process takes longer as the person senses a pattern in their own life that makes them question their own judgment.  They have not only lost trust in the cheater, but in themselves as well. More times than not, the betrayed has lost confidence in their own ability to discern what is true. This is often the most difficult aspect of the process.

I talked in “Journey to Trust” about how I lost trust and confidence in myself as a result of Doug’s emotional affair.  I doubted my own judgments and my own abilities.  How I didn’t trust my gut and had to learn how to trust myself again.  It’s very difficult to do this after infidelity because you accuse and indict yourself for being a fool simply because you didn’t see it coming or you ignored what you felt in your gut.

What really sucks is that when you lose faith in your own ability to discern and choose for yourself, then you basically stop living your life to the fullest. You conclude that you cannot trust other people, and apparently, you cannot trust your judgment of them either.

Sometimes All That Remains is Love

One more quote from the author that I really liked:

“No one rebuilds on what they lost. Rebuilding begins when you appreciate what you have left.”

Many times when a marriage suffers infidelity all that is left is love. Sure, the foundation may be cracked by distrust, but the core that matters yet remains. Sometimes you don’t know what matters until you’ve lost all else. Many couples, now free of secrets and forced to total honesty by the fallout, discover rebuilding is possible. Though tedious and stressful, it is still very achievable.

They discovered that what really matters most to them is still intact. Ironically enough, it took the destruction of the affair to remove the other layers and reveal what truly exists beneath it all. Some of them are back to being honest with each other in a way they have not been for years. Though they have lost a lot, they have found something in the aftermath and they decide to rebuild the trust after infidelity!

Opt In Image
Journey to Trust
Rebuilding Trust after an Affair

Discover that trusting again is indeed possible and is a natural process, if you both are committed to putting forth the effort that is necessary.

Follow our own journey to trust and the exact steps and experiences along the way.

    29 replies to "Trust After Infidelity – Rebuilding on What’s Left"

    • Doug

      Ok…this has been a very crappy start to the week. As you may have noticed, the site was down all morning, and apparently since last night just after 10PM. Since I was in bed by then, I had no idea.

      I had been working on this all morning and was involved with the hosting company to figure things out, when our power went out at home – which created another 2+ hour delay.

      I think I’m going to go back to bed, wake up and start this day all over again!

    • tweet

      I have been reading this blog for over a year. My d-day was June 30, 2011. This is my first reply.

      This post resonated with me as so many others have over the past year. The trust issue is certainly one of the foremost issues that I continue to struggle with. What touched me specifically in this post was the quote,

      “Trust can only be formed from the basis of experiences that we’ve had in the past and in order to rebuild the trust, the one who destroyed the relationship’s structure must now create an atmosphere in which what they say and what they do align.”

      My husband has “talked the talk” over the past year, but has certainly not “walked the walk”. This is a major problem.

      The lost of trust in myself is also huge. I was married to him for 31 years, trusted him implicitly, supported him in everything that he did or wanted to do professionally as well as personally, sacrificed my own ambitions to take care of him, raise three amazing daughters, care for our house, my mother, his mother, etc. I did everything that he wanted me to do. How could this have happened? How could I have been so stupid to not know what he was doing? How could my insticts about this man have been so wrong? I still don’t know.

      What I can’t wrap my mind around is the last part of this post. Yes, I do still love my husband at some level, although it is not the same love that I had for him before all of this came to pass. I can no longer be vulnerable with him, and I think that is a great loss that will never be recovered. I don’t think that I will ever feel safe with him again.

      What is “the core that matters”? This is probably an easier question for him rather that me. Clearly, the EA exposed the worst in my husband. Yet, now that he has “chosen” me, do I still want someone who is capable of such amazing cruelty and selfishness? What mattered most to me in the past (now) 32 years is that I thought I had a true partner in life who would be there always and love me unconditionally.
      That was the vow.

      That didn’t happen.

      • chiffchaff

        I have that same problem. Why should I stay with someone and work on a marriage with someone who was capable of being so selfish and cruel. Who knowingly exposed me to STIs. Who twisted my words to suit his plans, who watched me suffer and did nothing because it would ruin his fantasy.

        It’s a hard thing to consider when that feeling crops up. I said to myself that I would not divorce until a year had passed (as many books also recommend), I didn’t want to make a decision out of emotion only. A year has now passed and although everything is improving it does not change the fact that my H is patently capable of such horrendous actions and an extremely good compartmentalist and liar. I can only hope that my H continues to work with me on our marriage and then these thoughts will happen less frequently.

      • Linda

        tweet, great comments, when I read the section about the core of what matters, I had to read and think about it for quite a long time. In the book they say that for some marriages shattered by infidelity all that is left is love. And I relate it to my issue of the rewriting of history that happened during Doug’s affair and the doubts that I had about our past relationship. All I really wanted to know from Doug was for the majority of our marriage we did have what I thought we had. We were in love, were equal partners and shared the same goals. If that was all a farce then there was nothing left to build on, we had no core.

        I spent so much time discussing our past with Doug, trying to sort out what was real and what was only a justification of the affair. It was a long and laboring process because often times the cheater does not want to discuss the past, they only want to move on. However for the BS we have to clarify what was reality and fantasy. We have to know we did have love, we had a core.

        In our blog we see so many cheaters that will “go along” with the recovery, they will do what is easy or say they will do something but not follow through with their actions. This behavior hinders the recovery and trust process. Another interesting idea from the book was that after trust has been broken it will take even more effort than in the past to prove your trustworthiness. Just because something was effective before the trust was broken does not mean it will work now. The cheater has to work a lot harder to build a stronger foundation in order for trust to be restored. The cheater has a tremendous amount of work to do. Unfortunately many cheaters tended to be “lazy” in their marriages which is why they chose the easy way out by having an affair.

        • tweet

          Linda – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I know that any recovery has to be based on something from the past – the “core that matters”. Yet when the past has been so corrupted by all of the lies, coupled with the lack of trust that I have for my husband AND the lack of trust that I have for myself to even know what is really true, finding the “core” seems insurmountable. And there’s always that nagging question – if love is the core, how could he have loved me and did what he did?

          On a positive note, this site has been a lifesaver for me. Your insight and understanding of what we are all going through as a result of this life-altering issue is so increredibly important. It’s so interesting (yet in some way reassuring) to see the commonality of all of our experiences. I truly appreciate all of the perspectives from all of the members who post on this site.

        • chiffchaff

          Linda – that’s a very interesting comment about cheaters being ‘lazy’ in their marriages and this is why they took the easy way out. I’ve never thought about it like that before.
          I think it is part of the character trait which then meant he continued to fantasize about leaving during all the hard work and trauma after discovery – because it was easier to fantasize about leaving than it was to stay and do the painful work with me.
          My H is lazy. I think he’d admit this but I’m not sure he’s connected that laziness with his affair and his dealings with women. I still believe that if a woman came onto him when I wasn’t there he’d be sucked in all over again.

      • csb

        Tweet – I too was married 31 years when I found out about my H’s 1 1/2 yr EA with an old GF. My one year anniversary of D-Day is in a few days. I gave myself that one year goal to feel better and be healed, but I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe with him again, either.

        • Broken2

          csb….I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that 1 year is not enough time to be healed….not even close. To feel a little better maybe but not healed. Even the experts will tell you 2 at the VERY LEAST and up to 5 for many. It has been 25 months for me and I too have been married 32 years…together 39.It is better now but it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and pain. It is better though…much better but at one year and the anniversary of our 1st dday…I wasnt even close. SO please don’t sell yourself short…you need alot more time. I have no idea of your story or what your husband is or isnt doing to restore your marriage but hang in there. One year is not long enough.

    • Teresa

      “TRUST takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair”.

      • Battleborn

        I love it!

    • ChangedForever

      Thank you Linda …& Doug! As usual, your timing of posts is spot on.
      23 months into this new life of ours, trust is still an issue. CSs just dont realize…well, at least i should speak for mine… that ANY untruth sets you back to square one. I’ve been back at square one so many times, i’ve become the (unfortunate) expert … NOT something i ever thought i’d be to admitting to (or have to.)
      ‘Communication, open and ongoing, allows trust to bloom again in depleted soil. Trust needs to talk. If trust can’t discuss, it can’t rebuild. Some of the hardest things to heal are the things we hide and the secrets we keep. They are hard to heal because trust needs to clear the air. You can’t push the mute button and expect trust to incubate in the silence of suppressed expression.’…
      Thank you for this wonderful paragraph i will now highlight within this article and send to my H…something i continue to limp with while heading down the stretch towards our 2 year ‘anniversary,’ (just hate this word now,) of this dreaded event…which includes the ‘passing by’ of our wedding anniversary date…thoroughly ruined by the events which occured on this date…which ‘was,’ what i thought, our 25th anniversary, back then.
      Ordering that book right now! Thx Linda.

      • Doug

        ChangedForever, The other day I read a piece where someone called it an “anti-versary.” Perhaps you should start using that term!

        • Doug

          This came to our email – I think by mistake:

          ChangedForever said: “Anti versary…that would be how I refer to what was…our anniversary right? (Versus referring to Dday as that word…)…?
          thanks Doug.”

          • Doug

            Actually, I believe that it was meant to refer to the anniversary of D-day.

    • Broken2

      Struggling tnight with this very issue. ANY little thing a CS does that they say they wont do sets the healing back 10 steps. I struggle when my hubby goes out of town..BIG TIME. We had a long talk about is Ipad and how much it bothered me when he takes it to work and on business trips…he doesnt need it he has a computer because he use to talk to her alot on it on business trips. He said I will do anything to make you feel comfortable and he said he would not take it to work or on trips anymore. Left today for a trip ..packed his ipad..I said why are you taking that when you said you wouldnt..he said because he wasnt taking his computer. I am sorry but this may seem petty to most people but when you say you wont do something…then dont do it. Oh and as he walked out the door he said…this isnt a trigger is it???Really??? So here I sit tnight frantic again. How do they ever expect to be trusted again?

      • Natalia

        Broken2: I don’t think it’s petty at all. It’s inconsiderate on his part. And the comment about the trigger is a low blow. He needs to be reminded that he hurt you and no, you’re not over it yet. Probably never will but you’ll learn to cope. Therefore he needs to do his part and help you learn to cope. He should not have taken the iPad. Had it been my husband I would have hurled it across the room and then said: “There, now you HAVE to take your computer! Next time think twice before you lead me on and then let me down. Fooled me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you!”

      • august7

        Totally not petty. My husband has continually refused to share his social media accounts with me inspite of my numerous requests. The other day he told me he deleted his FB account. It did not make me feel better in any way, made me think instead that he is burying all evidence of his lying and cheating with the hopes that I will move on. Just as he did with his second instagram account wherein he conveniently forgot the password a month after discovery.
        I’m looking at a long rough road ahead of me. But one thing I have discovered, I will get through this with or without him.

    • chiffchaff

      I think I’ve had to consider that we’re building a new trust, we can’t get back the old trust we had, as much as my H might want that. I don’t want the old trust back, look where that got us!

    • Hopeful

      The lost of trust is a traumatic experience and so shocking. I am lucky to have an H who has done a 180 and taken full responsibility and is open to helping me process with empathy and respect for what it would mean to go through the BSes experience. Still it is hard.

      Rebuilding is possible I think for us. But as I have learned and this article suggests, while a large part of the healing must come from the work of the CS, the BS had a tremendous commitment to heal, cope, change, be vulnerable, and so on. This is particularly hard for those who have childhood or past bullshit that is also implicated in the mix and amplify our worst fears and activate our sense of fear, unworthiness, lack of safety, etc.

      So, it is a potential for me to deal with my crap and past, too, and so that work I find HARD and harder than it might be because it implicates that stuff in addition to the EA.

      • Natalia

        Hopeful: as I read your post I felt I could have written it myself. My husband also made a 180 the day I confronted him 2.5 years ago. But the road has been a hard one. We have many happy days and few bad ones. We’ve not only had to deal with his EAs but with our shitty childhoods. But I am hopeful our new marriage will be better the way we hoped it would be.
        I’ve started writing about his EAs from my perspective. I will have him read it when I’m done. I want to put into words my pain maybe then he’ll fully understand how it felt to have the “love of your life” rip your heart out, squeeze it, stomp it and throw it away.

    • rachel

      I sometimes feel that i don’t belong on this site anymore but I do still continue to pop in from time to time.
      Last week the H and I went to court. What a joke. He was working the room as if he were in a party. He even pointed to some womens breast that was sitting on the bench next to him and they both started to laugh.And my only thought was that I didn’t make a mistake.
      Sat night my brother and his g.f. took me out for a birthday celebration. I came home and started to do the dishes when H came up from his cave talking to someone on the phone about a certain street in town. He looked at me and walked out the door. I hadn’t heard from my son who was out with friends in the last hour. So I called him and he answered me. Oh , I said I’m so glad that you are alright , your father left talking to someone on the phone and i got concerened. Yes , Mom that is me. I was in a car accident!I could not believe what I was hearing. My son was fine with just some neck pain at that time but really his father couldn’t tell me??
      I got to the accident scene about 30 minutes later. My son’s neck started stiffening up. I brought him to the emergency room. He was diagnosed with whiplash. His father stayed home and slept?When we returned home , I was giving my son a snack and we were talking and sleeping beauty came upstairs and asked my son how he was. My son said , dad, I have one question, why didn’t you tell mom that I was in an accident? His reply was, I just didn’t think about it???
      Hasn’t thought about me for 25 years. So glad that this will be over and he will be out of my life forever!

      • Doug

        Rachel, please do not stop posting and sharing. Obviously, sometimes recovery and healing means divorce and moving on. Your story is important and very relevant. Also, I think that I can speak for the others in that we all care about you and want to offer support in any way that we can. BTW…your husband is acting like a total dick!

    • Hopeful

      Rachel, this is horrid. There is no way that your H is onboard for a recovery given this story. I am so sorry. You have made the best decision of your life to end, and it sounds like you are resolute and sound strong! Hugs to you, hugs to you. You are a strong woman.

    • rachel

      Thank you, Hopeful. I have taken another corner. With 41 days left of the cooling off period, I am hopeful to move on, and start my new life.

    • Surviving

      So glad to see your posting was wondering how you are doing please keep us posted

    • Surviving

      Linda this posting is perfect timing, I was just telling a friend the other day that our marriage has settled into one with no trust. My H seems resigned to the fact that I don’t trust him at all, at first it bothered him and about a year and a half after D Day it did upset him that I don’t trust him now he just accepts it.
      I wonder can you have a marriage without trust? He had my trust 100 per cent prior to this, and now I have to figure out what it is I don’t trust? I trust he will tell me when she contacts him but why am I withholding my trust? I’m not done healing maybe that is a part of it and I’m not sure he’s worthy of my trust not yet

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