Trust is Gone. Is Divorce Next?

Building a marriage is like building a house. Both need a firm foundation to steady the construction, to provide a solid base to grow atop. But what happens when that foundation becomes cracked and weakened? Is it time to move the house to Splitsville, tear it down and build another one, or call a foundation repair specialist to shore it up to keep it from falling down?

Houses are built on concrete foundations. Marriages are built on promises, vows…trust. If there is no longer trust between the spouses, can the marriage survive?  Is divorce the only option?

Trust is the foundation of all relationships, and especially important in marriage – the closest relationship possible between human beings. Restoring trust is not impossible, but it takes a great deal of effort. The question both partners must ask themselves is, “Am I willing to try?” Restoring trust in a marriage is really like beginning the relationship all over again. Past hurts cannot be forgotten, but hopefully forgiven, and the breaker of the trust must prove they are again worthy of their partner’s trust. This rebuilding can be a slow and gradual process. It is possible, despite statistics that show as many as half of all marriages collapse into divorce. Just like in a new home construction, there are definite steps to take, by the betrayer and by the partner betrayed.

For the betraying spouse, there are four key steps to take:

  • Responsibility – The first thing to do is acknowledge what you did was wrong, apologize to your partner and ask them for another chance. A second chance will undoubtedly be the last thing on your spouse’s mind, but with the following steps, it can possibly be a destination you arrive at together.
  • Accountability – The breaker of the trust must become transparent, an open book. Every aspect of your life must be open to inspection and subject to scrutiny. There can be no secrets, no hollow words or empty promises. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You are starting all over again and have to prove to your spouse you are worthy of their trust.
  • Predictability – Your behavior should be consistent. No surprises here. Consistent behavior encourages trust and helps negate doubt. Keep appointments. For instance, if you had a marriage counseling appointment for 4 p.m. don’t show up at 4:15. Arriving late shows you’re not worthy of trust, renewing doubt. If you saw you will pick up a gallon of milk on the way home, do it.
  • Patience – This is very important. Trust in a marriage was built up over the course of a relationship. When it is broken, it is not repaired overnight. Do not become impatient with your spouse or try to rush them. They are in recovery and that process has its own timeframe. It will be a slow process, but must develop naturally.

For the partner betrayed, there are two very important steps to take (with a lot of faith thrown in):

  1. Willingness – The wronged spouse must learn how to trust their partner all over again, and the key to this is to be willing to trust them again. Being willing to trust again does not mean you accept or approve the things your spouse did to destroy your trust, but if you don’t accept the concept of trusting them again, forgiveness can never come, and you can never get over the hurt your spouse caused.
  2. Patience – You will need to have patience with your spouse, as they struggle to repair the harm they’ve done. You’ll also have to have patience with yourself. Recovering from a broken trust is a slow and steep road. There will be times when it seems progress is being made, and other times it will seem like it’s a hopeless cause. It’s natural to have these emotions. Just give yourself permission, and try to focus on the promise of a trust restored.

The bottom line is this. Respect is given and trust is earned. Trust is easy to break and hard to restore, but it can be done. Loss of trust does not need to be the wrecking ball that destroys your marriage house.