When trust is broken in a relationship it seems like the relationship is doomed to failure. There are many reasons why trust is broken: affairs, drug and alcohol use, and compulsive spending habits are just a few. Many people wonder, can a couple regain trust in a relationship? While it’s true that couples faced with a break in trust have a difficult uphill battle to face, relationships can recover. The relationship will never be the same, how can it be, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be meaningful and loving again. Here are some general tips on how a couple can regain trust in a relationship:
1. First you must decide if you want to regain trust in the relationship. Making this decision is not easy, feelings of betrayal are hard. How much are you invested in the relationship? What qualities does the person hold that are meaningful to you? How much do you understand what happened and want to work through that? In making a decision you must understand your limitations and those of your partner. Are you both emotionally able to take on the battle ahead? Do you have a partner willing to work on this with you? How much do you believe that what destroyed the trust is over?
2. Accept that sometimes you can’t. It is true that trust cannot be rebuilt in all relationships. The skills of forgiveness and of taking responsibility must be present. If there’s been a pattern of resentment and blaming then regaining trust won’t be possible. In addition, if the same behaviors that broke trust are repeating then it’s too soon to rebuild trust. Sometimes the behaviors that broke our trust have lasted too long time and have hurt so much that trust cannot be rebuilt (and in some cases shouldn’t be).
3. It will take time. Both people will need to process the event/s that broke the trust. This will take time. Patience is required of yourself and your partner.
4. Know thyself. How does the situation activate other experiences in your life? When people are hurt other stressful situations from the past can come back alive again. Learn what these are so you can separate out the past from the present.
5. Accept that there will be anger. Anger is one of the most challenging emotions. There will be a lot of it when trust is broken, it needs to be tolerated. Resentment will build and regaining trust will not be possible if anger is not worked through.
6. Remember forgiveness is a process. It will take time to understand what you need to say, think, and feel in order to forgive yourself and/or your partner. One expression will give insight into another; you need room and multiple conversations to understand. Once you start to understand these things better express them, don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Mind reading is harmful to all relationships.
7. Don’t force trust. The person who broke the trust is going to struggle with your process of forgiveness. However they need too. You can’t just turn trust on and off, don’t pretend to trust before you do and don’t bully someone to say things they don’t mean.
8. Each relationship is unique; don’t compare your story to others. It will happen for you in your own way and time.
9. Manage your own defenses and insecurities. Know them and work on them, by doing so you will limit defenses that impede upon productive communication. Defenses shut down communication and the forgiveness process, being aware of them helps open up the dialogue about what happened and the next steps.