Updated: Sep 18, 2022
This article will address how the dynamics of trust works and getting it right means avoiding a great deal of hurt, loss or pain for you in the future. I'll also cover the 5- steps to rebuilding trust if you are in the mindset of looking to work on building the trust that has been broken in your marriage/ relationship. These steps are applicable even in instances where your partner/ husband has been untrustworthy and was caught consistently lying, cheating with another woman or he has been very irresponsible with the finances and so forth.
Trust is fundamental in any form of relationship to thrive - whether it is friendship, intimate relationship, family members or colleague. There needs to be some level of trust in our interaction to progress the connection further.
When it comes to our intimate relationship, many of the time it starts of beautifully positive, with hopes dream and aspiration, but in most of our interpersonal relationships, there comes a time when we hit a wall due to cracked or broken trust.
Many relationships struggle when relational boundaries have not been clearly established but broken repeatedly by our goodwill for compassion and forgiveness. Having compassion and forgiveness is a great start when trust is broken but in addition to that, you need a process to ensure that the issue at hand has been treated with quantifiable results.
First of all, we all have heard this many times - trust is earned and not given. And I say this again, trust is earned. They are not given to someone blindly. Just because someone is cute, wealthy or has high social status that we overlook some behaviour and let them slide. This ladies, is where we have a part to play when we don't stand up to enforce our boundaries. That person ( your partner) has learned that your boundaries don't stand firm. Just like everything else in life we train those around us how we are to be treated. We need to be observant on who is trustworthy in order to allow them into our close circle and daily life.
Before proceeding with the 5-steps to built and fix trust in your relationship, let me first discern 2 aspects of trust;
1) Functional trust 2) Relational trust
Functional trust: is when there are no discrepancies between a person's words and their actions. Functional trust is important because it means you can be away from the other person and know there won't be surprises, ethical issues or indiscretions in your absence. You don't have to monitor and check up on each other.
Rational trust: is something deeper. It refers to how safe you feel to reveal your vulnerability and feeling with the other person. For example, what will the person do when you reveal a weakness, a mistake, failures or stories from your past? These are more troubling and deeper issues where if present in your relationship should be handled carefully.
Someone capable of breaking the functional trust is less troubling than someone who has broken the relationship trust. ( i.e: He is irresponsible with finances but you may still be able to trust him with how he feels towards you) However, someone responsible with the functional trust but isn't safe with relational trust is simply not someone you can get close to. (i.e: He isn't responsive to your feelings and needs)
When trust is broken whether relational or functional, what do you need to do? Should you walk away or do you simply put blind faith and put your trust in the person who betrayed you with the hopes he will not do it again without careful consideration and a contingency plan?
5 Steps to Build Trust in your Relationship
Here are the steps you need to take to decide if the person who has betrayed you is ready to be trusted again. Your partner/ husband needs to demonstrate evidence of authentic transformation contained in ALL 5 point below which has to be quantifiable to which you can feel safe to trust him again.
Step 1: He confesses that he has hurt you and acknowledge the impact it has on you
He must agree with what he had done to you and with the way he behaved that has caused you pain and damaged the bond you once had. If he simply agrees with how he behaved but fails to agree to the impact it had on you, you still do not have the full confession.
So, it might look like this;
a) I have been lying to you and I know you can't trust me b) I have been neglecting you and I know you are confused. c) I have cheated on you and I know you feel betrayed.
Step 2: He's accepting his responsibility in the relationship
Your partner needs to take ownership of the part he played in the betrayal without any blame or excuses. When the person blames the external forces, including you for their behaviour, what they are effectively saying is they are not responsible for their actions and whatever drive them to that behaviour will happen again.
To take ownership of one's behaviour looks like this:
a) I withdraw myself from you and it is my problem b) I lied to you and they are a reflection of my fears inside. c) I cheated on you and it's my own choice to do that.
Step 3: He shows you sincere remorse
To show remorse for his actions is a good sign. It indicates that the person can put aside his reality and feel empathy for what has happened to you.
here's an example:
"I'm sorry for what I have done to you. I know this has hurt you deeply. Can you tell me more about it? I don't want to ever do this to you again.
Step 4: Spell out clearly what changes need to happen. Be specific and don't fluff around.
here's an example:
"I need you to do……….by doing………………."
a) I need you to see a counsellor for 6 weeks b) I need you to come home by 6 pm every day.
Step 5: He demonstrates a consistent change in his behaviour.
If your partner has contemplated his actions and the impact it has on you, he will not make you feel guilty for putting your foot down (see point 2. again). You need to abserve that he has truly change. A good gauge will be about 6 months mark or more.
Take a look at this beautiful example from the movie 'Pretty Woman'.
Richard Gere ( the man ) shows feelings of remorse, he is accepting responsibility and validating Julia Roberts's (the woman) feelings while she directly states her boundary. Though she didn't have to spell out the repercussion, she doesn't have to verbalise it since it was shown though her actions.
So there you go, those are the 5 Steps if you really want to rebuilt your relationship / marriage back after the betrayal. Basically, if your man truly values you and the relationship, he will do whatever it takes to rectify the damage.
Check out this related article: Is he taking you for granted - Bringing 'B' back in Relationships!
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Pro tip # 1: If step 1-4 is not completely there, there is a strong chance that the change will be short-lived and that he is only changing to get away with things to avoid you nagging. He needs to internalise his actions before the change can be permeated. Sometimes a permanent change takes time to fully cement into new behaviours. Ensure to give a longer time spent like about 6 months to see if the actions and damaging behaviour has changed. People can fake the short term but not when it's long term.