There are a number of ways trust can be damaged in a relationship. The first thing that comes to mind might be infidelity, but there are a number of ways partners can betray one another. Abusing drugs or alcohol, gambling or overspending money, lying about how you spend your time, not being reliable or consistent, or not keeping your word…all of those things can affect your partner’s ability to feel comfortable trusting you. The good news is, in many cases broken trust can be repaired. It does take absolute commitment on the part of both partners, especially the one who has betrayed the other. In this article, I will give you a few tips on ways you can rebuild trust in your relationship, even if it has been damaged.
Number one – APOLOGIZE: It is vital that you be able to sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to your partner. Your apology should contain no excuses or defenses, nor should it be an attempt to minimize the issue. If your actions have resulted in damage to your relationship, accept full responsibility for your part in that. Anything less will make it harder to rebuild. Express your regret for your actions, and your commitment to whatever it takes not to repeat them.
The second tip is TRANSPARENCY. Regaining trust and helping your partner through grief and anger requires perhaps more openness than you have ever show, and a whole set of new rules. It might mean sharing computer passwords, cutting off contact with toxic friends or someone with whom you have had an affair, call or text a couple of times a day, be open about bank and credit card statements, and show up where you say you will be, on time. You and your partner can discuss what kind of transparency is needed, depending on your circumstances. The key to transparency is your willingness to be this open, for the greater good of your relationship.
Third, be willing to COMMUNICATE. Your partner may need to know what exactly happened, and why, as part of his or her efforts to accept it, trust that it won’t happen again, and eventually move on. I don’t mean spending every waking moment discussing the event that damaged the trust between you. But I do mean a commitment to honesty and an understanding of your partner’s confusion and need to make sense of things. These kind of discussions can be delicate, maybe even feeling like you are walking through a mine field.
You may benefit from the help of a couples therapist to help mediate such a discussion, and help you open up the lines of communication about difficult topics, so that they can be discussed in a productive way.
Finally, BE PATIENT: When trying to earn back your partner’s trust, the most common pitfall is not being patient enough. It will take time, maybe more time than you expect, for your partner to move past a major lie or an infidelity. You can’t control how long this will take, and there may be times when you want to say “Get over it and trust me again.” Please don’t. Stay consistent and reliable, and this more than anything will help your relationship heal. Keep following through, show your partner how you have changed and that you are in it for the long term.
On rough days, ask your partner what you can do to help. Express your own needs, as well – it takes both parties commitment to heal and move forward to a healthier place.
With time, patience, and consistent action you will likely walk away with a stronger relationship than you could have imagined. If needed, again, reach out to a trained couples therapist to offer a safe place to explore difficult emotions.
Thank you for visiting, and I welcome your comments below – has your relationship been affected by trust issues? How did you recover?