One of the greatest challenges couples experience is being able to cope with feelings of betrayal after an affair or other situations that have affected trust in their relationship. A healthy relationship is built on a foundation of mutual trust. But when trust has been broken it takes a toll on relationships. It takes a huge amount of commitment, effort and time to restore trust in your relationship.
Some people make the choice to give up, leave and end their relationship, as they feel totally devastated. They make final decisions in the heat of their anger and never get a chance to process all the different factors that could have possibly caused the betrayal.
There are other couples who decide to commit to the healing process and are able to grow and move into a place of connection and rediscovery. According to Ester Perel, international bestselling author: “Most of us in the West today will have two or three marriages or committed relationships in our lifetime. For those daring enough to try, they may find themselves having all of them with the same person.”
Here are five steps that serve as a way of restoring trust in your relationship:
- Take ownership– Genuinely apologizing is important as you want to show your partner that you are accepting responsibility. Taking ownership carries important weight as you want to acknowledge and own up to your actions making sure your partner feels heard and validated.
- Schedule Regular Talks -Making time in your schedule to talk on a regular basis is necessary. You want to be honest and open with feelings and process each other’s subjective experiences. Don’t focus on solutions just actively listen to your partner’s feelings and concerns. You want to follow through with these talks as you don’t want to hold back feelings which could eventually fester and lead to resentment.
- Be Open and Transparent-If your partner needs to ask questions or requests details about anything make sure you give them what they need. Don’t be concerned about privacy at this time as building trust is the priority.
- Express Empathy– Your partner needs to know that you understand their pain and the emotional impact the loss of trust has had them. You and your partner must mourn, experience and express all the emotions related to the feelings of betrayal. Expressing empathy is a critical part of the healing process allowing you to move forward as a more solid couple.
- Developing Emotional Intimacy: This step helps the relationship experience a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of the betrayal. You want to learn, “why did he/she have an affair and/or why was he/she dishonest? Unexpressed feelings and childhood issues that were never discussed become a new part of the relationship.
Time is essential when rebuilding trust and you and your partner need to be patient with the process. Once the couple is able to move past the hurt and pain of the betrayal and work on a trusting partnership, many feel it was well worth the hard work.
If you and your partner have decided that you are committed and want the relationship to work, counseling can be instrumental in rebuilding trust in your relationship.
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