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Trusting Again After a Bad Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

After a bad marriage, you can lose trust in yourself and resist trusting someone who could be your new romance partner. To build a successful next relationship, you must build trust in yourself first and then decide if you can extend trust to someone who could betray that trust, according to Albert Ellis in a “Psychology Today” article entitled “How Can You Learn to Trust Again.”

Into a Mirror Clearly

Trusting yourself to make good choices about romantic partners can go a long way toward creating conditions that are right for trusting another, according to Mary Hotvedt, C.M.F.T., Ph.D., in the same “Psychology Today” article. Examine yourself fully and carefully to determine what you want in a relationship and what you are willing to do to realize your goals. Decide if you can commit to being honest with your partner about your needs and desires. Realize that you cannot control your partner’s actions -- only yours. Let your partner know about your past relationship problems so that person understands what triggers distrust and how to engender trust in your relationship, advises social worker Terry Mizrahi in the same “Psychology Today” article.

Your Wounded Inner Child

Your lack of trust can stem from your childhood, resulting in unmet needs and issues that you unconsciously place on your new love interest, according to psychologist Dr. David Richo in “Overcome Trust Issues to Have Healthier Relationships.” Parents need to provide focused positive attention and interaction along with unconditional acceptance of children. The parent must express appreciation of the child as a person and engage in physically affection gestures. Finally, the parent expresses permission for the child to be an individual and act upon that individuality within socially acceptable limits. If you missed one or more of these as a child, give them to yourself and let your partner provide these also. Professional help can address these needs in ways that prepare you for a healthy relationship.

Dumping Old Baggage

If your previous partner broke your trust with lies, infidelity, addictive behaviors or irresponsible actions, you can unconsciously withhold trust from your next partner because you believe it will happen again. Don’t ask your current partner to make up for the sins of another, advise Daniel and Tara Bennett-Goleman in “How to Win at Love” at Oprah.com. Be aware when old fears threaten to create unfair expectations and demands. Notice when your partner is willing to work with you to solve relationship problems and express appreciation for that work, advises Dr. Richo. Use that cooperation to extend more trust.

Do It Again

Trust comes when your partner consistently behaves in positive ways and follows that behavior up with affirming actions, according to former American Psychiatric Association president Daniel Borenstein in the aforementioned “Psychology Today” article. Actions that engender trust include behaving in a consistent manner, shouldering your share of the load, communicating when things are uncomfortable, fighting fair, having a zero tolerance for dishonesty and treating your partner with compassion, according to WebMD’s article “7 Solutions That Can Save a Relationship.” Repeat these action over and over again to maintain the trust you have built.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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