Broken trust weakens the very foundations of a marriage, rendering it vulnerable and more likely to fail. Before any restoration will be possible, the decision to work on the relationship must be mutual. Rebuilding trust can be a difficult journey, but if successful, it can create a strong and fulfilling marriage, explains psychologist Joshua Coleman, in his article, “Surviving Betrayal,” published on The Greater Good website.
Get Fears Out in the Open
Broken trust can be quite hurtful for the betrayed. Each spouse should make time to talk about the fears of being hurt or falling out of step again in the future, according to the Mayo Clinic article, “Infidelity: Mending Your Marriage After an Affair.” The spouse who has been betrayed should be allowed to talk about the hurt and betrayal as much as is necessary for healing to take place.
Re-set Relationship Goals
New goals and directions must be made for the marriage. This can include how much more open and honest the couple will be with each other, and how they plan to deal with conflict and difficulties in the future, such as unplanned spending or cheating.
Let the Healing Begin
Healing from broken trust can take an indefinite amount of time. However, the important thing is to allow space for this to occur. No one should try to rush or ignore this process. Forgiveness is also an important step in mending the marriage; and this will become easier with time. Forgiveness is often necessary for both the betrayer and the betrayed.
Partners need to tune in to their emotional cues. Researcher and relationship therapist, John Gottman, Ph.D., recommends that being emotionally present for your partner when needed, can establish and reinforce a strong relational bond.
The betrayer must assume responsibility for breaking the trust. This is important for building a strong relationship, Coleman says.
Balance of Power
Betrayal can leave a spouse feeling helpless. One way to regain some form of control is for the partner who broke the trust to surrender privacy. This involves giving open access to messaging services, online profiles and sales receipts. Making life an open book can also provide a means for the betrayed spouse to confirm any stories provided.
Consult the Experts
A licensed and experienced marriage therapist can facilitate the rebuilding of a new foundation for the marriage. Deciding to attend together is one step towards re-commitment to the relationship. During these sessions, both partners can air their concerns and come up with strategies for better communication, problem-solving and engage in trust-building exercises.