No marriage is perfect.
Most couples experience a breach of trust at some point. It could be a lie, a betrayal, or even infidelity. But these breaches of trust don’t always signal an unhappy marriage. In one study, 56% of men who admitted to infidelity said that they were happy or very happy in their marriage. There is hope after trust has been broken.
Rebuilding trust cannot be done if both partners are sitting idle. Each partner has to commit to forgive or be forgiven. Then you can work to rebuild trust and get the relationship back to where it was when you fell in love.
The Steps to Rebuilding Trust
After a breach of trust, both partners need to sit down and make a plan for rebuilding trust and moving forward.
Oregon relationship coaches Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon recommend the following steps:
- Discuss the issue. Answer any questions that your partner might have.
- Openly share what each partner wants or what they believe will rebuild trust.
- Create steps to release stress together.
- Recommit to each other.
- Forgive or ask for forgiveness.
This last step is crucial to moving forward. Without forgiveness, you and your partner will still be holding onto a lot of the feelings that the indiscretion caused.
How to Ask for Forgiveness and Forgive
Be honest. Don’t ask for forgiveness until you’re truly ready. Give you and your partner some time to complete the first few steps toward rebuilding trust. If you find yourself stuck, reach out to a counselor for professional relationship help.
Show, don’t tell. In addition to asking for forgiveness, show your partner how you feel about your indiscretion. Ask them what you can do to make an acceptable apology. Use actions in addition to words to recommit to your partner. Show that you want to change your behavior.
Continue to check in. Forgiveness, like rebuilding trust, doesn’t have to be an overnight process. Take time every few evenings to sit down together. Talk through your feelings. When your partner is ready to forgive and move forward, they will tell you. Honor and validate their feelings as they work through this process.
If you’re the one who’s being asked for forgiveness… know that this process isn’t just for the person who committed the indiscretion. Forgiveness allows you to let go of your anger, resentment, and hurt. Forgiveness isn’t always easy. But it opens the door to grow a stronger relationship that has stood the test of time. When you forgive, you give yourself the opportunity to grow, too.