My wife Lindsey and I receive messages almost daily from hurting couples whose marriages have been devastated by infidelity.
When those lines are crossed, and covenants are broken, it always leaves a jagged edge. While it often goes undiscussed, I can tell you from first-hand experience that churches are crowded with desperate husbands and wives longing to know, “Can I ever trust my spouse again?”
The answer is yes.
Let me explain.
Infidelity sends a shock to the system like no other. I’ve met newlywed couples who take hard stances and boldly declare if their spouse were unfaithful, it would be over. Period.
One strike and you’re out.
They project a strength that appears impenetrable; if their spouse were to break their marriage bond, they would immediately find themselves face-to-face with the divorce judge without a moment’s pause. File the papers, settle the assets, start collecting the child support, and hardly shed a tear.
Please hear this in the humble tone I’m saying it… You have no idea what you would do.
Until you’ve felt the unimaginable sting of marital betrayal, all of the rhetoric is just hot air.
It’s so easy to dish out marriage advice to friends who are walking through the pain of infidelity:
“File for divorce and take him for all he’s worth!”
“If my wife did what yours did, I would have already ended this whole thing and moved on!”
“Your kids will be fine; children go through this all the time. They’re more resilient than you think!”
This sort of advice much easier to recommend when it’s not your kids, your spouse, and your dreams being shattered.
The reality is infidelity is gut-wrenching. Except for losing a child, I can’t think of anything else that can cause your world to collapse so completely.
So, can trust be restored after it’s been broken at such a deep level?
I am fully aware that someone cannot heal from infidelity through a 750-word blog post. However, I can offer some thoughts and some hope.
Usually, people think trust is rebuilt by knowing with absolute certainty your spouse will never make that mistake again. We tend to believe trust is rooted in being able to predict their future behavior with 100% accuracy.
The bad news is… that’s impossible.
If our trust rests in our ability to control or predict their behavior, we will never trust again.
Every time they walk out the door to go to the supermarket, you will secretly wonder if that is where they are actually going.
Every time their phone pings with the text message sound, you will question over and over who it really is until the anxiety drives you mad.
Your mind will churn all day long wondering if they are really at work, or somewhere else.
You’ll have to fight the temptation to monitor phone records, emails, Facebook, and on and on, just to make double, triple, quadruple sure they are being honest.
You’ll want to create a fail-proof plan where they cannot leave home unless under constant surveillance.
Believe me when I tell you, you do not want to live that life.
In the immediate aftermath of infidelity, some of these stipulations are good and healthy. I will post more about that later.
But lasting trust based on control is an illusion.
Here’s the key: Trust is not restored by fully believing in them, but instead by believing in you.
I know that sounds unusual, but it is absolute truth.
To really trust again, you must know that whatever happens, you’re going to be okay. Come what may, you are going to live life and be fine.
This shift within you puts the power back in your hands.
When they leave the house, or go to work, or get a text message from an unknown number, you can be at peace.
Because regardless of what happens, you know you are going to be okay.
You’ve survived before, and you can survive it again.
To rebuild trust, it’s not really even about them.
You are not betting on them.
This time, you are betting on you.