Rebuilding Trust after a Betrayal

Rebuilding Trust after a Betrayal
Trust is a fundamental component of a connected and thriving relationship. Trust allows us to open up with our partner and share more vulnerable parts of ourselves.  But how to do you rebuild trust when it has been violated? When couples enter my office after a betrayal, they are often confused about where to begin. Rebuilding trust is a complex and delicate process. Here are some steps that you can take to jumpstart that process.

Tips to Rebuild Trust:

1. Rigorous honesty- Healing occurs when we are willing to look openly and honestly at ourselves. When we have betrayed our partner, it is easy to lie in attempt to protect them from further pain. Regardless of our intentions, these lies can further violate trust and make it harder to heal the relationship. Therefore, it is best to be transparent about all areas of life, even when it is uncomfortable or painful.

2. Be consistent- It is important for the betrayed partner to know that positive changes in the relationship are not just temporary. Think of ways that you can show up for your partner on a daily basis and stick to them. Some examples may include calling your partner during your lunch break or waking up early with your partner to go to the gym on weekdays. These are simple ways to communicate to your partner that your relationship is a priority

3. Don’t push for forgiveness–  It’s important to remember that forgiveness isn’t just  for the wayward partner, it’s also for the betrayed partner, too. The betrayed partner is feeling anger and resentment. When we push our partner towards forgiveness, we are asking them to suppress that pain. And a lot of times we’re pushing them to forgive simply to keep from being confronted with our own guilt and shame. Forgiveness is something that is felt in your mind, body, and soul. Healing needs to occur before forgiveness can.  So focus on healing the relationship and forgiveness will usually come along naturally.

4. Reduce defensiveness- Defensiveness, excuses, and denials are forms of self-protection and preservation. When you are defensive you fail to create space to hear – and heal – your partner‘s pain. you also send unintended messages that your partners’ feelings are wrong or unacceptable. Instead, work towards understanding your partner’s experience by asking questions and reflecting back what you are hearing in your own words. Some of these messages you’re hearing from them hurt because they’re about you. But put yourself aside for a little bit while your partner is healing. It hurts for now but the payoff is worth it in the form of a deeper, more satisfying relationship down the road.

Betrayal within a romantic relationship can be a traumatic experience. It causes the betrayed to not only question their partner, but also their own intuition and instincts. The process of rebuilding trust following a betrayal can be slow moving and full of ups and downs. It is important to be patient and walk alongside your partner as they take steps towards healing.

Westminster marriage counselor Michaela StandhartAbout the Author:
Michaela Standhart is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate. She specializes in couples therapy, betrayal trauma, and works with adolescent as young as 12 years old.

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