Trust forms the foundation of a successful marriage. If you are wondering how to go about rebuilding trust in a relationship, that means your connection with your loved one has probably already taken a hit.
You may have heard it a hundred times before – trust is the rock upon which strong relationships are built. As cliché as it may sound, it is actually true.
Trust is one of the main, if not the main, pillar that supports a healthy and long-lasting relationship. If it is shaken or chipped away by dishonesty, hurt, or betrayal, your relationship can take a toll.
There is a famous saying that trust is like glass. Once it breaks, it can never be the same again. So, if trust has waned from your marriage, it technically means that your relationship can never be perfect again, right?
While that sure is true to some extent, it is not entirely correct.
As relationship coaches who have worked with several different couples facing this issue, we can assure you that trust can be rebuilt, and a scarred marriage can be healed even when it seems to have flat-lined.
In fact, we have witnessed various couples grow closer together after experiencing a trust-related turmoil in their ties. If you follow the right strategy for removing the distrust that has crept between you and your partner, your relationship can actually improve from thereon.
If you are willing to work on your relationship and rebuild the trust that has been lost, the following are some good starting points to consider:
When You Have Been Hurt
Nothing hurts more than being let down by the person you so far believed to be your better half.
Betrayal from your partner can come in various forms and levels of intensity. You may be willing to forgive them for all those late nights they said were due to the extra work at the office, when in reality they had been hanging out with friends. But how should you react when you find out that your partner didn’t respond to your calls and messages because they had been busy with their ex?
Be it disloyalty, withholding information, or dishonesty in any other form, being hurt by your beloved can cause a lot of emotional and psychological distress.
However, despite all the heartache, it’s important not to let the pain cut through your soul.
Many people, especially women, have a tendency to take the blame for their partner’s mistake upon themselves.
‘They did such and such thing because I failed to do such and such thing.’
‘If I was a better person, this wouldn’t have happened to me.’
‘My spouse has drifted away from me because I am always busy with the kids/ house/ office.’
All these are usually irrational thoughts. Don’t hold yourself accountable for your partner’s undesirable behavior. Yes, your actions and attitude might have played a role in prompting your partner to do what they did. But drowning in guilt will do you no good.
Don’t take the burden of their actions entirely upon yourself. Acknowledge your flaws and make a resolution to fix them as well. But don’t beat yourself up for being hurt. Self-forgiveness requires self-compassion. Even with your shortcomings you deserve to be treated well.
Make amendments on your part, but at the same time also make sure that your partner corrects their ways too (and for that, you can ask them to give the following section a read).
When You Hurt Your Partner
Your intention might not have been to hurt them. Maybe it was just an angry remark you didn’t imagine would have such disastrous effects. Or perhaps you were really upset about something and ended up doing something reckless that broke your partner’s heart.
Whatever the case might be, the first step to right the wrong that has been done is to come clean and sincerely apologize.
Saying that you are sorry might sound like a childhood, run-of-the-mill advice for regaining a person’s trust. But believe us, it has the power to work wonders – even in adult relationships!
Try to put down your ego and not act defensive. Making excuses will only make the matter worse than it already is. Don’t offer an explanation upfront either. It can easily start a blame game and escalate the distress in your relationship.
Just offer a simple, heartfelt apology first. It can be in the form of a letter, a meaningful conversation, or doing something special like buying a gift or planning a date night to show that you are truly sorry. It’s essential to express your remorse because it attests your desire to repair the relationship.
Make a Plan for Full Disclosure
Before you approach your loved one to ask for forgiveness, know exactly what you are going to say. It’s not easy to own up to your mistakes especially if you feel you were justified in making them to some extent. Disclosure is not about confession, nor about listing off the details of the broken trust, but about one’s actual experience. This means helping the affected partner understand why something happened by explaining their experience of it. This isn’t meant to be hurtful, but to give the affected partner a sense of what was felt to be missing from the primary relationship, and how pursuing options seemed like a possibility.
Think things through and decide how to apologize in advance. It may help to jot down your thoughts on a paper. If you have trouble giving a form and shape to your feelings, there’s no need to worry. Having a way with words is not important. What matters is that you mean what you say.
Saying what you think your partner wants to hear merely to please them might work temporarily. But it won’t help you in the long run. Rebuilding trust doesn’t work that way. Seeking forgiveness from your partner while secretly holding them responsible for your wrongdoing can deepen the rift down the road.
How to Rebuild Trust in a Relationship
Regardless of who hurt whom, there are some general things that you must remember when it comes to rebuilding trust after it’s been broken. We have listed a few of them below.
Be Willing to Mend the Broken Bond
It takes two to tango. You or your partner cannot renew and re-strengthen the relationship without conscious and consistent efforts from the other person too.
Whoever violated the trust must have a deep and sincere desire to rectify their wrongdoings. However, even if you don’t receive the apology you are waiting for, you must be willing to forgive anyway.
Note that this doesn’t imply overlooking your partner’s deliberate wrongdoings or sweeping the problem under the rug. Identify and validate the damage that’s been done. Then check in and ensure you are both on board to fortify your relationship once more.
Analyze and Evaluate
If you feel like you need some time to clear your head, don’t be hesitant to take a step back. Tell your partner and perhaps go on a mini vacation or spend a weekend by yourself.
Alternatively, allow your partner to take a break too. Alone time can help you both do some deep thinking to analyze and evaluate where the problem really stems from and what must be done to overcome it.
The old adage ‘we should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it,’ rings true. Extract a lesson from the pain you and/ or your partner is experiencing. It will help you steer clear of its root cause in the future.
Hear Each Other Out
Once you are done explaining your side of the story, it’s time to hear it from the other end. Apologize in a way that leaves no doubt about your sincerity. But be prepared to receive comments and have a more elaborate discussion on the issue. Give your partner a chance to speak and come forward with whatever questions/ apprehensions they might have.
Listen actively and more importantly, with an open mind!
Emotions are usually heightened in such instances. So, stay calm and don’t lose your cool.
Follow Through with Actions
As we said earlier, a genuine apology can work wonders in rebuilding broken trust. But the key is to follow through with actions.
What good does expressing guilt for hurting your beloved do if there are no corrective measures taken alongside?
In fact, apologizing without bringing about a positive change in behavior can make a person’s words meaningless. Plus, it can make the other person doubtful of their willingness to take the relationship forward.
Shift the Focus
What would you do if you sprained your wrist doing push-ups some day? Would you continue with the same workout regimen? Give up on exercising altogether? Or switch to other exercises that help you stay fit without involving the injured muscles?
Rebuilding trust after getting hurt works pretty much the same way.
- Shift the focus on other things rather than getting too worked up on fixing the relationship.
- Do something you have never done before as a couple. Go on a tropical retreat, spend a day in an adventure park, book a night safari – anything that allows you to have fun and reconnect with each other.
- Look for positive experiences. Creating new memories can help you get rid of the unpleasant ones.
Just do what couples do and you will soon find yourself reaching the point where you will wonder if anything ever went wrong with your relationship in the first place.
Communicate to Understand Each Other’s Needs
Effective communication is the key to solving virtually all the problems that commonly arise in romantic relationships. This includes regaining lost trust too.
Think carefully about what you need from your partner in order to mend the bond and strengthen your relationship more than ever. What should they do to help you feel more loved and supported?
At the same time, try to answer this question from your partner’s perspective too. Or better yet, ask them directly in a friendly manner.
Is there a sense of insecurity that’s leading to trust issues? Is it a lack of respect for the other person that’s eating away at your bond?
Communicating clearly and openly can help you figure out the real problem.
It can be frustrating to live under the same roof with an angry partner. But remember, rebuilding trust takes time. Apologizing doesn’t mean things will improve overnight. When confidence in a loved one is shattered, it is usually a long and hard repair process.
But those who are truly committed, know that they are in it for the long haul. They are ready to give the other person a second chance and don’t mind putting in extra efforts on their own behalf to take their relationship from surviving to thriving.
Whether you were the one to get hurt or hurt the other, know that it is okay, in fact healthy in many ways to feel regretful and remorseful for what happened. Just don’t let the self-loathe overwhelm you.
Tackling Broken Trust? Talk to a Relationship Coach
Rebuilding trust in a relationship can no doubt be very tricky. While flowers and a cute smile can help alleviate the sorrow, winning back a person who has lost their belief in you generally takes a lot more than that. If you feel like your relationship is falling apart and need expert help, consider giving us a call.
Marriage Means Moore is a marriage coaching service where you can learn how to cope with the highs and lows of a relationship. Founded by relationship coaches Antonio & Laura Moore, this is a platform dedicated exclusively to strengthening the ties with the person who means the world to our clients.
We have helped save over 80 marriages to date and are confident we can provide you with sound advice and practical tools that can transform your unhappy relationship into a successful one. Learn more about what we do or book a free consultation now to have a confidential discussion with a professional relationship coach.