Your spouse confessed. He has broken his marriage vows by having an affair. The deception has shattered the trust you have previously given and has existed for so long between the two of you. Since trust is vital for a healthy relationship, you know your marriage can’t survive without it.
It may be the lowest, darkest moment of your life. Maybe your partner confessed while crying and being shamed about it. Maybe you discovered them on your own. No matter the circumstance, trust was shattered. When the person you valued the most and the person that should have treasured your trust broke it, how do you deal?
As a Christian, you know God wants to restore your relationship but trusting your spouse again seems like an impossible feat. Nowadays, infidelity is one of the most common reasons for marriage dissolution. So many couples divorced because of it.
Can couples really heal after the aftermath of infidelity? How to heal from infidelity the Christian way?
It will never be easy. There will be no quick fix, one-size-fits-all solution for this. But it is not impossible, no matter how bleak you think your situation is. Marriages can be brought back from the brink of disaster. Others did. You can, too.
How To Rebuild A Broken Trust?
Your story isn’t rare. A lot of couples maneuver through the palpability of infidelity. Of course, an affair may not be the only reason for the decline of your relationship. Constant criticism, financial lunacy, even seemingly unguarded conversations with the opposite sex. Nevertheless, broken trust can be restored. Albeit, never an easy feat.
While there will never be the same solution for every relationship’s problem, each circumstance is special. Rebuilding a broken trust must be a team effort. Both must agree to regain your happily-ever-after. Accountability for one must be balanced with the willingness to risk by the other. It may take a long while in order to foster a new relationship. But know what, when you have gone through the other side, the relationship will become stronger and more intimate, having surpassed the battle. The most important part is the willingness of both parties.
So what are the practical steps to slowly rebuild your relationship?
- Ask (and answer) as many questions you can think of. Be committed to answer every question. No matter how silly, even those questions that asked over and over again. For the spouse who erred, be patient, sincere and kind to answer all questions addressed your way. Be prepared for it. At first, it will be as if every day is asking twenty-questions day. Don’t worry, the questions will be gradual as the time passes as you continue to assure your spouse of your sincerity. For your aggrieved partner, it will be a kind of therapeutic process. Half of the burden of rebuilding the trust is yours to carry. Don’t just ask questions to indict but to sincerely understand. Talk to each other. Open communication is the key.
- Respect each other. In order to rebuild trust, mutual respect is very important. The one who was disloyal needs to respect the betrayed partner’s emotions. At the same time, the betrayed spouse needs to show respect in the manner you spoke to your partner. When one commits betrayal and repented, a sense of conviction follows. It does not help when your tone of voice or choice of your words are used to condemn, punish or criticize. Resist the temptation to react with each other in your hurt, instead show love and mutual respect.
- Be accountable. Be willing to be an open book in all aspect of your life. True accountability is an effective tool to someone who commits betrayal but wants to restore the relationship. Volunteer information instead of waiting to be asked. Be steady and consistent with your actions. Accountability shouldn’t be one-sided, though. It is a two-way street.
- Forgive. And forgive again. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Depending on how much the trust was broken, forgiveness may need to be given again and again but it will never be an option. Forgiveness is necessary to rebuild trust. It is the first step in your transition from the past to your future. Yes, it will be difficult. But if you have accepted God’s forgiveness, you have the power to render mercy (Ephesians 4:32).
- Manage your expectations. Your partner is not perfect. Check for any unrealistic expectations you have for each other. Trusting each other (again) needs to have realistic expectations about your marriage, failures and each other. Expect painful feelings and setbacks in your healing process.
To rebuild trust, a good balance between risking and hoping is needed. Take the risk to start over again. The risk of additional pain, another broken trust, even opening your heart again to disappointment. A scary choice but a needed choice nonetheless. But if both are willing and open, ready to repair the damages and trust with humility, hope can blossom. God will redeem the broken pieces.
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
Looking Forward To A Brighter Future
How to heal from infidelity the Christian way? Rebuilding trust will take time. Deciding to start over again may literally mean that, starting over again. Learn about each other again. Recapture the spark lost. Make every effort to recommit to the relationship. Stop blaming. Make peace. Start both your tomorrow with a clean slate.
And ultimately, forgive. Forgive each other. The betrayed person should search in her heart to willingly give forgiveness. The other person should also learn to forgive himself. It’s a mutual decision. Marriage is worth fighting for. Your marriage will not end in despair. Recapture your happy ever after again. A new chapter. This time, a happier one.
“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20