“Because if you’re here, you must be hurting. I want you to know that I’ve been there. I’ve been the one locked in my room as a crying mess because I was so hurt by my husband’s actions. I’ve had moments when I’ve thought to myself, “I am alone. I can’t trust him anymore.” But I’m here writing this post to say that there is always hope for restoration. Yeah, it’s going to need to be something you both want, and it will take time. But with time, and the steps I’m outlining here, I’m confident that you and your spouse can regain trust again.”
1 | Understand your own weaknesses
It might seem weird, or even make some angry, that this is the first point in this post, but trust me, it’s no mistake. One of the biggest mistakes many people make- men or women- when their spouse damages their trust, is to get on a pedestal and- as low as their spouse might be at the moment- push them down even further with their own sense of self-righteousness. It might sound a little harsh, because, hey, you weren’t the one who messed up. But, even though it might not feel as bad as what your spouse has done, you have messed up. You are fallible. And it’s extremely important to also have a sober and brutally realistic view of yourself before you’re tempted to judge your spouse. I’m not saying it’ll be easy to do- just really important.
Now, I don’t mean to minimize what your spouse did- whatever he did. Because if you’re here, you must be hurting. I want you to know that I’ve been there. I’ve been the one locked in my room as a crying mess because I was so hurt by my husband’s actions. I’ve had moments when I’ve thought to myself, “I am alone. I can’t trust him anymore.” But I’m here writing this post to say that there is always hope for restoration. Yeah, it’s going to need to be something you both want, and it will take time. But with time, and the steps I’m outlining here, I’m confident that you and your spouse can regain trust again.
2 | Get real with your conversations
One of the best way to foster good conversations, I’ve found, is to simply go outside and leave the phones and distractions inside. If my husband and I can get ourselves to do that, conversation usually just happens. But this almost never happens accidentally. We actually have to try. Not that we never talk when we’re indoors, but our attention is often divided or our conversation is focused on things that happened that day, or what’s going on in the moment, instead of something deep and more meaningful.
Now, when you’re in the right place to have one of those more deep and meaningful conversations, be real with your spouse, and give him the chance to be real as well. What does that mean? A lot of active listening. Ask open ended questions (not just about what he did that hurt you). Ask clarifying questions. Make sure your body language communicates that you’re present and open to what he has to say. And then go ahead and be open yourself.
Also read: Bad body language habits that escalate fights.
3 | Get on the same page
This step must come before accountability for a very good reason. If you and your husband disagree on what he should be held accountable for, you’re going to have a lot of fights and stress in the future. You’re also going to end up feeling like his mommy, because you’ll be the only one trying to make sure he doesn’t “mess up” again.
When you’re in a place to have one of those good, open conversations we talked about, make sure that you are both on the same page about the expectations you have for each other. You might be really hurt by what your husband did, but if he doesn’t see an issue with he, he’s not likely going to change. You may have already gotten an apology that tells you your husband knows that his actions weren’t acceptable. If not, well, that’s an entirely different post. I have a few here that might help with that, though:
- If I’m a Christian, do I need to put up with my husband’s crap?
- 10 ways to handle conflict and confrontation for the best possible outcome.
- How to speak up and be confident in relationships.
4 | Utilize accountability
This might look different based on your situation, what your husband is struggling with, and his personality type. It’s also not something that you are in charge of, although you can definitely help. Accountability needs to be something your husband wants. If he doesn’t want it, you will be forced into a controlling, distrusting relationship with your spouse that he will seek to find a way around at all costs.
It’s really important to not make your husband feel as though he’s not in time out. If he’s serious about restoration, he should seek out some measures of accountability on his own. But one thing you can do is ask him how you can help. If your husband was struggling with pornography, having adult website blocks on computers and phones is something that might be helpful for him. Being about to talk with other men spiritually mature men who know what he’s struggling with would also be extremely valuable. Ask your husband what accountability measures would be helpful to him and do your best to be consistent and follow through with those.
5 | Take time to regain your own confidence and feeling of self-worth
Chances are, if you’re reading this, your spouse has done something that hurts you or makes you feel betrayed. You might be thinking, if he truly loved me and valued me, then he wouldn’t have done this. Your feeling of self worth and value are all too likely to be damaged and it can be so easy to let the actions of your husband undermine your view of yourself. Take time to understand that his actions, no matter how disrespectful to you, do nothing to change your worth. You can fight for your marriage, but you don’t need to compete. You can understand how valuable you are without standing on a pedestal and telling your husband how much of a horrible person he is. You can react to him with grace and wisdom without being a pushover. You can be a pillar of strength without a sense of feeling used or being harsh. Understanding these things will do miracles in your own mental battles that come with regaining trust and intimacy in your marriage.
6 | Forgive, forgive, forgive
Even if this really is the last time your husband messes up in the same way, chances are, you’re going to need to forgive him- at least in your own heart- more than once. I really hate to say it, but there are things my husband did a couple years ago that still pop into my mind from time to time. And when that happens, I need to forgive him all over again. Usually, he has absolutely no idea this is even happening. And I don’t think he should. He has made tremendous strides at loving me better and growing in intimacy with both me and God. So why would I bring something up that he did years ago?
Of course, it might not actually be the last time your husband messes up. And that’s when, in all honesty, you won’t have enough strength to forgive him on your own. It defies logic, really, to forgive someone more than once for the same thing. But if we can remember what Jesus did for us, forgiving us before we were even sorry, sacrificing himself for us when he didn’t deserve it and we did, and pulling on that strength and using it to forgive our own husband, forgiveness, even for more than one of the same offence, is possible.
Romans 5:1-8 says this:
“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person- though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
Now, that’s not to say that we forgive our spouse to allow him to keep on with destructive behavior. Everything I’m writing about in this post is a group effort, a two-way street. You spouse if going to want to change and seek restoration. None of the advice in this post- or in the world- will work to help rebuild trust and intimacy unless your husband wants to change his behavior to help make that happen.
7 | Encourage and build up
As unnatural as this may feel to you at first, your husband will need to still know that you believe he has worth, is respectable, and there are things you are still proud of him for, even if you’re not proud of what he did. When you’re husband does something kind for you, even if it’s small, thank him. If he’s had a long day at work, tell him you’re proud of him for working hard.
Why is this so important?
If you want to rebuild your connection and intimacy with your spouse, he’s going to need to feel some level of respect from you. A man who feels like he has no respect from his wife will very likely withdraw into himself, refrain from being open, and loose confidence in ever being accepted by you again. Rebuilding trust will have to go both ways in your marriage. If he’s self aware at all, he’ll know that he hurt you and will feel some sort of guilt and remorse for that. People react to those feelings in different ways. If you want your husband to open up to you again, you need to let him know that he is in a safe place and you still love him, despite what happened.
Have your own story to share? What was something you did that helped rebuild intimacy and trust in your marriage after it had been lost? Share in the comments below and help a future reader!
Love you all!