Relationships are meant to bring joy, happiness, and stability to your life, but the unfortunate reality is that most people eventually experience at least one major betrayal in their relationship. Broken trust can be difficult to repair after an affair or other major hurt, but it’s important to put in the effort if you want your relationship to last long-term.
Though there are many ways to ruin a relationship, few are as harmful as breaking trust. If you’ve reached this point with your partner, you may have to work hard to get it back, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! The process can be daunting and take time, but if you commit to these five strategies, you and your partner can rebuild trust and make your relationship stronger than ever before.
1) Address the Problem
If you’ve done something to break trust with your partner, it might be because there was a problem you didn’t want to talk about, so you tried to meet your needs another way. Couples do this because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. They don’t realize that the way they’ve chosen to deal with the problem oftentimes ends up being more hurtful in the long run.
Don’t let problems fester—the longer you wait, and the more time that passes, your trust becomes more damaged. If you’re going through a rough patch with your partner, don’t delay taking action. Getting back on track is challenging and you may have to have difficult conversations. That’s okay. Talking about your problems, though difficult, can help in rebuilding trust in your relationship.
2) Be Vulnerable
People connect through vulnerability. This means being vulnerable about yourself and your feelings. Even though it can be uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes terrifying to reveal everything on your mind, by doing so you are building a bridge of empathy from you to your partner. If they understand how you feel, how deeply you hurt or what worries you, your partner will know you’re serious about wanting to reconnect and repair the relationship.
3) Apologize and Take Responsibility
The first step to rebuild trust is to give a sincere apology and take responsibility for your actions. However, saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean you get off scot-free—you need to offer an explanation as well. Be specific about how you broke trust, apologize sincerely, and give examples of what you are going to do differently going forward. For example, if you cheated on your spouse or partner: I had an affair with my co-worker last year; I realize now that I never took into account how much pain I would cause by doing that.
Remember, you may need to do this more than once. Your partner needs to not only hear that you’re sorry, but they also need to feel it and believe it. An apology is very powerful and will do wonders when you apologize for mistakes you’ve made or you apologize for how you’ve hurt your partner’s feelings.
No matter what…NEVER make excuses. This only makes things worse by undermining your ability to grow as a couple.
4) Work Together on Building Better Habits
When you’re trying to rebuild trust, the key is committing yourself and your partner to working together on building better habits. As a marriage therapist, I have found that it’s helpful if you both commit to practicing good communication habits outside of sessions as well as inside of sessions. It’s an exercise in helping each other grow. Take 15 minutes every day after work and talk
through some aspect of your day—what happened, how you felt about it, what was good or bad about it—and hear each other out. It’s time-consuming, but if trust is missing from your relationship, there may be no quicker way to rebuild than by spending more time together when you’re not fighting.
5) Be an Open Book
Developing trust is a gradual process, but staying open and honest with your partner is key. It can take some time, but don’t jump back into marriage while both of you are still skittish. A healthier relationship will develop if you openly discuss your feelings, be honest about what happened and what you need from your partner, make an effort to understand where they’re coming from and determine how best to move forward.
And remember: it’s important for both of you to work on rebuilding trust together because being transparent with your spouse without their honesty and openness can create an imbalance that leads one or both partners feeling paranoid or taken advantage of.
Knot Counseling Can Help You Rebuild Trust
If you’re struggling to rebuild trust in your relationship, Knot Counseling can help. We are a team of big-hearted therapists that specialize in marriage counseling. If you’re in or around Lakewood, Colorado, we loved to meet you. Not close? No worries. Our couples counselors also offer telehealth therapy so you can improve your relationship anywhere in Colorado.