In order to really trust someone, you need to decide to give them your trust and not make them earn it. This is an essential part of trust that most people don’t know. Trust comes from within you – people don’t need to prove to you that they are trustworthy – because people are prone to letting us down.
So, once you have decided to give someone your trust, you have to work out what you are willing to trust them for. I would not trust a young child to safely change the wheel on my car. I would not trust an elderly person to win a marathon race.
I would however trust that every single one of us, in any moment in time, is doing absolutely the best we can. Even though an elderly person might not be able to run a winning time, if they said they wanted to run a marathon, I would trust that they we’re going to run the best time they possibly could on that day, even if that meant they came in last.
In a relationship, if your partner has had an emotional affair and says that they want to keep the emotional affair going, then you would be unlikely to give them your trust that they will remain faithful to you, even though you could still trust them to safely change the wheel of your car. If however, your partner says that they want to end the affair and want to work hard at repairing your relationship, then you have to decide whether you are willing to give them your trust that they are going to do their best at that – even if they still make some mistakes along the way.
Rebuilding trust is all about you deciding what you are willing to gift them your trust to do. I had numerous affairs during the early period of my marriage but when my wife found out, I committed to her that I would learn where our marriage had gone wrong and what I needed to do to repair the damage I had caused. My wife trusted me to do that, and because I felt trusted by her and didn’t feel she was constantly suspicious of me, I really felt cared for and the thoughts of wanting to go off with anyone else simply vanished. Did I do some things to show she could trust me like making my phone always available to her, not being secretive, sharing my thoughts? Yes I did all of that but it was as a direct result of feeling the trust she placed in me first.
It is a great feeling to feel really trusted by someone. That is a gift you can give to your partner as you work to overcome the issues that caused him/her to have an affair in the first place. It doesn’t change that what they did was a violation of your marriage vows. It doesn’t justify their choices. It doesn’t make you weak or stupid. It doesn’t protect you from future pain either, but it does give your marriage the best possible chance of recovering and becoming affair-proofed for the future.
Are you willing to give that gift?