How to Rebuild Trust in Marriage after Lying
Is it possible to rebuild trust? You may be asking that question. You feel terrible about the mistake of lying to your spouse, but you are not sure how to reverse it. Your stuck between defending yourself and protecting yourself from their anger. Healing takes time and hopelessness wanes in situations like these. The question you are asking is, “Is it possible to make things better?” As a marriage and family therapist, my answer is, “Yes!”
How do I know? I have seen it! Couples have gone from broken to healed right in front of me. Yes it took some time, but it’s entirely possible. Some have not reached that mark yet. Others have given up. Yet, the ones that rekindled their relationship all have similar things in common and there are several things they did to rebuild trust.
To be more thorough, I combined my experiences with other’s opinions and results on how to rebuild trust in relationships. I scoured many resources and organized all the information into the most common and complete steps that couples can take to rebuild trust in their relationship when deception has been a part of their relationship.
Common Steps to Build Trust in Relationships
Steps for the partner who lied:
- Understand what trust is
- Learn causes your dishonest behavior (awareness and openness)
- Stop all negative behavior (lying, defensiveness, avoidance)
- Be completely honest, open and responsible for your behavior
- Apologize, sincerely
- Empathize, Validate, and Listen
- Give as much time as needed to heal and temper your expectations
- Understand your partner’s needs
- Be consistent and follow through
- Commit to doing what’s right and to loving your spouse
- Seek further help through counseling, if needed
Steps for the partner who was hurt:
- Understand your partner’s reasons for lying
- Empathize with partner’s fear and accept them, but not their behavior
- Set firm, but loving boundaries
- Take your time to heal
- Commit and choose to forgive
- Be open to your part and take responsibility for any part you have to play in hurting your spouse, but don’t blame self for partner’s choice
- Accept attempts on your partner’s behalf to repair the hurt they created
- Avoid dwelling on what your partner did and focus on changes
Steps for both partners
Let’s take some time to go through each of these steps and what they mean. For you to get the most out of this information, I want to be as thorough as possible to help you know exactly what to do. Remember, it is important for you to not necessarily be perfect, but work a process to improve and grow. You didn’t get here for no reason at all. You are here because you truly care about your relationship and your spouse and want to rebuild in the right way. So, let’s get started.
Steps for the partner who lied
Each step is important in it’s own way. I encourage you to take time and only work on 1 or 2 at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. If you do too much, you will run the risk of only fixing the surface and not fixing the foundation. Let’s go deep on each step to improve the foundation and then work up from there.
What is trust?
Knowing the definition of trust and what it really is, can help to provide a picture of what you are trying to attain. Trust is important in all relationships. Lack of trust increases anxiety and fear, thus creating disconnection. A married couple needs trust to communicate, work in unity, create solutions to problems, and to connect at deeper levels that hold the relationship together.
Merrium-Webster.com says the definition of trust is:
- Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
- Dependence on something future or contingent (hope)
- Care and custody
- To rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of: Believe
- To place confidence in: rely on
- To hope or expect confidently
- To commit or place in one’s care or keeping: Entrust
- To permit to stay or go or to do something without fear or misgiving
- To extend credit to
A similar, but more simple way to state the definition of truth is to believe in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of.
For our purposes, the definition of trust is the ability to rely on someone or something else with full assurance and faith in that person or thing. When it comes to your marriage and dishonesty, trust is broken at the point that a partner lies because their is now a decreased assurance that your spouse is reliable and able to be counted on. This can create an awful feeling for both parties.
The reason this is important is because in a committed relationship, we need to be able to rely on each other to be able to make the most out of the relationship and life. Have you ever felt you couldn’t rely on someone? When this happens, a spouse gets anxious, fearful and feels more pressure and stress. Can you imagine causing your spouse to feel stress, fear, and pressure?
The goal in building trust based on the definitions above is to build a relationship where both partners can assure reliability and develop safety in the relationship.
Learn What Causes Your Dishonest Behavior
Many spouses of mine will ask, “Why does my spouse lie to me?” Other statements that come along with that question are: “If they loved me, they would not lie,” “If they cared about me they would tell me the truth.” These statements are legitimate because they seem true to the person saying the. Their hurt and pain confirms to them that the dishonesty proves the lack of love or care their partner has for them. Unfortunately, this is not always accurate because dishonesty has many causes or reasons that may encourage a lie.
Please don’t get me wrong. A lie is a choice. However, knowing the cause or reasons behind why someone chooses to lie can help dispel some of the inaccurate thoughts that keep a hurt spouse from healing. We can assume why someone lies, but we don’t always know the truth until we take the time to explore the reasons. The thoughts and feelings we have when we are hurt seem to prove our assumptions, but that is not usually the case.
I have seen many people who have told a lie to their spouse who truly loves and cares for their spouse, they just have reasons why they believe their choice would give them a better outcome. It is important to explore the causes behind the choice of dishonesty so that you understand the behavior and to dispel inaccurate assumptions that are delaying forgiveness and the rebuilding of trust. You can find out more about the reasons people lie HERE. You can also get my workbook WHY I LIE to help you find out more about your reason for the choices you made to lie.
Stop All Negative Behavior
Continuing to act out in negative behavior does not help. I know that seems obvious, but what I tend to see is a dishonest spouse will tend to keep doing the same behavior, even after apologizing for the original lie. The reason behind continuing to lie is most likely to try to keep from making things worse. HEAR ME PLEASE!! THAT NEVER WORKS!!
You MUST stop all lying and negative, hurtful behavior. You are trying to build trust here. Any dishonest behavior will decrease trust. Your partner will most likely have an intuitive sense that you are not being honest, even if you are at times. Being dishonest at this stage is only a recipe for ending the relationship. It is important to be completely honest and open. Understand that your partner is wounded and you caused it. You now need to stop wounding them so they can heal, especially if you love and care for them.
Continued negative behavior reopens wounds and does not allow them to heal. It decreases trust, connection, and intimacy. Your partner likely does not want to hug, kiss, or be too near you right now. So, let’s not make it worse.
Be Completely Honest, Open, and Take Responsibility for Your Behavior
This step follows the ceasing all negative behavior. You can stop the negative behavior, but you need to fill the hole with positive behavior. Being completely honest, open, and responsible for your behavior is all about building trust. It’s time to reconnect.
Let your partner know that you understand that what you did was wrong and you want to change. Let them know that you understand how they feel and how much pain you caused them. Show them you understand their pain and care about them by be completely open and honest, so they can know there is nothing else that you are hiding from them.
When we stay in a posture of openness, honesty, and being responsible for the pain we have caused, our partners will begin to feel heard, understood, and reconnected on a much more stable foundation. I have had many couples come into my office and express that their dishonest spouse just wants them to move on. Yet, they can’t move on because they fear there is more. Guess what? They fear there is more because they know when you are not being honest, open and taking responsibility for the pain you caused.
Sincere apologies are pivotal. Many of us just want to say, “I’M SORRY!” Is this really an apology? Most of us know this is not a real apology. I have tried to apologize so many times like this and still struggle with understanding that this is not a genuine apology.
So what is a genuine, sincere apology?
Here is a good example: “I know that I have hurt you in many ways, especially when I am dishonest. Lying to you was not okay. I am sad that I treated you that way and never want to do that again. I apologize for my behavior and for hurting you. Will you forgive me? And if you ever need to talk about it I will make sure I am available to listen.”
Wow! Writing that apology out impressed even myself. I wish I could say an apology like that on the spot. It’s not easy, but maybe you can take this example and really think about what you partner needs to hear from you. A genuine apology is going to help your partner know you are serious about change and care about how you hurt them. They need to know that you care about them! That’s the key.
Empathize, Validate, and Listen
We are continuing to build on the last 2-3 steps when we work on empathizing, validating and listening. This is individual work that should be expressed when the time is right. To express empathy, validation, and to have a listening ear, continues to help your partner feel cared about and understood. It decreases defensiveness. Defensiveness tends to dismiss our spouses feelings and makes the conversation more about your own perspective. However, dismissing your partner only makes them feel uncared about and reinjures them. Thus, trust and connection are decreased.
What is Empathy?
Merrium-Webster’s dictionary says that empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
I like to think of empathy as connecting with what your spouse is going through and being sensitive to it. Some people say to “put yourself in your spouses shoes.” Either way, you need to put your feelings aside for a minute and check in with your spouse that you care about and love.
What is Validation?
Merrium-Webster’s dictionary says that validation is the act of recognizing, establishing, or illustrating the worthiness or legitimacy of someone else perspective, thoughts, beliefs or feelings.
Maybe this is better viewed as saying that someone else’s perspective or concerns “make sense” based on all the information they have at the time. It’s good to let your spouse know that you “can see how they see.” Basically, their perspective makes sense in light of what they know.
I understand they may not have all the information or you may not agree with their interpretation, but that is what they understand based on the information they have. If you dismiss them at this moment, then you have now reinjured them and caused them to close off to you.
Listening encompasses empathy and validation. If you don’t listen with these concepts in mind, you will unfortunately make your spouse feel dismissed, hurt and not cared about. When you make someone feel this way it leads to them shutting down, not receiving your thoughts and disconnecting from you. In essence, if you want to help them see your perspective, you NEED to connect with and not dismiss their perspective! If you want more help with this, check out my work book on Couples Communication.
Give As Much Time As Needed
You’ve heard that time heals. Some of you have heard, time is of the essence. Time is important in every aspect of life. When it comes to healing, a dishonest spouse usually wants time back and tries to rush the process. It may sound contradictory, but rushing the process actually delays healing. Thus, pressure increases the amount of time it takes for relationships to heal.
I encourage giving as much time as needed to heal. That means giving as much time as needed to vent, to ask questions, to be sad or discouraged, to be apart, to talk through concerns, and/or be in counseling. Whatever is needed, a truly repentant, loving, and caring spouse will want to give anything needed to help their spouse build trust and heal. It takes time to heal. That does not mean there are not things you can do. That is why these steps are so important. It’s a process, not a race. If you want a healthy relationship in the future, then let’s take the time to get things right, now.
Understand Your Partner’s Needs
Through using empathy, listening and validation this step becomes possible. It is important to take the time to understand your partner’s needs. You must listen well and record all the information you can so you can remember and integrate the important things your partner needs. Their needs are important because they will again feel as if you don’t care for them or love them if you aren’t meeting them. It is more important now than ever to know your partner’s needs and fulfill them as best you can.
Perfection is not important. It’s the effort and concern that counts. I want wounded partners to know that they need to affirm the efforts they see (which will be talked about later). Yet, you as a spouse who wounded your partner need to take the time and the care to be concerned about your partner and what they need from you now and later. The more you understand their needs the better you perform as a loving partner and a caring spouse.
Be Consistent and Follow Through
Consistency and follow-through are so important. You know this from life in general. Your job, your friendships, your family and others judge you everyday by how consistent you are. Do you ever say one thing, but do another, or forget to follow-through? Integrity is important. Integrity is the ability to do what you say you are going to do.
If you want healing for your partner and their trust back, you need to be consistent with you words, behavior, and how you show love and care for your spouse. If you make a promise, keep it. If you say no, don’t change your mind just to appease people.
You have to be real and honest with yourself! Don’t be a reed swaying in the wind where ever it blows. Be firm on what you will do and won’t do. If you don’t know, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Then give a time frame for when you will try to find out.
Trust is built on certainty. The more certain your spouse can be about your ability to follow through and do what you say you are going to do, the more safe they feel. Relationships thrive on trust and safety.
Commit To Doing What’s Right
All of these steps are tied together by commitment. If you aren’t ready to commit, please be honest about that at least. When I say commit, I mean committing to loving and caring about your spouse and changing to be a great spouse. Commit to these steps. Commit to change.
What is right? What’s right is not hurting others, loving others completely, and not being selfish. Can you commit to that? If so, these steps will be easy. Commitment is a choice. When you finally make the choice to commit to something, you in some sense promise yourself you will do what you said you will do.
Commit to being the person you really want to be, not the crappy person you see yourself as. You CAN be an amazing person. You just need to commit to turning your life around.
Spiritual help is important!
One way to start is to commit your life to Christ. Repent of what you have done. Repent means to stop doing the behavior and do the opposite and feel sorry for what you have done. Thus, changing your ways to follow a new path. Christ died for you to give you a free gift. That gift is the ability to not be trapped in sin and negative behavior. It’s a gift to be free from sin. It’s a gift to have him live in you and guide you.
He gives you freedom, new life and eternity with him, all of this by just committing to Him. He doesn’t ask for perfection. In fact, Christ is not asking you to change. He is asking you to commit. The power to change comes afterward. Please consider this today so you can be the person you were created to be. If you want to find out more, just EMAIL ME.
Seek Further Help
Sometimes we struggle with change. That’s okay! That’s why there is more than just you. Community is important. We can help each other.
Call a counselor if you are stuck, struggling, or have more serious issues like cheating, looking at porn, or addictive behavior. You can change. Hope is here. Just reach out to someone.
Steps for the hurt partner
Your pain is not going to easily subside. I am sorry for that. I wish I had a magic wand that could take away all peoples’ pain. It’s so sad and so scary. Your fear is normal. You probably feel like you don’t want to open back up or be vulnerable anymore. That’s understandable. However, if you come to a place of desiring to redeem the relationship, your commitment and effort is going to be really important.
You may even feel like you shouldn’t have to do anything, but realistically you are part of the system and to heal a system, you will have to do your part. Take your time. Understand it is a process. If you want an amazing relationship, you will have to be vulnerable and risk being hurt for there to be any possible chance. Here are some things you can do.
Understand Your Partner’s Behavior
You are deeply hurt, fearful, and concerned. This is so normal when you have been lied to. You don’t know what to believe and your trust meter is on empty. It makes since that you don’t want to hear excuses from you partner. You just want the truth! I know this because I have sat with so many wounded spouses. But please let me help you.
It’s so important that you take the time to understand your spouse’s behavior. The thoughts and emotions you are having are so real to you, and they are! Yet, the as I said to your partner earlier, the accuracy of them can be off. Not understanding your spouses behavior can lead to assumptions that just aren’t true, even when they feel true. Feelings are just reactions that tell you somethings wrong, but they don’t dictate what’s true.
Take the time to listen to your spouse and hear the reasons behind his behavior. You may find there is more to his choices than you believed. I am not saying the choice was right, but I am saying there are reasons that could lead to understanding and ultimately to a pathway to change. If you aren’t willing to hear your spouse, it may be hard to for them to open up, be honest, and take responsibility for their choices. They need to know you are willing to go on this journey with them.
Understanding their choices will also all for you to create the right narrative in your head so you can deal with trauma. Healing from trauma is about putting the puzzle pieces together that help make sense of what happened. Most people when they experience trauma, they keep going back to the same questions because they just don’t understand it. Building an understanding is important, but if you are unwilling to listen to the reasons your spouse has for the choices they made, no matter how much they hurt, you may not be able to heal from the trauma.
Empathize With Your Partner’s Fear and Accept Them, but Not Their Behavior
I talked about empathy above. If you need a definition, I gave one above. Empathy is essentially understanding and being sensitive to the emotions and perspective of your spouse. This step helps with the first step. When you work to understand your spouse, you need to be able to empathize, so you don’t dismiss them. Dismissing them will only reaffirm why they made the choices they made in the first place.
Spouse’s who have lied do have fear. They sometimes fear the reaction to other behaviors they are lying about. They sometimes fear losing something they love. Understanding and empathy can help you accept them, but still be in a place not accepting the behavior. Now you together can start to change the behavior based on the desires and needs that are processed.
Set Firm, but Loving Boundaries
To go along with understanding and empathy, I want you to remember that the choice your partner made is not okay. To further establish this, set firm, but loving boundaries. Boundaries are just another name for the lines we draw to state the behaviors we will tolerate and which ones we won’t. Consequences will need to be outlined too.
I suggest having a conversation about these boundaries and what you will do if the boundaries are crossed. If your spouse lies again, what will you do? What is the plan? How will you deal with it? I stress the word REASONABLE. Boundaries need to be reasonable and consequences need to be reasonable. No one is perfect. Make sure you are setting reasonable standards for yourself and your spouse.
Boundaries help to protect from further injuries. They also can be helpful in creating a path forward. Boundaries can be stated as what you will do to improve and what you won’t do so that injury is not continued.
Take Time To Heal
As a said above, time is a healing agent when wounded. You need to take time to heal. Now that doesn’t always mean to take as much time as you want. It means more to take the time you NEED. People have a tendency to delay and avoid, especially when things don’t feel good. We tend to avoid painful feelings. However, you do need time to grieve, build trust, understand your partner, empathize, and rebuild yourself.
My suggestion is to MAKE TIME. Make time to do these things, but don’t rush them. If you need time because the pain is too intense, then take it slow. There is no need to rush. As I said above, it is better to get things right. I would rather know that you are building the right foundation for trust, healing in the right way, and learning the right skills before getting it done fast. Timing is important, but don’t think you have to go slow either. Take your time, but don’t delay your growth and healing.
Taking time to heal mean to be diligent, focused, intentional, but not hasty. Express your timing boundaries, because as we said previously, boundaries are a must. You deserve to heal. Healing must happen or the relationship will not be healthy. So, taking your time to do it right matters!
Commit and Choose to Forgive
Committing to healing and choosing to forgive are the next step to building trust. As you choose the path of healing and building trust, you are making it a point to work towards a goal. Many of my clients in the past don’t desire to work on anything. They just want to sit and not feel pain anymore. You could say they rolling around in their misery, but not choosing to move forward. Please don’t take this as me saying forgive and forget. I NEVER say that. It’s not possible to forget. However, I do believe in choosing to commit to grieving, healing, building trust, and moving forward towards a goal. There is a time for being sad or fearful, but at some point, there must be a choice to commit to change and growth.
As you commit to the steps I am showing you, you are choosing a path forward, although it hurts. As you continue to move towards the goals you have chosen to work towards, you will heal and come to a place that will open the door for forgiveness. You do not have to choose this yet, but forgiveness is always a choice. It doesn’t just happen. Yet, to completely heal, you MUST choose to forgive. It’s not an option. The timing is an option, but to forgive, if you want to heal, is not an option.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the ability to let go of the desire to have justice for the pain that someone or something else caused you to have. You essentially are allowing God to hold onto that for you so you can be free. By doing this, you release bitterness and find hope for freedom to live without holding onto the pain of the past. It goes a little like this: “I forgive _________ for ___________. I release them to you Jesus to judge and I choose to live free from the burden of bitterness.” See how easy that is? Now you may have to do it a few time, but the more you release someone from your need to see justice served, the more free you are to heal. I know it seems like they may be getting away with it. But if you remember the boundaries we set, then you are holding them accountable in several ways.
Be Open to Your Part, Take Responsibility, but Don’t Blame Yourself
This step involves you seeing how you might play a part in the system or patterns that keep the relationship from healing or growing. All relationships have cycles and patterns. I am in no way say you caused your spouse to lie or hurt you. Their choice alone solely rests on them. What I am referring to is more of the steps to healing and building trust. For you to heal and build trust, another step you need to take is to understand your contribution to the relational dynamic between you and your spouse.
You only control you
I teach many of my clients that you only control 3 things in life: your beliefs, your thoughts, and your actions. You do not control anything else. You may disagree with this, but maybe it makes it easier if I say you do have immense influence over everything else around you and in you. Unfortunately, you don’t control how that influence pans out.
Why is this important? It’s important because by only controlling those 3 things and having influence you don’t control on other things, it helps us see how you really need to understand the part you play in your relationship. You need to understand how those 3 things effect your spouse so that you don’t cause them to become defensive, triggered, or another behavior that bothers you. I hope this helps.
Please don’t blame yourself for your spouse’s choices. You are not to blame. A lot of your spouse’s choices have nothing to do with you. Really!! I mean that! They have more to do with your spouse’s pride, selfishness, and inability to manage themselves well. I don’t mean that to be mean, but it’s true. All of us struggle with pride, selfishness and managing ourselves.
Accept Partner’s Attempts To Repair Hurt
After you open yourself up to focusing on how you can control what you can control, also choose to accept when your partner tries to repair the relationship and the hurt they have caused. I am not saying they will do this, but most will try. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of spouses say, “They don’t really mean that.” Or, “They don’t really care or they wouldn’t have done what they did.” Try not to let yourself go there. You hopefully now understand their reasons and the situation better. So, choose to accept your partner’s efforts. They usually are well meaning.
Even if they aren’t, how would you know? You don’t want to assume and be wrong. I understand there is fear of being hurt again. You very well might get hurt again. However, if you don’t want to be hurt again, you can choose to leave, but that will not heal or change you or your spouse. I am not recommending leaving! As a Christian, I don’t believe in divorce, accept in specific situations. Even then, the Bible says that God hates divorce. He would rather see you work to heal and grow the relationship and yourself.
Avoid Dwelling on Your Partner’s Behavior and Focus on Positive Change
Finally, avoid dwelling on your partner’s behavior and focus on making positive changes. This step is all about not moving backwards. There is a time and space for focusing on past behavior. That is usually before this step. If there is a need to understand or go back to processing a past problem, then I would encourage separating that and having a specific, detailed meeting about that one specific thing. Why? Because our focus now is on positive change.
What is positive change? Positive change is the action you take to meet specified goals and change the negative patterns and cycles of the past to positive patterns and cycles. You are looking to create a healthy, loving and connected relationship. Let’s focus on that now and action steps it takes to get their. It’s time to create a plan and foundation that we can build on. Steps to a solid and unbreakable bond. If you look backward and continue to let yourself dwell on the past, you will not be keeping your eyes on the goal and will continue to trip as you move forward.
The Bible talks about “taking every thought captive” and “thinking about such things” as truth and what is right. Why? Because you can get caught up in the weeds and briars of things that are not so important. That does not mean if another major behavior issue pops up that we should address it. But we would not want that to destroy the growth we have attained.
Steps for the couple
Once couples work on their own steps to repair the wounds of the relationship, it would be helpful for them to work together on improving the quality of the connection, affection, and intimacy they have. This can be done through many different means, but here are few steps that can summarize pathways to building healthy relationships that keep trust and connection strong. You want to do everything you can to strengthen your bond so that you will not want to hurt each other again and so that you will be more understanding of your partner’s needs.
Spend quality time together and create new meaning
If you have read the 5 Love Languages, quality time is important to some people and also spells love to them. However, I have found that most people need quality time to feel loved. Be intentional about creating time together that results in meaningful interaction and fun. Creating meaning in relationships can be done through many different avenues. Make a list of all the possible things ya’ll can do together, whether it seems enjoyable or not.
Activities that are new to both of you, where you both have to learn a new skill are always meaningful. They help you create a story to tell kids or grandkids, to talk about later, or to reminisce on. Being intentional will make sure that you actually follow through. You can say you care about someone else, but until you do something to show you care, like going out of your way to create quality time together, it is sometimes hard for others to see your love and care for them.
Schedule time to communicate openly and honestly about feelings, expectations and concerns
Making time, by scheduling it, to communicate openly and honestly about things you care about and feel is so important! You need to talk about things no matter how hard it can be. I just finished talking to a client about having “uncomfortable conversations.” I don’t like having them, but I find they are the most connecting type of conversations when done right. It is important to have your listening ears on and a good attitude. You need to be in a posture of desiring to understand and connect with your spouse.
Setting a time is important. How busy are you in a week? I know parents that “schedule” so much stuff for their kids that they “never have time.” How come they schedule all these activities for their kids, but never leave space for their spouse? If you can schedule everything else, you can schedule time to talk. The reason people don’t is because they don’t see it as important. Or better yet, they don’t like “uncomfortable conversations” so they AVOID it. Don’t avoid each other. It’s called “kicking the can down the road.” Make a point to have conversations so you can make change, heal, grow and build trust NOW. It isn’t going to get better and most likely will get worse if you don’t!
Increase physical touch and closeness that does not expect sex
Touch is so important. You may not like touch. It may not be your love language. But do you realize it is one of the ways that humans and animals bond? If you were not touched as a baby, you could enter into what they call “failure to thrive.” This is research ya’ll! You need touch. You may have been hurt in your life by others or rejected, so you avoid touch, or worse, have decided to believe you don’t need it. YOU NEED TOUCH.
Work on increasing non-sexual touch. Holding hands, hugging, kissing, sitting close, back rubs, finger grazes, snuggling and other ways of touching can all be initiated in ways that are non-sexual. Sexual touch is meaningful and good for it’s time, but many people just want to know you want to be with them in a moment without sex. How many of you women have said to a female friend, “I just wish he would touch me for me, not sex.” I have heard something of that sort many times in my office. Men, stop groping your wives!! They need to be cherished and touched in loving ways without it leading to sex. Let them take charge for awhile. If they want sex, let them initiate it or move your hand to the parts you usually grope. Basically, be a gentleman! We have lost that ability these days.
Get close and stay close. Wherever you go, just be near each other. Enjoy each other’s presence, at home and out and about. When I go shopping with my wife, I talk to her and hold her hand. I put my hand on her waste some. I kiss her cheek. I am obviously a touch person. I also stay engaged though. Balance it out if you are touch person. I help her find things she might want to by (Acts of Service). Be loving and cherish the time you spend with her.
Talk about and respect each others boundaries and expectations
Finally, talk about and respect each other’s boundaries and expectations. Remember those “uncomfortable conversations” I talked about. This would be an example of one. You need to know each other’s boundaries and expectations. You need to respect them and accept them. Maybe some compromise would be helpful. Talk about the reasons you need these boundaries and expectations. Talk about time frames that you might need them. Discuss ways to implement them. Be open, curious, and empathetic. Use all the steps you have been given. These will help sustain the walks of trust and security you are building.
Trust is built around the understanding that you are a safe person that will not violate my boundaries and will keep me from emotional, physical and mental harm. Be a safe person. Desire safe communication. Create safety with each other. Because you love each other, build a relationship that is secure for both of you.
Trust is so important to relationships. When trust has been broken by dishonesty, it may seem impossible to regain trust. It does take work and compassion. These steps are more of a process than linear. You can try to work them one after the other, but I assume you will keep needing to go back to some. I suggest you work them intentionally, but as needed through your process. As the person who broke the trust, I believe more of the work and responsibility lies on you. You need to change. Don’t be the same old person who falls short. You can and will change if you work at it. Be the person God created you to be!
As the person who has been hurt, you are not the same person anymore. Things have changed, but you control how they change, for worse or better. Be intentional about your own growth, but don’t shut down just because it hurts. Fight for love, connection, safety and growth! If after trying as hard as you can, you can bare no more, then you can choose to move on. You don’t have to feel shame, but at least make sure you feel satisfied with your effort so you don’t regret your decisions in the future. I find many people don’t fight for the relationship long enough or hard enough and ultimately have regrets in the future. I believe in both of you! Do well, be intentional, and choose love.
I write these post to be thought provoking. Take this content and go explore, research and learn for yourselves what God’s purposes and plans are. You alone can grow yourself and build the life you want!