Q: I really blew it. How can I regain the trust of my spouse?
A: Once trust is broken, it’s very difficult to rebuild—not impossible, just difficult. Listen to one of our heartbroken callers:
“I just was calling to see if you guys could help me figure out a way to get my wife to forgive me for some things that I have done. I had a problem with pornography over a two-year period, and a lot of people were hurt during my time of addiction. It was all brought to a head about six or seven months ago, and my wife just can’t forgive me for it.”
If you’re facing a situation where you’ve really hurt your spouse and you’ve broken trust, you have to realize that you can’t “get” your spouse to forgive you. What you must do first is find your personal peace. You need to confess your sin to the Lord and you need to be cleansed. You need to be walking with Christ. And then you know what? You need to change. And that’s repentance. You need to turn away from whatever behavior caused the problem so that over a time your spouse can begin to trust you again.
In the past, you lied. So what do you do? Now you tell the truth. Everything that comes out of your mouth should be truthful. Your spouse longs for you to be all that God made you to be. Your spouse needs you to be a person of integrity. But you just can’t put that on. It’s going to take some time; it’s going to show itself in the smallest decisions. Stick to your word in the smallest of things. Stay away from those places that you know are going to tempt you. Get some people in your life—including your spouse—who will hold you accountable. You fight the lies by telling the truth. Let that beautiful refreshment of the Spirit of God wash through your spirit and clean out the stuff that was pulling you down. If you have trouble within your mind, then confess it to God and start memorizing some Bible verses so that whenever temptation comes, you can remember the Word.
It’s a process and it’s going to take time. If you have hurt your spouse deeply or repeatedly, he or she may be willing to forgive you, but that doesn’t mean that the relationship is completely healed and that you can go on as if nothing happened. For true restoration to occur, you must be willing to work at rebuilding your spouse’s trust over a period of time. You need to prove to your spouse over the long haul that your confession, contrition, and repentance are genuine. Listen to another caller:
“I want to encourage everybody out there who’s going through a breakup, separation, or divorce. My wife and I went through a separation for eight months. I cheated on her. She forgave me, but she didn’t trust me. It took a long time for her to finally get a little bit of trust back. We did counseling. I would like to encourage people in that situation to just hold steady and trust in God and seek God in this time. It’s very important. I knew that my wife and I were meant for each other, even though I had messed up. I knew that what I had done was grounds for divorce.—and divorce was mentioned several times. But now we’re back together. We’re still going to counseling and we are trying every day. It’s not easy. But you know what? Christ can redeem a broken relationship and turn it around.”
Trust isn’t rebuilt overnight. If you have been unfaithful to your spouse, it may take long months of single-minded devotion before a foundation of trust is reestablished. The sanctity and peace of your relationship may be in ruins at your feet, but through the power of Christ’s redeeming love, your marriage can be transformed from rubble to restoration. Begin that healing process today. Begin to rebuild trust today. Be faithful and patient, and you will experience the restoration you seek.
*Our book, Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage, can help you understand different conflict styles and teach you how to move toward forgiveness and healing!