In two previous blog posts I describe the first two phases of what happens when a trust is broken. They are the Discovery phase and the Meaning phase. If a couple has made it this far, it’s now time to actually attempt the trust building process.
You must play the long game.
I think this is the most difficult phase because it can take a year or more to accomplish and it requires diligence and patience. You must be willing to play the long game now. There will be challenges and setbacks but that is normal. You must be ready to overcome them and keep your eyes on the goal.
There is no one right way to do it. In my practice, I continue to tell the couple that the relationship they had before is gone and is not coming back. If anyone thinks a relationship can be put back together the way it was, they are mistaken.
Also, the relationship wasn’t working before the Incident, which most likely lead to the broken trust. So why would anyone want to go back to something that wasn’t working in the first place?
The idea here is that a new relationship must be created that is healthy and strong. One that endures the test of time and challenges.
There will always be risk.
This is a long process. Both people must be highly motivated to try. I say try because there’s no assurance that it will work. There is always risk that one or both partners will at some point say it’s not worth it or it’s not working. So the requirement is a complete commitment to do your best with an uncertain outcome.
The process that I use for rebuilding trust is too long for this post. I can say that it’s made up of many small actions that take place over a long period of time.
I’m not trying to scare you, although it may seem that way. I am trying to paint a realistic picture of what you can expect throughout this process.
The best way to avoid all this is to not break a trust in the first place. Believe me, the consequences will be more harsh than you think.
According to the wonderful therapist and author Esther Perel, whose work I find very useful, there are three possible outcomes to rebuilding a broken trust.
You’re stuck in the muck.
The couple enters this phase with good intentions and reasonable expectations. However, they cannot get out of their old unhealthy patterns and they eventually revert back to their old ways. The Incident that happened to cause the broken trust keeps surfacing and causing conflict. You can guess what happens here. Eventually the relationship falls apart.
You make progress but only half way.
This couple is able to rebuild the broken trust, which is impressive. However, they don’t address the issues in their relationship that lead to the Incident. These issues arise again and prevent the couple from prospering. Trust is there, which is necessary. Yet the same old stuff continues to get in their way. The result is they improve, but not all the way. They will most likely continue to struggle as a couple.
You found the Golden Ticket.
This couple resolves to be totally honest with each other while having healthy conversations. They drop their egos and focus on the kind of relationship they want to have now and in the future. There is no blame and no fault. They are equal partners who want the same thing and are willing, even wanting, to do things very differently. They are not bound by the past and want to discover their new future together. This couple will end up strong and healthy with an excellent chance of being happy.
Please get professional help.
Navigating any phase of this process is difficult and demanding. Taking on all three phases is a formidable challenge. I strongly suggest you not try it alone. An experienced, professional marriage counselor can help you repair the damage and chart a new course.
Please don’t hesitate to call me for a free consultation. I’d be happy to help you.