My Husband Wants My Trust After His Affair. But He Seems Unwilling To Try And Earn It First

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s common sense that one of the biggest issues that you have to contend with after your spouse has an affair is trust.  Even if both of you truly want to save your marriage and come out of this OK, it seems that the trust is always staring you in the face and causing trouble.

And, this is understandable.  After all, most of us trusted our spouses before we found out about the affair and we had our hearts broken as a result.  We may have vowed to never be blindsided in this way again. And so we are always on our guard.  We are always watching and we are always waiting to catch him doing something wrong again.   Of course, most husbands can understand the scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean that they like it.  And they will often try to get you to drop it before you are ready to, leaving a wife to wonder how to proceed when the trust is still a huge struggle.

She might explain: “my husband cheated on me when I was distracted caring for an ill parent who was in the hospital.  I know that this was a stressful time for our family.  But it was not a picnic for me either.  I knew I had responsibilities to my family, but I was being pulled in several different directions.  I did the best that I could.  So of course when I find out that my husband has been cheating on me, it is shocking and devastating.  Of course I take everything my husband says with a grain of salt.  I did not immediately file for divorce. I am willing to see what might happen between us.  I am open to the idea of saving our marriage.  But I am also guarded about this.  I am constantly suspicious of my husband. If he works late, I assume he is cheating on me again.  The other day, he was very late and he texted me that he had a flat tire and I assumed that he was lying.  I was furious.  But then I drove by his office thinking his car wouldn’t even be there and indeed he was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.  I could have come to help him, but I was too busy thinking that he was lying. So I did stop the car and apologize to him.  His reply was: ‘you have got to start trusting me.’  I don’t see why.  It’s only been a couple of months.  And I have asked him to earn my trust by calling to check in and by going to counseling, but he seems to resist both.  He acts as if I have to take the first step by trusting him, but I think that it is the other way around.  I think that the first step is his being accountable and proactive so that he EARNS my trust back.  Who is right?”

I definitely think that your logic is correct.  And as a wife who has been cheated on, I completely understand how hard it is to give him the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been so badly burned.  He’s asking you to go against your better judgement and against human nature.  And it can be difficult to do this when you are trying to protect your heart.

With that said, I did learn that there has to be a compromise with this.  Because if you are constantly guarded and looking for problems, it is going to create even more tension in an already tense situation.  And it is hard enough to try to save your marriage without both of you feeling angry and suspicious.  I am by no means saying that you have to blindly trust him.  I don’t think that you do.  That’s an almost impossible task when the affair is so fresh. I do think that at some point, assuming that he’s been completely truthful and forthcoming, you have to give him some benefit of the doubt unless and until he gives you a reason not to.

No one says that you need to do this right away or immediately.  And if he is impatient about this, then there is nothing wrong with spelling out what needs to happen in order to speed this process.  This allows both of you to be on the same page and you might both get what you want more quickly.  You might try: “I’m willing to try to not assume the worst if you are willing to be more accountable and more proactive toward our healing.  I need to hear from you as soon as you know that you will be late.  I need for you to show me that you are serious about our marriage by going to counseling.  I will not be able to blindly trust you again until we heal.  And that is going to take a while.  But I think that counseling will make it happen faster.  And you’re being open and not secretive will also reassure me that you don’t have anything to hide.  If you show me your sincerity by doing these things, then I will try to not assume the worst.  Can we agree on that?”

Hopefully, he will agree.  Honestly, his wanting your trust sooner rather than later is natural.  And your not wanting to give it is also natural.  It doesn’t mean that he’s a bad person.  But it does take quite a while for the trust to be restored.  Perhaps the counselor can make this clear to your husband so that he no longer thinks that you are just punishing him.  A lot of healing has to take place before many wives are able to lower their guard. Asking for this too soon is, in my opinion, asking too much.  At the same time, you can understand how badly your husband felt on the side of the road knowing that his wife didn’t believe him, which is why it’s always important to try to meet in the middle when you can.

Believe me, I know that some days this is easier said than done.  I didn’t trust my husband for a second for months after his affair.  But as we healed, I let go some.  And he showed me his sincerity over time.  Because of both of these things, it felt safe to trust again.  And he has never made me regret it. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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