Why Is It So Hard To Trust My Husband After His Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Most of us married folks are willing to trust our spouses with most things, even when they have messed up a time or two. We trust our spouse to handle our finances even if he has made a few bad business decisions throughout the course of our marriage. We trust him with our kids even if he lets them eat donuts for breakfast and stay up late watching cartoons. But the same is not true with our hearts if he has stepped on it a time or two. No, once he makes the mistake of cheating on us, that trust doesn’t just come back. It is a hard fought battle for him to earn it back. He doesn’t always understand this. Admittedly, we don’t always understand this ourselves and we can begin to think that there is something wrong with us when we can’t get this trust back immediately.

I might hear someone explain it this way: “it took a long time until I decided to save my marriage after my husband’s affair. I actually made him stay with is mother for weeks because I couldn’t stand to see his guilty face. Toward the end of those weeks, I started to miss him. And he was calling me daily begging me to give him one more chance. He promised to go to counseling and do whatever I wanted him to do. In the meantime, my kids were constantly asking me where their father was and saying how much they missed him. So, after some time, I agreed to allow him back into my life, with the understanding that I might change my mind at any time. Well, we are still married. We are trying to work things out. We have our good days and our bad days. And our problem is no longer the affair really, it is my lack of trust. I am always questioning my husband even though he is always where he says that he is going to be. I have never caught him participating in wrong doing since the affair. And I know that he is trying. But I always find myself questioning him with an accusing tone. And then he gets angry and says that I am never going to trust him again and that our marriage is doomed. After we have these conversations, I really do try to trust him. But I can’t help it, the doubts come back. And I find myself doubting him again. Why can’t I just trust him?”

In my opinion, there are many reasons. And none of them are your fault.  Plus, none of them last forever, as long as you both are moving forward. Below I’ll go over some reasons that the trust is so hard to recover and offer some tips on how to get it back.

Don’t Blame Yourself. It is Hard To Trust Someone Who Has Lied To Your About Their Fidelity: I think that people underestimate just how devastating it is to be cheated on. And this is especially true if you didn’t see it coming. Often, the cheating spouse’s lies seem to come to him so easily. He can look you right in the face and lie to you without your sensing that anything is amiss. Of course, this is going to put you on your guard in the future. Because no matter how much you want to trust him, you can forget that shock and pain.

You might recognize the following argument that you’ve been having with yourself.

Initial Thought: “I don’t know why I act this way. He is always where he says he’s going to be. So I don’t know why I’m doubting him now. What he is saying makes perfect sense.”

Second Thought: “Yes, but that’s what you thought before when he was cheating on you.  You thought everything was fine and he was lying to you on a daily basis and going behind your back. Do you want that to happen to you again? Don’t be stupid.”

Needless to say, it’s hard to trust when you have these types of conversations in your own head. And it can be nearly impossible to stop this, especially at first. Most of the time, you are minding your own business and yet the thoughts still come. None of this means that there is anything wrong with you. It just means that you have a healthy dose of self preservation and common sense.

Seeing It From Another Side: Let’s put it another way. When I was much younger, I got into a bad car accident by a relative’s house. For a long time afterward, I had a very hard time driving on the same road, even if someone else was driving. It brought back all of the pain and the fear. So I had my relative come to me because it just made me too uncomfortable to go by there. However, with the passage of time, I started to realize that I wasn’t seeing my relative as much as I might have liked and so eventually and slowly, I started to drive by there again.

It’s just natural to want to avoid things that we think are going to hurt us again. But we manage to do it in time.  It takes a while for us to feel safe again but eventually, our desire to get our lives back overcomes our fear.

Getting The Trust Back: I wish I had an easy and fast way to magically restore the trust. I don’t. It does take time. And it does take repeatedly seeing your spouse act honorably and in your best interest. When you see this over and over again over a period of time, then you start to believe it.

And, like my car ride, when you see that you are missing out on something because of your fear, then sometimes you are motivated to go outside of your comfort zone in order to overcome it. (Keep in mind though that your husband has to make you feel safe to do so. He has to show with his behavior that it is safe to trust him.)

Many of us have done team building exercises at work or school where you have to fall back into someone’s arms and trust that they won’t drop you. Many of us think that this is a corny exercise, but studies have shown that it works, which is why this exercise is still very popular. You sort of have to do this exercise in your marriage over time. You trust a little and then see that he has caught you. And then after a while you trust again and realize that he hasn’t let allowed you to fall yet. So you do it a little more until you wake up one day and realize that the trust has slowly returned and that you haven’t fallen yet.

I am not going to tell you that I complete trust in my husband after his affair.  I didn’t.   I looked at him with suspicion all of the time.   As months passed though, I slowly started allowing him to show me trustworthy behaviors.  This mattered over time.  And eventually, I felt safe enough to trust again.  If it helps, you’re welcome to read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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