Why Won't My Spouse Believe Me?

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When we entered into recovery from infidelity, there was a long season of disbelief—even though I was telling the truth. Granted, after what I had done to my marriage, I didn't deserve to be believed; nevertheless, it is a very disheartening and discouraging time.

After discovery, I knew I had hit what many would call "rock bottom." I was so tired of my lies, my life, and myself—so I came clean. I told the entire truth about what I had done. For the first time in my life, it felt good to be rid of every secret and every "bad and shameful thing," and have it all out on the table.

However, my husband did not believe me for many months; perhaps a more true statement was that he could not believe me. He would ask if there was more. He would ask if that was everything. There were times he would even come up with new information that would make me feel absolutely crazy. He would ask me if I had an inappropriate relationship with what seemed like any man we had known during our entire marital history.

It was CRAZY-making.

If I was already crazy, I certainly was convinced I was even more so by this point, because I started to question myself. I started to question everything. This wasn't necessarily a bad place now that I look back. Had I told him everything? What if I forgot something? Was I so good at lying and pretending that I didn't even know what the truth was anymore?

His "believer" ability had been broken. And my trustworthiness was even more broken.

If you find yourself struggling with this, I hope to share anything along the path of our journey to encourage you or to help you to see things from a different perspective. We all need each other in this.

Fast-forward two years for us.

Speaking of, I know there are days you wish there was a fast-forward button. The work of recovery is grueling and long and painstakingly slow. There were times when we really struggled so much that I wanted a fast-forward button so badly. There were times my husband was in such agony, I am certain that he wanted a rewind button to erase what I had done.

But I digress, and back to the question.

Why won't my spouse believe me?

There is an element of "the boy who cried wolf" for us unfaithful. We are a wishy-washy bunch. We said we would do one thing, but we went and did another. Just because I had gotten to a place where I was open and honest, I failed to see a pretty big message of humility.

  1. Coming clean doesn't mean you're healthy
  2. Just because I told the truth–while it was a relief and a huge step of growth for me–really meant nothing to my betrayed spouse in light of all I had done. In his eyes, that truth must have paled in comparison to the pain and injustice I had caused. Just because an alcoholic takes his last sip doesn't exactly make him healthy. Disclosure was simply the jumping-off point. Yes, I had told the truth, but I still had–and still have–a LONG way to go in maturing the areas of trustworthiness and obedience.

  3. Don't take it personally. It's not about you.
  4. What I also needed to see was that my husband's unbelief wasn't about me. Part of his process had to be not believing me. He had to ask over-and-over to know the truth. In some weird way, I think he needed to hear me say the same things over-and-over to believe me. It is much the same with my own journey with my Savior. How many times have I had to hear that I am loved and forgiven before I actually believed it and lived it out? If your spouse still won't believe you, trust me when I say it is probably not about you.

    When my husband would not believe me it also set forth a primal sense of panic within me. A desperate feeling would wash over me that led to the fear that I would be abandoned or left alone. This thought was absolutely devastating to me. I, without a doubt, had absolutely no sense of maturity, obedience, or solidarity. Most people engaged in affairs usually do not. So it put me in a place of panic for a good while.

  5. Don't write stories in your head or make it harder than it needs to be
  6. After a while, the unfaithful spouse can easily start to go down a road of wrong-thinking. For me, this often looked like a black-or-white place: "He will never believe me. Why should I even bother telling the truth if it doesn't seem to matter?" Or, it can set up an even more dangerous proposition in the mind of an unfaithful spouse that might lead to the type of thinking that says something like, "This is too hard. They will never see that I am someone who can change or tell the truth, so I will just give up."

    It was so difficult to see any of this while we were in the middle of recovery. So many times, when I look back, I wish that I could have made it more about my betrayed spouse's journey and his process. Just because I had come to a place where I decided to get my act together and be honest didn't automatically mean that my spouse would be able to digest that. Instead of trying to control the outcome, I want to always remember what a mess I can be. I am a girl who would avoid pain at all costs, and it was very painful for me to feel the rejection of not being believed. Again, now I know it's not about me.

So, what if your betrayed spouse still won't believe you?

I think I have had to learn that ultimately it doesn't matter. As much as I wanted him to believe me, I needed to change ultimately for me. Focusing on his belief or disbelief derailed me from what I needed to do to become safe and responsible. Your spouse not believing you has nothing to do with what is necessary for you to grow. I had to change and mature for my own sake. And doing that has definitely benefited my marriage.


As always, thanks for reading and letting me grow alongside you.

To healing,
Elizabeth

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Comments

Unbelieving spouse

First thank you for your perspective in all this. As a betrayed spouse I get why its hard to believe someone after they have rocked your world to the core. My d day came years afterwards but it still seemed like it was in the present time. It made me question EVERYTHING from the past including paternity of a later child. I struggle daily. I don't know what,if anything, spoken could make things better. It doesn't matter the reason. I know everyone's prescription is time, but how much? Your blog does help me see that side and empathize. We're still together but no where near the same, and I don't think it will ever be. To believe her again about anything significant is hard, I will fact check or question and I know that makes things worse. Funny thing is outside of the marriage I am fairly successful, respected , confident and happy. Not sure what that means. I hope others where the betrayed is the wife come forward, almost all of these type blogs are about betraying husband's. When you start noticing that it really makes you feel small and ask things like why did MY wife cheat, there must be something wrong with me. I bet others feel the same. Thank you for your blog and please continue.

You are welcome. I am glad

You are welcome. I am glad you are reading and searching for ways to heal. I am sorry for all of the shame that my actions and every unfaithful's actions have bestowed upon you. I hate hearing how small you feel. Keep seeking healing from the lies that shame tells us.

My feelings exactly. 5 years

My feelings exactly. 5 years from d-day currently and I don't trust any more now than I did then. Mainly because I haven't been told anything of what happened. I only know what I know due to the "investigative" work I did. So believing/trusting her again seems virtually impossible. I've stayed for the sake of our child. but that child will be leaving home soon. So, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me in a similar situation. We are no where near the same as we were and questioning how it could ever be the same or better. I am also constantly questioning what was wrong with me. I still fact check and find things that she seems to do that keep her connected to the affair, even if there is no actual contact (to my knowledge).
Overall, my personal feeling is that effort makes all the difference. Equally, the lack of effort makes just as much difference just in the opposite direction. I too ask myself why and feel small/belittled within my own home. I know I can survive on my own. Now the question is, do I want to? This site and Elizabeth's post, in particular, have made a huge, positive impact on my life. Thank you and keep them coming!

Why my spouse won’t believe me

I like your honest writing. Thank you for being so brave and open .

Very nicely written... thank

Very nicely written... thank you. I'm the unfaithful and one year from first D day...it is heart breaking when I'm not believed..panic...I see all of what your saying...but I tell myself I did this and I am better and need stay truthful and loving to my spouse. Thank you again

You are welcome. The one

You are welcome. The one year mark is indeed tough. I know I needed to hear at that point to keep working. It really does take every bit of 18-24 months to make significant progress, so don't give up.

Thank you

I’m glad you shared this. I’ve told my wife before that it’s not about her. That part of my process is to protect myself from further deception. The effect is so life altering that I feel like I have to assume anything could be a lie or a ruse. All I want is to protect myself in an area that I had once left vulnerable and trusted her to protect. I know I’ll need to, but I can’t make myself feel safe. It is in no way implying that she has lied to me in disclosure or since. Sometimes, I feel guilty because she was so brave in being honest with me and I still can’t bring myself to trust that it was the whole truth. I value her honesty. For now, I’m in a spot where believing it seems like it’s a choice I won’t allow myself to make. I guess I’ll stay in faith and stop looking for that fast forward button. Thanks again Elizabeth.

Your comments are so honest

Your comments are so honest and so helpful to me and I know others. I am glad you were brave enough to share where you are and just how difficult this is. I suppose we are all in process and we will all eventually get there, one step and one choice at a time.

Behavior

For a long time I could not believe anything my husband told me, because it was to dangerous. Like the article says D-day and confession does not equal healthy.

So I say to the betrayed spouse believe behavior. If they have to remind you they have changed, then question their change. But give some grace as painful as it is when they remember new information. If they are bringing it to you, they are working to uncover everything.

To the unfaithful I say continue to be honest, even on the days it seems to not be working, because one discovered lie will rub salt into the wound you already caused and set back everything. When and if you remember new information or a detail that has been questioned bring that information to the table.

Great advice. Thank you for

Great advice. Thank you for sharing your widsom with everyone.

Understand disbelief more than I should

This is my first time writing on this site. I read your message and it resonates so closely with me.
I was unfaithful 21 years ago. My husband learned of it pretty soon after it ended. I lied over and over and over again for many many years. I lied about the things that happened, I minimized things I had done and I really feel like I got to the point that even I didn’t remember the truth or even the lies I had said about my actions previously. These lies have really added to the inability for my husband and I to be connected.
About 6 years ago my husband came to me and told me that he was leaving and that this had been his plan for the last 15 years. He said he had stayed for the kids and had basically pretended all was well so he would have control of the outcome. This for me was devastating and I didn’t see it coming. It was this that made me realize that I we had not resolved anything and I needed to get my stuff together.
I have since told him all of that horrible things I did. The problem with this is that some of it I truly don’t remember and he thinks I am keeping it from him. (How many times did I meet this person etc) the other part is that he does not have confidence in the fact that I am telling him the truth now. Even though I have shared very uncomfortable details with him he still believes there is more. He has mentally filled in the blanks where he had gaps and it is near impossible to prove to him that what I am telling him now is the truth.
I have since learned that I do not want to be the person who is deceitful. I no longer lie and I am in a place where I don’t have a need to lie.
I hope that one day my husband can find it in his heart to see that I have grown and can now be trusted. Consistency and patience on my part are all I know to do. (I have already taken a lie detector test to answer some of the questions but he still finds fault in that)

Thanks for writing. I hope

Thanks for writing. I hope you continue to do so. AR is a pretty heartfelt community and you will find a lot of support here if you work the program. I am sorry for all of the YEARS of pain that you have both been through. Have you considered going to an EMS weekend? I really think if you guys could swing it financially, you would benefit tremendously. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, keep being consistent and patient. I am sorry you carried so many secrets and burdens for so many years. The truth really can set you free.

Thanks for writing. I hope

Thanks for writing. I hope you continue to do so. AR is a pretty heartfelt community and you will find a lot of support here if you work the program. I am sorry for all of the YEARS of pain that you have both been through. Have you considered going to an EMS weekend? I really think if you guys could swing it financially, you would benefit tremendously. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, keep being consistent and patient. I am sorry you carried so many secrets and burdens for so many years. The truth really can set you free.

Thanks for writing. I hope

Thanks for writing. I hope you continue to do so. AR is a pretty heartfelt community and you will find a lot of support here if you work the program. I am sorry for all of the YEARS of pain that you have both been through. Have you considered going to an EMS weekend? I really think if you guys could swing it financially, you would benefit tremendously. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, keep being consistent and patient. I am sorry you carried so many secrets and burdens for so many years. The truth really can set you free.

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