How to Rebuild Trust After Infidelity: Become Reliable

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Today, I'm going to discuss something that's at the cornerstone of recovery for couples: How to rebuild trust after infidelity. When there's been infidelity of any kind, trust has been shattered. We've heard from marriage experts for decades that trust is the foundation of a marriage. Rick Reynolds, founder and president of Affair Recovery, says this at our EMS Weekends all the time:

"Respect is given, but trust is earned."

Earning trust is probably one of the most difficult things for a wayward spouse to do. On the heels of that, trying to trust your mate again can be an awfully challenging experience for the betrayed spouse. If you're emotionally flooding, if you've had your heart stepped on, if your reality has been turned upside down, offering trust again may scare the life out of you.

Instead of discussing how to trust again after infidelity, I'm going to take the conversation in a different direction. If you read our eBook called "The Shocking Truth About Trust," it will change your life. This resource highlights how after infidelity, honesty is one of the best things to replace trust with. When you can't trust your spouse or they can't trust you, honesty spills over into intimacy, and intimacy is how to rebuild trust after infidelity.

If you're the betrayed spouse, the last thing that any infidelity expert would do is tell you to automatically go back to trusting your mate. Why? If the wayward spouse is really honest, the first thing they would probably say is, "I wouldn't trust me either if I were you." The reality is, trust has been completely decimated after betrayal. The last thing a betrayed spouse wants to do is go right back into trusting; however, trust can be replaced early on with honesty and transparency because those are going to rebuild intimacy, which can slowly but surely rebuild trust.

What Does Reliability Look Like?

Having said that, trust can be this ethereal, intangible, wide-angled brush stroke that's hard to put your finger on. A word that is far more impactful for the wayward spouse and much more meaningful for the betrayed spouse is "reliable." When it comes to how to rebuild trust after infidelity, one of the best things a wayward spouse can do is commit to being reliable.

Reliability is something that's actually tangible to the betrayed spouse; it's something that's actually soothing to them — that they can count on their mate. If you're a wayward spouse and want to draw your mate back in, then commit to being a reliable individual. Reliability is something that's going to pay dividends for you because the betrayed spouse feels soothed when you are reliable.

To show you're reliable, performing these simple but substantial acts can be a good start:

  • Being where you said you were going to be.
  • Doing what you said you were going to do.

Even something as small as promising to take out the trash and then doing it can be extremely soothing for the betrayed spouse.

And no, being reliable doesn't mean you are suddenly a child who needs permission to do anything. But when it comes to how to rebuild trust after infidelity, the wayward spouse has to be reliable. Reliability has to be the epicenter of rebuilding trust because if the betrayed spouse can't count on you, it will be harder and harder for them to trust you — I can promise you that.

Why Does Reliability Matter So Much After Infidelity?

The thing about reliability is that it says you're thoughtful rather than self-absorbed. For the wayward spouse:

  • When you're reliable, you are seen as others-focused.
  • When you're unreliable, you are seen as selfish.

When the betrayed spouse wants to rely upon you but they can't, I believe it makes their heart cry out. They want to be able to partner with you in this healing. They want you to say and do the things you said you'd say and do. When they can rely upon you, it can change both of your lives. When you are reliable, it can comfort the betrayed spouse in ways your words never will.

If you are the wayward spouse, here are five tips to keep in mind as you strive to be reliable.

1. Don't Self-Justify

You may have an inner dialogue that sounds something like this, "I said I was going out for drinks at X bar, but I still stopped at a bar so it's not going to matter which one it was." Wrong. It will matter. In this day and age, it is so easy to send a text to let your spouse know that your plans have changed.

Sending a text that says, "Hey, we're going to Y bar instead of X bar, but I'm still with the same people and will be home at the same time," tells your spouse you want them to be able to rely on you.

When you care enough to let your loved one know where you are going to be, it speaks volumes.

2. Don't Assume They Think Like You

You may have said you had a certain meal at a restaurant, but it was a different meal — it was at the same restaurant, but it was a different meal. Then, your spouse sees a receipt and notices you had a different meal than you said you had. You might think, "Come on, Samuel, there's no way that will matter." Yes, it will. Because if you're lying about the meal that you had, you could also be lying about other things.

Reliability means more to the betrayed spouse than you can possibly imagine. Once you grab hold of it, you realize:

  • I need to be reliable.
  • I need to be accountable.
  • I need to be able to be honest.

If you can't be honest about the little things — about where you were and what you ate — how can the betrayed mate trust that you're being honest about your emotions, desires and efforts to save the relationship?

3. Don't Get Defensive

When we as unfaithful hear that our mate can't trust us, we can have several awful reactions. When we get defensive, for instance, we prove their point. All defensiveness does is prove that we're untrustworthy, and it makes us look awful. We look absolutely distrustful because we're getting so angry, even though they have piles of information that prove we haven't kept their trust.

When we get defensive, it actually appears that we're in denial, that we are denying our reality that we have broken their trust. Trust will not just come back in a heartbeat; trust is earned. You can ask for them to respect you all day long, but I think it would be better to say you're going to be reliable than ask for their trust.

4. Don't Get Aggressive

Getting aggressive proves the point that we can't be counted on to be whole, safe and healthy for our mate. Being reliable means being able to listen when they're upset, disappointed and angry without losing your mind because you disagree with them.

When our spouse says they don't trust us, wayward spouses can sometimes get self-righteous and downright indignant: "You need to trust me!" Why should they? You've proven that they can't. When you constantly demand trust, you are proving that you're untrustworthy because you're trying to manipulate and control them into trusting you. Alternatively, you can self-reflect and realize that your actions speak louder than any words can.

5. Don't Catastrophize

When we start dwelling on the fact that our betrayed spouse can't trust us, it can start spilling over into despair and pity. But remember, they shouldn't trust you. If you live a life where there are still gaping holes in your story, they're not going to trust you. If you can show you are reliable, it's not going to fix everything overnight, but it will definitely change the entire recovery process.

Can you be counted upon? Can you live a life of absolute accountability? I hope you take these words to heart regarding how to rebuild trust after infidelity. I hope you can buy into a life of reliability because it's probably exactly what your betrayed mate is hoping for.

Registration is NOW OPEN for EMS Weekend for Couples!

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. EMS Weekend is a safe space to learn how to rebuild trust after infidelity and begin moving toward acceptance, transformation and healing. During EMS Weekend, we'll pair you and your mate with expert infidelity counselors, comprehensive healing resources and a small group of other couples to heal with and learn from.

"EMS Weekend provided us with many tools to help in our recovery process and equipped us with weapons to fight for our marriage going forward. I'm leaving this weekend feeling encouraged and honored to have such a wonderful wife that continues to fight for us and for me. God has blessed me and us and will be our foundation to build our new marriage upon. Thank you, Affair Recovery."
— Virtual EMS Weekend participant | February 2021.

Whether you attend EMS Weekend in person or virtually, we're here to help guide you during this season of healing. Note: Our remote offering comes at a $1,000 discount, as it doesn't include food and lodging. So what are you waiting for? Join EMS Weekend to begin building toward a better, brighter life after infidelity.

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