You Don’t Need Trust to Move Forward When Rick told Samantha, “You don’t need trust to move forward, you need safety,” Samantha was stunned. She hadn’t heard that from anyone and it was a bit of a foreign concept to her. After all, I had blown apart any fabric of trust she once had in me. After a two year affair, endless amounts of attempts to cover it up, and a horrid lifestyle to boot, trust was obliterated. One of the only friends I had left even said to me, “I certainly don’t trust you, but I love you.” Samantha certainly didn’t trust me, and wasn’t sure she even loved me anymore either. But Rick had the boldness and brilliance to say “You don’t need trust to move forward, you need safety.” Safety is the process by which couples can gain ground and move forward, though the future is uncertain. In fact, restoration is dependent upon safety. Safety is actually determined by the attitude of the unfaithful spouse and their particular approach /response to the exposure of the affair, the betrayed spouse, and the climate in which they are now surrounded. Trust can be replaced for a season by open, honest and empathetic communication about each other’s hurts, pain and insecurities. If it’s done with compassion and love (acting in the best interest of another), safety can be used as a stepping stone to trust being reestablished further down the road. It doesn’t mean, however, that when trust isn’t there you live in purgatory, but with safety measures and precaution being utilized in a new lifestyle of awareness and recovery. After all, trusting too early can put both the marriage and the unfaithful spouse at risk for relapse or further collateral damage. Their own efforts (including mine) were not strong enough to prevent infidelity in the first place, and I’m quite sure their own efforts won’t be strong enough to prevent it from happening again. Yes, even if they “really, really, really mean it this time” (a quote from a spouse I spoke with just yesterday). Falsely assuming that the institution of marriage will naturally keep our spouse from cheating is not only naive, it’s insufficient to do so. Marriages become even more at risk, along with recovery, when we assume our spouse will naturally gravitate towards being faithful or managing their own recovery early on. There will need to be a reprogramming over time, which if done right, will then also reestablish trust for the betrayed spouse. I say it this way: time + consistency + a proven process of restoration will = trust being reestablished. A healthy distrust of our own efforts (as an unfaithful spouse) may also be a keen aspect of humility moving forward after our infidelity has been exposed. Maybe the focus right now needs to be on making the relationship safe. Perhaps there are new methods of communication which you and your spouse can use to help alleviate each other’s fears, worries, misunderstandings or inadequacies.