How important is trusting your spouse? Steve Doocy (yes, that’s his real name) said “liars always get caught, and cheaters never prosper. So why bother?” (The Mr. & Mrs. Happy Handbook, 2006)
Why bother indeed? Trusting your spouse rather than hiring a detective demonstrates that your heart is bigger, your head is sitting where it’s supposed to be, and your soul is calm.
Honesty is the best policy – whether at work or at love – but it takes more than honesty to develop and nurture trust in your spouse. You need to combine honesty with open-mindedness.
Trusting Your Spouse: Open-mindedness
Before you can trust your spouse, you must be open-minded about certain things. For example, you know that your spouse is a human being with strengths and weaknesses. It is normal for your spouse to admire beauty in all of its forms. So if you’re sitting in a restaurant and your husband happens to look twice at the beautiful blonde with the curviest of curves who just passed your table, be open-minded about it. Don’t resent it. Men – the healthy ones at least – love to look at beautiful women. It doesn’t mean they’ll cheat on their wives.
If your wife likes to leaf through a pornographic magazine before going to bed, she’s not saying that you’re a mediocre lover. She’s just curious, that’s all. Or she’s looking for erotic ways to please you in bed.
Being open-minded also equates with being relaxed. Don’t fly into a rage when your wife constantly says that Brad Pitt is oozing with sex appeal. And wives, don’t huff and puff when your husbands are glued to the TV set watching Maria Sharapova huff and puff around the tennis court with her shapely legs. These are petty reasons for saying you’ve lost trust.
Trusting your spouse takes time. After an extra-marital fling, it is natural for trust to be broken. Make an effort, however, to rebuild it after your spouse says “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” Extra-marital flings are just a spouse’s way of saying that he or she feels unloved or neglected.
Of course, there are husbands and wives who are chronic cheaters – these are the types who can’t be trusted at all. But one fling shouldn’t send you scampering for a divorce lawyer. Find out why your spouse was unfaithful and talk, talk, talk!
It happens too that you accidentally see your husband having lunch with his secretary. Do you get all knotted inside and imagine the worst? If you’re smart and open-minded, you know that bosses and subordinates often go to lunch together; sometimes, they’ll also go for happy hour. These little “sorties” don’t mean a thing. It’s typical office behavior. For as long as these outings happen only occasionally, there’s no need to fret. When it happens three or four times a week, then perhaps it’s time to ask your spouse about it. What you shouldn’t do, however, is get into a confrontational mood and start accusing your spouse of infidelity.
Trusting Your Spouse: It’s You, Isn’t It?
There’s this saying that before you can like anyone, you have to like yourself first. The same can be said of trust. Before you can trust anyone, you have to trust yourself first.
When we are suspicious of another person, it is a manifestation of our lack of trust in ourselves. If you suspect that your husband is cheating on you even if you have no proof, it could mean that you’re likely to cheat as well. Psychologists call it projection.
In the context of distrust in marriage, the principle of projection, as defined by one writer, is an individual’s perception in others of the “motive he denies having himself. Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest. The would-be adulterer accuses his wife of infidelity."
If you feel your spouse is cheating on you, examine your conscience first. Have you, in the past, flirted with someone’s wife or husband and harbored thoughts of being intimate with that person?
Steps to Trusting Your Spouse Again
To say “forgive and forget” is at best philosophical. There are more concrete and more practical ways to rebuild trust in marriage. Husbands and wives have several reasons for distrusting each other but the one that is most shattering is infidelity. The shock of finding out about an extra-marital affair can rip your confidence in shreds – confidence in your spouse and your own self-confidence.
But if thousands of couples are capable of reconciling and starting from square 1 all over again, so can you. Grieve, if you have to, and give your wounds the time to heal. When you’re emotionally ready, take baby steps to rebuilding that trust, no matter how monumental the effort might seem.
Step 1:Make sure your spouse no longer makes contact with the person he or she had an affair with.
This is imperative. For any marital rehabilitation to take place, the lover must be banished from your lives forever. You can be loving, but you must be tough. You have to convince your spouse that saying goodbye to the third party will hurt, but only in the beginning. The cheating spouse has to bear in mind that the cheated spouse is also hurting, if not hurting more. A fresh start is in order but this can’t be achieved if the third party is still lurking somewhere.
Step 2:Engage in frequent dialogue.
Open and free discussions about the marital affair could hurt and shock you, but this is where you need to be strong. Explore the reasons why your spouse strayed. The reason could be a very petty reason, but it wasn’t petty at that time that the extra marital affair happened. Don’t downplay or mock your spouse’s explanations.
She could say, “I felt you were more absorbed with your work and that I was no longer important to you. The times you spent with me seemed perfunctory and done out of duty, not pleasure.”
Don’t be defensive. Don’t say, “but we needed the money and work was the only way I could think of to be able to afford to give you the finer things in life.” Instead, agree with her that yes, your work took priority and that you would try to manage your time better so you could spend more time together.
Step 3:Patience and support
There will be moments of self-doubt, but it is up to you to take the bull by its horns. If you’re determined to rebuild trust in your spouse, be aware that it is not a one-way street. Be patient and understanding. The rebuilding stage must be a positive experience, not one fraught with innuendos and subtle accusations. Don’t give in to the temptation of saying that you were the offended party, not the offending one.
If your spouse decides to seek therapy, support that decision. Some people prefer to have an objective and professional third party help in weathering the marital storm – and in most cases it’s an excellent idea – so be supportive and cooperative.
Trusting your spouse implies hard work. It should start way before you exchange vows. And when that trust is broken for one reason or another, get back on your feet and take another shot at it. Moving targets are the hardest, but definitely worth the effort.