It’s not easy to rebuild trust in your marriage after infidelity. You won’t suddenly start trusting your husband overnight, and you may even find it difficult to be physically intimate with him. A lot of it depends on his response to the affair, how you found out your husband was unfaithful, and what he’s willing to do to rebuild trust.
You are not alone. I wrote Healing From an Affair in a Christian Marriage for a reader whose husband was unfaithful with a church member. This wife wanted to stay married, and she needed tips on how to rebuild trust in her husband after infidelity. Many couples have rebuilt their marriages and lives together after a season of unfaithfulness — and you can, too.
These six ways to rebuild trust in your spouse after infidelity will help you reconnect, rebuild, and renew your marriage. Don’t lose hope! You can save your marriage after an emotional or physical affair — but it will take time, energy, and effort. Your relationship may be stronger and healthier after this experience…and you may find yourself unable to even imagine what your marriage was like before, because it’s so much better now. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
How did you find out about your husband’s infidelity? Talk about it. Tell me in the comments section below. You don’t have to share your real name or private details…but I encourage you to talk about it because if you hide the affair, it’ll consume you.
Are you ashamed about the affair? Sometimes wives whose husbands cheated take on unnecessary guilt, shame, and responsibility. If your husband’s affair seems to be more your problem than his, explore why. If you’re taking on more than your share of responsibility for the breakdown of your relationship, ask yourself where the burden is coming from.
Feel free to share your thoughts below. I don’t judge or give advice; this is a safe space to talk about what you’re going through.
Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage
If you’re the spouse who had the affair, read How to Stop Cheating in a Relationship. I wrote that article for a wife who couldn’t stay away from her married lover. I thought it’d be easy to end infidelity – especially if you sincerely want to rebuild trust in your husband – but it’s more difficult than it seems.
1. Stop doing what doesn’t work
Learning to trust again after a physical or emotional affair isn’t a one-time event. Trusting your husband will take time and deliberate practice. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? He’s the one who cheated, and you’re the one who has to do the work of forgiveness and healing! Nope, not fair at all.
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What is your husband doing to help you rebuild trust in your marriage? What do you need him to do? Tell him. Talk about it. If he can’t or won’t talk about his infidelity, find ways to learn what you can do differently. Don’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, because it doesn’t work. Don’t keep pushing him to talk about trusting, or rebuilding your relationship, or the affair itself.
2. Decide what you can live with
You need to decide if you’re willing to live with your husband as he is, because you can’t change him. Yes, people change – and it’s great! Yes, you can turn your marriage around. And yes, you can rebuild trust in your marriage after infidelity…but you have to know what you can and can’t live with.
What are your “deal breakers”? Decide what you need from your relationship, and what you can live without. Know what you need to start trusting your husband again. Tell him what it’ll take to trust him after the betrayal of infidelity. Don’t try to protect his feelings, or expect him to guess how you feel or what you need.
3. Expect the “feeling” of trust to come and go after infidelity
You already know there aren’t any easy answers about trusting after physical or emotional infidelity, because it takes work to create a healthy marriage — even when everyone is faithful. You’ll find times when you trust your husband, and times when you’re wondering what he’s doing or where he is. Other times, you’ll feel more trusting. Trust shouldn’t come and go, but infidelity changes things in a relationship.
You need to decide if trust is a feeling, or if it’s a value you hold. This is really important, because if you think trust is a feeling…then your trust will come and go. Your trust will be based on your husband’s actions after he says he’s no longer seeing her. Your trust will change, depending on his behavior. So, instead of “feeling” like you trust your husband, commit to actually trusting him until you have reason to believe differently.
4. Commit to a plan for rebuilding trust in your husband
Again, with the hard work thing! What’s your plan for saving your marriage? This is where my next tip on how to rebuild trust after infidelity is most useful: it helps to have objective help creating a plan for trusting your husband again. Maybe your plan is daily texts, or surprise visits at work. Maybe you’re a numbers girl and you trust your husband 50% right now. Your plan is raise your trust level to 70% over the next four months.
Building trust in a relationship also depends on the type of infidelity your husband was involved in. According to research in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, men think physical affairs are more damaging to relationships. Women believe emotional infidelity is more upsetting, because their husbands are emotionally involved with the other woman. Emotional entanglements are difficult to unravel, which makes rebuilding trust difficult.
5. Talk to a counselor who specializes in rebuilding trust after infidelity
“You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle” is one of my new favorite sayings!
This means that it’s really hard to see yourself from the inside. We’re mysterious and complicated creatures, and it’s difficult to understand the hearts and intentions of others — much less our own.
Untangling emotional issues is confusing and emotional; a trained counselor can make a big difference. Marriage counseling doesn’t have to last for years or even months; sometimes it just takes a session or two to see what the issues are and how to resolve them. Then, it takes dedication to saving the marriage and the effort to love…
6. Remember that love isn’t just about saying “I love you”
In fact, saying I love you or even “I want to rebuild trust in our marriage” is too easy to be meaningful! Talk is the easiest, laziest part of love. Many people can confess love, but few can actually do it. Real, committed, healthy, romantic love is about how you treat each other, whether you respect one another’s wishes, if you can talk about your problems, if you’re emotionally and spiritually connected, and if you have the same goals for the future.
Also, you might want to think about accepting the fact that the occasional romantic fascination or attraction for other people is normal. Instead of fighting your feelings or attraction to another person, accept how you feel. It’s OKAY to be attracted to other people, even if you’re married. But, acting on those feelings of attraction can destroy a marriage and lead to divorce.
Help Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity
In The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It, M. Gary Neuman shares the revealing and surprising findings of a research study in which he interviewed and studied close to 100 men from 48 states who have physically cheated on their wives.
In this book, Neuman shares many shocking discoveries, including the prominent role of emotional dissatisfaction in motivating husbands who stray and how small a role sexual dissatisfaction plays. If you understand why your husband had an affair, you can learn how to rebuild trust in your marriage.
Another good book to read after infidelity is Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass.
How do you feel – do you think you can rebuild trust in your husband? How does he feel, what does he say about infidelity in marriage? Your thoughts are welcome below…