Is it Possible to Rebuild Trust after Unfaithfulness?
- Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Think of it this way. In a car equipped for training drivers, there is a brake pedal for the driver and a brake pedal for the trainer on the passenger side of the car. The primary pedal is the one used by the driver in training. But the trainer knows that if the driver errs, he also has the ability to apply the brake on his side of the car and prevent damage or injury. Mona thought she had that same "safety brake" available to her.
This also holds true for those who think that they can rebuild trust in a marriage by controlling their spouse—constantly sitting in that trainer's seat ready to apply the brakes if their husband or wife makes a wrong turn. No one can sit in the trainer's seat forever. Every driver eventually will drive alone.
Let's start with a biblical understanding of trust. The Hebrew and Greek words translated trust mean to believe, to uphold, to support. The idea is firmness or solidity; to be persuaded to have confidence in. We feel safe when we can rely on what we trust.
So when we trust, we are saying that we have been firmly persuaded to believe. We choose a specific chair to stand on because we trust it will hold our weight. When we trust our spouse, we believe this person will do what they say they'll do and not do what they say they won't do. The bottom line is we feel safe. Once adultery has been revealed, that is no longer the case.
For several years, Gary had lied to Mona, and not only that, but he had also gotten quite good at it. After the revelation of his adultery, Mona could no longer trust that he would be honest. What he had done caused great harm. The trust Mona had was gone in a few short minutes. The question neither of us had the answer to was "could it ever be regained?"
Gary understood this very well. He told Mona, "I know what I'm asking. Every time you've fallen backward I've caught you. But this time I let you fall on purpose. It wasn't that I missed catching you; it was that I walked away to somewhere else. You hit hard; you were injured. I didn't even notice. And now I come to you and say, ‘I'm sorry. It's okay now, honey, just fall back and I'll catch you.'"
Rebuilding the trust meant Mona would have to find a way back to believing with confidence that Gary was a safe person to trust. It also meant she would put herself in a position where Gary could, again, let her fall and be hurt. She wasn't sure she could ever do that. But it was also the only way she would ever be caught by him again.
It's interesting that in Scripture, most of the verses dealing with trust are talking about our trust in the Lord, not in our fellow man. In fact there are several warnings about trusting in anything or anyone else.
The truth is that our God is the only one who is completely trustworthy. He is the only one who will always keep His promises.
But it was also true that Mona had failed Gary too. Just in a different way. Remember, Gary had trusted that Mona would love him as she had promised. At the time of the affair, from Gary's perspective, she had not kept her promise either. Rebuilding the trust meant that Gary would have to believe that Mona would be a safe person to trust again.
Our journeys would be different, but we would both be taking one.
Gary has often heard infidels express that if only their spouse would forgive them, they could move past the adultery. But what they are really saying is "If they would trust me." Trust and forgiveness are two different things. We talked about that in the chapter on forgiveness.
The foundation we rebuild on will be the foundation intended for marriage—God Himself. That foundation is sound because God is trustworthy. We rebuild the trust as if we were rebuilding a house — brick by brick. The house fell, but God's foundation is still safe. The things you do as a couple will, in essence, be handing each other bricks, one at a time, to create a structurally sound house on a firm foundation. One brick at a time until you both learn to function as the team God intended and can begin to sense the safety coming back into your relationship.
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