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Posts tagged ‘rebuilding trust’

4 Steps Every Couple Needs to Take When Trust Is Broken


How to Rebuild Broken Trust:  Experts Share a Four-Step Plan

When trust is broken in a relationship, it can seem impossible to repair. But many couples have dealt with dishonesty—from financial problems to infidelity—and made it through to a happier, more honest place. Here, experts share the exact steps to take to get back on track.

We may enter a relationship with high hopes and rose-colored glasses, but nobody’s perfect. Most couples will run into a trust issue of some sort over the course of their relationship. The most common? “Cheating,” says M. Gary Neuman, LMHC, creator of the Neuman Method. But that doesn’t necessarily mean catching your husband in bed with another woman is the only thing that can cause a rift between you and your partner. “Trust is broken whenever there is lying that creates a shift in the couple’s life,” says Neuman. “Gambling, drug use, and even emotional and online infidelity often lead to severe trust issues.”

The fact is, all of the phones, laptops, and social networks we’re glued to 24/7 provide ample opportunity for foul play. “It’s more common now for affairs to be emotional—on social media, reconnecting with a high school sweetheart—or using office chat apps or email accounts to carry on a flirtation,” says Dr. Vagdevi Meunier, PsyD, a Gottman Institute master therapist. “As Shirley Glass, author of Not Just Friends, has said, affairs are about access and opportunity.”

If trust has been broken between you and your partner, whether it was a physical affair, an emotional affair, or a gambling or drug habit, we’ve asked relationship experts to outline the exact steps you need to take if you want to work on rebuilding your relationship.

Step One: Confrontation

First things first (and no, we’re not talking about yelling and screaming): Have the confrontation in person. “Once you’ve discovered the infidelity, you need to evaluate your partner’s response,” says Neuman. “Is he apologetic and remorseful, or confused and ‘in love’ with this other person?” Don’t assume anything, fight via text or email, or make decisions about your future before having a face-to-face conversation.

In addition to talking to your partner, “you’ll feel a need to tell some people what happened because you’ll need to vent,” says Neuman. “But try to limit this sharing to those who will really be there for you and give you a safe space to share—NOT a lot of advice.” The idea is to get support without being swayed one way or another. You also don’t want to be sitting around the Thanksgiving table a year from now knowing that everyone in your family knows your dirty laundry. So be careful about who you tell, and how much you tell them.

Finally, watch out for urges to “even the score” or make some questionable decisions of your own. “Don’t create a toxic relationship by taking revenge, being vindictive, or bringing other people in,” warns Meunier. In other words, reconnecting with your own high school sweetheart for comfort is not the best idea, nor is recruiting your in-laws to chastise your partner about what he did.

Step Two: Atonement

This is a time for full transparency: “The person who made the choice to commit the act of betrayal should take time to understand the impact of his or her actions, tell the full story of the betrayal, and answer any questions their partner has,” says Meunier. “Your spouse has to want to make this relationship work, be apologetic and—in the case of an affair—be willing to completely end it with the other woman,” stresses Neuman.

It’s also a time for emotional support. It’s not uncommon to lose sleep, stop eating, or even have trouble functioning after discovering an infidelity, so Meunier encourages the offending partner to “be available to support and comfort the hurt partner.” Translation: He needs to be patient and kind and cater to you for a bit, not pop off angrily every time you want to talk about the issue.

You also need to give yourself some extra love right now: “Practicing meditation, daily gratitude, reading books on affair recovery (the ones based on scientific research are best) yoga, and journaling are all good techniques,” says Meunier. “I also encourage both partners to engage in light and easy activities that preserves a sense of continuity, fun, and a feeling of family. This can be as simple as having breakfast or dinner, watching a show on the couch together, or going grocery shopping. If there are children present, this is even more important.”

Step Three: Reconnecting


Once you’ve talked through all the details of the betrayal and have decided to recommit to one another, it’s time to start limiting how often you bring up the infidelity. “I encourage couples to only talk about the betrayal in the counselor’s office, or to set a scheduled meeting, like lunch, to do this,” says Meunier. “Avoid talking about it in closed intense environments such as the car or in the bedroom. Instead, go out on the porch—the fear of neighbors hearing will make both of you behave better.”

After you eliminate the constant “threat” environment that comes with discussing the issue, you can begin to learn how to be more connected and emotionally present with each other. How do you do that, exactly? “Once broken, trust has to be earned by small things each person does every day,” says Meunier. It’s about consistency and kindness: Be home when you say you will, avoid that work event where you know the affair partner might be, and give regular, sincere compliments to build back your partner’s self-esteem. It may take time, but if your partner is willing to show you he is committed and consistent in his actions, he’ll slowly earn back your trust. This isn’t always easy—the betraying partner has more of a burden during this time, explains Meunier—but if he sticks it out, you’ll see results. And remember, the effort shouldn’t feel one-sided: “Eventually both people need to be making small gestures of kindness,” adds Meunier.

Step Four: Building a New Relationship

At this point, you’re building a brand new emotional, physical, and social contract for the relationship. You’re connecting in a more honest way, asking for what you really need, and, “Doing whatever is necessary to affair-proof your relationship going forward,” says Meunier.

The key here on out is positive responses: “We use a term developed by Dr. Gottman called turning towards,” says Meunier. “Intimacy is built by repeated experiences of one partner bidding for their partner’s attention or affection and receiving a positive response,” says Meunier. When you receive consistent, positive reactions from one another in everyday life, trust returns. Here’s an example: “If the betraying spouse says ‘Will you watch Real Housewives with me?’ I want the hurt partner to say ‘yes’ not because they suddenly forgive their partner or love the show, but because they recognize that it costs nothing to sit quietly next to someone and watch a television show, and that doing so gives them points in the emotional bank account. Similarly, if the hurt spouse calls while you’re apart and says ‘Can you turn on Facetime and show me who is in the room with you?’ I encourage the betraying partner to do that whenever possible. Not ignoring your partner, not rejecting each other, and being kind are all ways we build a sense of normalcy and safety, which in turn builds trust.”

Requirements of Restored Relationship

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without change. In fact, forgiveness and resuming a relationship are two different things. One of them is what you do as the offended person. Resuming the relationship is what the other person does in order to get back into your good graces. Saying “I’m sorry” is not enough.

In fact, the Bible teaches three things that are essential to resume a relationship that’s been broken. These are all what the offender has to do.

  1. Restoring a relationship requires repentance. In other words, you’re truly saddened about what you did. That’s not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It means saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” You can be sorry that the weather was bad or something like that, but repentance is admitting wrong and being truly sorry.
  2. Restoring a relationship requires restitution. Sometimes you have to do some kind of physical or material restitution. Even when you’re forgiven, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You still have to pay a debt to society or to someone for what was damaged or destroyed by your actions.
  3. Restoring a relationship requires rebuilding trust. That, friends, takes a long, long time. When somebody hurts you, you have to forgive him or her immediately. But you don’t have to trust that person immediately. Forgiveness is built on grace and is unconditional. Trust has to be rebuilt over a period of time.

Most people in our culture don’t get the difference between forgiveness and rebuilding trust in a relationship. Whenever a political or religious leader gets caught in a scandal, there will always be people who say, “We’re all imperfect. We’re all human. We need to just forgive him and keep on going.”

No! You must forgive him immediately, but you don’t have to trust him. The Bible says trust is built with time. Credibility is what a leader leads with. All leaders must have trust; it’s the currency they live in. If you lose trust, you have lost your right to lead at that moment. You may have the title, but you’re not the leader until you rebuild trust. And that isn’t going to happen instantly.

A Prayer about Sexual Brokenness and the Impact of Pornography

   SOURCE:  Scotty Smith/The Gospel Coalition  

Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? . . . Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and deathRom. 7:21-248:1-2

Dear Lord Jesus, current events in our US news remind us just how current the ongoing issue of sexual brokenness really is. There’s no aspect of our humanity that more clearly reveals the ravaging effects of sin, and our desperate need for your grace, than our sexuality. Without casting stones, we lift our prayers.

For friends, spouses and families impacted by the destructive and enslaving grip of pornography, and other expressions of sexual sin, we cry for mercy, grace and deliverance. Only the gospel offers the wisdom and power requisite for the task. Thus, we run to you today with great hope for our grave concerns.

O Lord of resurrection and redemption, bring your mercy and might to bear in astonishing and transforming fashion. Things impossible for us are more than possible for you; things unimaginable to us are more than manageable for you. You have come to set captives free and to heal the brokenhearted; sexual sin and the pornography industry are creating an overabundance of both.

Lord Jesus, for friends somewhere in the pornography continuum of titillation to addiction, we ask you to reveal yourself in the deepest places of their hearts. We ask for the holy gifts of godly sorrow, gospel-repentance and a community for healing. Your non-condemning love has great power to deliver those who cry, “What a wretched man (or woman) I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Generate that cry by your great beauty and compelling love, Lord Jesus. Supplant embarrassment and fear, numbness and detachment, with contrition and hope. Where pornography has desensitized our friends, re-sensitize them so they can see and feel the horror of their entrapment and more so—much more so, so they can experience taste the reality of your welcome and the wonders of your love. Where sexual sin has sucked many into a deep tomb of shame and hiding, speak to them as you spoke to Lazarus. Bring life from death.

For friends who are married to someone in the talons of pornography or sexual addiction, dear Jesus, theirs may be the greater pain and struggle. No one but you can help with the anger, the disgust, the wounds, the shame, and the mistrust that goes with these stories. Help us walk with our friends who are right in the middle of this dark, hope-sucking vortex. Show us how to validate their feelings without confirming hurt-driven conclusions. Bring patience and perspective, forbearance and faith.

Only you can rebuild the trust. Only you, Jesus, can bring a willingness to hope again. Only you can heal the places in our hearts which have suffered the greatest violation and harm. Absolutely no one understands all this like you, Lord Jesus; and absolutely no one can redeem these messes but you.

So very Amen we pray, in your great and glorious name.

Seven signs of true repentance

SOURCE:  Posted on July 17, 2007 by Wisdomforlife

“He said I am sorry but this is at least the tenth time! I don’t know what to do. I am told it’s my Christian duty to forgive and Lord knows I’ve tried! But each time I forgive him, he changes for a little and returns to the same behavior. I have a gut feeling that I am handling things the wrong way. He never really changes and I just get angry. What should I do?”

Sound familiar?

How do you begin reconciliation when you’ve been deeply and perhaps repeatedly hurt by someone? How can you rebuild trust? The first and most important step is to confirm the genuineness of the apology or repentance. While it is true that changes to deeply ingrained patters do not happen overnight, certain foundational attitudes are essential to any hope for change. These attitudes flourish in hearts where God has granted repentance.

Consider seven signs of genuine confession and repentance: 
(Essential information for co-dependents or enablers)

The offender:

1. Accepts full responsibility for his/her actions. (instead of saying, ”Since you think I’ve done something wrong…” or “If  have done anything to offend you…”).

2. Accepts accountability from others.

3. Does not continue in the behavior or anything associated with it.

4. Does not have a defensive attitude about being in the wrong.

5. Does not have a light attitude toward his or her hurtful behavior.

6. Does not resent doubts about his/her sincerity- nor the need to demonstrate sincerity. (Especially in cases involving repeated offenses)

7. Makes restitution wherever necessary.

Restitution gives the offender an opportunity to demonstrate by actions that he or she wishes to be restored to the injured person and to society in general. The harder you work to make restitution and repair any damage you have caused, the easier it will be for others to believe your confession and be reconciled to you. Forgiveness does not necessarily release an offender from responsibility to repair the damages caused by his or her actions. An injured party may exercise mercy and choose to waive the right to restitution, but in many cases making restitution is beneficial even for the offender. Doing so demonstrates remorse, sincerity, and a new attitude, which can strengthen reconciliation. At the same time, it serves to establish lessons that will help the offender avoid similar wrongdoing in the future.

Move forward with caution:

An unrepentant offender will resent your desire to confirm the genuineness of his confession and repentance. He may resort to lines of manipulation. “I guess you can’t find it in yourself to be forgiving.” “You just want to rub it in my face.” “I guess I should expect that you want your revenge.” “Some Christian you are, I thought Christians believed in love and compassion.” These lines reveal an unrepentant attitude. Don’t be manipulated into avoiding the step of confirming the authenticity of your offender’s confession and repentance.

Use these signs carefully and with prayer. In difficult cases, seek a wise counselor. For genuine reconciliation to occur, you must be as certain as you can of your offender’s repentance—especially in cases involving repeated offenses. It is hard to truly restore a broken relationship when the offender is unclear about his confession and repentance.  Even God will not grant forgiveness to one who is insincere about his confession and repentance. The person who is unwilling to forsake his sin will not find forgiveness with God (Proverbs 28:13).

Of course, only God can read hearts– we must evaluate actions. Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16a). But we must not allow superficial appearances of repentance to control our responses. Displays of tears or “appearing” to be sorry must not be substitutes for clear changes in attitude and behavior.

When Your Partner Is Struggling With Addiction: 10 Tips

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center
Substance abuse affects millions of families either directly or indirectly, and the abuse of both legal and illegal substances is a prominent concern for public health officials throughout the world.
Many addicts who stop using point to the strength, persistence, and understanding they received from a spouse, family member or friend as a major reason for their recovery. (If the relationship has turned violent, a breakup [or separation]  may be  [an] option — See Article:  DIVORCE: GOD’S GRACE WHEN A SPOUSE CHOOSES SIN AS A NEW MATE.)
As a partner of a substance user, you are at higher risk for developing poor patterns of communication and problem-solving; having marital, financial, and child-rearing problems; sexual dysfunction; verbal and physical aggression; and episodes of depression. You may have heard terms like “enabler” and “co-dependent” in the self-help literature. These terms mean basically this: all of your energy may be focused on the user – trying to rescue him or her, or cover-up for him or her, or stop him or her from destroying lives. The good news is: research suggests that when you begin concentrating on your own needs and leave the substance abuser to the consequences of his or her own actions, the probability of recovery increases.
The purpose of this article  is to offer hope and practical suggestions for you as your partner is struggling with addiction. It is not meant to replace therapy or counseling. Like most other suggestions, keep in mind that what works for one, may not work for another. You are ultimately the one who knows what is best for you.
The painful truth is that you cannot change your addicted partner! You can only change yourself. In order to be that strong, persistent person that your partner may one day point to in his or her recovery, stop concentrating on your partner and the problem, and start taking care of yourself.
Here are some more tips:

1. Educate yourself – A basic understanding of the problem is fundamental to being able to resolve any issue. It is important that you begin to learn more about the addiction process and how it affects the partner of the addict. This will empower you with new ideas and help you process the guilt, frustration, and anger that go along with being married to an addict.
2. Attend support groups – Don’t continue fighting alone. It is important to find a group to help support you through the difficulties and challenges of living with a substance user.
This may be an Alanon group, a church group [e.g., Celebrate Recovery], a counselor experienced in addictions, or simply some good friends. Research has shown that support groups help relieve depressive symptoms; decrease social isolation; improve social adjustment; increase knowledge about the problem; and provide coping strategies, as well as, techniques to effectively deal with the problem. You may not feel connected to the first support group you attend, but don’t give up! Keep looking until you find the right one.
3. Stop the fighting – It is particularly senseless to argue with someone when they have been using a substance. In fact, some studies indicate that not having any interaction with the substance user while they are under the influence of a substance is the best course of action. Avoid the person until they are sober.
4. Be a cheerleader – When the addicted partner is not using, do your best to be positive with them. This will send the message that you care and will allow you to feel good about yourself. If you are negative when they are not using, you will have fallen into the trap of allowing the substance use to define who you are and how you behave.
5. Avoid triggers to use – Recognizing places, people, situations, events, etc., that seem to trigger substance use by your partner is an important step toward change. Develop a secret code that your addicted partner can use to signal you that he or she is struggling with a situation and needs help getting away from the temptation. Be sensitive and responsive to their needs even if it means doing things like leaving an event early or not visiting certain family members.
6. Find new couple activities – Substance users tend to be very egocentric and spend a lot of time in their heads thinking about themselves, their problems, and their cravings. To combat this egocentrism, get involved in some sort of community service that focuses mental and physical energy on others. This activity gives the addict a sense of fulfillment and helps them rebuild a depleted self-esteem. This will also do the same for the partner of an addict. Doing this together will allow you as a couple to develop a shared interest and new friends around an activity that doesn’t include substance use.
7. Rebuild trust over time – After using stops, rebuilding a trusting relationship is one of the most difficult obstacles remaining for a couple. This will take time and patience. Addicts are often very accomplished liars and have, over the years, provided many reasons not to be trusted. Find small ways that the addicted partner can successfully show that they are again trustworthy and express your pleasure when they succeed. This is a particularly difficult task for the partner that has had their trust broken time and time again by the addict.
8. Love the person, hate their behaviors – Making a distinction between the person and their behavior is sometimes hard to do, but is an important step toward your own freedom. Your family member is not a “bad” person, but a person with a “bad” disease [or making bad choices]. When you are able to make this distinction, you are set free to express the powerful emotions within you.
9. Restore your communication – Couples often get in a pattern of simply reacting to each other in a negative way. They know that their behavior isn’t constructive and neither enjoys it, but they can’t stop. This is particularly so for couples in which one partner struggles with an addiction. The repeated stress taints their interpretation of each other. This leads to a tendency to blame and accuse each other using statements that are really opinions, perceptions, or interpretations of the other person’s behavior and intentions.
Learning to use “I” statements helps restore communication and trust.
For example, notice the difference in how the following statements open up options and empower a person to act less defensively and focus on behaviors:
‘You never listen to me!’  vs.  ‘I find it difficult to talk to you when I don’t feel heard.’
‘You will never change.’  vs.  ‘I seem to get the same reaction from you whenever we talk.’
‘Work is never going to make you happy.’  vs.  ‘I haven’t found my work to be something I enjoy.’
‘You don’t care about me.’  vs.  ‘I have often felt that you haven’t understood the difficulties I am having.’
‘You are a bully.’  vs.  ‘I feel intimidated when you speak like that.’
10. Relax –Deep breathing exercises, stretching, and other relaxation methods are an essential part of stress management that decrease the wear and tear on your mind and body from the difficulties and strains of daily living.
Practicing relaxation techniques a few minutes a day can reduce stress symptoms by:
• Slowing your heart rate• Lowering blood pressure  •Slowing your breathing rate  •Increasing blood flow to major muscles  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain• Improving concentration  • Reducing anger and frustration
•Boosting confidence to handle problems
The addiction process and, thus, dealing with a partner that is struggling with an addiction is complex. It is crucial that the non-using partner take actions that will bolster her or his own mental health and resilience. Renew your conviction to live your life according to your values and identity, and not to react to the manipulations of a substance that has taken control of your partner. If your partner, at some point, decides to reclaim control of his or her life, then upon entering into recovery they will find a strong, resilient companion to help them along the way. If not, then you will be sad for him or her, but you will have invested in yourself.

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