Trust is a basic and fundamental ingredient in the structure of all relationships, it can take years to build and one moment of dishonesty to destroy. But most people don’t realize just how crucial it is to preserve trust in their relationship until it’s too late. It’s after the vase has fallen to the floor that most people recognise how stupid they were to let it fall.
Trust is easily broken
Imagine an exquisite vase that is one of a kind because it was handmade by your mother and given to you as a wedding gift before she passed away 10 years ago. This vase is precious and irreplaceable and so you put it in a high place where no one can reach it without a ladder all because you want to preserve it.
One day during the summer you come home from work and notice the vase isn’t there you ask your spouse if he/she moved it and with a deep look of remorse on their face they say “No, but the children did” you are surprised that they could even reach it, you ask “What have they done with it?” your spouse responds “they were playing with a ball in the house and the ball hit it down and it shattered, I’m so sorry babe I know just how much that vase meant to you”.
Trust takes time to restore
You are now fuming with a mixture of sadness and anger wanting to punish the children for playing ball in the house, but first you want to see how badly it’s broken to determine whether it can be fixed, you ask “can I have the pieces?” your spouse gives them to you, you immediately get some crazy glue and a picture of it and start putting it back together. After four hours of working on the jig saw puzzle of a vase it’s finally looking close to what it looked like before only now it has a couple small holes and many cracks.
The next day, you put water and flowers back into the vase, but the water leaks out through the small holes and you then break down in tears knowing it will never be the same again.
This is exactly what it is like when trust is broken in a relationship. For people who try to pick up the pieces forgive and keep the relationship, the road to complete reconciliation is a hard and tedious process. In this article I’m seeking to explain the steps that are absolutely necessary to bring the vase back as close as possible to its original form.
Step 1: A Sincere Apology
This goes beyond just saying “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again” but the offender also needs to explain why he/she was dishonest and then offer transparency going forward to combat the negative thoughts that may run through the mind of their spouse in times of uncertainty.
Step 2: Forgiveness
This requires the offended to be fully accepting of the apology and the terms of transparency intended to set them at ease. The offended should also communicate his/her expectations going forward which need to be met if healing is to take place.
Step 3: Leave the offence in the past
“…Love keeps no record of wrongs.” (1st Corinthians chapter 4 verse 5)
This step may be even harder for the offended than step 2 but is necessary if he/she wants to restore the relationship. You cannot keep bringing up what the person did to you in every argument or every moment of uncertainty, not only do you remind yourself of it, it lets the other person feel as if their efforts toward rebuilding the vase are futile. It introduces hopelessness and so is countering what you and your spouse are trying to achieve. The offence as much as possible needs to be forgotten or left in the past.
Step 4: Consistency
The offender needs to say what they mean, and mean what they say at all times. They need to keep their word as much as possible for as long as it may take to rebuild the trust and confidence of the offended. The offender should not grow weary in this duty but embrace it as their effort to show their spouse how serious they are about rebuilding their trust.
Conditions for rebuilding trust
As we can see a relationship coming back from something like infidelity is not easy. It requires the deliberate and consistent effort of both the offender and the offended. The offended person does need time to heal. The amount of time is dependent on the emotional health, maturity, and the desire of the offended person to restore the relationship. All of that is in a constant tug of war with fear, doubt, and pain. Whichever side the offended feeds more will prevail.
It is also crucial that the offender makes every effort to avoid feeding their partner’s fears and doubts. This may feel daunting, especially amidst their own emotional turmoil which may have led to the betrayal in the first place. A dutiful approach has to be taken to lessen the influence of negative emotions on the offender’s actions.
Accountability is also necessary. Having a brother or sister to walk with you on the journey to restoration will stop you from making the mistake again in times of weakness. It will also communicate seriousness to your partner giving them an added layer of comfort.
Darren Salmon is a young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is husband to the lovely Mrs. Kimberley Salmon (previously Morgan), another talented young writer with Christian Today. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html