After the trust has been broken in your marriage, in order to really move forward with getting your relationship back on track, we have to talk about reestablishing trust. It’s the only way to restore and rejuvenate your relationship and get it to where it used to be and sometimes in even a greater place. In order to do that, we have to start from the very beginning.
We do that by looking at the entire relationship and rebuild brick by brick, piece by piece. Sometimes this step can be very difficult. And trust is a necessary ingredient for your relationship, which is why we need to rebuild it. That’s why couple’s need to spend so much time on this particular area of reestablishing trust. We have to go back to beginning.
Go Back to the Beginning
What worked in the beginning? How did you both date? How did you both decide to get together? What did you like? What were you doing and what weren’t you doing? Some of the couples I’ve worked with think that because they’ve been together for a while, they should be able to quickly overcome broken trust, such as an affair, and move forward quickly.
But when you break trust and have an affair, the trust goes right down to zero. And and as much as you don’t like it, it’s like starting over from day one. It’s like starting from ground zero. When you first met your spouse, you had to do all these things to allow them to feel like they could trust you, and that’s what you’re gonna have to do again.
For some people, the struggle is that they want this to happen quickly.
Most of us do, we want things to happen in a very fast way, we want things to move from step one to the last step. Trying to quit smoking, trying to lose weight, getting a new job, or even having a baby are things that we just want to happen quickly…but they don’t. The same thing is true with overcoming the impact of infidelity or broken trust in your marriage. Sometimes we want it to move quickly, and that’s usually the person that’s betrayed their spouse. I’ve also seen it with those who have been betrayed where they’re like,
“When is this gonna stop?”
“When is this gonna be over?”
“When can we get back to being the way that we used to?”
I want you to realize that it takes time.
It’s not an overnight process. You didn’t trust each other overnight. Usually, there was a set of things that happened along the way that allowed you to feel safe enough to trust each other.
I can’t give you a concrete time of how long it’s going to take to overcome infidelity, but what I’ve seen with the couples that I’ve worked with over the past 15 years, is that it takes about 9 to 12 months to heal.
If I had to give you a ballpark (and this is not something that I’m saying is scientific, but more of what I’ve seen in my practice) then I would say that the first three months is rocky, it’s tough, it’s overwhelming, and that’s where we’re really trying to rebuild trust.
Three to six months, you start to feel that some of the trust is really coming back and both people are in it, you start to have better times and they last a little bit longer.
Six to nine months, you start to feel much better about the relationship and start to work through other things that might have been there.
And then 9 to 12 months, you see yourself moving in a great direction where your relationship can actually be better than it ever was.
I’ve seen people work to reestablish trust, make some clear decisions, and now they’re at a great place, they are really connected with each other and it is more of a “we against the world” instead of an “I versus you” situation.
This why reestablishing trust is so important and it is the foundation of everything else that you are going to do in your marriage. And it is impossible to get your relationship to this place, this 9 to 12 month place that I’m talking about if you don’t take the time to reestablish trust. Don’t move quickly and don’t brush it off. Take your time by starting from the beginning and rebuilding.
Dr. George James, LMFT speaks, counsels, consults, coaches and teaches people how to overcome difficult relationships problems and build successful happy connections. James has been a reoccurring expert on many radio, TV and online programs. He is also a reoccurring relationship contributor to Ebony magazine. James is a staff therapist and an AAMFT-approved supervisor at Council For Relationships. Find out more about Dr. George James at GeorgeTalks.com.