Can trust be restored? Will you ever be able to trust them again? Was their betrayal so painful that you will never trust them again or is this something that is painful yet bearable- as in we can work through this.
Can you forgive? Forgiving doesn’t mean you submit or agree. It just means that you will no longer harbor ill feelings toward you partner and you free yourself from holding on to something that hurt you. When you free yourself- the past no longer controls your emotions- you are in control.
Can you let go? When you are holding on to a painful memory or experience- it is hard to create new memories or enjoy new experiences. Think of it like a fist- if it’s clenched- it can’t receive. If it stays clenched too long- it starts to hurt. When you let go, you open yourself up- you give life another chance- you let go of the pain caused by holding on to hurtful memories.
Can you move forward? Are you willing to let the past be in the past, embrace the present and create a new future? Create a new normal- based on new goals, new desires, new aspirations. Moving forward means allowing the pain to drive you to a better future. Rather than having a pity party- you take the experience and create a new experience- an experience where the pain from the past is used to build a better future.
Now some see this as becoming vulnerable or being weak because you take the risk of being hurt again. But life is risky. And when you are taking a chance at being fulfilled or reaching a new level with your partner- when you and your spouse have moved past the pain, become focused on the present moment, and you take action to create a better future- it may be worth the risk.
HOWEVER- If you answer NO to any of the above questions- you need to consider whether or not staying in the relationship is worth it. There is no point staying in a painful relationship or holding on to something that you know can never be repaired. So, if this case you will move to the next step. For example, if #1 and #2 are NO- then #3- Let it go so that you can be free from the pain and #4- Move on with your life. Whether you choose to stay or go- the ultimate goal is that you move forward and don’t remain stuck in the pain.
What to do if you are the betrayer:
1) Acknowledge the hurt and pain you caused your partner (I HURT YOU… I LET YOU DOWN… I WAS WRONG.)
2) Provide a sincere apology and don’t make promises of can’t keep (saying “I’ll never hurt you again” is a LIE- hopefully you won’t hurt them in the same capacity- but you always have the capability to let them down)
3) Recognize that it will take time to heal (don’t rush this process)
4) Don’t expect your partner to move on right away (just because you’ve moved on doesn’t mean that they have).
5) Expect you partner to question your actions/decisions. They may ask a million times (who, what, when, why, where)- you must be ready for that.
You are not immune to betrayal- Don’t say ‘it could never happen to me’ because broken trust can happen to anyone in any situation. And consider the fact that if you were in their shoes- feeling what they felt in the moment- it could have been you!
You may have inadvertently contributed to the problem- Many times we blame our partner for their actions, but we don’t see where we could have contributed to the problem. This is not always the case, but if your partner tries to explain WHY they did what they did- and you disregard what they say because you are hurt- you lose sight of why the broken trust occurred. When you accept that you are not perfect- and you realize that people are human and they make mistakes- you may have a little more empathy or show a little mercy or extend a little grace in the situation.
You must have realistic expectations- First off- don’t fall in love with fantasy. You must always be realistic about your partner’s ability to disappoint you or let you down. When you see the situation for what it is- it can happen to anyone (that’s real talk). Furthermore- if you saw the flaws when you met them- why would you expect anything different? If you know how they are with others- why would you expect anything different with you? Let’s look at the situation from a rational point of view.
Once it’s done, it’s done- can’t change it- must move past it!
If you choose to forgive- don’t hold it over their head. So many times, we say “I forgive you” but we continue to bring it up over and over again. If you’ve truly forgiven- it’s over- it’s in the past. But if you continue to repeat the same story over and over- you need to reevaluate your motives. Are you trying to hurt your partner because of what they did to hurt you? Or are you still hurting due to unresolved issues? Either way- THIS must BE ADDRESSED. Counseling is always a great option.
What can you learn & how can you grow?
Many times rebuilding trust makes the relationship stronger. It takes a strong couple to overcome hurt and pain. Love is a major factor along with hope that things can and will be better. Evaluate what was (past), what is (present), and what could be (future). It takes time, patience and realistic expectations to repair a broken relationship.
No matter how challenging it may seem, if you both work together- it’s possible!