Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship
The unthinkable has happened. You just learned your spouse or partner has had an affair. A million thoughts are running through your mind, such as “How could they do this to me?”, “How could this happen?”, “How did I not know sooner?”, “Is this my fault?”
By now, without realizing it, you’re likely beginning to shut down. You’re putting up the walls around you because the person who you were supposed to be able to trust the most just completely shattered all the trust in your relationship. The first question you ask shouldn’t be one of the above, and it shouldn’t be a question to yourself. The question you should be asking is this: “God, will you help me through this?”
You have a choice
The simple and sad fact is that many (not most, surprisingly) relationships fall apart and marriages end because of infidelity. Many times, people have no idea how to begin rebuilding trust in their broken relationship, and they feel their only option is to cut their losses and move on. Now, my intent here is not to get you to forget that your spouse cheated on you. In fact, Scripture gives Christians a very clear about allowing a divorce because of their husband’s or wife’s infidelity:
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” -Matthew 9:19
The answer is simple
The decision of whether or not to divorce your spouse over infidelity is a decision that must be made between you and God. So, it is not my intent to convince you to stay with the person. But it is goal to help you toward forgiving the other person. You will never truly find trust in your relationship until you learn to forgive your husband or wife for their mistakes. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you forget what they’ve done, nor does it mean you are giving them permission to hurt you again.
It’s time to cancel the debt
Forgiveness is a word that’s thrown around in church a lot, but few times does anyone ever explain to us how we’re supposed to forgive another person. How do you go about forgiving someone, especially the one person who is supposed to protect you and have your back no matter what? Luckily, it really is simple.
Forgiving someone is really cancelling a debt. Think about what Jesus did for each of us. He died on a cross to pay for each of our sins, knowing full well we’d still commit these sins anyway. Look at it from this angle — the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. -Matthew 18:21-27
Here, the King didn’t give forget what the servant did, nor did he give the servant permission to rack up this debt again. However, look what happens in the second half of the parable:
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. -Matthew 18:28-30
Now, imagine Jesus as the king, and yourself as the first servant who was forgiven. Isn’t it easy for us to ask Jesus for forgiveness in our situations but then so difficult for us to forgive someone else?
He knows how you feel
The thing is, Jesus understands what you’re going through. Of course, it’s easy to say “Jesus was never married or divorced. He can’t possibly understand what this feels like.” Think again. Wasn’t Jesus betrayed by the very people whom He loved the most — the human race? He was ridiculed, beaten, mutilated, hung on a cross, and killed — and all He was trying to do was bring hope to our broken world.
Jesus knows exactly how you feel — and He’s asking you to turn over those hurts and heartaches to Him. Yes, you can still mourn the hurt of your husband or wife cheating on you. Yes, you have every right to be angry and confused. But holding unforgiveness, aka hatred, in your heart toward that person only pushes you farther away from God. I’ve heard it stated like this:
“Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting them to die.”
You can’t trust someone again until you learn to forgive them.
Forgiving and trusting someone else means first trusting Jesus. I love how Sarah Young puts it, as she shares from God’s perspective:
I am taking care of you. Trust Me at all times. Trust Me in all circumstances. Trust me with all your heart. When you are weary and everything seems to be going wrong, you can still utter these four words: “I trust You, Jesus”. By doing so, you release matters into My control, and you fall back into the security of My everlasting arms.
Before you arise from your bed in the morning, I have already arranged the events of your day. Every day provides many opportunities for you to learn My ways and grow closer to Me. Signs of my Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see. Search for Me as for hidden treasure. I will be found by you.
Prepare yourself for the emotions you’ll feel
Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship will take time, and probably a lot of tears and heartache. This process you’re going through isn’t an easy one, and it shouldn’t be done alone. But if your spouse truly has a repentant heart, and they are willing to work through this turmoil with you, you can be like many successful couples who have recovered from affairs. And remember, Jesus knows how you feel.