Broken Trust

9 Oct

Letterbalm Broken HeartDear LetterBalm: I did something so horrible, I don’t think I can ever make things right. I cheated on my husband in a long affair, he found out and now our marriage is badly damaged, maybe irreparably. He’s a changed man – a once happy and good-natured guy is now suspicious of everything, especially when I’m away from him at work, running errands, even hanging out with my girlfriends. He’s impatient and irritable, wants to check my cell activity, constantly questions me and wants to know everything I’m doing, even as he says he doesn’t believe me. We are in counseling now, and it’s torture for both of us. In simple terms, I broke my husband’s heart. How do I win back his trust? What can I say?

–Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing

Your husband is dealing with the recognition that what he thought was his marriage was very different from reality. His cosmos has been upended, and he’s suffered the worst kind of betrayal. But you already know that. Psychologists understand that it is easier for the offender – mortified and shamed as he or she might be – to move on to make better decisions. Even society gives the sinner a second chance. But where does that leave the person who was lied to? Feeling stupid, parsing every past action and struggling to accept the new actuality, for starters. Your husband is going through incredible pain, and the best thing you can do is let him have the time to heal at his own speed. Bite your tongue – don’t even hint at “get over it, already.” Be exquisitely kind, think carefully before you speak, don’t yammer on to friends and family about the situation, and listen, listen, listen to your husband, both in and out of the therapist’s office. You need to become intimately acquainted with sorrow, anger, forgiveness, contrition, betrayal, and all the emotions you and he are feeling now. The two of you may come to the realization that your marriage can never recover. Or, you and your husband may take your relationship to a new place. You can’t rush this process, one way or another. Start a daily journal of your thoughts and turn it over to him when you feel he can read it. You know what to say from your heart; Ms. L.B. can’t help you here. 


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