The Journey to Restoring Broken Trust, Part Two

January 15, 2016

Brad Hambrick

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Brad Hambrick

BCC Introduction: Earlier this week Brad began to lead you on a journey to progressively restore trust after the infidelity of a spouse. So far, the journey has had these “mile markers”:

  1. Require Third-Party Mediation: At this stage, trust is built as you hear your spouse be honest with another person and receive correction and instruction from that person…
  2. Listen and Require Validation: Now you are willing to talk with your spouse in a one-on-one conversation, but you are skeptical of most everything that is said. If your spouse has facts to back up what is shared, you will trust that and little more…
  3. Listen and Require Less Validation: Listening to your spouse now feels like less work. The rate at which you are searching for questions and processing information as you are listening to your spouse is decreasing…
  4. Rely on Your Spouse Functionally: Whether separated or in the same house, you begin to “do life together again”…
  5. Share Facts with Your Spouse: Up until this point you have been receiving information much more than you have been giving information. At this stage you begin the process of “giving yourself” to your spouse again at a factual level…

Now, we continue pressing on in the journey:

6. Share Beliefs with Your Spouse: As you become more comfortable sharing facts with your spouse again, that naturally leads to sharing what you think about those facts. Conversations become more meaningful as you share more of what you like, dislike, agree with, disagree with, and want from the events of life. You can now talk about the way you believe things “should” be without a tone of judgment, sadness, or guilt overpowering the conversation. As you share your beliefs, you feel more understood and appreciated. At this stage, you and your spouse may have to relearn (or learn for the first time) how to have different opinions or perspectives while protecting the unity of the marriage.

7. Share Feelings with Your Spouse: Up until this stage emotions have likely been “thrust at” or “shown to” more than “shared with” your spouse. At this level of trust you are willing to receive support, encouragement, or shared participation in your emotions. An aspect of the “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) relationship is returning. You are beginning to experience your burden being reduced and your joys multiplied as you share them with your spouse. The marriage is beginning to feel like a blessing again.

8. Rely on Your Spouse Emotionally: Now you find yourself able to relax when your spouse is away. You are able to believe your spouse is transparent and sincere when he or she tells you about activities of the day or shares feelings with you. It is now the exception to the rule when suspicions arise within you about your spouse’s motive for saying or doing something.

9. Allow Your Spouse to Care for You: Allowing your spouse to express affection has lost any sense of “invasion” or being “unclean.” When your spouse wants to serve you, you no longer think of it as an act of penance nor do you cynically question what he or she will want in return later. Your spouse’s efforts to bless you can be received as blessings rather than being treated as riddles to be solved or dangerous weights on the “scales of justice” that will be used to pressure you later. You can savor the sweetness of love without bracing for a bitter aftertaste.

10. Relax and Feel Safer with Your Spouse Rather than Apart: This is trust restored. Your spouse’s presence has become an anchor of security rather than a wave producing insecurity. Your spouse’s presence reduces stress in troubling circumstances. You find yourself instinctively drawn to your spouse when something is difficult, upsetting, or confusing. Even when your spouse doesn’t have the answer, his or her presence is its own form of relief and comfort.

Trust and Ultimatums or Time Tables: There is intentionally no pacing guide for this trust progression. It is an act of faith not to say, “I’ll give it three months and if we’re not at level seven, then I don’t think there’s any hope for us.” That kind of time-pressured environment stifles the growth of trust. Ultimatums are even more ineffective. You might try to make deals: e.g., “Unless you stop ___ or tell me ___, then I will not move to the next level of trust.” But if you do, you actually undermine trust being built, because there could be the temptation to think, “You only did that, because I made you.” Your goal in reading this progression is merely to gain an understanding of where you are and what could be next in the development of your level of trust. In other words, efforts at artificially accelerating the process will ultimately do more harm than good. In the final analysis, growing in trust requires trust, especially in God’s guidance through the process.

Brad Hambrick

About Brad Hambrick

Brad is Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He also serves as an adjunct professor of biblical counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brad has been married to his wife, Sallie, since 1999.