What happens when trust is broken in marriage? What are the emotional costs? Is it possible to rebuild once trust is violated? Learn the four key elements that comprise trust and five things to do now if trust is lacking.
Trust is one of the most valued commodities in a relationship. It’s that feeling of comfort that makes it possible to go to bed at night and to wake up rested and refreshed in the morning. It’s knowing that your significant other won’t cheat on you, steal from you or betray you. It’s knowing that they are there for you and you for them.
Without it, you’re forced to worry about what your partner is doing, who they are with and what they are doing. You can’t rest assured that they will always be there when you need them to be. And you can’t feel free to share your deepest and most vulnerable feelings with them. When trust is broken, it can lead to all kinds of problems.
It is very important for every married couple to have open communication, trust, and honesty in their marriage. However, sometimes trust is broken in relationships, and that can cause a great deal of strife.
This can happen if a couple is having problems communicating or if there is an underlying issue or problem lurking beneath the surface.
So, what happens when trust is broken in a marriage?
First, it’s important to understand that trust is actually composed of several factors. For any relationship to be healthy and strong, it needs to be built on all of these factors.When one or more of these factors are missing, trust may be broken in the relationship.
4 Key Elements of Trust
There are four key elements that comprise “trust” in a marriage:
You feel safe when you know you have the basic necessities of life and there isn’t anything lurking around the corner ready to attack you physically or financially.
If there are threats to either your physical safety, emotional security, or financial stability, this can affect your ability to trust your spouse.
You have the ability to depend on your partner to help you achieve common goalsand fulfill shared dreams. If you don’t feel like you can depend on your partner, this can affect your feelings about trust.
You feel like your partner is telling the truth and living a life that’s consistent with their words. If you sense that they are being dishonest or if their word means nothing, this can affect how trustworthy they seem to you.
You feel close with your spouse and have a deep understanding of them. You communicate openly with one another. If you feel like you don’t know or understand your spouse at all, this can affect your feelings about trust with your partner.
So, if trust is broken in a marriage, it’s likely because one or more of these factors has been affected. This can happen for a number of reasons. Your spouse may have done something to cause you to distrust them. They may share something personal with you that is very hurtful and leads you to think that they aren’t who they say they are or aren’t living in alignment with their values and standards.
For example, one person I worked with discovered that her husband had several websites dedicated to pornography on the internet. He justified it by claiming those websites were for the purpose of “exposing the evils of pornography” and to “help people overcome their addiction.”
She had no way of knowing whether he was telling the truth, and she wasn’t comfortable with his behavior in any case. Her sense of trust was broken because she was afraid that her husband would do things behind her back that he wouldn’t tell her about. She wasn’t sure if he felt it was safe to tell her what he was doing or if he could be trusted to have open communication with her.
On the other hand, you may discover something that causes you to question your spouse’s integrity. This could include discovering that they have been dishonest about something or that they have broken trust with you.
What it feels like when trust is broken
It is painful when trust is broken. Here are a few emotions connected with betrayal.
You feel angry because you have been hurt and deceived by someone you love.
You regret trusting your spouse in the first place. It’s painful to realize that you have given them a place of importance in your life, only to discover that they aren’t trustworthy.
You are afraid of what they might do or say next, and you are afraid that it will hurt you more than it already has.
Your marriage is now filled with sadness because your foundation of trust has been shattered, and you’re unsure whether there is any hope for your marriage to recover from this blow.
Overcoming betrayal and rebuilding trust
If your trust has been broken, it’s important to take steps to rebuild it. If you can’t rebuild it, then you will likely end up in a marriage that is lacking intimacy, and that will cause further problems for you both. Here are four steps that I’ve found helpful when I’ve had trust broken in my relationships:
1) Take time apart from your spouse
This one is very difficult because many times the underlying reason for the break of trust is related to something going on “behind closed doors.”
Taking time apart doesn’t mean separation; it simply means you need time to think, feel, and process what is happening. Read this for the pros and cons of separation.
Time apart can help to create some distance between the two of you so that you can think about things clearly and see your situation more clearly.
2) Talk to someone close to you
It’s important to have someone close to you give you a reality check about what’s going on. If they are aware of what’s been going on, they can be a voice of reason and encourage you in your difficulties.
They can help remind you that things don’t always go smoothly in marriage and that it is possible for your relationship to get through this difficult time.
One word of advice, make sure the person you confide in meets the following criteria:
They are not someone of the opposite sex. It’s dangerous to open your heart to another person because strong emotional connections can form. If this person is of the opposite sex you put yourself at risk of an unhealthy attachment.
They are not family members. I’ve seen couples talk to their parents about their spouse only to realize the parents end up holding bitterness and unforgiveness against them. You will probably work through your issues with your spouse, but your parents or close family might think differently about them and fail to forgive.
3) Seek professional help
It’s important to seek the advice of a therapist or counselor. A counselor will be able to evaluate the situation from an objective perspective and provide you with guidance and support in this difficult time.
If seeing a counselor is not feasible for you, we recommend going through the Save the Marriage System program by Dr. Lee Baucom.
4) Reach out to your spouse
If you’ve been taking some time apart from your spouse, then it’s important to reconnect with them once you’ve thought about the situation clearly. Re-establishing communication may be difficult, but it is possible if both of you are willing to work at it.
It’s important that honest communication is restored between you as soon as possible so that you can get back on track in your relationship.
5) Renew your commitment to each other
It’s important that you work through your difficulties and learn how to love each other again. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you both renew your commitment to each other.
Baby Steps To Renew Your Relationship
There are many things you can do to renew your relationship:
Make a list of what’s working in your relationship and identify those characteristics you want for yourself in the future.
For example, if communication is a problem, then you might make a commitment to daily communicate with each other about how things are going or share something positive about the day. These small acts of communication will go a long way in helping the two of you communicate better with each other.
Ask yourself what you can do to improve the quality of your relationship.
For example, if you’re unhappy with your sex life, then you might make a commitment to experiment and be more open with your spouse physically. This is the perfect time to bring back that spark and try something new in your relationship.
Side note: This step will only work if trust is restored. Physical intimacy is connected to emotional safety and security.
Focus on the things you love about each other.
It’s important that you take some time every day to complement each other and relish in those things that brought you together in the first place. Let yourselves fall in love all over again!
These are just a few examples of things you can do to bring back the passion and intimacy into your relationship.
You are partners. You married for a reason. Do your best (especially in times of conflict) to focus on what it means to be partners and why you married in the first place.
Frequently Asked Questions About Broken Trust in Marriage
Our readers often have specific questions about issues we cover. These questions often come up in conversations about dealing with broken trust in your relationship.
What to Say to Someone Who Betrayed You
The most important thing is to be honest about your feelings. Trust flows both ways. If you conceal how you feel about your spouse’s behavior or attitude, it only breeds more deception. It will only erode your marriage. Begin with honesty.
Next, listen to what your spouse is saying. Behind every action is a motive. If they are doing something that hurts you (causing you to question their integrity), realize they are acting this way for a reason. Your goal is to find out why. Only by listening can you do this.
Dealing with Depression After a Breakup
When someone disappoints you (breaks your trust), it’s natural to feel discouraged, rejected, and abandoned emotionally. This often leads to depression.
Depression has many faces. Sadness. Frustration. Even anger. You may feel like you’re dying a slow emotional death. You’re not alone. Many people grieve the end of a relationship. They struggle with feelings of betrayal, guilt, fear, and anger.
Three things you should do if you feel depressed:
1. Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Depression will make it harder to face your problems.
2. Re-engage with life. You’ll want to isolate yourself from others, but this will only deepen your pain. You need the support of friends and family during this time.
3. Get help. Do not face depression – especially severe depression – alone. Talk to your medical doctor or see a licensed therapist. Letting a professional help you work through these painful issues is beneficial.
How Can You Overcome Infidelity in a Relationship?
If the infidelity is just a one-time occurrence, therapy may be all you need to rebuild trust. If you don’t work on it, though, the problems will likely surface again in your future relationship.
You have two options.
1. Talk about what happened and deal with it now so that it doesn’t happen again in your future relationship.
2. Deny that there is a problemand hope that it will go away on its own.
With the first option, you’ll probably need professional help, which is a good thing because therapy will help you both deal with your relationship problems now so that they don’t continue into your future marriage.
With the second option, you’re likely to repeat the same dysfunctional relationship patterns and be more inclined to cheat again in the future.
The first choice is healthier for your marriage in the long run.
What If I Can Never Trust My Husband Again
Don’t give up! It’s possible to regain trust. There are many couples who have been through what you’re going through now and have put the pieces back together to build a better marriage.
If you do find yourself in that situation, then it’s very important that you seek professional help in dealing with your feelings and rebuilding trust. I’ve found that therapy is helpful because it helps you process your emotions and feelings in such a way that they don’t continue to hurt you.
Final Thoughts on What Happens When Trust is Broken in Marriage
By now, you’re probably well aware of the negative effects that a lack of trust has on a relationship. However, it’s important to remember that trust issues do not necessarily have to be permanent.
While it’s true that the road will likely be rocky at first, and you may face some setbacks along the way (oftentimes more than once), it is possible to heal from past hurts and build your marriage back up in a positive direction. After all, isn’t your relationship worth the work?
- 4 Key Elements of Trust
- What it feels like when trust is broken
- Overcoming betrayal and rebuilding trust
To get more help creating the marriage you desire and deserve, check out these resources:
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini series you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Courses
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.