Trusting a spouse again after an affair

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You want to be able to trust him again. In fact, you’d do anything to be able to believe in him again, the way you did when you first got engaged.

A lot of water has gone over the dam, though, and his lie was so big, and so hurtful, that you wonder how the trust can ever be built again. If he’s willing to do the hard work and really prove to you, through his continued actions, that he’s sincere, perhaps there’s hope.

Sit down together and determine what you need from him. What will reassure you and calm your suspicions? What is your definition of lying (give concrete examples if you can). Write your list of criteria down so you both know exactly what constitutes ‘truth’, what qualifies as “cheating’, and how much leeway, if any, will be allowed. As regimented as this sounds, it’s the only way to resolve the inevitable conflicts when he crosses the line — inadvertently or otherwise.

Sign it. Both of you.

Another option is to seek structure and guidance from a professional marriage counselor or support group. If there are others to help hold him accountable, it will increase the pressure to comply more exactly and stay on track. It’s very easy in today’s busy and socially demanding lifestyle to start slowly slipping and getting sloppy. That’s one reason for having made that list; it will serve as a quick reference chart to see if he’s keeping his promise.

In time, he will have proven whether or not he can really make the change. Your intuition is one of your best guides. Even if you can’t pinpoint something wrong, if your ‘gut’ instinct is ringing the alarm bells, it might be best to listen to it.

The process will take some time, but eventually, with dedication and honesty, your marriage, and your ability to trust him, should improve.