How to rebuild trust in your marriage

Emotional safety is an essential part of a healthy relationship. To trust another human being in an intimate relationship is a choice made when one feels emotionally safe. When this sense of safety has been compromised in a relationship, it can be very difficult to rebuild trust, but it can be done.

The first step to rebuilding trust is acknowledging the impact of the hurt that has been caused. For example, if there has been an affair. The partner who had the affair must fully understand and acknowledge the damage and pain this act has caused. Your partner must feel like you “get it”.

The next step is understanding why the betrayal occurred. There can be many reasons. I’ll site a few common examples. If a man is working overtime and is rarely home, his wife may feel neglected and unappreciated. She may then look for attention and affection elsewhere. This example shows a breakdown in communication. It does not excuse the behavior, but there must be understanding of what is going on in the relationship for the behavior to occur. The wife needs to communicate her needs to her husband and he needs to be responsive to those needs. (I am oversimplifying here just to illustrate the point.)

Another example may be of a husband who lies. When he tells the truth about a matter, he pays a high price. His wife may yell and criticize him so he deals with it by avoiding confrontation and continuing to lie. While you are not responsible for the choices your partner makes, it is important to reflect on your contribution to the dynamic of the marriage. Understanding where your communication with each other breaks down and your responsibility in that, is important to healing and rebuilding trust.

During the process of rebuilding trust, it is important not to do more damage. There is no room for punishment. This may feel better in the moment, but to use the incident as ammunition does nothing to heal and rebuild trust. For example: the wife whose husband had an affair, anytime he gets upset at her for something, she brings up the affair as retaliation. This continues to do damage to the marriage.

It is necessary to have open, honest, respectful communication with each other on a regular basis. It is important that you keep your word, follow through on commitments, and always treat each other with respect. If you are feeling pain, communicate your experience to your partner without attacking or blaming. For example: “whenever I think of the affair, it stirs up all the negative images and feelings and I am having a hard time dealing with it. Remembering the affair makes it so difficult to trust and believe this won’t happen again.” This is an example of sharing an experience without attacking or blaming. A responsive partner might say something like this: “I know I made a mistake and I am so sorry. I realize you are in a lot of pain right now. Is there anything I can say or do right that would help?”

These are just a few of the tools it takes to rebuild trust. Rebuilding safety in a relationship after a betrayal takes time, patience and committment. Counseling can be a helpful tool through the process. Having a third party to help you cope with the pain and not cause more damage can make for a smoother process. If you have experienced a trauma in your relationship and need help, call anytime. (865) 283-1777

Keeping your marriage strong during hard economic times

I don’t have to tell you about the tough times our country is facing economically right now. You are seeing it on the news, at the pump and at the grocery store. People are losing jobs, homes, and investments. If these challenges are effecting your family directly, it can put quite a strain on your relationship.

What is most important as you face these challenges, is that you face them together, as a team. Your communication and alliance with each other is of prime importance right now. When couples face hard times financially, there may be a tendency to take fears and stress out on each other. But that only makes the situation worse. 

Here I present some strategies to deal with tough times, cope with fears and realities without damaging your relationship. 

1. Listen to each other. Your partner may be feeling many of the same fears that you are. Listen to each others fears and have empathy for one another.

2. Share ideas and discuss strategies with one another. Sit down and write out your budget together. Discuss ideas about how you might cut back, save money or manage money effectively. Listen to each other’s ideas and problem solve together. The only way to effectively problem solve is to listen and talk to one another with respect and resolve. There might not be a ready solution, but talking about it doesn’t have to do damage to your relationship.

3. Stick together. A lot of it is about attitude. Have and share the attitude that we are in this together, and we will get through it together.

4. Recognize that there are ‘free’ ways to spend quality time together. Date night doesn’t have to mean a $30 babysitter, a $50 dinner and $20 at the movies. Date night can be having a night cap on the lanai after the kids go to bed, or an afternoon walk in the park. Find ways to be together and connect with each other without spending money. Cook meals together and eat at home as a family, whether it’s just the two of you or your kids too. Share babysitting duties with a trusted friend who has kids. Take turns watching each others kids for some quality time alone with each other.

5. Be emotionally supportive of one another. Eliminate blame, criticism, finger pointing, attacking and defending. These actions do nothing to solve problems.

Outside stresses can impact your marriage if you let it. But if you build your relationship resiliency through respectful communication, teamwork, support, and love, you can weather these difficult economic times.

If you would like more strategies, I found this great website full of resources. Check it out! http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org/challenges/financialstress.cfm

You might need marriage counseling if…

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Having a trusted marriage counselor should be like having a trusted car mechanic or a trusted family doctor. If something doesn’t sound right with your car, you take it in and have it looked at by an expert. You might be able to handle routine maintenance, but anything more than that needs a qualified professional. Same with your physical health. Even healthy people get a cold or a headache here and there, but something more than that, you go see a doctor. The same is true of your marriage. Daily squabbles in a marriage are normal even for healthy couples. But anything beyond that, just like with your car or your body, if you let it go too long without getting professional help, the problem could get worse. Here is a list of troubles that might indicate a problem that needs professional attention:

Anytime you try to communicate with each other it turns into a fight.

You avoid communicating about difficult topics to prevent conflict.

You fight about the same thing over and over with no resolution.

There has been infidelity in the marriage.

You are thinking about having an affair.

You just went through a major life change (marriage, newborn baby, job change) and are having trouble adjusting.

Outside stresses (work, children, family) are putting a strain on the marriage.

Intimacy and passion are not what they used to be.

You often feel disconnected from your partner.

You wish you could communicate better with one another.

You fight about how to parent the kids.

You have a difficult time managing day to day life that you can’t find time for one another.

You feel overworked and under appreciated.

You are having a difficult time getting over past hurts.

You are considering divorce.

Having an objective party take the time to listen to your interactions with one another without taking sides can help break negative patterns of relating, increase effective communication through marriage education, improve intimacy and connection and relieve pain. If you are considering counseling but are still not sure, call for a free phone consultation to get your questions answered. (865) 283-1777

Christian Marriage Counseling

Christian Marriage Counseling in Knoxville

Christian Marriage Counseling is also available from Healing Hearts. Working out a couples relationship through faith will bring two partners in a difficult marriage back together into a deeper partnership. By using communication, prayer and intention, you can re-establish a loving relationship in union with the Lord.

For some couples, having a Christian perspective can help deal with difficult marital issues. Whether you are dealing with communication issues, financial difficulties, conflicts and arguing, infidelity, past hurts and distrust, christian marriage counseling can help guide you toward growing and learning together, understanding each other on a deeper level, forgiveness, rebuilding honesty and trust, and strengthening your connection to each other and to your faith in God.

Christian Marriage Counseling focuses on principles of dignity, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, boundaries, love, giving, and how those principles relate to your marriage while keeping God in focus as the guidepost for your marriage and family.