A question I often hear from married men is: ‘I’ve admitted my sin, apologized to my wife, and tried to make it right. She says she forgives me, but can’t trust me. Will she ever trust me again?‘
Rebuilding trust is like rebuilding credit. It can be done, but only through a combination of time and consistency. So if broken trust is a challenge to your marriage, let me offer you three ideas on how to rebuild it.
First, get a solid structure put in place. A solid structure is a combination of accountability, daily prayer, Bible reading, and regular consultation with a pastor, mentor or Christian counselor. Find yourself a good men’s accountability group, or a good Christian therapist. An accountability group is a great option since connection is a necessity to having transformation in your life! I encourage you to also begin a daily habit of devotion, personal prayer, and some time spent reading scripture. Let your wife know, in writing preferably, what your structure is. List the name of your group leader, your counselor, and the schedule you’re adopting. Give her a copy so she knows what program you’re following, and tell her she can watch you to see if you’re sticking to it. You’ll probably be surprised how much trust this alone can build.
Second, set aside a weekly time – maybe an hour or so to do nothing but listen to her. Tell her it’s her time to tell you how she feels about your marriage, about your progress, about herself, or anything else that’s on her mind. During her ‘listening‘ time, try not to interrupt her or argue. You simply listen carefully to her concerns, and make sure she knows you share them. This habit will show her that, in contrast to the selfishness you displayed through your sexual sin, you’re now putting her and her needs first.
Finally, don’t rush her. She’s been wounded, and wounds are healed, not erased. So give her time. Give her the time and space she needs to be angry and sad, as she grieves over the blow your marriage has endured. By patiently waiting for her confidence in you to rebuilt, you’ll show her that you take responsibility for your behavior by not expecting her to ‘just get over it.’ She needs that from you. So if both of you will patiently invest in time and consistency, you’ll reap an enormous level of strength and intimacy in your relationship. In the end, the trust she’s lost can be restored, added to, and treasured.