Building Trust after Betrayal

Betrayals are difficult for couples to work through. However, when couples can commit to reprocessing betrayal, it can make the relationship stronger. A betrayal is not only an affair as many imagine. A partner may feel betrayed when their input was not considered in a big decision within the relationship. Feelings of betrayal may occur when a partner feels neglected or abandoned, is not prioritized, or when a partner is dishonest or disloyal.


Severed Trust and a Severed Heart

Betrayal harms the trust between partners. The betrayed partner often feels violated, invalidated, and devalued as a person. The commitment to marriage relies on feelings of security, love, and respect. So, when these components are absent or begin to diminish, so does the trust that has built over time between a couple. Many of the betrayals that occur early on in a relationship that are not processed will lead to further feelings of betrayal.  This severs the trust as well as the heart.

Take for example a newlywed couple on their honeymoon. The wife is not feeling well and tells her husband that she wants to take a rest and asks if he can go down to the gift shop to get her some Tylenol. After he leaves she falls asleep.  When she wakes, finds that her husband is not in the room. She tries calling him but finds that he left his phone in the room. She looks for a note and does not find one but does find the Tylenol she had asked for. While waiting on him, she tries to  stay positive.  After a while however, negativity sets in.  At this point she may feel confused, concerned, or annoyed. Her response to this situation is dependent upon a variety of things.  Their history of behaviors, her experience of trust and security, and her personality may all impact her response. If she is an anxious person, she may start to panic. Her experience of neglect as a child, may leave her with feelings of abandonment.  If she is a laidback person, she may feel confused.


Misunderstandings that Lead to Feelings of Betrayal

Her husband returns, but it is almost two hours later at this point. Over that time, the response she had when she woke may change.  Her confusion changes to sadness, concern to panic, and annoyed to angry. When he enters the room, she is visibly upset. She asks where he has been.  He tells her that she was sleeping when he returned. That he left the Tylenol for her and went to have some drinks. “I got to talking to some people and was down there a little longer than planned.”

At this point the wife is furious. He can’t understand why. Leaving his phone in the room was an honest mistake and brought her Tylenol as she asked. Furthermore, he felt he was being helpful by allowing her to sleep quietly, rather than turn on the television and wake her. But he doesn’t share this, as she doesn’t share that she felt abandoned and not prioritized. After all, he left her by herself when she was not feeling well while in a foreign country.  She couldn’t get a hold of him, and he was having fun and chatting it up with others without her! He feels confused and criticized and she feels betrayed.


The Past Impacts Future Perspectives

An argument ensues and the couple sit in silence.  After some time, they begin to talk about going to dinner. the incident is never discussed again. 20 years later, this incident will be the identifying culprit of further feelings of betrayal. Beyond the original incident of a betrayal, we often find more to the story. Growing up the oldest girl of 9 children in her family, she did not feel like a priority.  During her teenage years, she felt the girls in her core group of friends were more interested in spending time with one other than with her.  Having knowledge of these stories are important to fostering trust in a relationship. Furthermore, they are at the heart of a couples Love Maps. The importance of knowing the psychological worldview and intricacies of your partner is the foundation to every relationship.


Good Intentions Gone Awry

Despite the couple’s pure intentions, both left feeling negative from this situation. Throughout their relationship, the husband became more sensitive to criticism.  The wife became more sensitive to feeling misplaced. This is one of the most common struggles couples experience within a diminishing relationship. Betrayals, big AND small, impact the perspective a couples has of their partner and their relationship. Learning how to process these incidents, make repairs, and accept repairs are of utmost importance. A couple needs to understand one another at the core of these relational struggles. They must come to understand one another’s fears, insecurities, wants and needs. Most crucial, are how these relate to the incident of betrayal and the ways they share connections with feelings from the past.   When a couple can do this, they will be more equipped with the ability to work through other feelings of betrayal and hurt.  Future struggles will become more manageable and the couple will gain a better understanding of one another.

If you are experiencing this in your own relationship visit our website to learn more about how our program can help.