Rebuilding trust is very difficult and takes a lot of time. I think the most difficult part of working with people that have lied or have been untrustworthy in the past is helping them understand one thing: The person you betrayed is not in your mind to have access to your thoughts right now. They do not know with certainty, or have the confidence that you may have in your mind, that you are not going to betray or lie to them again. The only thing they have access to is the past. So YOU may be over your trust issues but it is going to take a lot of time and consistency from you for the other person to believe you again. It is very hard to help the person who has lied or betrayed understand this. So how do you rebuild trust after lies and betrayal?
1. Be consistent and do what you say you are going to do. If you say you are going to be home at 6:00, be home at 6:00. If you can't, let them know where you are and what has happened. If you say you are going to take out the trash, take out the trash! The little things are important in building up trust, too. The last thing you want is for your spouse to think, "How am I suppose to believe anything he/she says? They don't even take out the trash when they say they will!"
2. Be compassionate with the person you have hurt. Rather than getting frustrated when they are not trusting you on your timeline, remind yourself that they are not in the same place with it as you are. They need more time. In the above scenario, if they are upset with you being home late because you have used those same excuses before when you were lying, try to understand where they are coming from. Being defensive only pushes them further away, thus making the process even longer.
3. Reassure them. When they are suspicious, be patient with them and try to be an open book. Show them what they need to see in order to help them believe you. Then let it go. Let them work through the process of deciding whether to believe you. Again, it can look defensive if you try to push them into believing you. They may not be where you are and they need to get there in their own time.
4. Be an open book. I always tell my clients struggling through infidelity recovery: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to hide. Be an open book. When you lie or betray, if you want to get your relationship back, you give up your right to privacy unfortunately. Let them have access to whatever they want to see. The more you let them see, the more they can build up trust in you.
Hopefully these tips will help if you have struggled with lying or betrayal in the past or are currently fighting your way out of it. Honestly, the best way to get through it is to get a 3rd party to help. All of this is very tricky and a professional 3rd party can help you navigate your way through it.
Written by Natalie Chandler, a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville