Redefining trust after an affair

My husband lied and cheated his way through many years of our relationship.  At the same time, using revenge as an excuse, I had an ongoing affair with someone I used to love.  When my husband and I both completely disclosed our pasts to one another our egos took a big hit but we were in it together and we immediately started to rebuild.  I underlined completely because we had both told portions of the truth to one another over the years.  But humans seem to have an odd instinct to keep a little bit of the secret to ourselves.  I can’t explain this – but it seems to be the case.  The problem with keeping ANY part of it a secret is that it can fester and regrow.  It’s only with complete disclosure that a relationship can rebuild.  Without that, the foundation is cracked – and that’s no place to build anything that is going to last.

At the sage advice of our therapists, we put short term safety nets in place to keep one another comfortable.  My husband even did a lie detector to put aside any fears that there were still secrets lurking in the corner.  This sounds extreme – but for sex addicts it’s a tool to check sobriety – not unlike a urine drug test for an addict.  It’s unrealistic to think that one can control all of another actions and thoughts and, quite frankly, that is the last thing in the world that I would want.  But in the beginning, before the dust had settled, we used every method imaginable to prevent his addiction from interfering with our marriage ever again.

After my husbands disclosure he told a friend that he always thought if someone knew everything about him he would no longer be lovable.  How empowering it must have been to show me his entire self and to know that he was still loved – probably more than ever before.

I think when women say they can’t trust their partner – they mean one thing and one thing only – that they can’t trust him not to cheat (in whatever way you define that word).  Trust in a relationship is much bigger than that.  At the beginning of our recovery I was rightfully nervous about the possibility of him cheating again.  But any time my head started making up stories I turned my attention to focus on the ways I did trust my husband.  For instance: I know my husband loves me.  I trust that completely.  I trust him to listen to my concerns and address them no matter what it takes.  I know that I come first and he would abandon anything to take care of me if I am in emotional or physical need.  I trust my husband with my secrets.  I believe my husband would take a bullet for me.  I would think about solid examples of his loyalty to me and it would calm my mind and my nerves.

Through our transparent communication we have both become more trustworthy.  One of the most important lessons I learned was to tell my husband when I was having unsettling thoughts about his past behavior.  Suffering in these crazy thoughts alone isn’t fair to me – especially when he is the one that brought it on.  He should witness my feelings – only in this way can he truly know me.  We share the things with one another that we both thought we would never share with anyone.  It’s not always easy to hear the others thoughts and fears, but THIS is where the trust is cultivated.

I don’t think trust can ever be perfect. But today I trust my husband.  And he trusts me.  I couldn’t ask for more.

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