“My husband cheated on me. Can I ever trust him again?”
For those wanting in rebuilding their marriage after an affair, this is a natural question. And because his sins are clearly evident, it is often easier to focus on how he needs to reestablish his trustworthiness. These are valid and important considerations that require their own full attention.
It is also true that you need to be mindful of how you respond during this process of recovery. Rebuilding trust is not just a task for your husband; you have your part to play as well.
For example, the fear of being hurt again might tempt you to shut down, put up your emotional walls, and ever be on the lookout for the slightest hint of wrongdoing. While this is an understandable reaction, if you are not careful you can allow yourself to become unloving toward your spouse, no longer caring for his wellbeing and only concerned about protecting yourself.
Instead of primarily focusing on your spouse and wondering if you can trust him again, it might be helpful to consider if you are willing to trust yourself. For instance, can you trust that you will respond in love and with forgiveness? This is not to excuse or minimize his sin, but to remind you this is a heart issue for you as well.
Will you hold to your integrity and be a person of loving-kindness even when he has so painfully hurt you? Is this not how we have learned Christ, who showed his great love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8)? Even when others are crucifying us, spitting in our face, or cheating on us, we are still called to love just as Christ has loved us (John 13:34).
Love is not waiting on him to prove his worthiness. It is offered because of who you are becoming in Christ.
And to be clear, the love Christ shows is not weak or passive, and it does not tolerate sin. It is, however, patient and kind, full of grace and mercy, and willing to forgive. Can you trust yourself to be this sort of person, or to at least be becoming this sort of person?
Yes, he needs to be trustworthy. Yes, he should be producing fruit of his repentance. Yes, he needs to be held accountable when he sins. And you are still called to love whether he does these things are not.
This is no easy task, especially after infidelity. And it’s not fair. However, the choice to love goes a long way in restoring your marriage. Love is much more powerful than the fear of him possibly sinning against you again.
May you learn to love him as Christ has loved you.