First off, let me say this: It’s a lot better not to breach your partner’s trust to begin with. Because it’s very hard and it takes a long time to earn back trust once you’ve blown it. So think carefully before you succumb to that temptation that will forever change your relationship with your partner. Just don’t do it, whatever “it” is.
But if you have hurt your partner by being dishonest, or unfaithful or disloyal or betraying him in any way, then you have a lot of work to do. Because you’ve put your partner in true emotional turmoil and sent him into a deep dark place of distress. That is what happens when the person you trusted above all others betrays you. If you’ve crossed that line then your job, should you wish to save your relationship, is to restore trust. Not an easy task.
The first order of business is to try and forgive yourself. Yes, you’ve broken your relationship with your partner. Yes, you’ve done something you shouldn’t have. But the only way to truly repair it is to get right with yourself. To find it in your heart to forgive your behavior first. How can you expect someone else to forgive you if you don’t believe you deserve forgiveness yourself? And you do deserve forgiveness. Because everyone falls prey to their flaws and vulnerabilities. Everyone has a weak moment or two or ten. You must first heal yourself before you can ask your partner to heal.
Ask your partner to forgive you. Of course you can’t do that until you’ve owned up to the fact that you betrayed him. You must let him know you understand the terrible breach you caused and that you are truly, truly sorry that you let it happen. Tell him what steps you have taken to fix the situation so it won’t happen again. Tell him you understand his forgiveness won’t let you off the hook for your bad behavior. But it will help him let go of bad feelings about the past and hopefully give him some peace. You cannot rush this in your partner. You can only ask and wait. Be patient. Maybe for a very long time.
Be steadfast in your understanding while your partner evolves. You have assaulted your partner’s emotional well-being. You have made his inner peace plummet. You have caused his world to turn upside down. How can he be sure you won’t do the same thing to him again? Only the passage of time. Understand that he is afraid that if he is betrayed again, he will have to suffer the shame and humiliation of being hurt again. He is afraid he might not recover a second time. And he is not going to be Charlie Brown to your Lucy and let you yank the football away from him. While he is getting back his emotional footing, you must behave impeccably. You must prove you are trustworthy through your actions and deeds. You must never give up being on your best behavior. It is hard work winning back trust.
Have faith. There are no guarantees in life, and even you can’t promise beyond the shadow of a doubt that you won’t backslide again. But you can try. And your partner can understand that you are trying. If he can see that you are sincere in your apology, if he has witnessed your integrity in other areas of your life, if he knows you basically have good character, then you have a chance to build a future. Investing in a relationship requires a leap of faith in another person. Hopefully your partner will take the risk to have faith in you again. Then together you can move your relationship forward.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact