Can I Ever Trust You Again?

Last week I stopped listening to music during my commute and started listening to podcasts. Which means that I come home and retell all the stories that I just listened to in my car for my colleagues, husband, children – anyone that will listen. Tonight, my retold story is for you and the topic is trust and reconciliation. Maybe we can answer the question:

Can I ever trust you {my spouse} again?

Trust is like holding a bird in your hand. If you hold the bird too tightly then you will crush it and it will die. If you hold the bird too loosely then it will fly away. This metaphor is an adaptation from a story told within the podcast but I believe it is brilliant. It tells you there is an appropriate balance required to trust another person, and falling out of balance and into extremes is destructive or negligent.


Prior to my husband’s affair I believe I trusted him naively. He promised he wouldn’t cheat and therefore he would never cheat on me. And the longer we were married the more I believed it would never happen because we were the center of each other’s world, the most intelligent mate, my trusted confident, and my best friend. And vice versa – I was undoubtedly all those things to him too. Except I naively trusted that nothing could ever change between us and that we did not need to worry or cultivate this trust post-wedding or post-kids. I believed in status quo.

Except I didn’t really. During my husband’s affair I realized that our marriage was no longer fulfilling my needs. My husband was failing me. I was lonely and felt as though I was raising our children solo. He would go to work and come home unconcerned with anything within our household that required effort or dedicated time. I cried alone many times throughout the year of his affair because I couldn’t understand why my marriage was not working for me anymore. I wanted more too.

Post D-day, I was holding the “trust bird” too tightly. In fact, there are still times I am clutching trust like it’s a stress ball and releasing the tension that trust requires from me. Just last week I practically put my husband on trial to find out what he did before going to work that day. It turns out he ran errands for his business. For me, those two hours of errands were a reminder of the affair and his behavior.

The question remains: Can I ever trust him, or anyone, again?

Trust is fragile and when trust crumbles it can have a ripple effect on every relationship in your life. It has been very difficult for me to trust anyone on an intimate level after discovering my husband’s affair. I had to redefine trust, rebuild relationships with the people I truly care about in a way that fits into my new definition of trust. For me trust will never be absolute again. I have learned that in order to trust I must accept the unknown. I must understand that in trust there is doubt and I need to learn to be comfortable with that the unknowns.

For my readers that are in the beginning stages of discovering their spouses affair I implore you to find out the meaning and motivations for your spouse’s affair. You do not need to know the facts or the story of the affair. The goal is to restore trust, not create a narrative. Understand the crisis you are going through together and this will become the beginning of your new relationship.

Learning to hold the bird in your hand is a delicate balance of holding on and letting go.


40 thoughts on “Can I Ever Trust You Again?

  1. Rather than sitting home bored and feeling sorry for yourself, find some new adventures: take a class; join a hiking/biking/walking group; volunteer. You have to let go of these horrible tormenting questions and trust yourself first. If you become a woman you can like, so will others, and maybe your husband will too. If not, what’s the point?
    If you were on a torture table, and you were looking at the torturer, would you really want to know what his motivations and underlying problemd are. Or would you just want to get off the table and get a life?

  2. Well @Diane Rapaport it’s easy to say she is the one who needs to fix herself. It’s easy to think she needs to get herself together and stop dwelling on the past. Well let me tell you…until you live, breath and exist in this nightmare you can’t say what you would do. Yes we should all be strong and bounce back from a man’s careless, reckless and selfish decision. However, unlike her husband who chose to hurt, betray and destroy the pure wholeness of a love/marriage he had because of problems either within himself or within the marriage, I don’t think you can simply say go find a hobby to fulfill your emptiness. That is a shallow response to someone who has had her entire being and universe shattered. I have been following this blog for three years and her husband like he mine had a year long affair which completely destroyed part of me as well. We too, like her and her husband, have chosen to fight for our marriage and while we are in a better place today, there are still those demons which resurface occasionally. Once your entire soul and being is shattered, you are never completely whole again. You find a new strength, happiness and relationship with your spouse but it will NEVER be like it was before. So I personally am insulted by your insensitive and careless response because until you walk in these shoes and travel down this heartbreaking road…it is difficult to rationalize and understand the insanity of living through your husband’s affair.

    • Lisa
      I totally agree with you. When you find out that your husband has had an affair something inside of you has died. You question yourself as a woman and regain trust is very hard. In my case a baby was the result of the affair. This was the hardest thing in my life that I have to deal with. We are going to counseling and trying to get a marriage back even though our marriage will not be the same. I do not dwell on what my husband has done but it comes up sometimes and those sad angry unbelievable feeling surface. When I found out about the affair I was ready to leave, I had packed up my things and put them in my car. But God spoke to me and said” When you had sinned, did I leave you”?M y response was God this is different. Honestly if it was not for my faith in God, my marriage would have been over. The both of us are trying really hard towards our marriage and that is all I can say.

      • I heard God speak to me too. He asked me the same question but later. The only thing I heard Him say was,” Embrace him.” I thought back NO! ” he asked me again gently,” Embrace him. Trust me please.” begrudgingly did. Something happened at that moment that i can’t explain. I didn’t know at that time that the woman that he had the affair with was a witch. I am being dead honest. I found out things later with the help of a few priests involved in exorcism and spiritual warfare, which too, deal in. This is an interesting comment you make! Your marriage was ordained by God. Not all are. bless You both and your healing… Reggie

    • Amen, sister. Someone looking in on a wife’s thoughts, actions, behaviors may see them as compulsive or absurd. Heck, if I could look in on myself & some of the ways in which I reacted to my husband’s affair, I would admit they probably weren’t productive, but that’s ok…it doesn’t have to make sense…because he’s affair doesn’t make thoughts/ways of dealing with his affair & my feelings don’t have to make sense to anyone-becaus it’s my way of getting through the pain.

    • Please tell me the pain goes away 😦 I’m only 51 days out and am drowning inside. We are trying to rebuild is again but I’m struggling hard.

    • You are so right Lisa! I found out 5 weeks ago my husband had been having an affair for 8 mos. and it is devastating!

  3. I do not think anyone is sitting home and feeling sorry for themselves. When life as you know it falls apart in an instant your first thought isn’t ” what cooking class should I sign up for?” I went from being a strong confident woman to a total mess. I think for the person who has been betrayed, so much energy is required just in surviving the day and there is not a lot left over for new hobbies.
    I don’t know how I will ever fully trust my husband again. I’m pretty confident that I never will. I have to accept that this will be my reality in my new marriage or I let it all go. I’m still undecided honestly. Like you Robin I knew my marriage was failing me, I was lonely for sure. What was unexpected was that my husband could turn on me like he did. I actually hate him for it and I struggle every day with hate and love.
    Lisa for me the demons really come out when I feel myself settling in to some kind of normalcy and then it hits me all over again. I am then a basket case- suspicious, angry and really an emotional mess. Every time though my husband is there trying to find a way to right the wrongs. To get me back to the present.
    Diane, this recovery is hell and sometimes I do want to ” jump off the table and get a life” but the thing is sometimes I am the torturer, to my husband and to myself. It’s then you see you realize you will need to understand the motivations and underlying problems if you are going to save yourself let alone your marriage and family. It’s very easy to become our own worst enemy.

    • You assumption is that I haven’t been through this nightmare. I have twice; and only learned the third time through. I wish I had C. J.’s book Adulterer’s Wife to help me through those times. And yes, if you choose, to stay, it is sometimes harder than leaving; and the issue then becomes, what can you focus on besides your own emotions about what you are going through. What’s superficial is to keep beating yourself on the head and thinking what a s**t your husband was or keeps being or how if you had acted differently he would have been an adulterer. The word ‘hobby’ isn’t used superficially—it means finding something beyond the marriage and the toxic emotions caused by adultery that you can focus on. And that’s ultimately what got me through. My focus, or hobby, was to teach musician’s business.

    • This is me ad my current state I’m all over the place with my emotions of love and hate. It’s a fine line, I just don’t know how to move forward. 😦

  4. Not sure why I put Robins name in my last post. Too much reading tonight and too late to be posting I suppose.

  5. I think it is totally normal never to 100% trust a spouse who has cheated, it is normal survival instinct, you would never leave your wallet around someone who stole from you or leave your kids alone with someone who mistreated them. A new level of trust will be required because it would be unwise to have blind trust again. Also the question needs to be asked what the other person is doing to regain trust, they should expect to be questioned about whereabouts etc and a spouse that cheated who is truly remorseful and wants to make amends will stand throughout the doubt, anxiety and crazy moments the will follow because they have lost the privilege of blind trust and it will take a long time to get close to it and that is the legacy of an affair and another reason out of a million reasons why it’s just not worth having one.

  6. Diane, have you been effected by infidelity in your marriage/relationship? I’m curious about your perspective and your advice about “getting a life”. Really? I have been following this amazing blog and the many women here who have been effected by infidelity and my impression is that these women all had/have very busy, fulfilling lives however, something was missing, something went wrong. It’s called life and it ain’t pretty or perfect sometimes. I wonder what you would say to the indidel? I’d say hey, instead of taking up a mistress, how about taking up golfing, fishing, or better yet get help yourself before you attempt to hurt and destroy your family. This is what I do know about infidelity: IT IS ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU. I learned that through therapy, reading extensively, soul searching and serious discussion with my husband. Taking Back My Life, I think it’s ironic you used the name Robin in your post about the bird analogy, great post!

    • I woudn’t be writing if I hadn’t been through infidelity. Twice. And with two chidren. Sometimes nothing is missing: the assumption is to think that if you were somehow better, stronger, more responsive, blah blah, that your husband would not have cheated. And no in the first stages of toxic emotions, you don’t go running off to the first cooking class you can sign up with. But at some point, you do have to deal with how you can feel complete in yourself, with or without a husband. In the past I wanted by husband’s approval and assumed that his disapprovals led him elsewhere. . .and then I realized he would have cheated no matter what. And at some time I had to deal with the secondary realization that seeking love and approval had a lot to do with my low sense of self esteem and wanting myself validated by my husband (or teacher or co-workers or. . .and once I got that, then trying to find my self, my true self, did mean venturing out. .

      • To clarify when I stated something was missing I meant for the cheater which is why I also stated the cheater needed to get help for themselves and it is about them not you. I believe we all have different ways of coping and whatever works for you, that is what you need to do. I am so sorry you had to deal with this multiple times that must have been a nightmare for you. Take care xo.

  7. I’ve read the comments left here and I too have to comment on @Diane Rapaport’s reply. I don’t know your story, but this I do know: If you have experienced marital betrayal, then you would truly know that you don’t just get off the table and “get a life”. It took every fiber in my being to just get out of bed, get my kids to school and somehow manage to make it through the day. Taking up a new hobby was the very last thing on my mind if it was on my mind at all. My husband and I have been to see several different marriage therapists. I will never in my life forget this one female therapist that said to me, “You’ve won, you have your husband. Now move on!”. We did not return to her to say the very least. You don’t just move on. It is a process. A very hard, heart wrenching, soul searching, time consuming process and commitment. It is by far the single, most difficult thing I have ever endured. It’s not because “we” all just want to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s just the way it is. You cannot change it. How long it takes is different for every individual. I just turned 50 last month. I joke sometimes and say, “Oh my gosh! The things I want to remember, I forget. And the things I want so desperately to forget, I can’t!” I think that I can safely say for most of “us” that we would love, love to “let go of the horrible tormenting questions” and trust ourselves first. The reality is, it doesn’t work that way. Maybe you have walked in our shoes and were able to just go get a life. Kudos to you and a pat on the back. But I believe those kinds of betrayed spouses are very few and far between. In my almost 4 years post d-day, our marriage counseling, my extensive research and reading of self help books, etc. I haven’t known anyone to have been able to just get up and get a life. Also, I would like to comment on the part about “trusting yourself”, that if I become a “woman that I can like, so will others”. The problem wasn’t with me. I was a very strong and secure woman before d-day. After, I still was, just not around my husband. It crushed my self-esteem. But only around him not when I’m out by myself or with my kids. For some reason it’s only how I view myself in his eyes. It has nothing to do with trusting myself or liking who I am. I too have to side with @Lisa; I am personally insulted as well. Lastly, I want to comment on the trust issue. I feel as if I have to guard my heart 24/7. I know that I will never be able to trust unconditionally like I did before the betrayal. Sad as it may sound, it is what it is.

    • Nobody can ‘crush’ your self esteem. But you can let that happen if where you get self-esteem is always from love/approval of others. When do you get to love yourself for who you are or could be; where do you get to realize your self-potential, with or without needing anyone else to do it. In some ways that is why learning something like a musical instrument or cooking or almost anything is good: you just improve, whehter someone validates you or not. At some point you need to feel, “Wow I’m a great person.” Period.

      • Excuse me, learning a musical instrument will do this? ! That’s simplistic.
        No, you can’t crush self esteem.
        But you can observe that someone tried to. Learning something new is avoidance.

      • Wow. Just Stop talking Diane. You are insensitive and are not helpful at all. I wish you good things but no one comes on this blog to defend their views. Many of us found your comments offensive. Just reflect and move on if you didn’t mean them that way.

  8. What is sad for me now that I am grown and my kids have made good lives on their own is that my kids have no respect for their father who not only committed adultery but abandoned them as well, never came to a game, or a personal event of theirs. . . I feel compassion for him, but I also know that it wasn’t some character flaw in me that made him cheat. . he was a cheater even before he met me (though I did not know this until later). It was a very wise therapit who finally taught me to look inside myself for my self esteem and not to others. And unfortunately I know many women, even if they do divorce, who are still looking to find out what motivated theri husbands to leave them. They torture themselves with their own looping internal dialogues, And for what?

      • Diane- I am sorry for all that you have lost. But there are some men who are worth the fight. I may be struggling to find my way back to feeling whole but I am not relying on my husband on that although I hoping he will be a part of my future. I have a husband who admits to his affair being his fault only. His remorse is palpable. My children know in fact my daughters discovered the whole thing. They hold their dad accountable. I know it was not a character flaw in me that caused him to cheat but I think it is part of the healing process that we each need to figure that out for ourselves. It’s a lousy seemingly long and drawn out process.
        You are dead wrong – someone else can crush your self esteem and then it’s up to you to build yourself up. I don’t see anyone here thinking they need their spouses to provide them with their self esteem or validation. What I see are women gaining strength in themselves and building back their marriages. And doing the best that they can at the time. Your therapist is right- we do need to look in ourselves for our own self esteem but let’s face it in a relationship the actions of others effects us. And I mean any kind of relationship. No one feels like they are a great person all of the time.
        So you have moved on and feel good. Good for you. Unfortunately you sound very bitter and disaponted in women who are struggling. Maybe you have not moved on as much ch as you think. But I wish you only the best.

  9. Is it possible to trust a husband after an affair? I dare say – it is. It depends on the reasons why he cheated and if those reasons are resolved. If it’s his character and he’s just a cheater with many other flaws then you can possibly never trust him and you probably shouldn’t have in the first place. But if he’s generally a good guy with a good character who at some point started to make bad decisions that led him to the affair but he knows it was the worst thing he did in his life, then why not? The chances that he would do it again are not bigger then before he cheated. If anything they are smaller because now he knows the pain and he doesn’t blindly trust himself either.
    Be prepared though that it is a process that depends on the pace of your healing.
    Ella Bloom –

  10. Wow, first let me apologize if I have offended you (Diana Rapaport). So you have walked in our shoes, a few times it sounds like. Let me elaborate on the crushing of my self-esteem. I did get my self-esteem “crushed” as a result of my husband’s affair. I don’t get my self-esteem or self-worth from the love or approval of others. However, one of the many facets of my self-esteem or self-worth comes from how my husband values me, if he respects me, etc. That to me is obvious. When my husband cheated on me for two years with his high school girlfriend, it did impact my self-esteem and in a huge way. As I said in my earlier response that it did not affect how I felt about myself or how I valued myself around other people, just around my husband. When a husband cheats on his wife, it is basically implying that he doesn’t value her, her feelings or how it will impact her or their marriage and family once he is discovered. That is how it “crushed” my self-esteem for me in my husband’s eyes. When an affair is first brought to light, it literally can turn your world upside down destroying trust, self-esteem, marital security, the very life as you know it; It is part of that emotional roller coaster that you will ride in the beginning months or sometimes even years. An offended spouse needs constant reassurance and affirmation that the offender loves her, he only wants her, etc. Again, I apologize.

  11. Thiswillnotdefineus,
    Same issue with me.
    It seems some people have different ideas of morality. I now know my husband does not hold the same things dear that I do. The romance and free fall of unquestioned fidelity, for instance. I wouldn’t really “trust him”, having become aware of this. More a question of can I live with that basic change in perception of my reality. Can I like him, forgive his cavalier treatment of what is important to me?
    To be fair, he had no idea what he was doing to his family. That’s not an excuse, a fact. That fact allowed compassion.
    We have no control over other people’s choices, other than trying to communicate how we feel about life.
    And we have a choice about how much the differences in morality or anything else,; manners, beliefs, taste in music (joking ish) is important to us.
    I can forgive the differences now. But can’t say I find it attractive, admirable. Or safe.
    Morality aside, having discovered my “BFF ” had another “BFF” that makes it a math equation, no such thing as two x “BFF”. (Best Friend Forever)
    So the issue, for me, starts from searching for trust, but changes to finding meaningful common ground. It’s no fun! I’m tired and bored with it after 3.5 years. That thought makes me wonder; is that how he felt when miss vamp spun her tale of woe around him and tried to reel him in? Like so many, he wasn’t looking for someone, he had for some reason forgotten the word no. Why? He doesn’t know, I never will.
    And now, trust? I chose not to care. I need more input towards love and care, not a job as warden to his naughty boy jerkdom. If he is stupid enough to cause more hurt and disruption to his family; good riddance. I will not be turned into a sceptic, I have not forsaken my belief in the good in people. Yet I no longer assume he has my beliefs, or finds the same things important. To some degree, that was the attraction, heaven help me. Irony. But I hope he can care enough to respect my beliefs now.
    Like all anxieties over things out of our control,health, safety, so goes trust. It’s never certain.
    Tank you for making me think..! x

  12. Thank you for this. I’ve been reading your posts for a few years now .. Truly living what feels like a parallel life. It’s been 2.5 years since D-day.. And this post couldn’t have fallen into my hands in the most perfect time and space.

  13. Tonight I have hit my husband,we are totally over now.we moved to Spain in Aug 15,he was working away so it was I my myself and our 2 boys 8 and 11,I set up home,school etc and then my hysbands job changed which went from the rigs to boats which meant he had 3 days in Spain with us and went away for 7 weeks so it was hard but we got on with it as it was out new life!he went to Indonesia and his boat was docked,anyway I knew something wasn’t right but he filled me with shit and I carried on with our new life in Spain alone with our boys syarti g a new Spanish school he came home at the end of October and I knew we were not good,I actually said I know you have done wrong and I will find out and literally the next day I looked on his iPad and the stupid prick had photos of her and him not together but had clearly taken it home with him,stupid prick he is. Anyway that was like being hit by a train in the face but as we had just made a new life in Spain I thought which I never thought I ever would if this happened to me I would try and work through it but it’s very apparent now that he has completely broken me as a person and I can’t,so tonight the shit hit the fan and i lost it and totally lashed out,I hate him for what he has done to us and I am broken.the worst part is the kids think that I’m the crazy one which to be honest there not to get wrong right now,I want to run away from it fucking dare he break me and my boys!!I hate him!!!I’m broken.

    • Because he is unbelievably stupid, selfish, un empathetic and basically not mature enough for marriage, much less a family; but mostly plain stupid. Your marriage may be broken, ok or over. What we all thought marriage meant is broken.
      I envy your capability to start a new life. You are not broken.

  14. I understand and agree with the majority of what Diane is conveying. It took me a full year of grieving the betrayal of my husband and my best friend before I was able to move forward and pursue my goals. Goals that I had put off raising a family. I went back to school and changed careers. I also focused on my physical, mental, and spiritual health. In doing so, I believe I am a much better wife, mother, and friend previous to D-day 3 years ago. I understand in the beginning stages it takes all of your energy just to wake up and make it through the day. Trust me I have been there and it’s not pretty. Although, this by far is the most difficult experience I have been through (including the devestating loss of my father), it has provided a self awareness into who I am and my purpose in this life. I now realize that I am a strong, loving, forgiving woman. I value honesty and faithfulness above all else in all of my relationships. For this I grateful. Love to all!

  15. My question is why stay with someone you can never fully trust again? There are millions of good men out there. Why put this one on a pedestal and stay with a cheater? Don’t you want to be happy?

  16. I discovered this blog last week as I was searching info to help my 18 yo daughter. While I didn’t really find what I needed in her respect, I have read all the posts and feel so validated in what I am feeling. I found out about my husband’s affair on Nov 21, 2015 by seeing an email from him to her – no words, just an illicit pinterest post. I discovered that this had been going on for 8 months 1-3 X’s/mo and always occurred while I was out of town caring for my Dad, who was hospitalized 6 X’s in 2015. It just makes me sick. Unfortunately my 18 yo daughter saw a text from the slut to him propositioning him in Feb 2015 before anything physical had happened. He promised her he would tell me and she thought that happened. But the chase, the lure, the excitement was too much for him. Now I look back and see the lies, the hiding, the guilt. Since DDay, he has been extremely remorseful, very loving and willing to work on us. I’ve had so many of the feelings all of you have had. Stay or go, how much to put into it, can I ever trust again? It did take him a wakeup call to understand what transparency really means though when I discovered they were texting in January. I was done then. But he saw how much that literally brought me to my knees so here we are working it out. Life is better, our marriage is better. I feel like we are moving forward pretty well, but there is always this little bird on my shoulder saying, “be cautious”.

    I’ve stalked the OW on social media, blocked her from my FB, etc just to get an idea of this slut. We live in a small town and luckily we haven’t crossed paths yet. I think my reaction now would be different from months 1-5. We did drive down Main St. one day and there she was walking her dog. Silence in the car. I didn’t want to address and neither did he. It’s in the past. We are so different – she is 17 years younger, a waitress (how they met), 2 kids born right out of High School, duplex living paycheck to paycheck and frequents the bars to the point of bar fights and 2 DWI’s…..while we’ve moved for my professional career, retired in 2014 (how did I not see this under my nose, I still wonder), a strong, fun lady. He was trying to be a friend to help her and didn’t see or care when the line was crossed.

    We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in April and I am pretty sure we will have more. I believe God was in control of the timing of when this was revealed. Satan pounced on his weaknesses and highlighted the gaps in our marriage – enough to convince my husband to look elsewhere for his needs. But he’s open to working on it and it’s so helpful to see others in a similar situation working it out. My question – for your teenage children that are aware – how have you helped them? We have counseling set up for Aug 1 because she realizes she needs help before she leaves for college. I’m at a loss how to help her other than talk to her.

  17. That’s what the other site called “chump lady” said, leave a cheater, gain a life, but it’s easier said than done. There are lots of things to consider .

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