Trust is like a majestic redwood forest. It takes years and the right conditions to create it, but once it’s established it provides beauty, strength, and awe. Betrayal is like fire. It can rip through a grove of redwoods in minutes. The hundreds or thousands of years that it took for these magnificent trees to grow into their potential can be wiped out in seconds.
It works the same way in relationships. One mistake, one lapse of judgment, can damage or destroy a relationship that took years to develop into its current state. To illustrate my point, let me tell you the story of Amy and Jack.
Amy and Jack had a good marriage. Amy was a school teacher and Jack was a technician for a local utilities company. They enjoyed similar interests and believed their values were alike. They had been saving to buy a home and were now ready to begin their search for the perfect house in which to start a family. One day they found their dream home. It was small but both Amy and Jack felt it was affordable and met their needs. Their real estate agent referred them to a mortgage broker and they began the loan process. That’s when Amy’s secret was revealed.
Amy knew how important being financially responsible was to Jack when she was dating him. Knowing this, she didn’t want him to know about the $20,000.00 in credit card debt she had incurred during college. She kept the credit card bills private, made minimum payments when she could with money Jack thought was going toward school supplies for her students. But when the mortgage broker ran their credit rating, Amy’s secret came out.
Jack was stunned. How could Amy hide $20,000.00 worth of debt? Who was this person he loved and married? Jack felt like their marriage was a lie and didn’t know what to think. He felt angry and betrayed. Not only was the debt news to Jack, but it detrimentally affected their FICA score and ability to purchase their new home. Needless to say, Amy had a lot of explaining to do. The trust Jack had in Amy and their marriage had been broken. The fire’s fury had spoken.
It will take Amy and Jack a long time to rebuild trust. Amy will need to face her demons and take full responsibility for her actions. Jack will need to work through his feelings of betrayal and find a way to forgive Amy. They will need to establish a way to restore their trust—Amy will need to demonstrate that she is now a trustworthy partner. Jack will need to accept Amy’s imperfections. They will need to decide how the marriage will move forward from here.
So next time you make a decision that may jeopardize the trust that you have established in your relationship, remember how fragile it is. Remember how much time and care it took to create that trust and how sacred it is. Know that when trust is broken, you will need to be patient. You will need to put in the time and care in order for new growth to occur.
So here’s my question for you. Has trust been broken in your relationship? What happened and how did you begin the healing process? I’d love to hear your story.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com