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
I became involved with a man. He was so kind and sweet and loving and so handsome. He told me that I was the only woman in his life and that he loved me and wanted to marry me. But then I started to notice all sorts of things that didn’t add up. It turned out that I was one of three women — and that there was inappropriate levels of activities with other women as well (flirting, perving, inappropriate disclosure, hidden close emotional connections). Finally it got to the point where I took us to counselling to find out how big this problem was and how far it went back in his life. I knew that something was really wrong. I got so attacked through all of this, for all his denying and his lies. He hurt me so much. It turned out he was a sex love addict and this what he had broken his previous two marriages with (strings of affairs). this has scared me so badly, I didn’t know that men could be actually addicted to women, and that they lied to hide it all. Now I am so low in self esteem, I have post traumatic from being yelled at and pushed around and I am a total mess. :'( I don’t know if I will ever be able to have a relationship again and trust a man.
Becoming involved with a sex addict is a painful experience. They have the ability to seduce and charm, only to cause havoc and pain down the line. I so appreciate your comments. Take the time to heal and remember that this man’s words and actions mean nothing about you. They only reflect his internal pain, woundedness, and narcissism. Once your heart heals I hope you will find the courage to risk love once more. There are wonderful men out there and you deserve a man that treats you with honesty, respect, and kindness. Take your time in getting to know someone. Being vulnerable always involves risk but with the right person the payoff is worth it. Just remember to always take good care of yourself!
Thanks for sharing,
Thank you so much Julie, it is so kind of you to reply to me. I wasn’t expecting a reply at all. 🙂 Unfortunately I was also interferred with by a man when I was very young and date raped at 16. I have no idea why my life plan was for me to be so hurt by men in these ways. I am such a mess and feel so terrified of men and am so struggling to have any sense of value inside of myself in regards to them. I am in counselling at the moment, I know it will be a long road to my healing. Unfortunatley the world of television and media isn’t helping me, I keep seeing and hearing messages of women being sexualised. I am completely determined however to not only heal but to come out of this strong as a lady and to feel that it has made me a better person. I am just struggling to find that yet. Thank you so much for your wonderful site and your kindness. 🙂