Trust Fall


My husband prays every day, aloud, during our couple’s prayer, that he will act in ways that will build my trust. Every day, he works on his daily recovery routine and tries to do things that will build my faith in him. It’s working. But. BUT. I think I might be foolish to ever fully trust my husband, again. The total trust I once had in my husband fell to below-ground level when he disclosed (under a bit of coercion) his infidelities. I appreciate  my husband’s consistent efforts to win back my trust, but (there’s that word, again!) I don’t know if I can, will, or want to 100% trust him, again. Maybe, after years of healing under my belt, I’ll feel differently. Right now, the thought of giving my husband complete trust makes me cringe with fear!

Will our marriage ever fully recover if I can’t totally trust my husband? Why can’t I just close my eyes, cross my arms over my chest, and fall back with the full knowledge that my husband will catch me?  Is it because I did that for almost thirty years only to discover the person I most trusted and who was supposed to catch me wasn’t even present? My trust was betrayed!

Though I feel I have forgiven my husband, forgiveness is not the same as trusting someone.

Trust is earned; forgiveness is given freely (Rhyll Crowshaw, What Can I Do About Him Me?).

The trust issue has been on my mind since a few days ago, after my husband got a text from a female client. The text popped up when I was using his phone while mine was charging. The text was strictly business. I have known about this client, but I haven’t met her.  So, I started to ask the betrayed-wife kind of questions. “Is she pretty?” “Are your conversations always professional?” “Is there any flirting or even a hint of flirting?”

My husband was defensive, at first, but then he patiently answered every single question. Then he paused before asking me, “Do you remember us having this conversation weeks ago?”

Nope! I sure didn’t remember. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t talk about it. My trauma brain doesn’t remember much.

Things changed for a short time after that. My husband kind of detached from me for the rest of the day. That evening, he said, “I’m tired. I’m burned out.” I didn’t understand exactly what he meant until he added, “Can you take care of dinner on Sunday?” That’s when I realized what “burned out” meant. You see, my husband, ever since D-Day, has taken charge of our Sunday family dinners. It is one of the many things he does to demonstrate to me that he is worthy of my love, that he is worthy of my trust. I never asked him to do it, nor have I expected him to do that or anything else! He just insists on making Sunday dinner, driving me the long distance to group meetings, complimenting me when it’s appropriate, calling or texting throughout the day, etc., etc., and etc. .  Well,  he took a very short hiatus from his trust-building activities when he realized his efforts might not produce perfect results.

My husband uses this book for inspiration as he works to rebuild trust.

And I don’t blame him! This is a dilemma for both of us! He works hard to have me trust him while I’m working hard to never have a trust fall experience again. How is this resolved? It seems our efforts are in conflict.

Maybe, just maybe, we both have to accept that trust between us is going to look differently from the way it looks for other couples. Our trust is a “wise trust” that, unlike the ease of blind trust, requires work and a process. My husband must accept there are consequences to his past behaviors and that my wise trust in him will not be regained easily or quickly. I have to accept that, in order to live whole-heartedly, I must be willing to take a few risks that allow my wise trust to grow a little while still keeping myself safe from deceit. I believe that as long as we are both diligently working to improve the trust in our relationship, we are going to have a favorable outcome. In fact, research shows that working on this trust process can actually make relationships stronger.

Rebuilding trust after a betrayal is a gamble for both people.  . . . Rebuilding trust after a betrayal isn’t easy and it’s rarely fast, with many pitfalls along the way for both people. But most couples who succeed find that their relationships are much stronger for the effort (Joshua Coleman, “Surviving Betrayal”, Greater Good, Sept. 1, 2008).

“Stronger for the effort.” The end result may never be 100% trust. The end result will be a stronger relationship because we are making the effort to restore trust.  I can accept that and I trust that it can happen.

I should mention that my husband’s hiatus ended after I made Sunday’s family dinner. I don’t know if my meatloaf was subpar or if my husband simply came back to recovery behavior. I think it’s the latter because I really am quite capable in the kitchen!  We’re both back on track with our trust restoration work and that’s all that matters.






I’ve been down in the mulligrubs. Yes. Mulligrubs. It’s a word my aunts would use and it seems to be the best description for my current condition. I haven’t been feeling physically well and have been cooped up in my house while the sun-filled outdoors is calling me. I’ve had too much time on my hands to think. With too much thinking time, my thoughts go dark and that has landed me in the mulligrubs.

I figure there must have been some lowly wife that lived way back in history that felt like I do now. She wasn’t depressed, she wasn’t super sad, she was just: meh. So, she pulled a ridiculous word from her head and declared to her 16th century peasant children, “Ye ought not to cause hindrance to ye mum this eve. She is in the mulligrubs.” Her children, no doubt, had no clue what she was talking about but the mere sound of the horrendous word, “mulligrubs” caused them to act with extreme caution. Thus, the 16th century mum got some peace.

OK. I obviously made that story up, but where do words come from, anyhow? Somebody invented them, I think. So, I am inventing my own new word: Dupid.  It rhymes with “stupid”. It’s a combination of the words “duped” and “stupid”. I am in the mulligrubs because I’m feeling like I have been dupid!

Let me give an example of my dupidness. I have a friend, I will call him “Farmer,” that is helping me with some gardening. I live in a very arid climate and the soil is rocky. Farmer told me that he could make my property green and blossoming with flowers. I said that we don’t have enough available water on our property to get everything green. I pointed to three small areas that I wanted to be “green and blossoming.” Farmer said, “I can green up this place and my irrigation system will be water efficient.” I doubted his claim, but he was so persistent. In fact, the more I protested, the more he dug in his heels. I decided to let him do things his way and I began to dream of looking out my windows and seeing green verdant landscapes.

We tested his watering system.

We ran out of water.

gardenHow could I be so dupid? I know better. Farmer told me what I wanted to hear. When I doubted his claim, he told me more things to verify his story. I think he actually believed his own story. I don’t think he has the ability to self-analyze and be honest with himself. Many addicts also lack the ability to do honest self-reflection. How can somebody be totally honest with others when they can’t be honest with themselves?

I’m more upset with myself than I am with Farmer. I know what my water system can handle but I allowed his confident proclamations to sway me. I’m in the mulligrubs because I’m recognizing a pattern here. I’m a skeptic when I’m initially presented with questionable information, but if somebody is persistent, I mistake that for sincerity. That’s why I now have an irrigation system that needs major alterations. That’s why I’ve been hurt in some past friendships. And that’s why I believed my husband instead of trusting my own instincts when I knew something was off.

Even with all my trust issues from betrayal trauma, I want to believe people. That’s being nice, not stupid. I’m a good person and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but in the future, I need to trust the gut-wrench that comes when I think information is being misrepresented. I don’t want to be dupid anymore. If I want honesty from others, then I also need to be honest with them. So, I need to say what I’m feeling. I need to let others know if what they are saying makes me feel uneasy. At the very least, I need to think on statements for a time, check the credibility of the info, and then make my decisions. No more dupidity. No more mulligrubs.

Where Trust Is

Two days after discovering my husband’s secret life, I took a drive to get away from home. I found a quiet place, parked my car, and pondered. I wasn’t prepared to write down my thoughts, so I had to improvise by jotting down notes on a small strip of card stock I found in my purse. My writing surface was no bigger than a 3×5 card, but the notes that fit on that small space made a big difference in the days ahead.

I finished my notes at my daughter’s house. She was the one who discovered my husband’s online dating emails. After sobbing for what seemed to be forever, I went through my notes with her and added a few more. I needed someone to confirm that I was being reasonable.

Those notes were things that I needed in order to feel ok about giving my marriage a chance. They came from somewhere deep within me. The list included things like using internet filters, taking another employee or family member on business trips, and having another individual take care of business and personal finances.

I presented my list to my husband soon after writing it. The list was still written in a rough format on my tiny card stock slip. I hadn’t read Melodie Beattie’s book, yet. And I hadn’t heard of “boundaries” in a marriage. I just followed my instincts that told me I needed to know things were going to change and they were going to change MY way.

My husband enthusiastically embraced my list when I first presented it, but when I started talking about boundaries, his response was a gruff, “You can’t control me!” He was right. I can’t control him nor can I control anybody else in my sphere of influence. I revised my boundaries so that my expectations were clear and the consequences were such that I could control them. For example, “If my husband lies, I will not sleep in the same bed with him until I feel safer.”   

As I worked on formalizing my boundaries, I constantly referred to my first list, which actually seemed to cover most everything I needed. I tried to write my boundaries without letting my emotions take over, so they ended up reading like a business document. I took advantage of that and made my boundaries into a contract and had my husband sign it.

But I wasn’t satisfied.

I wanted a short bulleted list so my husband could always remember our contractual agreement. Then it hit me. If my husband could just be honest and transparent about everything, I could feel safe. Honesty also coincides with many of my boundaries regarding reporting slip-ups and financial integrity. Honesty. That is the core of everything I need.

The Healing Through Christ workbook has a beautiful quote from Sister Barbara B. Smith:

“Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.”

I need trust. I need love. I need honesty from my husband. I figured if my husband could remember those things, everything else would fall into place. So, I made him a small card that fits in his wallet with a message that has become our marriage foundation and pact:

Our marriage will be based upon a relationship in which there is transparency, honesty, and trust. These elements are the foundation for an enduring, eternal, and fulfilling relationship. “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish” (Sister Barbara B. Smith). I want our love to flourish.


My husband put the card in the front flap of his wallet because he wanted to see it often. Every time he opens his wallet, I can see the card and it reminds me that my husband is doing whatever it takes to work on his recovery.  This little card has become a nice gift for both of us.