5 Ways to Rebuild Trust After Divorce

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Many people write to me about the topic of rebuilding trust after divorce. One thing that I’m sure to tell them is that it is a process and takes time. This is one thing that I knew instinctively but forgot at times after my divorce over two decades ago.

Why is trust such a key issue for divorced people? Experiencing the breakup of your marriage can intensify trust issues. Because of your past experience, you might approach relationships warily and come to expect the worst. It may seem at times as if you’re wired to recreate the past. However, with courage and persistence, you can learn to trust again and restore your faith in love.

One of the hardest things about trusting someone is learning to have confidence in your own judgment. Trust is about much more than catching your partner in a truth or lie. It’s about believing that he or she has your best interests at heart. Every person is born with the propensity to trust others but through life experiences, you may have become less trusting as a form of self-protection.

The breakup of a marriage can set the stage for feelings of mistrust – even if you’ve never had trust issues previously.  After a marriage ends, especially if you’ve endured infidelity, it’s normal to doubt your ability to trust yourself and others. Meeting someone new and dating again can be invigorating but scary at the same time. An inability to trust a new partner may take on several forms – ranging from feeling they are dishonest or secretive; or doubting they are going to keep their promises or be dependable.

Here are 5 smart ways to rebuild trust after divorce:

  • Challenge your mistrustful thoughts. Ask yourself: is my lack of trust due to my partner’s actions or my own issues, or both?
  • Practice trusting your intuition and instincts. Have confidence in your own perceptions and pay attention to red flags. Keeping a journal can help you do this.
  • Gain awareness about how your reactions may be having a destructive impact on your relationship and take responsibility for them.
  • Be compassionate. Listen to your partner’s side of the story. Make sure your words and tone of voice are consistent with your goal of rebuilding trust. If your partner lets you down, don’t always assume that a failure in competence is intentional – sometimes people simply make a mistake.
  • Learning to trust is a skill that can be nurtured over time. With courage and persistence, you can turn hurts from past betrayals into lessons.

Do you sometimes feel that love is easily broken and fear that it will disappear despite everything you do? Mistrust is a lingering feeling in the back of your mind that your partner does not truly love you, or might abandon you. So much about trust is walking the talk. Your ex-spouse may have told you that he or she loved you, but did their actions support that?

Karen, is a thirty-something married teacher whose first marriage ended due to infidelity.  She married Mike on the rebound after a brief courtship and was aware that she had not completely worked through her trust issues which were as a result of her ex-husband’s infidelity.

Karen often reacts with fear and suspicion when he returns home late from work or there’s the slightest imperfection in his story. Karen has a tendency to blow things out of proportion when she says “You’re always late and never think about me.” In the past, Mike reacted negatively to these accusations, but he has learned to reassure Karen and now calls her if he’s going to be late.

Mike is working on showing Karen through consistency in his words and actions that he is there for her. Likewise, Karen must learn to examine her thought processes. Is her self-doubt and mistrust grounded in reality or a fragment of her past? She must be willing to let go of self-defeating thoughts – to free herself from the blueprints of her past.

You may enter a relationship with fractured trust for a variety of reasons. Divorce is not always the root cause. But as you become more aware of your tendency to mistrust your partner, you can stop yourself and ask: “Is my mistrust coming from something that is actually happening in the present, or is it related to my past?”

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Many relationships are sabotaged by self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe your partner will hurt you, you can unconsciously encourage hurts to emerge in your relationship. But day by day, if you learn to operate from a viewpoint that your partner loves you and wants the best for you, you can enjoy trust in your life.

When you sustain the loss of a relationship due to broken trust, it makes you smarter and more keenly able to extend trust to those who are deserving of it. You can learn to trust your instincts and your judgment when you honestly deal with your fears. If you are able to come to a place of self-awareness and understand the decisions that were made that led up to trust being severed, you can start to approach others with faith and optimism.

Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry 


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