Faith should be defined as knowing that God sees us in the chaos.” ~Harry Schaumburg
One of the toughest tasks following an affair is rebuilding trust. Trust has been shattered like a porcelain tea cup and there is no way to just glue it back together. I remember wondering just what was true about my life. My heart felt shattered like the cup. After being lied to for 3 years how could I possibly tell whether anything was true that she was saying. The only thing to do is to start in the chaos.
There is no explicit formula for rebuilding trust. There are only guidelines. Movement in this area is typically a lurching two steps forward one step back cha cha. At this point there is no giving trust. Because of the multitude of lies and concealment, trust must now be earned.
To earn trust back there must be a constant consideration of the other person’s feelings. Ann was mostly great about checking in with the impact of her decisions on me. She told a new company that she wouldn't travel out of town for training when it was generally expected that a new employee would go to the home office for a week for training. She also told a male co-worker no about sharing rides to and from work even though they were driving thirty miles along the same road to work. Considering my feelings in this way helped me to begin to believe that my soul really did matter to her and helped to incrementally restore trust.
At this point in the marriage there are no guarantees trust will be rebuilt. This can be frustrating and freeing. It was helpful for us to discuss with our counselor the harsh realities of a broken marriage. If this isn't done separation can sit out there like a magic elixir instead of the painful creator of a new set of problems that it can be. During the initial crisis period is no time to make a decision of this magnitude though naive friends may be in your ear encouraging you to move all sorts of unhelpful directions.
The process of restoring trust is a gradual process like the gradual lengthening of days following the darkest day of winter. It's probably more like the darkest day in northern Alaska. This isn't as concrete as dealing with the anger, obsession or depression. Though there isn't a total clear distinction, anger and pain need to be dealt with first. Or rather, dealing with anger and pain are part of the initial elements of rebuilding trust.
As much as you can don't rush. IT TAKES TIME TO REBUILD TRUST.
Following an affair with a co-worker, Gordon MacDonald, president of InterVarsity, and his wife Gail took 2 years of rest. Most of us can't afford that type of time, but we can abide by the theme of creating unhurried space in our lives to rebuild trust. It's also an important time to search the totality of your faith.
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
It takes time because much of life is in chaos. Though it is tough to be aware of at first, there is hope in the chaos. In False Intimacy, Harry Schaumburg says this, "More often than not, we define faith as seeing God in the circumstance. But in chaos we never see God. Faith should be defined as knowing that God sees us in the chaos.”
God formed the universe out of chaos. Believe in this fact to help you believe he can form something good from the current chaos that is your marriage.
You want him to build a new relationship from the chaos. Going back to the facade of the old relationship is a free fall through a trap door.
All of this requires a certain level of maturity. It will require more heart and soul than you ever knew you had. It will mean sitting in the chaos to give God a chance to create a beautiful relationship from the rubble of your hearts.