By Hugh McGeary, Managing Director of Counselling Services, Catholic Family Service
Read Part 1 of this series: Honesty at All Costs
Read Part 2 of this series: Taking Ownership
Read Part 3 of this series: Vulnerability
TRUST AND FORGIVENESS
Once someone has betrayed your trust, they have to some degree forfeited their ability to reassure you. You may ask them for reassurance, but part of you is unable to accept it from them. Therefore, it is important to learn how to strengthen your internal capacity to reassure yourself during times of insecurity and uncertainty. You need to know that you can survive another betrayal and that it won’t destroy you if it comes. Otherwise, you will continue to seek external validation and reassurance and will likely never fully succeed.
Forgiveness can only truly happen once you understand:
- Why the person was able to do what they did.
- Why they could lie to you and hide things.
- Why they saw things the way they did.
- What their vulnerability was about.
Understanding the human frailty that we all have at times in our lives might lead to true forgiveness.
The process for working through an affair or other form of betrayal of trust involves each person doing their own personal work, as well as building the relationship in capacities that might have been missing before. A true partnership, designed to keep the relationship safe from future betrayal and positive vigilance to ensure the work continues, can lead to a relationship and individuals who are stronger, more resilient and able to contribute to healthy relationships in their lives for years to come.
Being able to “live around” the wounds from an affair and a betrayal of trust is perhaps the best we can hope for. If you keep finding that you are unable to relax your guard, unable to risk with your partner again, and more than two years have passed since the affair was uncovered, then perhaps some of the stages in the recovery process were skipped or need to be revisited. If you are struggling to do this alone, then a skilled marriage and family therapist may be of help.
Catholic Family Service’s Affordable Counselling Program helps people deal with a full range of life events from coping with daily pressures – like job loss or relationship problems – to addressing mental health issues and breaking intergenerational cycles of abuse. If you are feeling confused, overwhelmed or uncertain, we can help you. Reach out to our Engagement Team at 403-233-2360 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.