Your spouse lied in order to carry on an affair, whether it was one time or over an extended period of time. The cheater either told deliberate lies, or lied by omission, or some combination of the two.

Now you’re trying to reconcile with your spouse and save your marriage. But the question lingers: Is my spouse lying to me, or is he/she telling the truth—this time?

In this blog, we’re going to explore the after-effects of lying as related to an affair, and the 2 critical dimensions needed to rebuild trust and honesty in an effort to save your marriage and survive the affair.

Seeking Pain Avoidance after the Affair

After the affair has been revealed, you may doubt your ability to know what is the truth and what are lies. Your self-esteem took a hit because you can’t believe you didn’t know you were being deceived by your spouse. Or, your gut told you something was wrong—but you chose not to believe it until the truth became very obvious, either by confession or some other means.

You shouldn’t beat yourself up. In a marriage, one of the tenets of that union is that the relationship is built on a foundation of trust. You may have been deceived, but you are not at fault. Your “not knowing” only makes you a victim of your spouse’s actions. In good faith, you believed your husband or wife when they told you they were working late, or just grabbing a drink with one of the guys from work.

Unfortunately, having your faith in someone broken by their actions is damaging: you are plagued with self-doubt, a lack of trust in your self and your ability to know a lie from the truth.

Remember that you are not alone: think of all the spouses who have been cheated on by their partner. They also had faith and trust in their spouse, and when they found out about the affair, they thought, “How did I not know?”

Anyone can be taken in by a good liar. Think of all the scams that go on, where people are bilked out of money. Or even the paramours who get involved with a married person: often, they are being lied to, as well, with promises of a future together, or stories about how bad things are at home—and yet, the cheater stays right where they are.

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While you may understand all of this to be true, you still want to know how to protect yourself from having it happen again. It’s called pain avoidance. You want to be able to trust your spouse, to think that this awful period of dishonesty is over, but you would like some form of guarantee.

Critical Dimensions to Rebuilding Trust

There are no guarantees that your spouse is not currently lying, or that they’ll never lie again. This doesn’t mean you can never trust your spouse again. What it does mean is that the process of rebuilding trust in your marriage will take some time, and the following critical dimensions must be present in order to rebuild that trust:

Critical Dimension #1: Commitment to Transparency

 

Your spouse may be impatient: “Why can’t you just get over it and trust what I’m saying is true now?” If it were only so easy.

Your spouse needs to conduct themselves like someone who is trust-worthy. This means a commitment to transparency—something that was no doubt missing in the relationship before. You, as the victim, need to see that your cheating spouse is making the effort to be open and transparent about their actions.

You can get a better gauge of honesty when there are consistent behavioral patterns that allow you to rebuild that trust in your spouse’s word. Transparency between spouses is a strong means of gauging honesty and building the foundation of trust once again.

Critical Dimension #2: Mistrust Triggers Defined and Eradicated

As a couple, define what triggers feelings of mistrust. The victim of the affair needs to give their spouse concrete examples of what makes them feel they’re being lied to. For example:

  • “When you are late getting home, but you don’t call to let me know you’re running late. It leaves me to wonder what is going on.”
  • “When you leave the room to take phone calls on your cell phone.”
  • “There are a lot of times on the weekends when I see you texting on your cell phone, but you never say who you’re conversing by text with.”

The cheating spouse must also examine their conduct in the past, and own up to what they did. All of us with a conscience know when we’re being less than truthful. Define the triggers, and remove them.

Rebuilding honesty in a marriage is a growth process. It involves changing the way each spouse conducts themselves, and their ability to communicate with their partner.

My best wishes for you as you rebuild the trust and honesty in your marriage, and survive the affair.

If you are the victim of the affair, has your spouse made an effort to be more transparent? What are they doing differently?

If you cheated on your spouse, what are you doing differently to become more transparent? Also, examine your behavior during the time of the affair and prior: what did you do to keep the affair secret?

What are the mistrust triggers in your marriage?

Please share your thoughts and experiences regarding trust and honesty in your marriage post-affair by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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