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Q: “Help! It’s been a year since my husband’s affair. I love him and I know he loves me but I still don’t trust him. Sometimes I check up on him so often that I feel like I’m going crazy. How can I learn to trust him again?”

A:point #1:

Try not to think of trust as an all-or-none experience. Instead think of trust as running along a continuum. With this in mind, compare your level of trust for your husband before the affair with how you feel now. There’s probably a massive divide between these levels of trust, causing you to feel stuck. To help determine if your trust for him is increasing, think about how you felt when you first learned about his affair and rate this on a scale from 0 to 10 (10 = your highest level of trust; 0 = absolutely no trust). Your score is probably very low. What rating would you give six months after the affair? And now, one year later?

If you notice even small increases in trust (an increase in 1 point or even .5), then your relationship is moving in the right direction. Healing from an affair is a difficult process that occurs in small increments.

Point #2:

An affair is an enormous betrayal that can take years to overcome. Don’t place an artificial time-line on this process. This will only add to your frustration and you’ll begin to think that there is something wrong with you for not trusting quickly enough.

Point #3:

It is absolutely normal for you to be highly vigilant of your husband’s behavior after such a betrayal. Without even realizing it, you might be continuously scanning for contradictions, inconsistencies or any indication of deceitfulness. While such monitoring can be exhausting, it does not mean you’re going crazy. Your hyper-vigilance is an indication that you’ve been severely injured and are fearful that you will be hurt again.

Point #4:

Is your husband being trustworthy? While there are many reasons why someone becomes unfaithful, it’s important to remember that it is his job to regain your trust. Whether this takes one, five, or fifty years, he needs to prove that he is committed to you and only you. To this end, it is important that you openly communicate what you need from him in order to re-establish the trust that’s so vital to intimacy.

Ask yourself: “What do I need from him in order to trust again?” You may find that you require practical assurances (e.g., seeing his phone log every day, having him call you three times from work) and/or emotional assurances (e.g., having him communicate his feelings more directly, hearing repeated reassurances that he loves you).

I cannot emphasize enough how courageous you are for remaining committed to your marriage. Because an affair is one of the most devastating events that can happen to a relationship, prolonged anger, despair and a loss of trust are very normal reactions.

I hope this information helps.

Richard Nicastro, Ph.D.
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