“I’m leaving. I have no intention of returning. I’m pursuing the other relationship and I want a divorce.”
Jill: The hardest day of my life was when I heard those words. My husband walked out of the house and my whole life turned upside down.
Mark: When I uttered those words, I was determined to do what I wanted and never look back. I had been unhappy in my marriage for a long time and it seemed hopeless in my narrow-minded perspective. At the time, I was so focused on my pursuit of happiness that I couldn’t see the pain I was causing. It would take me 10 months to see things clearly and allow God to lead me out of the mess I made.
Jill: There were many days when I didn’t know if there was any hope for our marriage to be restored. By the grace of God (and lots of personal work on both of our parts!), we eventually entered what we lovingly call our “Mark & Jill 2.0” marriage. (You can discover our whole story here.)
Mark: If you are in a similar situation where your spouse has left, betrayed you, or broken the trust in your relationship, you may be wondering if there is any hope. While we can’t promise how your spouse will respond, we can promise that healing IS possible. Broken trust doesn’t always mean there was an affair; this could mean an addiction, broken promises, or many other challenges as well.
Jill: When Mark left, I wasn’t sure if our marriage would ever get back on track. In fact, we were just days away from signing divorce papers when God took hold of Mark’s heart that Easter Sunday 2012.
Mark: To be honest with you, any efforts to repair or restore our relationship prior to that point would have failed. And that’s what we want to share with you today. It is common that one spouse will want and may even be ready to put things back together, but the other is unwilling. This is where we were at during those 10 months of separation while I was living out what I thought was best for me.
Jill: It took a lot for me to focus on taking care of myself and our children, owning what was mine, and trusting God with our future. As we’ll share below, rebuilding trust is something that takes two people. I could offer forgiveness and love, and make changes myself, but Mark had to be ready for the trust-rebuilding process.
5 Signs Your Spouse is Not Ready to Rebuild Trust
Mark: With that in mind, here are 5 signs your spouse is not ready to rebuild trust:
- They are unwilling to own their own unhealthy contributions to the marriage.
- They have no resolve to be committed to the marriage.
- They are resistant and unwilling to do whatever it takes to heal and rebuild trust.
- They are not interested in getting help or learning the skills necessary for a healthy relationship.
- They are not willing to do the personal work to become a 2.0 person that can build a 2.0 marriage.
(You can find a few additional signs in this recent Instagram post.)
Jill: While I know how difficult it can be to recognize that your spouse is not ready to rebuild trust, this season of life can be a blessing in disguise. This is the time to get honest with yourself. When I did this during the 10 months Mark was checked out and eventually gone, I had to come face-to-face with my own shortcomings. I had a tendency to avoid my emotions and be critical. I had to look at the way I sometimes treated my husband and I had to admit that too often I “parented” him. This is how I broke Mark’s trust. Regardless of the outcome, both people need to address the junk in their trunk and how they’ve hurt each other to be ready to rebuild the relationship.
Mark: It’s also good to remember that, even though your spouse isn’t ready to rebuild trust, you can still work on forgiving them. Jill and I often say that forgiveness and trust are two very different things. Forgiveness only takes one person, while rebuilding trust takes two. Forgiving your spouse unclutters your heart and readies it for growth, but does not require you to let go of important boundaries during a waiting season.
Jill: That’s right. I was challenged so much during that season when Mark was not ready to rebuild trust. Understand that I wasn’t idle that whole time; I was down on my knees praying for Mark, praying for myself, and praying for our family. I was encouraging Mark the best I could. God challenged me to still love him even when he wasn’t acting loving to me.
Mark: If you’re in a hard season, we are so sorry for the pain you are currently experiencing. I wish it could be taken away with the snap of a finger. However we want you to know we understand and you’re not alone. If you are in this season of waiting and uncertainty, we invite you to consider watching our The Wait is Not Wasted webinar. It’s titled, “Find Calm in the Chaos While Inviting Your Spouse to Re-Engage.”
Jill: This presentation is completely free and in it you’ll learn tools for handling painful emotions, a powerful action you can take that will increase the possibility of your spouse recommitting to your marriage, and a unique lens you need to see your spouse through. Much of this was taken from my own experience and it’s something we now share as marriage coaches. Our hope is that this webinar will help you learn how to save your sanity and marriage after broken trust.
Mark: Be sure to also check out our other blog on this topic: “How to Know If You’re Ready to Rebuild Trust.” You may be in a difficult situation full of pain and fear. However, if you walk in step with God, you’ll find yourself experiencing an inner strength, hope, and confidence to move forward. That is our prayer for you today!
Are you ready to start rebuilding trust?
Learn how through our free Rebuilding Trust webinar!
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