Jill: Mark and I often say that we have been married for 39 years—29 of them happily.
Mark: That’s right. In the 10 unhappy years, our marriage was a mess in many ways. You wouldn’t have thought it looking in from the outside because we were doing everything “right.” We went on date nights, we read the right books, knew each other’s love languages, and even went on vacations with just the two of us.
Jill: Despite what appeared as intentionality (which was actually the right actions without true connection), a separateness crept into our relationship, which eventually led to pornography use, infidelity, declarations of divorce, a four-month separation, and one very dark year. You can read the full story here. During this broken time, we would connect on occasion because Mark determined that he wanted to make the divorce as easy as possible for the people we both loved.
Mark: But God had other plans for us, and thankfully our hearts were open to that.
Jill: Even with the little time we were spending together, God showed up and used those moments to move our relationship from hurting to hopeful in only the way He can. Healing took time and work—both personal work and couple work—but it was worth every bit of effort.
Mark: The truth is we wouldn’t have been ready for Mark and Jill 2.0 if we hadn’t worked on ourselves individually first. It took a lot of time, honesty, and personal work to be ready to rebuild trust together.
Jill: If you are in a place where you don’t know if your marriage is going to make it or if trust has been broken in your marriage, first let me say that there is still hope. God can heal any relationship and redeem your situation if both spouses are willing! But before you decide whether you can rebuild trust together, you’ll want to take a look at these 5 very important signs:
Mark: The first sign is that each spouse is in a humble place and willing to own the dysfunction they have brought into the marriage. If you aren’t willing to own up to your part in the dysfunction of your marriage, you are not ready to rebuild trust. Pride cannot be part of this process.
Jill: Absolutely! I often say that my actions didn’t cause your infidelity, but they did contribute to it. The dysfunctions I created or perpetuated in our marriage are things I had to acknowledge during our rebuilding trust process.
Mark: The second sign you are ready to rebuild trust is that there is a clear and obvious resolve from the betraying spouse that they are committed to the marriage. It was nearly a year before I arrived at this point in our separation. It took time for me to see the mess I had made, understand my skewed thinking, and to see my wife through the eyes of grace. It wasn’t until I was truly ready to recommit to our marriage that we could even consider trying to untangle the mess of our relationship.
Jill: It’s important to note that this commitment to the marriage is not a guarantee that you will get back together or that you’ll be able to find healing, but it is a sign that you may be ready to start the process.
Mark: Ultimately, the formula for rebuilding trust is changed behavior over time. It wasn’t until I was “all in” on our marriage and made a hard U-turn that there was the potential for trust to stick.
Jill: The third sign is that each spouse is surrendered to God and willing to do whatever it takes. Regardless of if you are the trust-breaker or not in the relationship, it’s likely that you’ll regularly feel like lashing out in your pain or anger. You are in a difficult situation full of fear and pain. However, when you walk in connection to God in this difficult season, you’ll find yourself experiencing supernatural strength, hope, and peace.
Mark: When we started doing the work to restore our marriage, we had no guarantee that it would end with Jill and I back together and better than ever. It could have very easily ended up with a more unfortunate outcome. We had to surrender the results, our lives, our actions, and our marriage to God and trust Him with the outcome.
Jill: The fourth sign that you are ready to rebuild trust is that you are both willing to get help and learn the skills needed for a healthy relationship. When we decided to work on restoring our marriage, we enlisted the help of counselors, therapists, coaches, accountability partners, and more to help us do the work for restoration and a healthier marriage.
Mark: That’s right. This isn’t something that you should do alone. It can feel like an impossible mountain to climb, and we need others around us to support us, guide us, encourage us, and challenge us to keep climbing in the right direction.
Jill: Finally, the fifth sign is closely related to the previous one: Both partners are willing to do the personal work to become a “2.0 person” that is able to build a “2.0 marriage.” You see, unhealthy people can’t build a healthy marriage. It’s a lot like the saying in leadership: An unhealthy leader can’t lead a healthy organization. The same is true here. If you want to be healthy together, you need to be healthy individually. It’s the only way.
Mark: Once we were willing to do these five things, our relationship started to heal, our hearts became more connected, our family came back together, and now we have the marriage we always longed to have.
Jill: Now we’re also committed to offering hope and help to other couples who are going through similar circumstances. We gave brief highlights about each of these signs and our story overall, but we’d love to invite you to check out our 100% free rebuilding trust webinar called “How We Built a Better Marriage After Broken Trust” where we share the 6 stops you and your spouse must make along the road to rebuilding trust.
Are you ready to start rebuilding trust?
Learn how through our free Rebuilding Trust webinar!
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