Last week I talked with a client whose spouse has been emotionally cheating with pornography, and talking to other women online. They’ve been to counseling, and he promises not to ever do it again. So far, things are going well for them. The betrayal seems to be in the rear view mirror. But then she asked me, “So how long will it take me to be able to really trust him again?”
My answer may surprise you.
Listen, I’m going to say something pretty radical, but stay with me; DO NOT work on trying to trust your spouse/partner after infidelity. WORK ON TRUSTING YOURSELF! I have a few reasons for standing 100% behind this way of thinking, so let me explain. First, the only human on the planet you can control is yourself. So working on something for someone else is wasted energy. If he/she WANTS to be trusted again, they will put in the WORK to be trustworthy again.
Second, the reason that you are thinking you need to trust them again is because you’ve been gaslit for so long that you’ve forgotten that your own intuition, or gut feeling, will always tell you the truth. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT. The problem is this: when you have felt like things were “off” in the past, you were told you were crazy and given “proof” that you were wrong. Only later (sometimes much later) did you find out that you had actually been right all along. But you were gaslit back then. And now your brain is all confused. (Visit this blog post for more info on gaslighting.)
Listen, if you trusted yourself from the first gut feeling you wouldn’t be trying to rebuild this trust. When you truly trust yourself, and know that you 100% have your own back, then you don’t get caught in the confusion. You face the truth of “What Is” head on, and you make decisions on what to do. And I’m fully ready to stand by this radical statement that your gut will NEVER lie to you. EVER. Our world has taught us that we need to have “proof” before we can make a big decision. It’s why people stay married even though things have felt “off” for years: one partner has a gut feeling that something is wrong, but they can’t find proof, so they stay.
What would happen in our world if we all fully trusted ourselves?! Imagine for a moment that you so completely love and trust yourself that you would always trust your gut and leave situations where you didn’t feel safe, loved or wanted?!? What if you were so honest with yourself that you were able to demand that kind of honesty from others? And what would it feel like to trust yourself so much that you know you could feel any emotion, and still come out ok, feeling loved, because you love yourself so much. Because when you love yourself to that level, you are able to feel whole without anyone else’s love added to your own.
For years I was searching for validation and love from a man. I thought that marriage was the only place that I could find it. I was married and divorced twice. I didn’t find that feeling of full love there because that isn’t where you find the best and most loyal love. You create that love inside yourself!! I found a life coach, and then went to The Life Coach School, and finally found the best love there is: the full and complete love of myself!!
So many times we allow ourselves to stay stuck because we are afraid of change. But what is fear? It’s just an emotion!! Really, the worst thing that can happen to us in these situations, the thing we fear the most, is just an emotion. That’s all it is. A feeling.
Why do we fear divorce? Because we are afraid to feel lonely? Loneliness is an emotion, and emotions come from our own thoughts. We know this because being divorced is a circumstance, and circumstances are neutral until we have a thought about them. The divorce itself does not cause the emotion. The divorce, by itself, is a neutral circumstance. It’s our thoughts about the divorce that trigger our emotions. (Revisit THIS blog post for more explanation on The Model and how our thoughts create our feelings.)
For instance, Person 1 might get a divorce and be thinking, “This is the worst day of my life,” and from that thought she will feel heartbroken, or miserable or similar. From those emotions she will choose her actions, which may include over drinking (or other numbing behaviors), binge watching shows, stop calling her friends, not going to places she loves, and ruminating a lot. The result that she creates for herself is that she is literally creating the worst days for herself.
In contrast, Person 2 might get a divorce and they might think, “I am finally free!” This thought might create feelings such as joy, excitement, or optimism. From those emotions they might take actions such as book a solo vacation, call friends, go clothes shopping, try out new restaurants around town solo, or learn a new hobby. The result that this person will make for themselves is they create emotional freedom and live without restraint. The thought literally created freedom for themselves.
The circumstance of divorce really is neutral. And stick with me here, so is the circumstance that your partner cheated. It really is neutral until you have a thought. Your thought could be something about how “you’ll never make it on your own, and the marriage has to be fixed.” Anger and resentment will likely follow such thoughts and it makes it hard to overcome them. However, if a person truly loves and trusts themselves they might respond differently to the same circumstance of cheating. They might think “My partner has crossed a very firm boundary that I have, and now I will…x.y.z.” Or “I didn’t do anything to cause this. This is unacceptable to me. If they want to stay in this relationship THEY will have to do the work to fix it.” Both of those kinds of thoughts come from such a place of self love and trust that they don’t take on responsibility that belongs to the other partner.
After my second divorce and a lot of self work and coaching, I can say I love myself so much that I feel whole and full of love on my own. Any love that comes from another person is simply a bonus. It’s nice, but I’m not seeking it because I trust myself enough to fill my own needs. Imagine a relationship where both people felt this way about themselves. Now that is the kind of relationship I’d want.
If you’d like help gaining this kind of love and trust for yourself, I’d love to help you. I will help you examine the kinds of thoughts you’ve been having, really understand what those thoughts have been creating for you, and then show you how to create the love and trust for yourself in such a way it won’t be broken, not by any circumstance. Schedule your first session HERE to experience just how powerful this transformation work can be. You’ve got this. This is your time to heal this part of you, and return to full self-love and self-confidence.
If this story has resonated with you, and you’d like help finding your own emotional freedom, I’d love to help you. I have devoted my Life Coaching practice to helping people just like you find the freedom and happiness I now enjoy. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know it can be hard to find help. No worries, I’m here and ready to help you. Schedule a 60 minute Mindset Makeover call to learn new tools you can put to use right away, that will help you make clear choices in your relationship and help you find emotional freedom. I believe in YOU and I’m excited to share these tools with you. Sign up for your Mindset Makeover, and start living a Trigger-Free life HERE.
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