“She’ll never trust me again anyway!” Strike one.
“I’m tired of being checked-up on like a little kid. I’m a grown man with a security clearance for crying out loud!!” Strike two.
“She doesn’t believe me even though I’m finally telling the truth.” Strike three–you’re out.
I hear these excuses when guys balk at the steps it takes to rebuild trust with their wives after betraying them. It is humbling, even embarrassing, so we push back.
Let me be blunt and honest here: swallow your pride and do what you need to do in order to heal your marriage. It’s time to man-up in a whole different way.
See Your Situation From a Different Perspective
Before I give you the three surefire tactics to rebuild your wife’s trust–it may be helpful to look at your situation from a different vantage point. No, not your wife’s–that may be too far of a stretch.
Imagine that you own a multimillion dollar company that pays you and your family quite well. You built it from the ground up after borrowing every penny you could get your hands on. This company is your baby–your prized possession.
Your best friend from college is a C.P.A., and he has been with you from the beginning. After fighting so many battles to make the company great over the past 16 years, you guys are blood brothers.
Then comes the day one of your board members blows the whistle on your friend. He has been embezzling a lot of money over the past three years. Over a million dollars is gone, and you can’t get it back.
Imagine how you would feel. Betrayed. Rage. Crushed. Confused. Like throwing up.
Your friend throws himself on your mercy. Sobbing, he tells about the bad investments he made. How he wasn’t trying to hurt you. That is wasn’t personal. He begs you not to fire him. To let him keep his job. To trust him.
What would you do?
Let’s keep playing. Say you allow him to keep his job as the Chief Financial Officer. Do you simply trust that he will never steal from you again? Would you set up checks and balances to make sure he was doing the right thing?
How about after three weeks or three months? “Come on, I’m a C.P.A. and I know what I’m doing” won’t quite cut it. You would check and re-check, especially when he promises that nothing is happening.
If you have been caught looking at porn or acting out, you are the C.P.A. in this story. You don’t have to like it, but you need to own it. It is a horrible spot for everyone.
3 Surefire Ways to Rebuild Your Wife’s Trust
As we get into the three surefire steps to rebuilding your wife’s trust, you need to accept one critical fact: she doesn’t trust your words or character right now.
Accept this, and these steps will work swimmingly. Shame her for not trusting you, blame her for your behavior, or tell your wife that she is crazy, and you are in for a world of hurt. What is that saying about a woman scorned?
Put on your big boy pants, because here we go.
1. Ruthless Transparency
Your wife needs to have immediate and unrestricted access to all of your devices, accounts, and history. She can’t trust you yet, so give her hard cold data. Facts don’t lie. People do.
This stings. No privacy. She sees everything (even when she is angry or snotty while checking on you).
All access to all accounts and devices. This includes all passcodes to all accounts and devices. Email, cell phone, text history, apps on the phone, social media (not just the accounts she knew about), laptop, tablets, GPS, iPod, etc.
No deleting texts, emails, internet history, or social media posts. Let her see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In some cases, you may need to go back to a flip phone.
Plug your nose and take a big bite of humble pie. You are doing yourself a favor.
Can I let you in on a secret? This one will save you hundreds of dollars in a marriage counselor’s office. Ready?
Your willingness to be open and transparent is more important than whatever she sees on your devices.
Read that statement two or three more times. It is your attitude of openness and willingness, with humility instead of anger, that rebuilds the trust. She will be hurt to see that you looked at something again, no question about that. Deception is worse than sexual betrayal. Transparency helps repair the foundation.
2.Tell Her Where You Are
Enable your GPS so that she can see where you are. Call your wife to tell her when you are leaving work. This may sound like overkill, but trust me it isn’t.
Once a basic level of trust has been broken (or shattered), your wife is prone to doubt everything. Since she was duped for a while before, your wife is hyper-vigilant that she can be duped again.
Wives tell me they worry that their husbands are staying late at work to look at porn on their work computer, or in the parking lot on an iPhone.
Whether or not it seems rational to you, she imagines that you are looking at porn more than you think. You know what they say about cockroaches–for every one you find there are ten more you can’t see. She is looking for the other ten.
Volunteer information. Tell her where you are and what you are doing. The fact that you are telling her and the way you tell her gives her mind something concrete to hang onto. It can literally help her brain calm down.
3. Compassion and Understanding
Be patient with your wife as she reacts to the pain, fear, and anger of finding out her husband has been lusting after other women. Remember, these aren’t just pictures to her. You chose these women over her body (which she probably felt insecure about anyway).
I am not saying that your wife gets a pass and can say or do whatever she wants. She is still responsible for her anger.
Her brain is going to obsess after an intimate betrayal of trust. Her pain is likely going to come out as anger and accusations.
Just like someone who broke their pinky toe on an end table, give her some grace. This helps her see that you are still with her even when she is emotionally vomiting. That you aren’t really preferring those fantasy girls on the screen.
I didn’t say this was easy, but I am saying it will help. Ride the bronco for a while; things typically calm down unless there is another episode of acting out.
Try These Three Tactics for a Week
There you have it–3 Surefire Ways to Rebuild Your Wife’s Trust. This is what I teach the men and marriages in my office every day. Don’t take my word for it–they tell me it works. Try these three tactics for one week and see what happens. You literally have nothing to lose.
Now, if you will excuse me, I suddenly have a strange urge to call my accountant.