The process of rebuilding trust is delicate and something that definitely doesn’t happen overnight. Our counselor told Dave that since he was the offender and had broken trust in our marriage, he needed to understand that in order for me to trust him again I needed to feel safe.
This was the fourth huge component in rebuilding our marriage.
Of course the nagging thought running through my mind in those early days of rebuilding our marriage was: Is he truly changing his ways?
Life had certainly changed – drastically – and forever, but how could I be sure Dave had changed??
When Dave came home, we did things totally different than we had done things before. All of this worked together to make me feel safe in the relationship so that we could rebuilding our marriage.
These are the big ways life changed for us and the practices we put in place to help rebuild trust:
- Going to bed at the same time
Like I mentioned before, I would go to bed around 10-11pm and Dave would still be up – in the home office – working and/or playing video games. This gave him the opportunity to view pornography nearly every night since he knew I was asleep in bed.
Once Dave came home, there has never been a night that he is up after I am already in bed. We go to bed together. Always. Never and always are pretty strong words, but that’s the drastic change we made. Part of Dave’s recovery from addiction was changing his routines. Being up after I have gone to bed lead him to viewing pornography nearly every night. Changing those routines helped him changed his behavior and remove that habit from his normal routine.
2. Access to finances
I had zero access to our finances because, when single, I hated dealing with finances. When I married Dave, I was more than happy to hand that over to him because I knew he was more than capable of keeping up with all that…and I was tired of it. As a result it made our finances easily accessible for him to spend on his addictions without me ever knowing.
Whether I like finances or not, it is healthy for both husband and wife to have access and knowledge of all financial matters. Dave still “does the finances” for our family, but I am not a blind party anymore.
3. Access to cell phone
I also had zero access to Dave’s cell phone. It wasn’t that he wouldn’t ever let me look at it! He just never gave me the opportunity looking back on it and I never asked. It was always in his pocket and never left just lying around the house.
Our marriage counselor told us that it is healthy for husband and wife to have access to each other’s phones for accountability sake. It’s not being paranoid to just thumb through your husband’s text messages, email and social media. It’s simply a measure of accountability that we all need.
4. No social media
Dave got rid of Facebook. This wasn’t something I necessarily asked him to do so I would feel safe, but he did it on his own accord because he had connections with people on there he just didn’t need to have connections with for any good reason.
5. Dave’s priorities drastically changed
The change in Dave’s priorities changed noticeably. Before January 2014, he was constantly “working late”. After January 2014, he put work in it’s proper place and became a family man. He was present with the girls in a way he had not been present before. He began to take his role as leader of our family seriously. He started reading his Bible daily first time in the morning. That has evolved to him reading a chapter in Proverbs to the girls most every morning after he’s had his own time with the Lord. He leads those little girls and speaks Truth into their lives in ways that make me just stand back and thank God He intervened in our marriage and gave us a second chance at doing this the way He intended.
Another huge component in Dave’s recovery was (and still is) having solid accountability in his life. For 90 days he had a team of friends keep him accountable every single day. There were specific things they were to ask him on their day. Pornography changes the brain chemistry and abstaining 90 days from viewing pornography would be a HUGE milestone in his recovery. It was very reassuring to me that he had these men “on his back” every single day.
While Dave doesn’t have men keeping him accountable every single day anymore, there is one friend that still calls him most every week, almost 3 years since everything happened. They are accountability partners and very good friends. I am so thankful Dave has this friendship.
This is an acronym for a communication tool that we learned about when we went to an intensive marriage counseling retreat in February 2014 (more about this retreat in a later post). We were to use this acronym to help facilitate meaningful communication and connection. This is something we still will use today but not as frequently as we did when we first learned it because communication and connecting happens naturally for us now.
F is for Feelings. What are you feeling today? “Good” and “fine” do not qualify as adequate answers. Hopeful, sad, frustrated, angry, joyful, stoic, happy and at peace all would qualify.
A is for Appreciation. Acknowledge something that you appreciate about your spouse. “I appreciated you picking up dinner on your way home from work today!”
N is for Need. Tell your spouse a need you have. “I really need about an hour to work on this project tonight after the kids are in bed.”
O is for Own. Own any negative actions/sins. “I own that I could have reacted in a more positive way about xyz.”
S is for Sobriety. This is where the accountability comes in. Each spouse has a list of several things you want to be held accountable for.
8. Sharing his story
Perhaps the biggest sign to me that Dave’s change was genuine was his willingness to humble himself before family and friends and tell the story of how he had once been held captive by the stronghold of a sexual addiction….but God. Dave’s testimony is extremely powerful. He has told his testimony multiple times in front of multiple audiences at our church.
All of these combined together really was a recipe for safety for me and it helped tremendously in the process of rebuilding trust. However, it did not take away experiencing “triggers” which I will talk about next.