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Miniblog #315: The Challenge of Regaining Trust in Severely Broken Relationships

by Carson T. Clark on February 16, 2014

Trust. Surveying the course of my life, there’s good news and there’s bad news on that front. The good news is that, despite all the abuse and neglect I’ve endured, I remain more than capable of trusting people. I’ve grown more cautious with age, to be certain. When I pick up bad vibes I no longer default to giving people the benefit of the doubt.11.Instead I rely more than ever on my gut feeling, gift of discernment, high iNtuition, or whatever you want to call it. Yet I have maintained an overall disposition that’s inclined toward trust.2 That seems to be a good and healthy outlook. The bad news is that I struggle intensely with regaining trust when that trust has been severely and repeatedly broken.2.Especially toward new, untested relationships and old, healthy relationships. Obviously it’s hard for anyone to salvage such a relationship, but is particularly difficult for me. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes people are just untrustworthy and should be treated accordingly. You’re just naive and/or gullible if you keep getting burned by the same person who keeps doing the same thing.33.That’s precisely why I withdrew from the Anglican Church in North America after my ordination was twice cancelled at the last minute and I was yet again being indefinitely strung along with no commitments being made as to when the ordination finally would go through. That’s also why I cut off my relationship with my brother after repeated verbal abuse. The truth is, I find severing a relationship with an organization or person to be relatively easy. That’s because I believe in faithfulness rather than loyalty. No, what I’m talking about, what I’m struggling with, is regaining trust when the person has apologized and is making a sincere (if imperfect) effort to turn things around. That is, when there’s true repentance. The issue there is not how to forgive but how to trust. The way I mentally conceive the difference is that when one is forgiven his or her debt is removed yet when one is trusted there is credit available. In other words, forgiveness brings the account is back to $0 but it doesn’t restore credit history. What I’m struggling with, then, isn’t forgiving the debt. That actually comes pretty naturally for me. What I’m struggling with is how to extend credit when there remains a terrible credit history.44.In the fiance world they use high interest rates in such cases, but what would that mean in a relationship? And would that even be a healthy response? With as many people who’ve shattered my trust, it’s a sad reality that this is a common motif in my life. I’ve never expected perfection, but I do expect the people I love and respect not to treat me like crap. Call me crazy but I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

  • Carl Lund

    The same occurs when a couple reconciles after adultery. The process of earning trust again takes a while for the person that hurt their spouse. You can’t speed it up. It has to be by the pace the wounded party needs. If the party that hurt the other tries to push things to move faster in the trust department, it can be a sign of more hurt around corner.

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