The simple answer is “yes.”
You will trust again. However, you will likely never trust again the way you did pre-discovery, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The difference between pre-discovery and post-discovery trust is that the source of trust will be based more on your level of self-care, intuition, trust of yourself, and observing your partner’s behaviors and actions rather than on his words or your assumptions about him.
I often tell partners that there is an intangible quality about an addict who is genuinely working a recovery program – a kind of “you’ll know it when you see it” experience. When partners of sex addicts are reeling from the trauma of discovery, I know that my words ring hollow and are likely received with a strong dose of suspicion and doubt. I fully appreciate and respect the sentiment.
Here are 8 signs that your partner is either becoming or is, in fact, more trustworthy:
- He is fully engaged in recovery activities without expressing resentment or acting as though he’s a victim
- When you ask questions about the past or his recovery work, he’s open and rarely defensive
- When you’re together as a couple he feels present most of the time
- He is transparent and forthcoming about his whereabouts, use of money, and his online or electronic activities
- He demonstrates the ability to empathize with your feelings, especially about his past behaviors
- When you express discomfort about an event, activity, or even an article of his clothing that is a trigger for you, he is open to making changes in an effort to repair the past
- When you make reasonable requests, he either agrees or negotiates a mutually agreeable solution
- In general, he appears more engaged in life with less forgetfulness and distraction
Of course, if polygraph is part of the couples’ trust-building path, it can provide verification of the addict’s honesty and trustworthiness.
During the first 1-3 years of recovery, there is a delicate and arduous journey of trust-building that requires the addict’s efforts in recovery and activities that foster relational repair such as recovery check-ins, therapeutic disclosure, empathy building, couples therapy, formal amends, and polygraph.
Over time as partners heal they regain trust in their intuition and their ability to take care of themselves whether the addict stays sober or not.
“It doesn’t matter if I trust him, I trust myself. If I have a feeling, an intuition, or something doesn’t feel right, today I make sure I say it. Before, It was about not trusting me, not just him.”
(Deceived: Facing Sexual Betrayal, Lies and Secrets; Black, C. 2009)
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2014)