One of the many challenges we face as a betrayed wife (or partner) is around trust. How can we trust him again? Who can we trust with ourstories? Will I ever trust anyone again? Will I be able to trust my own judgment?
I was recently in a two-day Brené Brown - Dare to Lead, intensive workshop facilitated by a certified Daring Way coach. We spent a lot of time on trust. How to build it, how to lose it, how to recognize it when it is there. We listened to the story of Brené’s daughter losing trust in her best friends and her deciding to never trust anyone again, ever. Brené uses the analogy of a marble jar to help her daughter understand how trust is built. As people share stories about themselves, engage in small, everyday acts of empathy, or show up for real when you need them, marbles are added to their jar. The more stories they share, and show up, the more marbles you are able to add to their jar. It is easy to trust someone whose jar is overflowing. Your marble jar people aren’t necessarily people who are in your life all day, every day, but over time, with small acts, they’ve filled up their marble jar. And if you think about it, you know who those people are. There may not be a lot of them, but I think that’s appropriate. Trust is earned.
When you are going through hell, you only need one marble jar person. That one person will hear your story without judgement and will ask, what do you need? how can I help? And if you listen to your body, you already know who your marble jar person is. You’ll feel a yes. You’ll feel relief when you think about sharing with them and being in their presence. You will likewise have friends, who are your day-to-day besties or even close family but whom you also know, for whatever reason, do not have a full marble jar. You’ll get a no from your body on them too. You’ll feel resistance or anxiety when you think through sharing your story. And that resistance may be because of the ways they haven’t showed up for you in the past. Think carefully about your people and see if you can identify one marble jar person. Sharing with them can make a huge difference in your journey back to trust.
Now think about our partners. They’ve managed to empty the marble jar in one go. And we wonder, as betrayed wives, why we can’t trust them again completely right now, as if trusting them was somehow on us. It’s not. Of course, you don’t trust your partner in the way you did before. The jar is empty and it is not your job to fill it for them. They must make the effort to put the marbles back in the jar. And this is where shit gets real and difficult. Because refilling that marble jar is a function of time and consistency. Is he doing the hard work of figuring out his own stuff, consistently, over time? Plonk, in goes a marble. Is he showing up for and holding space for your pain, consistently, over time? Plonk, in goes a marble. Is he making an effort to let you know where and when he’ll be and checking in, consistently, over time? Plonk, in goes a marble. Is he being trustworthy, consistently, over time? Plonk, marble. (The marbles are going to plonk for a long time because that jar is big and really empty.) You don’t suddenly arrive at trust, just like you don’t suddenly arrive at forgiveness or “over it.” It all takes time, that four-letter word. Elle tells us that her trust for her husband came back over time because he consistently showed up and did the hard work that refilled the marble jar. You can take as much time as you need, and you’ll know, eventually, whether he’s making the effort to fill the jar or not.
Now think about you. Learning to trust yourself is a bit harder. This may require the help of a coach or therapist because sometimes we need an outside perspective to remind us to be gentle with yourself and to help us dig in to the old stuff that keeps us stuck. Learning to trust what we know begins by being gentle with ourselves, by tuning in to the way we talk to ourselves about ourselves. Are we going to trust someone whose words are harsh and full of judgement? Probably not, even or especially if that person is us. We can build trust in ourselves by tuning into our bodies and learning to trust what t tells us. Are you hungry? Eat. Are you tired? Sit down, lay down, take a break. Restless, mind whirring? Journal, go for a walk. But start giving yourself what you need, and you’ll start filling your own marble jar too. This also takes time, practice and consistently showing up for yourself.
For more resources and reading, please consider visiting https://brenebrown.com/ . Her work is both accessible and life changing. It’s a great first step in reconnecting with yourself and learning about how love and trust are inextricably linked.