One of the unwritten laws in addiction households is “Don’t trust!” Although I’ve known this for decades, I never previously considered either why they don’t trust and the ‘hidden trust hypocrisy’.
On considering the reason for not trusting, there are many. When it comes to addiction the why in this case is not as important as the how. When you don’t trust anyone, you have a built in excuse to drink or drug. In the case of sex or love addicts, an excuse for acting out. Some cheaters also used this excuse.
The ‘how’ concerns the way the payoff works.
When the world lets you down, you drink (or act out). When the world parties, you drink (or act out). When you are disappointed, you drink (or act out). Anytime there’s a breach of trust, you have an excuse to act out (cheat) or drink.
In a similar way, when the stress of being responsible which comes with being trust worthy happens, you drink. In some cases, it comforts you, in others it’s a form of self-sabotage. The payoff is the same. No matter win or lose, you drink or cheat.
Trusting people takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you vulnerable. It requires risk. In addicted homes, risk is a scary thing. In order to avoid risk, you just don’t trust.
One of the nightmares I wouldn’t wish on anyone is losing trust in a family member. When that happened to me, I found myself reading meanings into every action they took.
If there was a possible negative meaning or bad intention, I assumed the worse. My assumption was always negative.
Instead of innocent until proven guilty, when trust is gone in a family, it’s guilty until proven innocent. The family member I didn’t trust needed proof that what they were saying and doing before I felt at ease.I no longer took them at their word.
Although I thought I was ‘in control’, the reality I was out of control.
The trust breaker dominated my life. Whenever my mind wandered, it wandered straight to them and what that person was up to. The trust breaker dominated my thinking, my conversation and took up more computing space in my head than I wanted them to.
My life began revolving around them and the hurt they inflicted on my me. I wasn’t even able to enjoy good meals because I was focused on THEM.
Are you focused on someone who broke your trust? Are you losing sleep over it? Is your stomach talking to you about the situation? Are your thoughts obsessed with THEM.
When broken trust is allowed to fester, life becomes something that is endured rather than enjoyed. You also run the risk of losing yourself in that other person.
Being ‘on the road’ or out of town on business trips stresses your marriage. With me, whenever there’s an extended period of no communication, my mind starts creating its own noise.
I find myself imagining situations and scenarios. There’s often a wrestling match between my imagination and my logical side. My imagination comes up with a ‘what if’ and the logic finds a way of defusing those ‘what ifs’.
One reason travel triggers more concerns is that some spouses remove any constraints when they are away from you. They are in a different town where they can be anonymous.
The travel factor multiplies the workplace risk of affairs. Whether you like it or not, today’s modern workplace where men and women mingle has risks. That risk start with fantasizing about relationships with co-workers. Although many of your spouses can resist such temptations, some can’t.
The Gottman Institute found that 2 out of 3 women, and 3 out of 4 men admit they have sexual thoughts about co-workers. Think through that for a moment.
It translates to 66% of women and 75% of men have such thoughts. These are numbers you can’t ignore. The odds are that your spouse is having sexual thoughts about a co-worker.
You also can’t change jobs all the time either. Dealing with the workplace challenge is now an everyday reality. It means that more than half the spouses are having sexual thoughts about co-workers.
Earlier this year, I attended a marriage and family therapy conference. I hoped I’d find some new insights and findings on affairs.
I’m often skeptical when it comes to infidelity research by most academics, despite trying to be open-minded. My quest for new research findings on the topic was rewarded. I found some studies on affairs!
The research looked at common elements of couples dealing with affairs.
One of their findings was “If relationship dissolution occurs, this is not necessarily a result of infidelity.”
The statement reminded me of why I have my skepticism of academic research. I wanted clear answers. I wondered “What does all that double-talk mean?”
Just imagine going to a therapist who tells you “Your marriage problems are ‘not necessarily’ related to the infidelity” and that’s what you entered counseling to deal with! I have little patience for double-talk like that, and when your marriage is at risk, neither do you.
No wonder 60% of the time therapists don’t consider infidelity the problem even when you go see them specifically for dealing with the affair. With double-talk, problems that brought you in, are not necessarily the problem you deal with.
At least lawyers let it be known that 17% of divorces are due to infidelity on the part of one or both spouses. The lawyer statistics let me know that when a divorce happens, in less than 20% of the time, it’s related to infidelity.
Building a house from the ground up has many challenges and headaches. Yes, you get the house you want, but along the way, are multitudes of decisions you make.
You make decisions on fixtures, faucets door knobs and so much more. There are choices about the home and about the contractors.
One day, when my wife and I were building a home in the tiny coastal community of Shoreacres, Texas, I pulled our builder aside and asked him a personal question.
“How do you know which contractors you can trust?”
I wanted to know how he went about knowing who is trustworthy and who isn’t. With any construction project there are plenty of contractors wanting the job.
With all the choices, how do you decide? Do you make choices on convenience? On reputation? on trust? or some combination of everything?
With me, trust was important. It’s not just trusting someone to do the job, but also trusting them to show up on time, do the job right, be safe and not steal from the job site.
When you don’t know all your contractors, you have to have some formula or way of deciding who to trust, which is why I asked him how he determines who is trustworthy.
Fourteen years ago, I found myself sitting outside of Harris County courtroom #2 stunned in disbelief. The judge that we were led to believe would be impartial was anything but.
He listened to the claims of the other party then refused even allowing us to present our evidence or hear us out. The word of the other party was considered more proof than the black and white evidence we had in hand. (Perhaps the fact that he was golf buddies with the other parties attorney was a factor which I discovered later).
I felt like a deflated balloon. Hope, optimism and open mindedness all left me in that moment. I can handle when people lie about me, but when a judge refuses even hearing me out, I felt… discouraged.
That experience helped me relate to Brittany when she told me about how the judge in a Cobb County, Georgia allowed her husband to marry his lover before her divorce from him was final. Having been burned by a judge, his outrageous act didn’t surprise me.
She hoped that law would prevail, but a judge with an agenda trumps the law faster than pair of aces beats a pair of kings in a poker game.
It’s at such moments after you’ve been ‘kicked in the teeth’ by a rigged legal system that you realize you don’t trust anyone. You’ve lost faith in judges, lawyers, your spouse, and doctors. You start viewing the legal system as a ‘game’ where the rules are hidden from you.
A few months ago, the car that grabbed my attention was the Alfa Romeo 4C. After reading the literature and researching it, I thought I wanted one. It’s dangerous getting excited about a car without ever having driven it.
An opportunity came for me to try out an Alfa Romeo 4C. On driving into the dealership, I was greeted by the George the ‘Sales Consultant’. I told him what model I was interested in and George led me to a shiny yellow (they call it ‘Giallo Prototipo’) 4C spider and promptly went for the key.
While he was obtaining the keys, I studied the showroom perfect lines and details of the car, thinking “This is Great!”. George arrived, unlocked the car and opened the door.
Although excited about finally testing one out, I found myself bending my body into uncomfortable contortions just to enter it. Once in the cockpit, my knees hit the steering wheel. There was no way I could comfortably drive it.
The car was not everything I imagined it to be. Reality brought my dreams crashing down with a thud. Testing things out, including test driving for fit, and drive-ability prevented me from making a mistake.
When something is as important as your marriage, you’ll want to ‘test before you trust’. This is especially true when you are working on rebuilding damaged trust.
One of my grandmothers made it a point of leaving out an ingredient when she gave her recipes to others. People often liked her cooking, in fact, to this day, people still rave about her enchiladas.
When I asked her the reason for leaving an ingredient out, she said "So they won't taste the same. When other people make the recipe, something is missing. They'll still prefer mine since it tastes better." When she explained it, the situation suddenly made sense to me.
Since then, I've discovered other women who have some similar habits.
In a similar way, when it comes to trust and rebuilding it, I've found that an ingredient is often left out. I included it in my "Trust Formula", yet the other products are often missing this key ingredient.
I'm not sure if they are like my grandmother and intentionally left it out, or they haven't discovered it yet. The missing ingredient makes a huge difference when it comes to rebuilding trust.
That missing ingredient is 'commitment'. When your marriage is missing commitment or the commitment is conditional, your trust will suffer.
One of the weaknesses of second marriages is that your commitment is conditional at best. You're willing to commit up to a certain point. Once that point is reached, you have little hesitancy about bailing on the marriage.
Growing up, one of the fascinating stores worth visiting was Radio Shack. In those days, there were numerous kits for building your own radio and other electronic gadgets.
With those kits, you made your own electronic gadgets along with getting an education in elementary electronics.
One of the lessons I learned from those kits is that you need good connections. The reception for my home made radio was only as good as the connections I created. In my search for connections, I gained appreciation for soldering irons, which used molten material forming better connections.
You learn quickly that the quality of material and wires make all the difference in the quality of connections you create.
The power of the circuit was limited to the quality of my connection. A bad connection meant my circuit wouldn't function like it should.
Those early lessons taught me the basics about electronics and about relationships.
In relationships, the quality of your connection makes a difference as well. A poor relationship connection means that your relationship can't handle much stress. It also means that it can't handle much of the communication load either.
You may have thought that the key to communication with your spouse is a better vocabulary. A better or more precise vocabulary is not the key to getting your point across. The key is 'making good connection' with your spouse.
When a family member looked at me with tear-filled eyes and asked ‘Why won’t he listen to me?’ my gut knotted up. I wanted to tell her the truth she needed to hear, yet I knew she wasn’t in a place to hear what she needed to hear.
That’s a funny thing about truths. You have to be ready to hear them, otherwise they are wasted. There’s a popular idea in the media and in some religious circles these days, that all you need to do is “Speak truth to power”. That mindset sounds convincing, yet it’s misleading.
Truth is always a good thing, yet HOW it’s presented and unfiltered truth present some challenges.
Speaking the truth, whether it is one person’s version of the truth, the gospel or public consensus, and expecting it to be heard, sets you up with unrealistic expectations. This kind of thinking gets you believing that all you have to do is be truthful and it’ll fix everything, including the affair.
Like magic, you’re led to believe all you have to do is say the right words and ‘presto’ all is healed.
You assume that telling the cheater your truth about the affair will suddenly fix it. If you believe that, you need to prepare yourself for some heartaches.
Assuming that speaking the truth or “truth to power” will heal your marriage is a fairy story for adults. It’s a half-truth, which,… if you get technical, is a lie.