Is It Possible To Develop Trust After It Is Broken

Question: Dear Luise: Not long ago, I had a friend ask me for advice. He met a woman and he told her he wanted a family in the future. He was in his mid 40s, never married, living with his parents, taking care of them in their elderly years. This woman got him a job, moved him in to her house so he could make the payments and to ensure he stayed around, she got pregnant (and he didn’t think that child was even his because she was with other men at the same time she was with him). They got married and 7 months later his first child was born. About 6 months after the child was born, their house was foreclosed so they moved back in with his parents. Within a year, they moved across the country with his parents. Problems arose and his wife got pregnant at which point his dad said, “You have 2 kids, move out.” They bought their own house (his name was never put on her foreclosed house). About 2 years later, his dad died. After that took place, his wife has had him get all the charge cards, max them out, and he is now in court once a month being sued by creditors (when his dad was alive, he monitored these things). My advice to my friend was this: They’ve been together 12 years, aren’t happy, broke, no trust or respect, get out. If he stays, get counseling -if not for him or his wife, at least do it for the kids – they deserve to live in a peaceful house. When this was presented to me, the one question has stuck with me – In a situation like this, is it possible to develop trust over the course of these 12 years or is this simply tolerating each other under the same roof for the sake of the kids? In my life, if I don’t trust someone, I leave and, as such, I have never figured out if something like my friend’s situation could become something positive…I mean what if trust developed and I told him to leave the relationship…maybe that’s hasty and incorrect thinking on my part? Figured I would ask your opinion and advice. J.

Answer: Dear J. Your friend’s main issue doesn’t sound like it is about trust. It sounds like it reflects serious dependency and involves a long history of poor choices. The odds are that separation and divorce aren’t going to alter that for him.

I would stay out of it. They have woven a very tangled web over the last twelve years. As a result they have created a life together of financial, parental and personal irresponsibility. It doesn’t sound to me like they can trust themselves. How could they trust each other?

Advising him puts you in the middle. He may enjoy the attention you are giving him by listening, but I wouldn’t recommend that you go beyond the role of listener. It’s a loaded gun and you could get caught in the crossfire. Blessings, Luise

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