I think trust is the foundation of any relationship and I believe it can never be reestablished once a sacred trust has been shattered. I think that when your spouse—the person you trusted more than any other—spits on your marriage vows by having an affair and puts what they want above their children and spouse, you can never go back. Anyone that says they can is fooling themselves.
Then call me a fool—though I agree about not going back; life is forward. I’ve lived it and I know what is possible. But you need to be realistic. There is not a single person who is free of imperfections. Trust needs to be reasonable and realistic. Do I believe that Sweetheart will not have another affair? Yes I do. And with that belief I trust him with my heart. But that does not mean that I think he is incapable of falling again. Being Sweetheart does not make him superhuman. I am measuring Sweetheart on the present—his present attitude and intentions—and the consistency of those in our lives through time. By present, I don’t mean how he was this morning without taking yesterday into account. I mean the past months or years of consistent positive behaviors and intentions. I also measure him according to his ability to deal with challenges. We each have positive or negative reaction patterns in different stressful; circumstances. Knowing the situations in which either of us is weak helps us prepare to deal with each other during such situations.
If your MLC spouse is having an affair and simultaneously wanting to return, talking about returning, thinking about returning… they are not ready for a true return. If your MLCer has left the alienator they may still not be ready. Your MLCer may have sort-of left the alienator—maybe they are still in alienator withdrawal, or the alienator is pursuing them or they are uncertain, or they think they are certain today, but they’ve been here before and changed their mind. There are a lot of what if’s and maybes. Whether your MLCer moves home to start the reconnection-reconciliation-rebuilding process or you start from a distance with dating, you are going to need to take that trust you want and do not yet have and set it aside for a while. I don’t care if your MLCer seems genuine or if this time it’s different and it finally seems they are remorseful, changing and proving themselves. Trust is not an Unconditional! They must earn it from you by consistent trustworthiness through time. It is going to take time and practice for your MLCer to learn to be trustworthy and time for you to learn to give it. Sometimes you will withhold it unfairly, but that is because you are learning, not because you are punishing. It is not only trust that you need to set aside. To rebuild trust you need to set aside suspicion and skepticism—mistrust. I am not saying you should banish those, but like Trust, mistrust needs to be reasonable and realistic and in the recovery phases you will both need to take some faith-filled leaps.