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Rebuilding Trust in a Marriage - Mark and Jill Savage

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2021 1:00 am

Rebuilding Trust in a Marriage - Mark and Jill Savage

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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February 13, 2021 1:00 am

Is the trust in your marriage being built or being broken? On this edition of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Jill and Mark Savage detail the devastation of adultery. It was a painful, difficult time in their marriage. But there was repentance and forgiveness. Then came the hard work of rebuilding trust. What is that process like? Find out on the next Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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Listen to Mark and Jill story today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman unknowingly. I sent him a message that I didn't need and that really stressed I could do nothing to repair to rebuild to fix any part of this I had to trust him to building the New York Times five lot language HL and Mark Savage. Marriage is you might be wondering how this program on the date Valentine's Day beyond their lot of marriage and struggling right now because controls so this might be the perfect conversation, your marriage or somebody you know you've seen this issue trust in your counseling. Many times Chris said in my office and one of them. The one whose hurt deeply will say you know I'm choosing to forgive them, trying to forgive them but to be honest I don't trust and it's a journey. So I think our conversation today with Jill and Mark are going to be some hopeful words for people who are going through that now or have gone through that and through your listing and having gone through it.

I hope you think about your friends who may be going through this thinking on this to be very helpful.

Let me use our guests, Jill Savage has joined us many times here on the program she's founder of hearts at home. She's written a number of books including no more perfect moms living with less.

So your family has more my hearts at home real moms real Jesus in the book that she and Mark, her husband wrote no more perfect marriages experience the freedom of being real. Together Mark served in church ministry and pastoral roles for more than 20 years before transitioning to partner together with Jill to serve as a marriage coach and speaker the parents of five grandparents of eight savages live in normal, Illinois. Jill and Mark welcome to Building Relationships yes were excited to be here today.

It's been 10 years still sent to weathered marks affair.

You not only healed but your helping others heal, which I think is absolutely admirable so can you share a little bit of the journey that you all the been through Shire Shire. Well yes it was about was actually 11 years ago that Myrick left pastoring and when he did think we both underestimated how much that would kind of send him into an identity crisis, and he was already struggling with that by it just became a really rough year for him. After leaving ministry and I could feel. I could feel that he was struggling he he was everything in life bothered him, including our marriage by Iser. I certainly didn't understand the extent that wise and you know now that we look back and it really went into a full-line midlife crisis and I that included an affair that lasted for almost a year and not last a really dark year of our life. As you can imagine, and it was also during that time that Mark chose to leave and so we endured a four-month separation as well.

So there is a lot of broken trust and a lot of hurts and a lot of pain, but we are very grateful that on Easter Sunday.

Actually, 2012, America had what we call his own personal resurrection side. Thank you. What is your perspective Marco. The journeyto her. I found myself fully frustrated with all of life. I found myself incredibly angry at the church, and ultimately, I think the core of it was I was angry at God. He wasn't doing what I thought he should be doing and what I came to, as I surrendered myself to him is that I'm not I'm not God I'm incapable of knowing what he's up to and what he's doing.

All I can do is trust him and so out of my own brokenness and my own sin. God in his redemption has had me on a journey of really growing to understand who God really is, as father, as dad and it was interesting to that as I mention God as father. The two men in my life that were my dad my my birth father and then my stepfather were both men who were very broken themselves and they did not give a good image of a dad and so I had all these twisted expectations and twisted assumptions of who God really was at that point, Jill, and this was going on.

You mentioned it was for a year. What juncture in that year did you become aware of the affair but it was only emotional. At that time there. The guardrails had been taken down to protect our relationship and he was having a private conversation with someone he had known many, many years ago I through Facebook and that is not a place that we do have to be to guard our marriage, you know really say now is an old high school girlfriend or boyfriend context, Facebook, your next step is to run yet don't even O'Reilly start by yeah so I was at that point I learned that it was having these conversations by plaintiffs it seemed innocent enough. We talked about the fact that he needed to put guardrails that needed for a little while, but then it went underground again and then I discovered three months in that it had turned what juncture did you actually separated.

It was so I was on and off again with that relationship set in seven times that he would recommit our marriage, and then he would go back and you would reconnect and he would go back and that happened seven times and then probably nine months in, I began working to find a place of my own and then ultimately left Jill and the kids probably at the tenant 10 month mark. I was just convinced that that my life was unfixable and that Jill and I were unfixable and I was riding off into the new relationship, but as I've said before that the problem was. I took somebody with me and that person was a mess and that person was me. It was I was just a mass on the inside waters were your children. During that time Jill and how to disinfect them. You know are three older kids were young adults in their 20s and are too younger where teenage teenagers at home and they were absolutely brokenhearted.

They were there world was rocked.

They were eating out, even the adult kids who were somewhat removed from the day-to-day were there world was turned upside down and down and then are two boys that were still at home. In fact, I remember telling them guys this is this is a cry zone. It you know whatever you need to sort through the pain that you're experiencing. This is a safe place for that which is hard for teenage boys. But I'll tell you what I saw a lot of tears. During that time and I think that was a place that you found that you thought it would be different. I had some very twisted under understanding or perspective within my self that I've I really thought the kids would understand. I was saying the very things that I'd counseled people years prior to not believe, but I was believing that the kids would be okay there resilient and they were not okay and it took quite a bit of God's work in my work to rebuild that trust with them as well. Let's talk about what you're doing now, having come through this and you're trying to help other people when infidelity happens, you say the trust has to be rebuilt by both parties.

When only one party really is been unfaithful. What you want to. Both parties need to rebuild trust.

Yeah that is a place that there's often a misconception. You know, certainly then broken trust that the infidelity was huge and there was a lot to rebuild their by our marriage had broken places in it and there had been ways over the years that I had also broken Mark's trust.

I had done that with my critical words I had done that unknowingly by being and avoid her with my emotions and kind of unknowingly because I would just always be strong, I would never let Mark in on when life was hard for me or when I was sad or frustrated or angry or hurting from some situation that I would never let him know about those things and so unknowingly. I sent him a message that I didn't need him and that broken stress on that I didn't meet him and so as we began to rebuild our relationship after this very, very dark season. Certainly he had to rebuild trust in the area of commitment to our marriage and being faithful. I had to rebuild trust in the areas where I had wounded his heart as it related to meeting him as it related to being critical of him. I had to turn those around and rebuild trust in those areas more quickly and you to wake up perhaps is a good word and begin moving toward reconciliation as opposed to following the route you were following. Well, I think there were a number of things. One, this relationship that I was pursuing was having struggles very similar to what Jill and I had and I began to really question in my heart or in my mind was I doing the right thing, that if if Jill and I were struggling in this new relationship is struggling then.

Gosh I need to get Jill and I figured out and secondly that I had a realization that I had really love Jill based upon what I thought.

Love should be what I thought love meant and I honestly were. I had no clue.

I did not know what love. I do know how to love Jill.

I didn't know how to love a strong woman. I just didn't know how to do it and so during all of this time of challenge and separation.

I had continued to read my Bible and journal in and I just felt like God was saying Mark you need to learn how to love for me when it came to Easter. I just realized that I needed to to really yield 100% night. I would say for the first time in my life. I repented of who was going to be the leader of my life and I at that point was like I'm not can argue or debate with God anymore.

I'm just going to take my dad by the hand and say where. Believe me, I'll walk. And so I began a walk of surrender. At that point to when he reached out I'm assuming the market share that with her you were when that happened, Jill was your initial response. You know, it was interesting I was. We were actually together when it happened. It was almost a I Damascus Road experience for him because it had that morning. He had actually we had a brand-new grandchild and we had traveled several hours away to see our our new grandbaby with our sons that were still living at home and we done that together we got back quite late and I had.

I said to him, and I think it was like 2 AM I think you know. Do you want to just stay here tonight rather than driving further on home and he was like yeah I think I better so he woke up that morning we we were actually together and he informed me that he would be filing for divorce that week.

It was, you know what my head was spinning and and the only thing I thought of that morning was that it was Easter and I said you know Mark, Jesus didn't want to go to the cross but he did. He said, Lord, not my will but yours and I don't know what it was and that but it yet struck him hard. Yeah, and he thought about it for a few moments and then he said I'm actually can pray that prayer and he did and he looked at me and said we go to church and I said yes and we did and we actually spent the day together and he that night even said to me, I don't even remember what I had against you like I can remember the things that they don't hold their not in my heart anymore so it literally was this rendered so I watched it happen.

It was scary and I was hopeful and because I saw literally the change in him. I was more hopeful than I had been in some of the other times where he had made a recommitment and that I felt like he was doing the right thing, but his heart wasn't really an act and this time I could tell there was a difference, so I was scared.

Gary, I was really scared but hopeful that may be something had happened inside his heart.

And certainly it had with surrender, or juice. Soon her openness to seeking reconciliation I did. I also was very aware that that I deeply hurt her, and our kids and so many others that I saw that trust was was very distant and that was really where at the moment that I fully surrendered. I heard the Lord speak to me Mark if you'll trust me for the list. I was literally carrying a list of things against Jill and Ananias and marriage and an so God said market fuel.

Trust me for the list.

I'll take care of the rest and that that was really my hope that I could do nothing to repair to rebuild to fix any part of this I had to trust him to when someone turns more good to God first and then turns back to their partner in the book you talk about forgiveness because there has to be a response person and you say that forgiveness is layered, what does that mean, yeah, well, this was there.

This was a learning curve for me because it I would have said before all of this happened that forget my perspective was that forgiveness was once and done in other words, Mark had an affair.

I needed to forgive him for the affair, and so that would have been what I would've done with forgiveness.

However, what I found.

As we began the journey of rebuilding our very broken relationship is that no it wasn't. Forgiveness wasn't one thin dime.

I often had to forgive 20 to 30 to 40 times a day as I thought about different aspects.

So I give you an example. One day I was driving by the hotel where I knew that they had met and that day, my heart was just broken the at the deception and ends so in that moment, my heart is broken, the deception and I need to forgive the deception.

The very next day I drive by the same hotel but my heart is broken for a different reason.

My heart is broken over the financial mess that this left SN and said that day. I have to forgive for the financial mess.

So that when we say that forgiveness is layered that were talking about is that we have to forgive all the different acts and elements and all of the things that come up in our hearts and oftentimes I think that you know when people struggle with forgiveness.

They don't realize that there probably trying to forgive the this single act without realizing that there are lots of little acts that made up that angle act of betrayal and it's all those little acts that we have to actively forget markers you thought about your attitudes toward her and the things she had done to you were said to you in the past was an element of forgiveness on your part. Oh, absolutely. Gary II had to let that go and I found myself in very very similar way that there would be different aspects to what how I'd been hurt by Jill and I had to on layer that her and forgive at those different levels. Forgiveness is not a feeling right right nope it is a decision that is way too, for if we wait until we feel like forgetting we won't get that done no Jill you you said that as you drove past that of the place that hotel Things kept coming up. And so someone will say if I forgive. It should just be one time and I don't bring it up that I haven't really forgiven. If it's coming up what you say to that but what I would say to that is that. Probably it's a different aspect that you haven't considered, and I had to become more self-aware to what was hurting my heart in that moment.

The other thing I would say yes. Even when we forgetting. Oftentimes it'll creep back up.

It'll creep back up and we will have to actively go through that process again.

You know it even just remind yourself Lord, I know that I forget have forgiven Mark for the financial mess.

I know I did that last Tuesday and it just crept back up again and said oh I'm making an active decision once again to lay that back down to put that back in your hands. So sometimes we have the tendency to pick things up and when we do we have to actively put them back down through that forgiveness so that I could trust in him to tube make that forgiveness real in your life. Yes, it is an active trust of God that he still at work and that he is the Redeemer or I like to even say the re-dreamer that he is at work and that yes the big mess. But it but God is bigger than the mess the memories keep popping book even when you forgiven water to rush her through the memories keep coming back and open when the memories come back to hurt the plane comes back right right and you know one of the things it was really important and I we just we started to dialogue about those more often number one. I am an internal processor. Okay, my tendency is to just place to think things through all the time and I don't even think to express them verbally, which is honestly a place that I've had to grow in our marriage by you. I wasn't keeping those to myself anymore.

I would say hey I drove by that hotel today and it really broke my heart about the financial mess that all of this has created and and in those conversations became trust rebuilding conversations which I was so grateful for because the way Mark would receive on to those and then when he would have the same conversations with me the way I would respond to them, made all the difference in the world he would say you know at Jill, I know that it made financial and for that I am so very sorry and I do once again ask for your forgiveness and that would be the essence of the conversation, you know. So in the same way that I was forgiving 20 and 30 times a day. Sometimes he was apologizing that many times a day and were not talking about apologizing like I said I was sorry it was a humble.

I know that that hurt you terribly and I am so very sorry. We just stop it, and those were healing conversation right that resources from Jill and Mark Savage. They put together a roadmap to rebuilding trust you can downloaded at their website we have a link@ is you been hearing Jill and Mark of going through some deep waters in their marriage and if there's broken trust in your relationship, go to five love to find this free roadmap to rebuilding trust or you can go to rebuilding trust .us/roadmap work in Jill before the break we were talking about forgiveness. We were talking about the memories that come back even after we choose to live in are really like both of you were saying but when you do bring up those memories to each other and reiterate the hurt that is stimulated in you interview her understanding and affirmed rather than preaching to the other person and open for use with the with Christians, especially so we just gotta get over this. Now he's gotta get over you when you know you said you forgiven me general that this causes further pain and further fracture right right.

It absolutely dies and you're right. And really that's a defensive response, so I would say we laid down. Defensiveness.

We did and we were surrendered in humble and for me that meant I will answer every question and my commitment was that I was trying to grow in love and compassion and understanding and I wanted to convey that at every point.

Let's move to the whole area of rebuilding trust which is really the heart of what you're trying to say in this book. Forgiveness is certainly has to happen before we can rebuild trust, but forgiveness is not the whole story rebuilding trust social but about the journey in terms of rebuilding trust. Well, you know, I think that it's really important that we separate forgiveness and rebuilding trust is an important part of it, but I think sometimes part of the reason people are afraid to to forgive is big because they think that means then they're going to have to trust and it they're two very different things.

So forgiveness is the first staff. One of the very first steps of rebuilding trust just the beginning. All it does is say my heart is open to you beginning to rebuild trust with this issue.

So I think that that's really important for people to understand that the place that we find as we work with different couples is that there's a fear if I forgive.

I got it I got a jump back in and trust you cite no no no no no no no, you forgive and they're still there to be no trust.

So rebuilding trust is in and the beginning of it is forgiveness, but boy, there's a lot of work to do. After the forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the door to the possible trust can be reborn yeah yeah Gary so what what what is the formula what what is the pathway toward rebuilding trust.

One of the things that is really important is consistent changed behavior over time and consistent changed behavior over time equals trust and so there's no shortcut for rebuilding trust he just can't shortcut it, you can't. There's no easy button. It takes time and it takes consistent changed behavior that happens over time where you're starting to realize that you are changing the way that you respond to life that you respond to each other. Your changing and and that in and of itself is starting to rebuild trust. So as you change your behavior then it begins with a trestle and Anna from a practical perspective for me as I became more affirming of Mark and not critical of him.

He began to trust my words. He began to trust that I believed the best in him and and so I was being intentional about changing the way I interacted with him, and over time that rebuild trust social joy. What are you saying is that not only were you expecting and hoping he would change you beginning to see those changes so you will rebuilding trust in him you were changing, so he would rebuild trust in you. Yes exactly because I needed to know what I often think is important for people to understand the one who was betrayed, there's nothing that we do to cause someone else to have an affair but I did contribute to the dysfunction in our marriage and I needed to own what I contributed to the dysfunction of our relationship and those of the places where I needed to rebuild trust go socially in the book the trust breaker is the trust maker. Well, the trust breaker. So in this case it would be me. I had to drive the rebuilding of trust. I my tenancy in the past was to be passive, to be silent to follow Jill's lead and now I needed to find my voice engage conversations with Jill in a loving, compassionate way and then drive back. That rebuilding of trust. I couldn't put it.

I did not have any get out of jail free card I had to step up and and lead this well and what often happens to is the one who whose heart was broken becomes the police and when they become the police then here you end up pushing from an unhealthy place and so we trust breaker becomes the trust maker then there is no need for police right. There's no need for that because the liquids give me some examples of this here is that a perfect example. The person that Mark was unfaithful with lived in another community and that community happens to be also aware all of our extended family live about 2 1/2 hours from our home and so when Mark wants to go see his mother and I can't go with him, he will often say, and this he started doing this right after he came back home to say no. I wish you could go with me. I know you can't because of whatever reason, but I just want you to know I asked my friend Carl to make the trip with me and I am just like thank you thank you's. I didn't ask him to take somebody with him. I didn't ask him to not go by himself.

He has the trust breaker.

He was now making trust and becoming a trust maker by thinking ahead about doing something that would relieve my fear that would put natural accountability in place for himself and that's what were talking about is you he really owned it. And he went ahead and he became the trust maker because he was being active and there was no need for me to please I and a part of that is a principle we learned of pushing accountability or pushing information so I would push that information to Joe so one. It took the pressure off of her, took away that sense that she's parenting me. We both were committed to behaving differently acting differently and so I would push information to Jill for accountability. Another way that I pushed information was I unlocked my phone. I gave her passwords. I deleted any hidden emails and I just open myself up to Jill and let her have that freedom to read whatever she wanted, and in humility of was grateful for that. I just took it Living in the open is such a for your life and you know what Gary I honestly rarely looked at some I rarely did.

A few times where I just felt like I needed the reassurance and I I know was grateful that he had just open that up I didn't have to ask, but because there were no more secrets because he was being a trust maker now. I really didn't feel the same way. I didn't have the need to even police when he was opening me up to do it absolutely had and so you know that in and of itself made such a huge difference in rebuilding trust in a relationship were told about trust in rebuilding trust you use the term trust bucket.

What is known as a work well you know this is a picture I feel like I gave me and that is that you know when when we start in a relationship. It's trust is like a bucket and it and the trust is the water in a bucket so it's full we have all the reason in the world to trust our spouse and when there's little things that get that start to happen in marriage, like critical words are having a critical spirit. Okay like I had towards Mark. Some of that bucket so that water gets just Kenneth tossed out of the bucket each time. Okay in a couple water goes, and then it happens again. Another cup goes in happens again in another And before you know it. Then the bucket has very little trust in its order in the case of infidelity in that moment when the trail like that is happened all of the trust in the bucket is okay on so now we need to rebuild trust. We need to refill the bucket and what we don't understand what what we want to happen is we want to say I'm sorry. I know this hurt you, will you please forgive me and they say I forgive you and that the bucket is full again. That's what we want to happen that's not what happened. So what we have to do is we literally mail back to our formula of consistent change behavior over time rebuild trust. So every time I speak a word of life to mark and not a critical word I am adding eight of a cup into the bucket and then I do it again and I had another eight I do something else and at the drop and then another drop and then another eighth of a cat and then the same things happening with Mark as he's rib rebuilding my trust and his commitment to mine to our marriage when he opens up his phone that put some water in the bucket when I'm true to my word when I do what I say I add to jewels bucket so the bucket is getting refilled but it is getting refilled over time. So it's very easy for us to dump the water. It takes work for us to refill the bucket work and time right yes yes what part does risk play in rebuilding trust for me. The risk and encourage was I had to find my voice and and speak what I was thinking in and not worry about the conflict in learn how to have healthy conflict in the value conflict.

I was such a mess. Gary that I couldn't even remember all of the things I did my prayer was nothing new would would be exposed on my phone or in my email that I'd forgotten and so took risks. The revealing of yourself is a huge risk, but it is vital for rebuilding trust not only that they you know there's no way to start putting water back in that bucket without being willing to take risk.

I mean, there's always a risk you know marks. It's always risky to trust me again that I'm not going to be critical.

It's risky to trust him that he's going to be faithful. But over time we began to see that that risk decreased as we started to rebuild trust with each other, but initially you gotta be willing to risk again. So, what about the children of broken trust due to the children and you help them process their broken trust really destroys our kids, and even my adult children powered adult children were just completely devastated and so in rebuilding trust.

It honestly is the same principle as rebuilding trust in marriage is it's that change behavior that work overtime will rebuild trust and so it took it took quite a few years honestly to rebuild the trust and I with each of my kids. It was different. The timeline was different.

There were great several of them that were quicker to fully reengage right there were a few that it took it took them several years to place where they trusted that you would stay and and that I was consistent in that I was changed person myself and so each one. Let me know in their own way that they were trusting me again and what a reward that was that. I would say a big part of that was your willingness to respond in the ways you were responding to me you know. Yes, I know that that hurt you deeply. You would answer any questions without defensiveness and so I think listening well is really an important part of helping our kids through this letting them have a safe place to talk about what's on their heart, their specific hurt because there may be different than their siblings hurt so recognizing that that's a very individual process. So you guys are offering a new resource to roadmap for rebuilding trust tell us about that and how people can connect to how we are just have found that over the years as marriage coaches.

One of the biggest places people get stuck is knowing what steps to take to begin to heal, and quite frankly, we didn't know what steps to take. I mean Ray stumbled along the journey and kinda figured it out and thought let's make it easier, people coming right.and that's when we created the roadmap for rebuilding trust and that has been something that we've used in our coaching and now are excited to be able to offer that to others through free resource and also a course that will be offering online so it just offers hope but also direction for people to know okay what are the actual steps that I want to take and I know we actually built it on the road signs we see Wimmer driving places because we thought, you know what that way it's always in front of a similar are reminded of the different steps as we see roadsigns only travel places so where do couples go to get this free roadmap to actually go to rebuilding trust .us/roadmap so rebuilding trust .us/roadmap and then we have all kinds of additional marriage resources will as we come to the Univar program. I will bring with no other couples who were going to listen to this broadcast who are in the middle of what you walk through and I believe that what you're saying is going to bring great hope to them, and I think also the resources which are over and let me thank you for being open and vulnerable and assuring out of your own pain and struggle and offering hope to thank you for being with.

Thanks for having this marriage is undergoing broken trust. We have a link@ find roadmap to rebuilding trust free resource for Mark show might be the first step in restoring your relationship again for that free roadmap you can link five love were still just go to building trust .us/next small business, and change laws. Don't mistake haystacks story in one week before we leave today big thank you to our production team Steve Glick and Janice Todd and thank you for listening. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman's production of radio in association with Moody publishers a minute, Moody Bible and

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