Two more behaviors that build trust are “right wrongs” and “get better”. Right wrongs is based on principles of integrity, making restitution, and humility. When you do something hurtful to your spouse, intentional or not, it is vital to admit what you have done and apologize quickly. In addition you need to make an effort to repair what has been damaged. This may mean doing something extra for your spouse or making changes going forward.
Getting better is about learning from your mistakes. Apologies ring hollow if you say you are sorry and then repeat the behavior. Getting better requires effort to change patterns or habits and establishing new behaviors. Sometimes this is a matter of choice. Other times you may need help understanding your behavior and how to change. Often counseling or coaching can greatly speed up this process.
Recently David Letterman provided an example of egregious behavior and attempts to right his wrongs. While most deplore his behavior, he did act quickly to accept responsibility(once it became public), admit his wrong behavior, and apologize. When this happens the public is usually pretty forgiving. His staffers and his wife are another matter. What we don’t know is how sincere his apology is, what will he do to try to make amends, and will he actually change his behavior. Time will tell.
You can ‘t control whether or not your spouse is ready to forgive you but taking action to right your wrongs will make it much easier to forgive. Ask your spouse what he or she needs from you to make it right and then follow through consistently.