Building Trust in a Marriage
Trust is fundamental to a healthy relationship, especially a marriage relationship. Without trust, communication becomes guarded, and one person is always on the defensive, trying not to be hurt again. With trust, love grows instead of fear.
What creates barriers to trust in a marriage?
Previously broken relationships: If a parent or someone that you trusted hurt you in some way, you become guarded and careful around other people that represent that person to you. Broken promises, physical abuse, sexual abuse, infidelity, pornography and lies all create situations of distrust. Once someone has broken your trust, that will affect both the relationship with the perpetrator and any new relationships.
Unwillingness to forgive: Forgiveness breaks down the protection around your heart. Once you have been hurt, you want to protect yourself from being hurt again. This process is natural. By not forgiving, you continue to hold someone at a distance to you, not letting them get to close to hurt you again.
Resentment: Harboring hard and bitter feelings about what something that happened to you breeds blame and puts you in the role of a victim. A victim is powerless and helpless and places all the fault on another person without taking any responsibility for the situation. There are some situations where a person is a true victim, however, they are very rare, and usually situations of crime.
Inability to forgive yourself: When you know that you have done something to break another person's trust, it is very difficult to trust others. You are filled with self-doubt, which breeds doubt in others.
There are several steps to healing and repairing trust in a relationship. Each of these is an important and essential part in restoring trustworthiness.
Identify the origin of the problem: Who broke trust? Was it you, your husband, or someone in previous relationship? Once you have identified the origin of the broken trust, then, and only then, it is possible to begin to repair and heal from the hurt that has been caused.
Choose to forgive: Forgiveness may take some time. The crazy thing is that by not forgiving, the only person you are hurting is yourself. The other person has already moved on. They are either still doing what they did, or they aren't. If they are, forgiveness doesn't mean you have to let them back into your life. If they aren't, why still hold on? Remember to forgive yourself, too, for whatever part you played in the situation.
Choose to love: Love is a choice, not a feeling. Love is treating others with kindness, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Love is serving others and speaking positive and encouraging words to them. Love may include physical touch, gifts, and spending time together. Love overlooks the wrongs of others, and is willing to wait as long as is necessary for someone.
Give yourself and the other person room to grow: Too often, we place either ourselves or the other person in a box and don't allow for change. It's too easy to say, “He's always been that way,” or “I keep doing the same thing over and over again.” Growth happens in a spiral. In Ann of Green Gables, Ann says, “The one good thing about me is I never make the same mistake twice.” Well, she may have only broken the slate over Gilbert's head once, but she sure treated him poorly for years before she changed her heart toward him. As she became more secure in who she was, and was loved by Matthew and Marilla regardless of the color of her hair, she gradually was able to accept and reciprocate the attention of Gil towards her, and trust him not to call her “Carrots” or tease her again.
Be patient: It may take time (sometimes a lot of time) for trust to be restored after it is broken. The hurt party wants to make sure that it won't happen again. It may take time to prove yourself, or you may choose to ask for time to prove your husband. Perhaps taking a step back to the “dating” phase may be a way to rebuild the relationship. A time of separation followed by reconciliation provides space and time for proving integrity and trustworthiness.
Consider counseling: Whether alone or as a couple, counseling brings in help from an outside source that can help you see things from the outside in. It also provides space for expressing thoughts and feelings, grieving, and communication that might not otherwise occur.
By continuing to follow the principles outlined and taught in Fascinating Womanhood, you will become a woman of integrity and trustworthiness. As you develop these traits in yourself, you will inspire them in others. You will, by your simplicity and tenderness, motivate compassion and chivalry.
Doula at Mother's Heart Birth Services and a Trained and Certified Fascinating Womanhood Teacher
Website: A Mother's Heart
"It is hard but empowering to exchange fear for faith."