Marriage Missions International

Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage

This is a tough, tough subject because there is such a misunderstanding of what trust entails. Many people think it is tied in with forgiving someone. But in reality, forgiving someone and trusting them are two different acts of faith. You can forgive a person without trusting them. But you cannot trust a person without forgiving them first.

It’s important to realize that trusting a person is not a prerequisite to forgiving them —trusting God is. You are trusting God, when you forgive. Please don’t mix and intertwine the two.

Forgiveness is something you give to release yourself from carrying the burden and the pain any further. Your trust is in God, to carry that burden and to eventually bring justice (in this life and/or the next). It is separate from your trust in that person. Nonetheless, it is difficult.

“Forgiveness is one of the most painful decisions we can make. We know that somehow we’re supposed to forgive, but when we step right up to it, we feel as though we’re being asked to turn ourselves inside out, tear out our hearts, and give them into the hands of our enemy.

“…Forgiveness is not a cruel demand that a sadistic God imposes on the hurting. It is the painful but healing door to freedom. It is surgery on the heart that extracts the poison of bitterness so we can move forward into a healthy life.

“Forgiveness is a choice we make intentionally, not because we just want to put the memory behind us, because we’ve been told we must, or because we think it will cause God to give us what we want. We choose to forgive because we recognized the tremendous mercy and power in God’s forgiveness of us.

“If God is able to forgive us our enormous cache of sin, our forgiveness of one who has hurt us is small in comparison. (Linda W. Rooks, from the book, Broken Heart on Hold)

Something else to consider on the subject of forgiveness is that:

Forgiveness is not a feeling. If you are waiting until the feeling to forgive comes upon you, it’s unlikely to occur. Forgiveness should be an act of obedience to God because we trust him and believe he has our best interest at heart. God knows that hanging on to revenge, anger, and rage can destroy us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Christ paid too much for his Beloved ones to have them a slave to anything, much less hatred. He wants his children free. And a person is never free when weighed down with the ball and chain of bitterness. When the cold shackles of revenge are tightly clasped around our wrists, it’s impossible to lift our hands in praise to Him. (Laura Petherbridge, from the Crosswalk.com article, What Forgiveness is NOT)

I could continue on with this subject MUCH further, but instead, I want to focus on rebuilding trust. If you are struggling to forgive someone, I encourage you to read through the QUOTES in the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic. And then go on to read more articles in that topic, which you perceive will help you in this mission.

But as your work through the process of forgiving someone, the question is often raised to us here at Marriage Missions, “how do I trust this person again?”

My answer is perhaps you will be able to eventually do that and perhaps you won’t. Trusting someone is dependent upon the actions of the person you are placing your trust in, and also it is dependent upon allowing yourself to have faith in him or her that he or she will not violate your trust again.

Forgiveness is not saying what the person did is okay. Many people reject forgiveness because it feels as though the wrongdoer is getting away with the offense. Our human nature wants the person who hurt us to suffer. Forgiveness isn’t ignoring what the person did, or pretending they are wonderful.

“Forgiveness is not trusting the person. The majority of incorrect teaching on forgiveness typically and destructively falls under this category. After a betrayal it is crucial for trust to be earned over time. Trust is not an automatic right of the offender. Forgiveness does not mean you immediately allow the person back into your life or your heart. If they are repentant, and willing to work on restoring the relationship, you might be able to trust them again eventually. However, sometimes those who wound us shouldn’t be trusted again. A truly repentant person doesn’t make demands or misuse Bible verses in an attempt to make you feel guilty. They humbly accept complete responsibility for the sin and willingly accept the consequences for their poor choices (Psalm 51).

“I have people in my life that I have forgiven but I no longer trust them because they have chosen to continue in the same negative life patterns that caused the problem. (Laura Petherbridge, from the Crosswalk.com article, What Forgiveness is NOT)

Anne Bercht, who wrote the book, My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, gave the following point that it may be good to note on this issue of trust:

“One lady shared a valuable graph regarding the phases of trust pertaining to infidelity. Before disclosure of the affair, trust is high. After disclosure of an affair, trust plummets to an all time low. Through SINCERITY (breaking all ties now with the third party) trust climbs perhaps 30%. Through ABILITY (discussing the affair, answering questions and proven behavior during this time) trust climbs another 30% or so. Through DURABILITY (being faithful, open and honest —proven behavior —over an extended period of time) one can regain full trust. IT TAKES TIME, WITH WORK AND PROVEN BEHAVIOR.

Bottom line: You shouldn’t just blindly trust anyone. We all have to develop skills in discerning who to trust and when to trust. And we need to JUDGE THE BEHAVIOR AND NOT THE WORDS.” (From the Passionate Life Seminars web site article, “Building Trust After an Affair”)

To explain this point further, Paul Byerly (The-generous-husband.com), wrote an article on the subject of trust that has been lost, and puts it this way:

“What happens when trust is lost? It is not a simple matter of doing once again what was required to earn the trust in the first place; earning back lost trust is far more difficult than earning trust in the first place. Each additional violation of trust makes it even more difficult to earn back the trust, and if trust if violated too many times, it becomes humanly impossible to it get back.

“If you have violated your wife’s trust [and the same advice is true if it's the husband whose trust was violated by his wife], you need to understand that her unwillingness or inability to trust you again is not about her; it’s about you. If she trusted you originally, that means she is able to trust. If she no longer trusts you because of your actions that means it’s on you. She can’t read your mind, she has no way of knowing you mean it this time; but she does know you didn’t mean it last time.

“Getting upset with her for not trusting you is only kicking her while she is down. Being mad that she does not believe you, when you have proven you cannot be trusted, only makes the situation worse. This is especially true if you have violated trust multiple times, be it the same issue or different ones.” (To read more, please click into the article, “When Trust is Gone“)

One of the many aspects of building trust is to try to figure out what caused the break in the first place. There are a variety of reasons the original offense or offenses occurred. Of course, we know it is because sin was given its opportunity.

Sometimes it is the person who commits the wrong-doing (or sin) who is alone responsible for every part of what he or she committed. And ultimately, that is true. No one else MAKES him or her make this wrongful choice. But as one counselor wrote, “there must be understanding of what is going on in the relationship for the behavior to occur.”

“…An example may be of a husband who lies. When he tells the truth about a matter, he pays a high price. His wife may yell and criticize him so he deals with it by avoiding confrontation and continuing to lie. While you are not responsible for the choices your partner makes, it is important to reflect on your contribution to the dynamic of the marriage. Understanding where your communication with each other breaks down and your responsibility in that, is important to healing and rebuilding trust.

“During the process of rebuilding trust, it is important not to do more damage. There is no room for punishment. This may feel better in the moment, but to use the incident as ammunition does nothing to heal and rebuild trust.” (You can read more in the online article, How to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage.)

It’s difficult NOT to retaliate, but it will undermine the building process. That doesn’t mean that you don’t confront and deal with the issue at hand, but while you are doing so, remember that it’s important to do so in a way that will not contribute to killing the marriage relationship in the process. You are not alone responsible for this, but for your part, you want to cause the least damage you can.

Lets face it, there is nothing easy about the process of building trust again. But again, please know that in order for it to eventually happen, it is not dependent upon you alone.

As we touched upon earlier, one of many steps in being able to rebuild or repair trust is repentance or true sorrow on the part of the one who hurt you. Counselor and author Steve Arteburn, writes:

“There must be genuine sorrow on the part of the betrayer. This also is a key to rebuilding trust. Without it, it’s like building a brick wall without cement. The goal of rebuilding trust is that at some point there is genuine sorrow on the part of the one who lived the lie, and genuine forgiveness on the part of the one betrayed. Without both of these conditions, the marital reconciliation is going to be very superficial and very unsatisfying to both parties.”

To learn more, please click onto the Growthtrac.com article:

• 4 STEPS TO REPAIRING TRUST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Marriage and family counselor, Lynette Hoy, in an article posted on the Counsel Care Connection web site talks about another participant in repairing trust:

“…Trust begins and ends with God. The next fact is that trusting another person has to have a certain expectation of failure and thus be combined with a willingness to forgive.

“Another point is that you don’t put in a quarter and out drops a can of trust —trust grows over time. People are complex, broken beings therefore, previous hurts, fears or losses can impede their determination to trust and/or be truthful in a relationship. But, people have the capacity to grow in trust and truthfulness. You and God can help build trust into your relationships.”

To learn more about this process and what it will take to rebuild trust, please read the following two articles written by Lynette Hoy. You will see that part of the advice will overlap, but there is also unique information and scriptures given in both:

REBUILDING TRUST

• HEALING YOUR BROKEN MARRIAGE BY REBUILDING TRUST

There is a lot that goes into rebuilding and repairing trust. Much of it is out of your hands. But to the degree that you can participate in the process, the following scriptures comes to mind to embrace:

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.-Psalm 56:11

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.-Psalm 3:5-6

 This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage”
  1. Lorato says:

    (BOTSWANA)  My comment on the subject at hand is brief and to the point. Those men who are abusive do not know God and what he requires of them. A church goer would do such a thing, but not a Christian. God is clear about that issue and its consequences: if you do that, you hinder your prayers. You wouldn’t want to have a setback in life, would you?

    I repeat: Christians cannot abuse, but church goers do. They have the same reasons as those that are termed “non christians” -jealousy, insecurity, you name them. BE WISE –God is a consuming fire.

    • Pavrone says:

      (USA) Well said Lorato. I put you in my “Hero Book.” So many believe that anyone who professes Christ or attends church is saved but we see the reality in the fruit they bear. The devil loves to emphasize that we are not saved by works and lead so many to believe that as long as you have claimed Christ you can do whatever you wish when the reality is that simply means there is nothing we can do (other than trust Christ to get to Heaven) IT DOES MATTER HOW WE LIVE AND ALL THAT WE DO.

      When I asked my cheating “Christian” husband what would have happened if Christ had returned while he was in that affair he said, and brace yourself “Oh, I knew I wasn’t going to hell. Couldn’t go to hell.” I know he was mistaken! God calls the house of a whore “A pathway to hell” in Proverbs.

      Be assured that it does matter what we do, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you” is Jesus speaking to those that smugly believe because they made a profession they can do as they please and still go to heaven and the devil loves it!

  2. Olivia says:

    (USA) I am curious to know what others think about continuing in a marriage where trust has been broken many times and many lies have been told. Infidelity via looking for other women to go out with and contacting them online happened. I forgave but he never really expressed sorrow or a desire to rebuild my trust. He didn’t seem to realize the impact it had on trust. I’m a Christian woman, which makes divorce double hard. What do I do? End things or try try try try try again alone?

  3. Mandita says:

    (INDIA) I have read and agree on this. Have some doubt though. Suppose we are not doing or commiting any fraud or telling lies? All bad as well good of the past was told but in some circumstances we are not able to prove ourself and we lose trust of being very close because of one on many incidents. In such a case if the person does not want to speak or listen on this matter what am I to do?

  4. Lorrie says:

    (USA) I have been trying to gain trust back for my husband. I do not want to divorce him. I love him very much, and I know he loves me as well. We have been married for 6 years, together for 8. We met when I was 49 and it was unexpected to fall in love again, let alone marry. He is a good father to my, our, daughter, now 19 and living on her own. He is a good provider, he is a gifted artist, he does the majority of the cooking as I am not very good at it. He takes care of our vehicles, our yards, and works very hard to assure our well-being. We share humor, which is very important to me, love to laugh and make others laugh. we laugh a lot. We enjoy the same things, we have very different childhood backgrounds but try very hard to not allow our past to define us or our future.

    I am a survivor of a childhood that was surrounded by violence, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, started at appx. age 8 up until 14. I have memories of those dark days however fragmented. I am unable to recall in detail, dates, year, only the images of those days come swiftly back to me from time to time, but I am not able to recall all of the events. I do recall my mom being beating on regular basis. I do recall them going out to drink and sometimes they did not come home together. Those times, her husband, my step father, came home to me. I blocked out the rapes, at least I suppose I did, as I couldn’t speak of it, not for long time. I was told he would kill my mom and brothers if I ever spoke of it. I’d also die after watching. I went through life praying for someone to help me, to help us. I felt guilty for not saving my mom, my brothers, I became desperate to just vanish. I’d hide and I would pray… please God make this go away… send me an Angel to keep me company.

    Well, finally, my mom did break free from him, but then all the ugly stuff came out. It hurt her, it hurt me, it hurt the family and friends who would know of it. It was many years before my mom and I even spoke about it –don’t know why but couldn’t do it. I went on with my life, had a career for 20 years, had my own daughter and raised her by myself… was content, and happy and accepted, not going to be with someone, no marriage for me… wrong. Well, I am very blessed, my husband is awesome.

    There is this one thing, a big one to me… he has, for years, been very into porn. He watches on line and he has been on chats, as well. I admit to watching video once in a while together, but only together. I have found him on the computer watching porn a few times and usually get all upset, we argue, etc. I finally told him I just don’t want to walk in and find him watching, to be discreet if he must do that and be honest about it, should not be excessive thing. Anyway, the big deal was catching him on chat. This I feel is betrayal. It has been a few times over the years, recently found him again. He had just started so he says… and not a regular thing.

    I want to believe him, but I really don’t. I’m hurt and am trying to forgive. I really have as we’re still working on our marriage but part of me feels so distant. I find myself watching and trying to find out stuff on the internet. I can hire a company to check on where he’s going on the internet, prove if he’s doing what I think he may be, but I don’t want to do that. Also, I must be prepared if I find out he is, to walk away, which I would do. So until I hire someone or can get over trying to catch him at this I’m in this limbo state. I love him but trust isn’t easy for me. Abandonment, abuse, fear,
    suspicion, all come into play, even if I don’t want that. I trusted him so much at the start, but now I feel a part of me has died.

    Can this really be ok? I find myself over the time together, snapping at him. Sometimes I know why I get mad and act cold; sometimes I really don’t. I can only assume it’s from past abuse. I’ve gone to therapy before, but not since raising my daughter have I felt the need to go. I’m dealing with empty nest issues; it’s so hard for me, I miss her so much. And now it’s just my husband and me and all to this to deal with. I have poor health; I’m a cancer survivor 3 yrs, but not real well. I don’t really know what to do. Is someone guilty of infidelity if it’s some stranger on line they’re being sexual with? It makes me so upset. I want to trust. He swears he’s not going to do it again, but I don’t know. So I just figure, will be trusting as possible? I want this union to work… but if he blows it, then I will leave. So, I need to find a way to not react so quickly and to become less cold as I get at times. It does not help us… anyway, I pray these ghosts that haunt me will one day truly be gone. Thanks for your ear.

  5. Jemilat says:

    (NIGERIA) I just wanna use this opportunity to say thank you.

  6. Jerry B from United States says:

    Have to be careful with this one…Trust and trustworthiness can be very vague subjects. What is an issue with one spouse may be totally irrelevant to the other. Sometimes a person will bring baggage from previous situations with no grounds for the accusation presently. Some will use the accusations just to rattle the other partner. In my church, we have had sermons about having the mind of Christ. Both sides have to have this mindset to keep the Enemy out of the relationship. Peace And Blessings To All

Marriage Missions International