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:
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:
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.