“Trust is a fragile thing. Easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to ever get back.” – Unknown
Trust issues are one of the major reasons marriages dissolve. In this article we’ll deal with how to save a marriage with trust issues.
It takes work, but it can be done.
Before we delve in to the practical steps of rebuilding a marriage with trust issues, I want you to hear the story of Bob and Amy. Their situation may be different than yours. Their circumstances are unique. If you are struggling with trust issues, their story can help you understand how lack of trust can and will erode your relationship.
Compliments of AmazingNewsVid
Dealing with trust issues is vital if you want a healthy marriage. Question is, what do you do if there are trust issues?
In this article you will learn:
1. Why Trust Matters
2. Major Symptoms of Trust Issues in Marriage
3. What Causes Trust Issues in a Marriage
4. How To Regain Trust
5. 9 Healthy Boundaries To Guard Trust in a Marriage
Why Trust Matters
Trust is the foundation of all successful relationships.
Think about it. If you do not trust someone, you cannot fully give yourself to that person.
If there are trust issues in your marriage, you will withhold yourself from your spouse in one way or another. It’s psychologically impossible to fully engage with your spouse if you do not trust them.If there are trust issues in your marriage, you will withhold yourself from your spouse in one way or another. Click To Tweet
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What happens without trust in the world?
In business, there would be very few monetary transactions if you did not trust the company or product you were purchasing.
Would you willing give your money to a company if you knew you could trust them? Of course not.
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Let me give you an example…
Suppose I have a product you are interested in purchasing. You like the product. You could use it. It would be very helpful. However, in the past I have cheated you when you bought something from me.
Would you be hesitant to do business with me? Of course you would.
To the degree that I violate your trust, you will be cautious.
The more I abuse our relationship, the less likely you will be to do business with me.
Trust is the foundation of all transactions and relationship exchange.Trust is the foundation of all transactions and relationship exchange. Click To Tweet
This is why trust is the fabric of all successful relationships. It goes double for marriages. Where there is trust, there is happiness. Where there is lack of trust, there is insecurity, suspicion and isolation. We will look deeper at the symptoms of lack of trust later.
Brian Tracy says:
The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”
Deepa Prahalad is a strategy consultant and co-author (with Ravi Sawhney) of Predictable Magic: Unleash the Power of Design Strategy to Transform Your Business.
In an article for Harvard Business Review, she writes:
Companies cannot get these outcomes by simply hiring bright people or paying them a lot of money. They must create an environment in which people can work well together and where they are engaged with the mission of the firm. They must treat suppliers and collaborators well. They have to give freedom to ask tough questions and experiment with new ideas. Trust is a prerequisite for all of these.
The next two quotes sum it up well.
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
“When mistrust comes in, loves goes out.”
Major Symptoms of Trust Issues in Marriage
Mistrust causes us to ‘close up shop’ in our relationship. As we’ve seen, trust is necessary for openness and intimacy. When this feels violated, it is only natural to close up.
But lack of trust in a relationship also has other repercussions and side-effects.
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When trust is broken we become anxious about our future, where we stand, and what will happen to us.
Self-doubt arises because we question our own ability, goodness and essence. We wonder what WE did to cause the problem. We blame ourselves for marriage issues. This leads to self doubt.
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”
The problem with self doubt is that it inhibits our ability to relate effectively with our spouse. When we constantly feel guilt or shame, our heart closes.
Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. is Director of Research and Education for the Glendon Association. In an article for Psychology Today she wrote:
The ease and accessibility of technology now breeds even more distrust and deception between couples. Email, text messaging and Facebook can be a perfect platform for forging new connections. And as the floodgates of communication open, the green waves of jealousy begin to flow.
Webster’s Dictionary defines suspicion as…
The act or an instance of suspecting something wrong without proof or on slight evidence : mistrust.
In essence, suspicion is mistrust. The opposite of what it takes to make a marriage work.
Mistrust gives birth to this quest to discover the truth. It often becomes a compulsion. We become preoccupied with this discovery.
What is happening?
Why did this happen?
The quest is never ending. It is a preoccupation that robs us of life. We become hyper focused on ‘one’ thing at the expense of all other things. This is damaging. Deadly.
Truth is critical for a relationship to be healthy. This is why transparency and openness is so important. Truth should be given. Not extracted.
When you feel you are not ‘getting’ the truth from your spouse, you seek to discover or extract it. This is preoccupation that leads to self-demise.
A codependent relationship is one where one person has an unhealthy dependence on the other to meet all of their emotional and self-esteem needs.A codependent relationship is one where one person has an unhealthy dependence on the other to meet all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. Click To Tweet
Symptoms of a codependent relationship include:
- People Pleasing
- Blurred Boundaries
- Controlling Personality
- Reactionary Living vs Intentional Living
- Dysfunctional Communication
- Emotional Pain
- Lack of Intimacy
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What Causes Trust Issues in a Marriage?
Now that we understand the side-effects and symptoms, let’s discover what causes trust issues in marriage.
Real or Imagined
Before you can cure the disease, you need to know if the disease is real or imagined. If it is real, you need to find the cause. Only then can you implement the proper cure.
Real or Imagined? Is it just in your head? Or are there reasons you feel suspicious? Cautious? Anxious?
I would normally encourage people to ‘go with their gut.’ But I’ve come to realize that in many cases, a spouse is simply jealous because of their own insecurities.
How do you determine if your insecurities are founded upon a ‘real’ issue, or simply products of your on brokenness?
It’s tricky to figure out. There is no easy path.
The first step is open communication with your spouse. Having a heart to heart conversation about ‘where you are’ in the relationship is the beginning point.
If you fail to communicate openly with your spouse, you will enter a self-protection mode to guard your heart. This always leads to an emotionally closed state. The more insecure you feel in your relationship, the more closed you become to your spouse. It’s self protection. And it’s deadly.When you fail to communicate openly with your spouse, you enter a self-protection mode to guard your heart. Click To Tweet
To keep this from destroying your relationship, you need to have an open conversation with your spouse.
What is the Source of Mistrust?
Suppose something ‘has’ happened that brought about mistrust…how do we deal with that?
When trust is broken it is because of one issue; on some level there is a violation of the marriage covenant.
When you perceive that your covenant has been violated, mistrust results.
It may take many forms. It looks different in every marriage problem. But the core issue is a perceived violation of your confidence and covenant.
This violation may be sexual.
It could be financial.
Or a hundred other issues.
When there is a violation of the covenant it results in mistrust.
This is why honesty in marriage is so important. Later we will address ways to protect your marriage from violations of trust.
If there is broken trust in your marriage, you need a plan to get back on track. Wishing and hoping things will change will not get the results you desire. It takes concentrated work to turn your marriage around. Don’t leave it to chance.If there is broken trust in your marriage, you need a plan to get back on track. Wishing and hoping will not get the results you desire. Click To Tweet
Trust issues present a unique set of problems. Understanding where you are in the marriage will help you make the right decisions and do the right things.
Dr. Lee Baucom talks about the eight stages of a marriage crisis. It’s important to understand those eight stages. What works in one stage might not work in another. Doing the right thing at the right time equals success. Program link at bottom of article.
How To Regain and Restore Trust
Once trust is broken, how do you recover? Is it possible to regain trust?
Yes. It is possible. But it takes both parties to work on the issues. There is no overnight fix.
John Gottman, author of ‘The Importance of Trust’ discusses how to build trust in relationships in this video. It’s the little things that set the stage for marriage health.
Compliments of John Gottman
Practical steps to regain trust:
Four basic steps to rebuild and regain trust in your marriage.
1. Try to identify ‘why’ there are trust issues.
If you misdiagnose the symptom, you will treat the wrong problem. At best you will address symptoms instead of issues.
To determine the real issue, you must be willing to be transparent.
This leads to the next step.If you misdiagnose the symptom, you will treat the wrong problem. At best you will address symptoms instead of issues. Click To Tweet
2. Have an honest conversation
Honesty is the building block of trust.
Be willing to talk about the tough ‘things.’
I have a friend who has experienced marriage difficulty for years. When I suggested he have an open and honest conversation with his wife about the things troubling him, she simply refused.
She is unwilling to discuss his concerns.
It is very unlikely that their marriage will survive. If it does, it will be a shell of a relationship. So far they remain together out of religious duty. But there is no real intimacy or trust in their marriage. Eventually, I predict, it will fall apart.
When one party is unwilling to have an honest conversation about the marriage, it is impossible to build trust. Without trust, the marriage is doomed.
This is the beginning point of rebuilding; honest discussion.
3. No judgment zone for sharing insecurities.
To cultivate honest conversation in the marriage, it must be safe. If you want your spouse to open up, they have to feel it is safe to do so.
I’ve seen many couples wreck at this point.
Imagine this scenario…
Tom decides he’s tired of battling lust. As a husband, he wants to come clean and open up about his weakness, temptation, and struggle. So he tells his wife, Ann, he has been looking at pornography.
And has three choices:
1. She can go ‘Ewe, that’s gross. You’re a pervert.’ This will cause her to close down and withhold sexually from Tom. This only exacerbates the problem.
2. She can take it personal. Feel that she’s not good enough, not sexy enough, Not pretty enough or good enough. This will cause her to close up and shut down emotionally and physically. Again this doesn’t help fix the problem.
3. She can hear Tom’s heart and realize he’s trying to do the right thing by being transparent. This doesn’t take away the hurt or sense of betrayal, but it will allow her to be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented.
Ann’s response will determine the future of their relationship. If Tom feels heard and understood, he will continue to open up. This will help him heal. It will allow him take positive steps to get help.
If, however, Ann judges him. Tom will feel more shame and close up.
NOTE: I am not in any way justifying lust, pornography or infidelity. Pornography has ruined more marriages than we can track. One thing is clear, for healing to occur there must be an atmosphere of transparency. There must be a safe place to come clean. This is difficult because coming clean also creates insecurity in your spouse. This is why it is important to seek professional help in this situation.
A safe environment is critical for healing and trust to build.
Let’s reverse it. Consider this scenario…
Ann is struggling with insecurity and jealousy. She decides it would help her to talk with Tom about her feelings.
She shares this with Tom but he dismisses it as her being ‘over sensitive and dramatic.’ What do you think Ann’s response will be?
She will close up. Withdraw. Intimacy cannot happen when there is lack of openness and trust. If she can’t trust Tom to listen and care about her feelings, how can she open up sexually with him.
The vicious cycle continues.A safe environment is critical for healing and trust to build. Click To Tweet
4. Don’t confuse honest with blasting your spouse with a record of their wrongs.
Some couples confuse honest dialog with ‘blasting their spouse with every little grievance they have.’
Once they blast their spouse with criticism and disapproval they remark, ‘I’m just trying to be honest!’
This will surely lead to more conflict. And will certainly not build trust.
Honesty is about listening as much as talking. It’s about creating an atmosphere where trust can develop.
To create this atmosphere, we need to have healthy boundaries.
9 Healthy Boundaries To Guard Trust in a Marriage
A study was done among children on a playground. The researchers wanted to determine how children responded to boundaries.
They watched children play on a playground with a fence, and one without a fence.
They determined that when children were inside a fence, they played ‘better’ than when they were in the open. They concluded that the fence provided a sense of security for them. Thus, they were more relaxed and could focus on ‘play’ rather than protection.
There are benefits for emotional fences in marriage. Here are nine ways to build a fence around your marriage.
1. Avoid behavior that makes your spouse feel insecure.
If your spouse tells you something makes them feel insecure. Listen. And take action.
Several benefits come from this. One, your spouse will see your action as a positive step to guard your relationship. This builds trust.
Second, as trust grows so does intimacy. With intimacy comes marriage health and happiness.As trust grows so does intimacy. With intimacy comes marriage health and happiness. Click To Tweet
2. Keep open lines of communication with your spouse.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of honesty in relating to your spouse. Work to keep open lines of communication.
One program we recommend is ‘Conversation Chemistry.’ This will teach your how to communicate and relate effectively with your spouse.
3. Maintain a healthy sex life.
Intimacy is vital for a healthy marriage. It actually works in a cycle. The more intimate you are, the more trust is built. The more trust is built, the more intimate you become.
For more information on building sexual intimacy in your marriage, see our article, ‘The Importance of Kissing in a Marriage.’
4. Protect Your Social Media Presence and Be Accountable.
The ability to connect with anyone and everyone has its benefits and troubles.
More than one marriage has been ruined by unhealthy connections with the opposite sex.
Be transparent with emails and social media. Share passwords. Keep the computer in an open space. And use programs to keep your online presence accountable.
5. Share your daily lives with each other.
Studies show that couples who talk and recap their day with each other are healthier and happier than couples who don’t.
It’s also important to make sure you include your spouse in your daily activities. Do life together.
6. No secrets.
Secrets will erode confidence and trust. Cultivate a relationship that is open and transparent.
Psychologist often talk about how predictability is important in a relationship. Over time we learn to trust our partner because their behavior, actions and attitude are predictable.
When we are no longer able to predict behavior, we feel a loss of control over life. This leads to the myriad of symptoms mentioned above.
Secrets violate the predictability of the relationship leading to mistrust.
It’s really an issue of security. When we feel safe, we are happy. Without safety, there is no long term sense of protection and security. It’s impossible to be truly happy in a relationship without trust.Secrets violate the predictability of the relationship leading to mistrust. Click To Tweet
7. Build an emotional safe place for your spouse.
Emotional safety produces security and trust.
How do you build a safe zone?
- Avoid Criticism
- Listen and Hear With Your Heart
- Focus of Love
- Don’t Judge
Trust demands a safe place. Without it, intimacy cannot grow.
8. Forgive and move on. Don’t hold them hostage.
Don’t let the little things become big things. Don’t keep a list of wrongs your spouse does. Refuse to tally up things that irritate you.
If there has been a violation, you have to decide to forgive and move on. There is no value in holding your spouse hostage.
Yes, it may take time. This can’t be rushed. But at some point you must either release them (by forgiving them), or get out. Neither party will live healthy and happy without letting go of past offenses.
9. Make it your responsibility to build your spouse’s self esteem.
In a sense, we are responsible for our own happiness. My wife has some reasonable expectations from me.
- She can expect me to treat her with respect.
- To be faithful to her
- To provide and share life with her
But there are some things that are unreasonable expectations.
For example, I cannot MAKE her happy. That’s her choice.
I can, however, do things that I know please her. Because I love her, I willingly do those things.
While it is ultimately her responsibility to be happy and healthy, I want to help her create that world. So I do what I can to build her up. Encourage her. And support her.
I view it as one of my highest callings to love her well Comso she can become everything she wants to be. I find pleasure in building her self-esteem.
When we do this for our spouse, we are honoring our covenant and marriage vows.
Did you realize that most affairs do not happen because of lust. Sure, it plays a role. But most men say they go involved with someone else because of the way they made them feel.
If we provide those things for our spouses, we eliminate the need for them to look elsewhere.
That may sound over simplified, but there holds truth that we should consider.
Plus, I find that love desires to build each other up. It’s the nature of love.
Take the Communication Quiz and Discover Exactly What You Need To Do To Improve Your Relationship
Make it a Priority to Restore Trust
Restoring trust in your relationship has to be top priority. You really can’t have a great marriage without trust. Therefore, it should be the major focus of your marriage when trust has been violated and broken.
We’ve given you practical steps to rebuild a broken marriage, but it comes down to desire and priority. When you make restoring trust the focus of your actions, rebuilding is possible. But it will not work if you approach it without it being top priority.
Here’s what we’ve learned…
Trust is the foundation of a successful marriage. Love and affection cannot make up for a lack of trust.
It takes work to rebuild a marriage when trust is broken. Put in the time to make it work. It’s worth it.
Get a plan. If you need help with this, visit our Resource page to check out our Marriage Toolkit.
Invest in your spouse.
“In the end, you have to choose whether or not to trust someone.” – Sophie Kinsella
I would love to hear from you. What boundaries do you have in place to protect your marriage?
What have you done to rebuild trust after a hard blow?
Leave a comment below.
Programs Mentioned in this Article
We are an affiliate of several programs including Amazon. IF you purchase programs through our site we receive a small commission. Read more about our affiliate disclosure here.
Save the Marriage by Dr. Lee Baucom
The Science of Trust by John Gottman