Healthy relationships can be challenging. Unhealthy ones are often very troubling. Those without trust are in a category of their own. Since trust is the necessary fabric for any relationship, should you stay in a marriage that lacks trust?
A divorce is never an easy option for a troubled marriage. It should be the last resort. The only ‘quick calls’ for divorce are in cases of abuse. For those cases, our recommendation is to seek safety, get professional help to heal, and get out of the relationship.
Most situations are not as drastic, so it calls for more discretion and thought.
Trust issues often remind me of one of Aesop’s fables. Remember those wise tales?
Aesop was a Greek storyteller who lived about 600 years before Christ. One of his most recited stories is about the boy who cried wolf.
In case you never heard it, here is a short video that tells the story.
The moral of the story is clear. When we aren’t honest, people do not trust us. Trust is important in building friendships, conducting business, and living a stress-free life.
In This Article
- Why Trust Is Vital For A Healthy Marriage
- Levels of Trust and Distrust
- What Do You Do If You Don’t Trust Each Other In A Marriage?
- Final Thoughts on Staying in a marriage that Lacks Trust
Why Trust Is Vital For A Healthy Marriage
When trust is violated in a marriage, serious problems occur. Maintaining openness and trust should be a primary goal for every relationship.
Think about it. Trust is the very fabric of how we relate to one another. If you can’t trust what someone says, you can’t make a decision or answer their questions.
This doesn’t just apply to marriage. Every relationship must have some basis of trust so you can communicate accurately and successfully.
It also applies to business. Imagine trying to do business with someone when you can’t believe what they say. Would you continue to shop at a store that said one thing, but did another? What if they told you the price was X$100 but later you found your credit card was charged $1000. When you confronted them, they simply made excuses.
I would not continue doing business with them. Most wouldn’t.
Our belief in the integrity of others is what keeps us in a relationship with them. This goes double for marriage. The minute integrity is lost, problems happen. Because trust is vital for a healthy relationship.
Before we answer the question, ‘Should you remain in a marriage if you don’t trust your spouse?’ we need to understand the levels of trust – or the lack of it.Our belief in the integrity of others is what keeps us in a relationship with them. This goes double for marriage. The minute integrity is lost, problems happen. Because trust is vital for a healthy relationship. Click To Tweet
Levels of Trust and Distrust
There are levels of trust and distrust. These should be considered when answering the question if you should stay in a marriage that lacks trust?
At the risk of sounding vague and non-committal, it depends on your specific situation and the level of distrust.
I don’t advocate any form of deception. But let’s be honest, not all ‘untruth’ is the same. Before you clobber me with your righteous hammer, hear me out. Again, I’m not advocating lying. Not by a long shot. I simply want to point out something that should be obvious. This will help us know how to deal with issues when they arise.
There is a difference between telling your wife you like her new hairstyle even though it’s not your favorite, and telling her you were playing golf with some buddies when you were actually with another woman. I hope you can see the difference.
Lying is not justifiable. But different situations call for different levels of trust (or mistrust). Understanding these helps clarify our reactions.
Lack of Trust Because of Infidelity
For example, if your distrust is based on infidelity, you have to decide if it is possible to rebuild trust. There are a lot of factors to consider in rebuilding trust.
Factor #1: What is the general character and integrity of your spouse?
Was this a one-time event? Or was it on-going?
How long did the affair last?
Outside of this event, have you ever questioned your spouses’ integrity?
Is this ‘way out of character’ for them? Or have you wondered if they were faithful in the past?
These questions dig deep into your soul and help you come to terms with what you truly believe about your spouse.
If you find that you constantly wonder about your spouses’ integrity and honesty, chances are your trust is limited. You cannot trust what you believe is a lie.If you find that you constantly wonder about your spouses' integrity and honesty, chances are your trust is limited. You cannot trust what you believe is a lie. Click To Tweet
Factor #2: Can you emotionally and mentally move past their unfaithfulness?
This is important and shouldn’t be written off too quickly.
I know men who simply were not able to get the image of their wife with another man out of their head. They tried to reconcile, forgive and move forward with rebuilding the relationship, but eventually realized the bridge (for them) couldn’t be crossed. They ended their marriage.
This wasn’t an easy decision because they wanted their marriage to work. They had a difficult time forgetting, even though they forgave.
Could they have moved past it in time? Good question. And one that should be considered. For some, time heals. For others, it doesn’t. It has a lot to do with your mindset and emotional security.
The point is, it is never an easy call. But if you can work through issues, it is worth trying.For some, time heals. For others, it doesn't. It has a lot to do with your mindset and emotional security. Click To Tweet
The pain of divorce is not easily forgotten. Even in cases where both parties want to end the relationship. There is always ’emotional residue’ that has to be dealt with.
Factor #3: Does your spouse wander?
This is related to the first point in that it speaks to his character. But it’s a question you need to consider separately. Does he/she have a wandering eye?
This can manifest in a number of ways.
1. Do they notice other women/men or make comments about others in a flattering (sexual) way? This could be a sign their heart is ‘not with you’ the way it should be.
It’s one thing to recognize is attractive. It’s another to entertain that thought and allow it to grow into something unhealthy. How quickly does your spouse deal with their thought life? Do they let it run wild, or do they tend to stare at the opposite sex?
2. Do they watch pornography? This is a big indicator that they are not controlling their thought life. It also reveals they are opting out of ‘real relationship’ in preference to fantasy.
Pornography has devasting effects on marriage. If you or your spouse are dealing with a pornography problem, we encourage you to get help.
This video by Covenant Eyes is a great place to start if pornography is damaging your marriage (or controlling your life).
Broken Trust Because of Lying
Broken trust because of infidelity can end a relationship. But what about lying. How should you deal with a spouse that has lied to you?
If you’ve ever been lied to by someone you trust, you know how devastating it is. It severs trust because all trust is built on truth. When lying replaces truth, it can only result in broken trust.
If trust has been broken, your first priority is to rebuild it. Nothing works until trust is established. To the degree to have broken trust, you will have to work to reestablish it. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.
Remember this equation: Truth is Trust. When you are truthful you can be trusted.If trust has been broken, your first priority is to rebuild it. Nothing works until trust is established. To the degree to have broken trust, you will have to work to reestablish it. It isn't easy, but it can be done. Click To Tweet
If you do not trust your spouse, it’s time to do some serious evaluation. Why has trust been broken? Was there an event that triggered your lack of trust? Have you ever trusted your spouse, or have you always been suspicious?
These are tough questions that you need to grapple with. Don’t hide behind your fear. Face the facts by answering these relationship questions. Only then can you move forward.
Broken trust because of neglect
There are many negative consequences of neglect in a relationship, but the most impacting on your marriage is the loss of trust. Neglect is one of the seven deadly causes of insecurity and loss of emotional safety in a marriage.
Being neglected in marriage is not a pleasant experience. It’s difficult to be around someone that you love and who loves you but who just can’t express it. When your spouse is unresponsive or emotionally distant, you may feel wounded, demeaned, and furious.
It’s easy to see how this damages the foundation of trust.
Types of Rejection in Marriage
Rejection is a very painful experience for anyone, especially when it comes from someone we love. It’s important to realize that the negative consequences of neglect in marriage are not just about you but about your husband as well.
1. Sexual Rejection
Sexual rejection is a powerful form of emotional rejection. It has been proven that rejection results in anxiety and depression. Your husband, who once made you feel loved and appreciated, now makes you feel unimportant, unattractive, undesirable, and unloved.
In severe cases of neglect in marriage, your husband may have lost interest entirely in sex because he doesn’t find you attractive anymore.
2. Emotional Rejection
Emotional rejection is the continual disapproval and judgment of your spouse. Even if they are not saying anything critical, they may be emotionally distant and unresponsive. Emotional rejection can also include neglecting your personal needs in marriage and not allowing you to be yourself.Emotional rejection is the continual disapproval and judgment of your spouse. Even if they are not saying anything critical, they may be emotionally distant and unresponsive. Click To Tweet
This may result in feeling unloved, uninteresting, invisible or inadequate in comparison to others.
3. Physical Rejection
Physical rejection is when your husband makes you feel unimportant or unwanted by being distant or unresponsive when you’re physically close to him, such as when you hug him or try to kiss him. It can also be seen as a lack of interest in having sex with you.
Physical rejection may also include acts such as leaving the marital bed or bedroom without talking with you, being unavailable for sex, or not initiating sex.
What Do You Do If You Don’t Trust Each Other In A Marriage?
There is no easy fix for this. But here are a few steps to take to start the journey.
1. Find out ‘why’ there is a lack of trust.
This goes back to the levels of distrust mentioned earlier.
Ask yourself (and your spouse) why you don’t trust each other?
What event happened that triggered distrust?
Understanding why you feel the way you do, think the way you do, and respond the way you do is important in identifying what is really happening in your marriage.
Knowing ‘the why’ behind the event or emotions is necessary if you want to move forward. Spend time discovering why.
2. Get professional help.
I don’t always recommend marriage counseling. Most (many) therapists aren’t trained for long-term couples counseling. Their training is focused on individual therapy or crisis counseling. This is not bad, just lacking when it comes to working with couples who have ongoing, long-term marriage issues.
That said, it is important to get personal (not couples) counseling. You need to dig deep to find out what is going on inside that causes you to lack confidence in your spouse (assuming there is not an event that triggered your feelings).
Working with a professional can help you narrow in on why you feel and think the way you do. This is the starting place if you want to repair your relationship.Changing your marriage rarely begins with the other partner. It generally has to start with you. You can't change them, but you can change yourself. So this is where your attention needs to be focused. Click To Tweet
Changing your marriage rarely begins with the other partner. It generally has to start with you. You can’t change them, but you can change yourself. So this is where your attention needs to be focused.
3. Understand that trust takes time.
It takes time to learn how to trust again. It takes time to relearn what it means to really trust someone.
You will not immediately regain your confidence in your spouse. It will take some time and effort on both your parts to work through the distrust that you feel toward each other.
Don’t expect it to be a quick fix or an easy process. There is no magic formula for regaining your faith in one another, only hard work, dedication, and commitment on both of your parts.
4. Get back together with ‘why’ at the top of the list…
I find that when couples came to me for counseling (in pastoral ministry), the focus was on how their spouse had changed or hadn’t changed. They were trying to fix their spouse. But instead, they needed to focus on themselves and what they could do differently.
Often, there comes a time when you have tried everything you know to fix the situation. You have read books and articles. You have sought out counseling and professional advice. You have prayed and talked with other people about your situation.
You might say you have exhausted all of your options except one: Communicating (the right way) with your spouse about how the relationship can improve.
Communication is vital in any relationship. It is especially important in a marriage. It is the foundation for trust. So work on your communication skills.Communication is vital in any relationship. It is especially important in a marriage. It is the foundation for trust. So work on your communication skills. Click To Tweet
When you communicate, you are working to open up to each other and share your feelings, thoughts, and needs. You also learn how to listen to each other in a way that allows you both to understand what the other person is saying.
Final Thoughts on Staying in a marriage that Lacks Trust
A lack of trust in marriage is a serious issue. Many marriages struggle because there is no mutual respect or confidence in each other. I have seen marriage after marriage where one spouse was blindsided by the other, leaving them feeling angry, bitter, and unwanted.
Some people throw in the towel and divorce when they don’t trust their spouse anymore (or before they have even experienced what a Godly relationship really looks like). Others make it work because they are committed to their vows and do everything possible to make their relationship work.
Some stay out of sheer determination and perseverance. Others stay for the kids or for financial reasons (will it be better to stay together or apart?).
I believe that when couples are ready to work toward rebuilding trust in their relationship, they can get through this and come out the other end even stronger as a family.
But don’t ignore that warning sign flashing ‘Lack of Trust’. It usually means you are heading for trouble and need to do something now. Don’t wait until it is too late to fix it.
Your marriage cannot move forward with a giant wall in the way of your progress. You will not grow and develop as a couple when you have doubt in your mind about your partner (and vice versa). So take the steps necessary to find out what needs to change to get back on track with each other.
- Why Trust Is Vital For A Healthy Marriage
- Levels of Trust and Distrust
- What Do You Do If You Don’t Trust Each Other In A Marriage?
To get more help creating the marriage you desire and deserve, check out these resources:
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
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Healthy Marriage Courses
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.
Magic Relationship Words by Susie and Otto Collins