Broken Trust: 8 Ways to rebuild trust back into your marriage.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

Trust is a necessary element and is the foundation of every healthy relationship. In fact, trust is the security that makes intimacy possible in marriage. Like an organism, it must be nurtured and not ignored. My dad taught me years ago.  

“Trust is like fine china; it’s beautiful to have but it can be broken quickly.  And to fix it, it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to put it back together.”

That’s stuck with me for years.  I don’t know any other accurate way to describe the value and fragility of trust.

I’ve never met a relationship that hasn’t encountered difficulties with trust.  I would even argue that most difficulties in relationships stem directly from a breach of trust.  I’m not saying everyone has had devastating circumstances, but we all have had moments where trust, on some level, has been compromised.

Marriage requires strong trust.  So I’m giving you a list that may give you a few ways to build it (or rebuild it).

1 – Trust does not equal forgiveness. Forgiveness and trust are two different things. When you’ve been wronged, you should give forgiveness instantly (which is “Grace”), but you should build your trust slowly. Forgiveness by it’s very nature cannot be earned; it can only be given. Therefore, we forgive the way God forgives us: instantly. Trust by it’s very nature cannot be given; it can only be earned…built. For that, it takes time and effort (reference the opening illustration about the cup). Forgiveness has to come first and then grace can pave the way to restoration and renewed trust.

2 – Stop dancing around the subject.  Be open and honest. Take responsibility.  “The devil made me do it doesn’t work.” Healthy steps forward begins with complete and utter transparency. The offender must own his or her sin without any “yeah-buts.” It’s not okay to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you and let you down, but . . . ” It’s never okay to rationalize or justify sin. Ever. The only way to rebuild trust is to take full responsibility for our actions. Period. It’s also critical for the offended person to do some self-assessment as well. Broken trust is rarely 100% the other person’s fault.

3 – Humility is king.  We love to cover up the embarrassment of our faults.  Don’t be defensive, righteous, or casual about the problem. It’s nothing more than a smoke screen trying to distract away from what needs to be dealt with. There must be a sincere heart as well as honest effort to work out the issues.  If you are the one who is at fault, the more defensive/righteous/casual you are, the less you are able to hear what your spouse has to say, and the worse their hurt will get.

4 – Don’t obsess.  Whether you were wronged or you were the perpetrator, take steps forward by letting go of the past. When you obsess over each insult, each act, each thing done wrong – you are not giving yourself time to heal from it. You need to heal in order to begin to trust again.  If you’re hurt by your spouse’s actions, work on releasing and moving forward.  Living in the past continues to open up the wound.  If you’re the one who did the hurting, stop fixating on your fault.  If God has forgiven you and your spouse has forgiven you, then you need to forgive YOU.

5 – Accountability; Be an open book. That means open your cell phone, calendar, email, and social media to your spouse. (Free Marriage Tip: Anytime you are feeling the need to hide something from your spouse should be a red flag…unless it’s a surprise birthday gift.) Accountability is usually the hardest part. Why? People feel entitled to privacy. The problem is that smacks against the “oneness” that marriage is called to operate in.  Be willing to temporarily give up some freedoms.  At this point, you will need to take a moment and ask yourself what is really important: your relationship or your privacy? It really comes down to that.

6 – Patience and hard work.  Time doesn’t heal everything but it applies to every part of the healing process.  Just as you can’t make a wound on your arm heal, you can’t make the heart heal overnight.  A gift doesn’t make the hurt go away. Sex doesn’t make the problem disappear.  You need a patience heart, listening ears, and intentional and consistent actions that will aid in the rebuilding of trust.   Set some goals.  Work on them together.  Review the results and reward the efforts (not the results).  

7 – Practice the three As daily: Affection, Attention and Appreciation. Communicate with words and actions to your partner how much you love and appreciate them in big and small ways every day.  Speak in their love languages and help them understand you are desiring health and healing.  If you are the offended, your spouse feels like a failure and you do NOT want to keep them there.  If you are the offender, make sure you stay engaged with your spouse.  Let them know you are a trust-builder more than a trust-breaker.

8 – Get some help.  Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling with a trusted advisor whether it’s a marriage counselor or a pastor.  Even though it’s easy to get help from a friend, you need to find someone who is non-partial and as some wisdom to speak some Godly wisdom into your marriage.  Make sure the help is for the both of you.  (Another marriage tip:  avoid involving other family members because it can exacerbate the situation.)

I return to our opening scripture, 

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds Psalm 147:3

I believe everything we do in life should model who God is. He is the healer of brokenness.  He doesn’t leave us in a fractured state.  And just as God moves toward us in that manner, we should model that in every area of our life…ESPECIALLY our marriage.

Be a rebuilder of trust. Bind up the brokenness in your marriage.

Be known as a healer…just like our savior is.  

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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