About every single couple states this 1 word when asked, “What do you think is the foundation for a good marriage?” Trust is at the top of most of their lists. Along with components of commitment, love, relationship with God – among other important pieces to a fulfilling life and marriage.
So how do you build trust in a marriage? How do you build trust when it has been broken? Here are 6 steps to building trust in your marriage:
- Begin with a Foundation
Every marriage needs to be built on the strongest foundation possible. When I think of a strong foundation, I think of another relationship in my life. That is the relationship I have and my wife has with Jesus. You may be thinking, “But I don’t have a relationship with Jesus. What then?”
I would encourage you to learn about the love that God has for all people. It is this love – unconditional love -that makes up the foundation for a strong marriage. It is a love that says “I will never give up on you, I will pursue you, I will respect you, I will cherish you, I will support you, I will care for you, I will believe in you, I will always choose you every day. Not only is this action, but this is also an attitude and a centering of our heart to what is truly needed in a life-long covenant between two people.
- Make Trust a Priority
When you are building trust, the core question being asked by each individual is:
“Will you be there for me?”
Can I count on you when I need you the most? When I am sick, will you take care of me? When I lose a parent, will you console me? Especially when trust has been broken, the rebuilding of trust needs to be priority number 1. John Gottman says, “If there is ever a time to put all of your eggs in one basket, this is the time.”
- Maximize the Other’s Wellbeing
In addition to making trust a priority, all of our actions need to consider and maximize our spouse’s overall wellbeing. Most times when people make decisions, they simply just make those decisions and don’t think twice about how it may impact the marriage or family as a whole. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but acting with intentionality rather than mindlessness deliberately shows you are choosing to honor and consider those around you.
- Remember “Small Things Often”
As with most things, trust doesn’t develop overnight. Think about it as you think about Gary Chapman’s “love tank,” Dave Ramsey’s ” ‘trust’ snowball, or John Gottman’s “emotional bank account” – small things or small actions, done often, will lead to big changes over time. When we make trust a priority, choose our spouse to maximize their overall wellbeing, those small wins add up and equal very positive improvements in our relationships.
- Avoid Negative Comparisons
When studying what leads to betrayal in the first place, John Gottman along with Shirley Glass determined that there are 24 steps that lead to stepping away from relationships. Negative comparisons and idealizing others’ attributes or characteristics is the second step that can lead to betrayal. When we think negatively of our spouse, our hearts become “hardened” which can diminish defenses and can loosen boundaries that are expected and established early in the relationship.
- Cherish Partner’s Positive Qualities – Minimize Focus on Negative Faults
Right now as you are reading this, think about 3 things that you can appreciate about your spouse (significant other, etc.). Take your time – think about those things even if it’s just a small example…
Chances are, you were able to think about 3 things rather easily (if not, see below). When things haven’t been going well in our marriage, it is very common for us to dwell on and think about all of the negative things that are happening in our marriage and we don’t rest in the positive things that are happening. Now, that isn’t to minimize things that legitimately need to be addressed in our marriage that are causing harm, but when you think about it, there really are good things that are happening and positive qualities that can be appreciated (and expressed outwardly).
Putting it All Together
Whether you just started dating or have been married for 50 years, trust will always be one of the core components that make your relationship successful and fulfilling. If you found it difficult to think of 3 things you appreciate or if any of the above items are not happening – the relationship simply may not be the relationship to be in or, if married, seek help from unbiased support people, pastor, mentor or therapist.
You may be thinking, “If trust has been broken, can it be fully restored?” The answer, put simply… “Yes.”
It will require a lot of work and the components above are absolutely a requirement, but it is possible to restore 100% trust.” If you are needing help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-474-6448 x112.