Trust is a tricky thing. It is the foundation of every healthy relationship. It is the security that makes intimacy possible. It can be simultaneously strong and yet very fragile. It takes great effort and time to build, but it can be broken quickly.
Almost every relationship has encountered difficulties over broken trust. I would even argue that most difficulties in relationships stem directly from a breach of trust. Strong relationships (especially marriages) require strong trust, so here are a few ways to to build it (or rebuild it).
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1. Don’t keep secrets.
In marriage, secrets are as dangerous as lies. Your spouse should have a “master key” to every part of your life. Never have a conversation you wouldn’t want them to hear, view a website you wouldn’t want them to see or go someplace you wouldn’t want them to know about. Complete transparency is vital to building complete trust.
2. Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.
Forgiveness and trust are two different things. When you’ve been wronged, you should give forgiveness instantly (which is “Grace”), but you should give your trust slowly (which is “common sense!”). Forgiveness by it’s very nature cannot be earned; it can only be given. Trust by it’s very nature cannot be given; it can only be earned. Forgiveness has to come first and then grace can pave the way to restoration and renewed trust.
3. Don’t retaliate.
When we’ve been wronged, we usually have an urge to punish the person who wronged us. We want them to feel the pain that they have caused us, but this kind of thinking hurts everyone involved and damages trust even more. It’s been said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies!” When you’ve been wronged in a relationship, give clear and specific guidelines for how trust can be restored, but don’t punish the other person.
4. Be consistent.
When you are in a process of rebuilding trust, do your very best to be consistent in your words and your actions. Consistency brings security and security eventually brings trust.
5. Be willing to temporarily give up some freedoms.
When an arm is broken, it has to be put in a cast to restrict its motion so it can have time to heal. When you’ve broken trust, you must be willing to temporarily give up certain freedoms and accept certain restrictions to allow time for healing. This is usually the most uncomfortable part of the process, but it’s vital.
6. Keep the Love alive.
The Bible says that, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” I love that picture of love being strong enough to cover our imperfections and fill in the cracks of our broken hearts. Keep loving each other and allow God to use the power of love and grace to bring wholeness and healing to your relationship.
For more tips and tools to strengthen your marriage, watch our free video on How to build intimacy and trust in marriage and check out our new book: “Marriage Minute: Quick and Simple ways to build a Divorce-Proof Relationship” or you can also download it straight to your iPhone or iPad.