Trust is an interesting thing. It can't be bought, bargained for, traded, or even counterfeited. Rather, it must be given. It must be earned. It must be built — from the ground up. There are no shortcuts to developing real trust in marriage.
While it takes many months and even years to build trust in a relationship, it can be destroyed in an instant. One foolish, selfish, or disloyal act is all it takes to severely damage or destroy the trust you have carefully established over time.
What should you do if trust has been compromised in your marriage? Is all lost? Of course not! Do not lose hope. While it may take significant time and effort, trust can be rebuilt and your marriage can get back on track.
These 5 suggestions may be very helpful in helping you rebuild trust in your marriage.
1. Begin with openness and honesty
Perhaps the first way to begin rebuilding trust in your marriage is to be completely open and honest with your spouse. Trust and secrets simply cannot co-exist together.
Rather than hiding things from your spouse, choose to be open and honest with him or her. Don't hold back. Share with them what you're thinking, how you're feeling, and the actions you feel need to be taken. Be willing to answer questions and talk, rather than closing off and figuratively hiding. Being open and honest can clear the dust and lift the significant weight of secrecy off your marriage.
2. Feel and express real remorse
The next way to begin rebuilding trust in your marriage is to truly feel and express remorse for ever failing to live up to the trust your spouse has placed in you. Real, heartfelt remorse has a way of softening hearts and facilitating the healing both you and your spouse desperately need.
Remember that sincere remorse leads to sincere change and an increased commitment to one another. Your spouse will feel your increased commitment when it is truly seen in your actions.
3. Be transparent
Transparency is a vital step to take in rebuilding trust in your marriage. Being completely transparent with each other is a great way to showcase your commitment and to reassure your spouse of your trustworthiness.
Being transparent could (and probably should) include sharing your user login and password with your spouse for email, social media accounts, bank information, etc. While this may initially feel like a violation of privacy, just remember that you should have nothing to hide — you've already committed to being completely open and honest with each other. This step simply serves as evidence of that commitment. By being transparent, you'll gain your spouse's confidence and take a big step forward in rebuilding trust.
4. Keep the "small" commitments
If you've ever hiked up a mountain, you know that a long journey is successfully completed by taking a lot of small steps in the right direction. Building trust is no different. It isn't done over night and often takes many small steps in the right direction.
As your spouse sees you keeping "small" commitments, they'll believe more and more in your ability to keep "big" commitments. For example, if you tell your spouse you'll be home from work by 6pm to take your son to soccer so he or she can make it to their evening spin class, make every effort possible to meet that commitment. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but your spouse will gain confidence as they see you follow through on these "small" commitments, and they will begin to trust you more and more.
The compounding effect of trust is remarkable! As trust grows and a spouse witnesses continual evidence of trustworthiness, the rate of trust growth increases exponentially. On the other hand, if trust is broken time and time again — even in little ways — it becomes increasingly more difficult to regain and rebuild lost trust. So, make sure to maintain and protect the confidence your spouse has placed in you by not violating the trust they've given you.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.