10 Proven Ways to Build a More Trusting Marriage
- Joanna Teigen Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2018 9 Nov
Every relationship demands a certain level of trust to function well. I rely on my local bank teller to deposit funds correctly to my account. I put faith in my doctor to prescribe the most helpful medication for my sickness. I depend on the trash collectors to pick up my garbage at the curb every Tuesday. In these ordinary interactions, it takes trust to put my finances and even my health in another person’s hands.
Yet in marriage to Rob, trust is infinitely more important. Trust stands as the foundation to build a lifetime of love between us. Confidence in my husband’s word and character allow me to put my heart in his care. Assurance of my honesty and loyalty allows him to draw close without holding back. We become each other’s safe place and closest friend. If trust is broken between us, our love and life together will come crashing down.
When we strengthen our hope and confidence in one another, our love will grow and thrive. Here are ten proven ways to build a more trusting marriage.
1. Share your days.
A lack of information creates a void where doubts and worries can thrive. Take time to share the details of your days with one another. Talk about your difficult co-worker. The great deal you found at the store. Your daughter’s grade on her spelling test. That funny noise you’re hearing under the hood. Keeping up with the little things gives assurance you’re not missing the ‘biggies’ either. Open communication allows you to enjoy the closeness of a shared life.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/jacoblund
2. Full disclosure.
Just as you share your daily comings and goings, make your entire life an open book. Give one another unlimited access to your social media accounts, email folders, receipts, and bank information. Share phone passwords so your apps and text messages are open to view any time. Eliminate any dark corners where sin or secrets can hide. “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:20-21).
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
Life gets busy and our to-do lists feel overwhelming. It’s tempting to take a “divide and conquer” approach to get it all done. Over time, however, you can find yourselves doing life side-by-side instead of together. Trust suffers when you’re out of step, each trying to solve problems and make decisions on your own.
Invite each other into your questions and challenges each day. Tackle your kids’ behavior and discipline as a united front. Share your cravings and plan the week’s menu together. Brainstorm about future vacations, social plans, and home improvements. Merge your calendars to carve out time to date and have a little fun. Recapture the sense that you’re in this thing together.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
4. Set boundaries.
Give yourselves the blessing of rules and limits for your relationship. Even with the best of intentions, weak boundaries can set you up for betrayal. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
For us, we opted out of solo lunches, carpooling, or trips with the opposite sex from day one of our marriage. When Rob’s career demanded a great deal of travel, my mind was at ease knowing he would never be put in a compromising position. Firm limits eliminate many temptations that will damage the trust in your marriage.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/MangoStar_Studio
5. Admit and apologize.
It takes courage to come clean with your sins and mistakes, but it holds great healing power for your marriage. A sincere apology says you own your behavior and choices. You refuse to make excuses for the ways you’ve let each other down. It shows a commitment to learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Saying “I’m sorry” also says, “I see your pain. I care how you feel. I want to love you better from now on.” This kind of humility builds trust and opens the door to forgiveness and reconciliation. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
6. Watch your words.
Your marriage gives you a front row seat to your partner’s habits and failures. No matter how funny or frustrating, your friends and family don’t need to know what happens behind your closed doors. Gossip, put-downs, or complaints about one another in public create painful shame and embarrassment that lasts. Insults and sarcasm are a sign you’re no longer on the same team.
On the other hand, our words are powerful tools to affirm and bless the one we love. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). Sweet words of praise and thanks show your relationship is holding strong.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/AntonioGuillem
7. Follow through.
“Dependable” and “reliable” don’t sound very sexy, but they become the most attractive qualities in your spouse as you walk through the hard realities of life. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). A partner who shows up when needed, follows through on his or her word, and gets the job done can hold your trust every day. When a crisis hits and you can’t make it on your own, you have peace knowing your spouse is going to be there no matter what.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/KristinaJovanovic
8. Friends or foes?
Once we marry, we need an extra dose of wisdom in choosing our friends. After all, we are who we’re with. Proverbs 16:20 is a reminder to “walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Our close friends hold influence over our attitudes and outlook on marriage and our mate.
Do your friends gossip or put down their partners, tempting you to join in? Is their pride, selfishness, or bitterness contagious, feeding discontent in your heart? Do you feel pressure to deny your commitment to Christ and your spouse? To sustain the trust in your marriage, seek out friends who honor you and uphold the beauty of your vows.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock
9. Stand up and stand firm.
Life is a battle. Every person will suffer through some form of betrayal, harsh criticism, or injustice. When our spouse is under attack, we face the choice to go passive or stand up for the one we love.
Trust is built when you refuse to listen to others’ complaints or accusations against your partner. It gains strength when you hold your kids to a level of respect in the way they speak to their mom or dad. It flourishes every time you insist on fair treatment, safety, and a voice for the one you love. When you’re willing to fight for one another, you win each other’s heart.
Photo credit: Unsplash
10. Expect the best.
1 Corinthians 13 paints a beautiful picture of love that “always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Putting confidence in our spouse is an act of love in itself. When we let go of suspicion, doubt, and fear and choose to hope and trust in one another, love will flourish.
Each of us tends to live up to other’s expectations, whether good or bad. We long to know someone believes in us. We’re motivated when a loved one names a talent or strength we don’t yet see in ourselves. We feel hope for the future when our spouse holds hope we’ll overcome the challenges of today. When our husband or wife places trust in us, we’re inspired to become worthy of that trust.
In most relationships, trust can stand alone without love. My doctor doesn’t need my affection to do her job. The mail carrier will drop letters in my box every morning whether I adore him or not. But in marriage—and in our relationship with Jesus--love and trust are inseparable. As you take steps to build the trust between you, celebrate the love that grows and thrives before your eyes.
Joanna Teigen and her husband Rob have shared over 25 years of marriage and life with five kids, plus a beautiful daughter-in-law. They’re a neat-freak married to a mess, an explorer to a homebody, and an introvert to a ‘people person.’ But they agree their vows are for always, children are a gift, and prayer is powerful.
Joanna is the co-author of A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son, 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates, and a variety of other resources for couples and parents. She looks forward to meeting you at GrowingHomeTogether.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/DMEPhotography