How to Rebuild Trust in Marriage

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In this episode, we’re talking about how to rebuild trust that has been broken in a marriage. This has been a highly requested topic and we think it’s a really important one! This affects the majority of marriages, in one way or another.

We are sinful people and we will break our spouse’s trust on some scale. Whether it’s their trust in us to follow through on our word to take out the trash, or their trust in our fidelity…it’s going to happen.

We’re not going to be talking about the rebuilding of trust after forgetting to take out the trash. Although the same principles could apply, I guess! It just may be a lot of work for a simple thing. Instead, we’re talking about the kind of actions that cause serious walls to be built and bitterness to form in your relationship.

Whether it be physical or emotional infidelity, a hidden addiction that has come to light, or any other major issue that has caused trust to be broken, we will give the steps you can take to rebuild it within your relationship. 

1A. For the one who has broken trust: Start with full honesty, confession, and repentance with the Lord.

This goes hand-in-hand with repenting to the Lord and relying on Him for redemption, and building back the trust in your marriage.

This means full confession – get everything in the open and be genuinely repentant

Think of the story of David after everything he did with Bathsheba and to her husband, Uriah.  The prophet Nathan confronted him. So, David went to the Lord, was legitimately sorry for his sins, and accepted the consequences of his actions. 

Don’t try to make things “seem better” than they are. Don’t talk down your sin. Take full ownership and don’t shift the blame for your actions.

1B. For the one who has had trust broken: Talk about it, but do not weaponize the betrayal.

Take time to grieve and pray.

With that being said, do not weaponize your spouse’s betrayal. Do not bring it up anytime there is an argument. Don’t threaten divorce anytime they don’t do what you want and hold their betrayal over their head.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, but it does mean not weaponizing it after they have genuinely repented. 

2A. For the one who has broken trust: Give your spouse full access to your life.

Your spouse should know your phone password and can look at it anytime. They can track your location and ask you what you are doing at any time. And you should answer them cheerfully, not begrudgingly. If it was a financial betrayal, then the other spouse needs to take full ownership of your finances. 

You have demonstrated that you are not trustworthy. So, saying sorry and pretending like it didn’t happen doesn’t work. You have to earn back trust. 

2B. For the one who has had trust broken: Be honest about ways your partner can rebuild trust in the relationship.

Be honest about your feelings and your hurt. Explain practical ways they can help to rebuild trust and what you need to see from them. 

You must have those nitty-gritty, deep conversations. 

3. Replace poor habits with good ones.

We have talked before about John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – 4 warning signs that a relationship is in trouble.

  1. Criticism: attacking your spouse’s character
    • “Get off your lazy butt and do something!”
    • “I was hurt when I had to do the dishes by myself while you were scrolling on your phone. Would you mind helping me? “
  2. Contempt: viewing yourself as morally superior to your spouse
    • “You’re running late again?!? I learned how to tell time in second grade. I can’t believe I’m married to someone who has the intelligence of a 7-year-old.”
  3. Defensiveness: not taking accountability for your actions
    • “But what about that time you did this…”
    • “I’m not as bad as…”
    • “Can’t you just be grateful?”
  4. Stonewalling: completely ignoring your spouse 

Recognize these areas, and if you have them, fix them! 

4. Talk about sex. 

This is especially important when it comes to sexual infidelity!

The person cheated on probably can’t get the image out of their head. So, the person who did the cheating needs to ask: what do you like, what do you not like, etc…

Don’t get upset about the lack of sex. Don’t rush it. Start with conversations and take it slow. 

5. Seek the counsel, wisdom, and help of other people.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to see a marriage counselor. Do it together!

We are also passionate about accountability groups. Do one! Be part of one! 

These can also prevent infidelity from happening in the first place!  

Healing takes time, don’t rush it. Follow these steps, give it time, and pursue the Lord and each other. 

One Degree Shift

Even if there hasn’t been an earth-shattering betrayal in your relationship, put one of these five points into practice in your marriage. 

For instance, we already allow each other full access to phones, locations, etc…

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