How to Rebuild Trust in a Marriage

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We hope you enjoy this excerpt from chapter 5 of our new Christian marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another. It not only shows couples how to rebuild trust in a marriage, but it also teaches a very valuable lesson that many husbands will be wise to learn.

 

Marriage is Like a Bridge to a Woman

 

For a woman, marriage is a bridge upon which she desires to safely walk. If that bridge has ever fallen through, she thinks twice before bearing all her weight on it again.

Most women simply want to know that their relationship with their husband is stable in the areas of unconditional love, commitment, emotional intimacy, and finances. Deep down, they desire to know that this bridge called marriage will hold up their sense of self worth as well as their expectations. When it shows signs of weakness, they tend to test its strength by doing what I call jumping up and down. This is usually done in one or more of the following ways:

 

1. A wife may withhold her love for her husband until she sees that he truly cares about her and not merely himself.

2. She may show hesitancy to act like everything is fine in the marriage.

3. Some act cold or indifferent about the marriage until they see viable change.

4. A wife might question her husband’s motives for making changes for the better.

5. A woman could display a lack of willingness to participate in physical intimacy.

6. She could be curt, and, at times, rude toward her husband.

 

These are all natural tendencies for a wife that feels insecure about her relationship with her husband. This, of course, does not condone this type of behavior, but it certainly explains why some wives are tempted to act in such a way. I often say that though this describes a woman’s behavior, it does not necessarily prescribe what should happen in a marriage.

 

Wooing Your Wife on that Bridge

 

Many a man has found himself standing on a broken down, dilapidated bridge called marriage, trying to encourage his wife to follow. While he stands wooing, begging, and, sometimes, pleading with his wife to trust him once more, she often reacts with reluctance. It is not so much her reluctance or lack thereof that will determine their success, as much as his reaction to her reluctance that will be key.

rebuilding_trust_

Some men, while standing on that bridge, feel either afraid or overwhelmed by the task. Others feel incapable. Either way, they will do well not to run and hide from their God-given responsibility to promote an atmosphere of safety in their marriage through sacrificial service and safe conversation.

 

Actions Speak Louder than Words

 

Other men err in that they focus on their wife’s reluctance rather than their responsibility to strengthen the bridge with the planks of unconditional love and biblical character. This is a crucial mistake that many, if not most, men make as they work at rebuilding trust in a marriage.

rebuilding trust in a marriage

Early in our marriage, I was guilty of such behavior. Rather than rebuilding the bridge of trust through unconditional love and kindness, I was more focused on the thought of my wife jumping up and down. This only served to delay any type of substantial success.

As a young married man, I would try to use my carefully constructed arguments and long lectures to reassure my wife, Melody, that the bridge would never fall through again. Looking back, I could have avoided countless one-sided discussions by doing more to repair the bridge than trying to sell her on the state of it.

When women show hesitancy to trust their husbands, men often become defensive. Although this is a natural reaction for most men, it will do little to boost a woman’s level of confidence. Men that are prone to such behavior will be wise to understand that there is a formula for rebuilding trust in a marriage. I call it change over time.

Men usually do not mind the numerator of my formula. Change is sometimes easy. It is the denominator of the equation that causes men to struggle.

When men repent or change their minds, they often change on the spot by making an about-face turn. Women, on the other hand, are vastly different in that they reverse directions by making a very slow 180 degree turn. This is often a tremendous source of frustration to men trying to woo their wives.

 

A Castle Around Her Heart

 

As we saw in the last chapter, when a woman is hurt, she will often build a castle around her heart and shut the door tight. As she hides out for safety, it is vital that the man patiently serve as he waits for her to open that door. Any signs of impatience will send out a resounding message that he is serving his fears rather than her needs. She will also be prone to perceive that he is simply using date nights, flowers, and charitable acts of kindness as a form of control to get her to conform to his wishes.

 

Order our New Marriage Book

 

This teaching is taken from chapter 5 of our new marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another. For ordering information, be sure to visit our resource page.

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Order our Christian Marriage Book
How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting with One Another

 

  • Learn our 2-step Process to Solving Marriage Issues
  • Use for your next Bible study
  • A Biblical Yet Refreshing Approach

 

 

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34 comments on “How to Rebuild Trust in a Marriage
  1. Anonymous says:

    When do you know it won’t ever change, and it’s time to move on? I’m only 30, but with 5 kids(all with my husband) but bc of his childhood and young adult life he totally acts a fool in every area. I only knew him a short while before we were married, and yes that’s my fault, and yes I probably should have left him after a year of the verbal, physical, mental and emotional abuse, but I believe in marriage. The physical abuse stopped shorty after I threatened to leave, but he has continued with the verbal, emotional and mental abuse to myself and some of the kids. I really feel like a bad mom for even allowing him to that, but I’m still hoping he’ll change!! But I think down deep inside, I know he won’t. So how do I know when enough is enough? And will God frown upon me?

    • Merindy says:

      I am not a marriage counselor, but I am a physician. If there is abuse happening, and especially if it extends to your children, your role as their mother, and as the guardian of your own health and well being is to leave that situation for a safe place. You may choose to file for a legal separation instead of divorce, if you should choose to do so, which should signal your husband that you still want the marriage to succeed, but you must send a clear signal that abuse towards yourself and your children will not ever be tolerated. He may be very angry at first, but you must stand firm. He must see that you respect yourself, and will not allow yourself to be treated with anything other than respect. If he chooses to honor that, than you can have a mutually respectful relationship. Should he choose not to honor that, than you have protected your children and yourself. Your children need to know that a husband treating his wife in this way is not okay.
      I know it is hard to think of leaving, and there are probably dozens of barriers that you can think of. You can do it. You are the Mama Bear, and your Cubs desperately need your protection.

  2. Jami Johnson says:

    What about this scenario: after dating for just over a year, man wants to get married. Woman is unsure. Man continues to pursue woman not accepting a no or an I’m not yet sure. Woman agrees to marriage. Upon spending more and more time together, woman is more and more convinced that she does not want to get married nor continue to even see the man. She’s tried to break things off before, never successfully. He refuses to accept a rejection and increases pursuit at any mention of backing off or slowing down. Woman is fragile having experienced three divorces, one involving repeat infidelity after 14 years married, one involving abuse (in every form) for two long and painful years. She also lost her seven year old son in a tragic car accident. How can she firmly explain that she does not want this relationship with kindness and compassion? Please help!

    • Merindy says:

      At this point I think you are beyond kindness and compassion. He is being exceedingly disrespectful in not accepting your “no” for an answer. He is not your boss. He is not in charge of you. Only God can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do and it sounds like He is sending you very clear signals that this is not the one. Do not let yourself be bullied into marriage. Change the locks, change your phone, get a restraining order, tell your boss you do not want to see him and ask that he not be allowed into your workplace. Change your address if you have to. This behavior will lead to an abusive relationship. I don’t mean to be bossy, but these are very concerning signs to me.
      At the bare minimum, he clearly doesn’t respect you and those are very poor grounds on which to build a marriage.

  3. SpoiledPink7 says:

    I was married for 5 years. I would have said the marriage was wonderful. We were teammates, we did all the “right” things together. He took to a porn addiction, which led to dating sites which turned him to extramarital activities with at least 5 other women. And, before you assume, it’s not as if anything was ever withheld from him at home. We did 3 half attempts at Christian marital counseling, always dropping out Bc he wasn’t interested in sticking with it. He was never repentant. I left him two years ago. Recently, he has apologized, repeatedly. Takes full blame for everything, he always did. He’s begging for me to return. He speaks of a grand future and says he wants to provide for me in ways he did not (could not) before. (Financially, etc) I don’t know what to think. It was very hard for me as a Christian woman to walk away from my marriage. But, he’d stonewall and show no interest in working on anything. Please advise.

  4. Annomous says:

    My husband had an “emotional relationship” with someone. I have acknowledged my part in it, and have been working on fixing that part. But I am still having a very hard time trusting him again. The “little things” just are not there anymore. And don’t know if I ever will. But I am willing to try anything after 20+ yrs and 2 beautiful, intelligent girls I am not willing to give so easy.

  5. Robin Nicole says:

    I have been broken hearted for over 3 years. I was unwise in marrying this man. Yes, I have free will but felt manipulated in marrying him and pressured to do everything his way.My second marriage and I am his 4th wife. After 6 months of dating, his mom became extremely ill and 6 months after that, we got married. He was in the process of looking for work. He is an ordained minister and hospice chaplain. The several jobs he applied for did not pan out, then we became her full time 24/7 care-givers. It really turned out to be me who did 90% of the work. I was made to quit my day job, commissioned based as my income was not consistent, then made to go back to work at night in a restaurant. I say I was made to do this as there was always a lot of yelling on his part. Then one day he was physical with me. I feel humiliated and so much more. I adored my MIL. she and I became best friends and I took care of her until she passed 6 months ago. I have been pleading with him to look for work and even our pastor has been encouraging him. he will only look for work in hospice chaplaincy as he ‘believes’ that is the only work God wants from him. I attempt to talk to him about looking for a full-time job should be his full-time job and then arguments ensue. he has a reason or excuse for everything. I am exhausted and weary. He has abused my physically, financially and emotionally psychologically abused me as well. He is a master manipulator. I suspect major behavior problems from medications he takes as well. Our previous church never protected me from the physical abuse. It happened only once, but it happened. Not sure why I stayed. I have been neglected from the very beginning. Even on our wedding night, he was not there. He ignored me and was not physical for many months after. I felt humiliated, not enough for him and now his mom passed, I do not feel anything for him. We are so distant. I don’t see a way of going forward with him. This is a man who studied the word of God for 9 years. How could he so quickly dismiss the physical abuse, the financial abuse and so on and be considered a leader in our current church? Ia m so lost and confused. Any advice?

    • Cris says:

      If he is abusing you, then no question, you need to at LEAST separate. You are not obligated to stay with him to your own detriment. Hopefully, separating will show him you are serious about not tolerating abuse and he will get help and you can heal. I sympathize, I have had my own road to walk, and you will hear all sorts of opinions, but in the end only you live by your decision, so seek God and find peace in knowing what He wats you to do (not the church). 🙂

    • Cris says:

      If he is abusing you, then no question, you need to at LEAST separate. You are not obligated to stay with him to your own detriment. Hopefully, separating will show him you are serious about not tolerating abuse and he will get help and you can heal. I sympathize, I have had my own road to walk, and you will hear all sorts of opinions, but in the end only you live by your decision, so seek God and find peace in knowing what He wants you to do (not the church). 🙂

  6. Bug says:

    If only my husband thought so deeply about why I’m responding like I am…

  7. Rachel says:

    At this point in time I have very little hope for my marriage. I’ve praying for 7 years for my husbands porn habit and anger issues to no avail. My kids are tired of his put downs and of seeing me cry. I’ve grown weary of the constant hurt and fighting. But due to circumstances I’m stuck and can’t leave. I feel lost.

    • Been there says:

      You need to set boundaries for you. Do some research on sex addiction and boundaries for the spouse. Your life will become so much easier

    • Anonymous says:

      Find somewhere you can leave to…. your children will be emotionally damaged if they are living in an abusive home. Verbal & emotional abuse to you, is abuse to them. Save them & yourself from it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to find a way to leave. It is affecting your children more than you know. Trust me I know first hand and saw what staying has done to my kids. It’s not worth it

  8. Melissa says:

    Thank you for sharing this. For those who are struggling to save their marriage sometimes we all just need to understand what is going on.

  9. Kimmi says:

    Crazy thing for me it’s the opposite. My husband with holds love from me. Is rude to me. Treats me as a threat or enemy.The list is him. And he just broke another promise I don’t know how many he has broken. And it has left me broken.
    We have decided on getting a divorce because I can’t trust him.

  10. Terry Lemky says:

    My heart weeps for those who are in broken marriages…..I am presently single and suffer from a broken marriage of 5 years….and have been healed totally of my past…..I offer this also to married couples….never enter into your relationship with and unhealthy past…….one must be positive his/her past has been dealt with and healed….I am a born again Christian also and suffered from abuse from an angry father…..I got married in 1990 Nov 11th…..five years later it was over on the rocks and again I was devastated…..I called out to almighty God who began to heal my past and today I am whole awaiting to meet the fine queen that God designed for myself…..I also am an Evangelist and presently witness to the atheists and Catholics on face book….

  11. Ali says:

    My husband has completely broken my trust. It has also been years since he has complimented me, or done any romantic gesture. I know the last time he said I was beautiful was shortly after we had our daughter, who is almost 3 now.
    When I tell him my desire for these things he gets angry, says he wants me to do those things instead. Nothing changes.
    He never tries to plead with me, comfort me,nothing.
    I have told him I want to build trust but without him doing his part and not caring, I dont know what to do. I no longer feel desired or like a woman. All of the sites I come accross seem more geared toward people whose husbands want them and want to try.

  12. Upset spouse says:

    question: What if a spouse goes to the other spouse about a behavior or problems and he/she will sit and listens and does not respond yet they do not try to solve or correct or stop doing that behavior or those problems??? To the spouse going to the other spouse it makes them believe they do not want things better as well it speaks volume in their actions. I also would like to add that this one spouse caught the other spouse in a lie which never was an issue in their marriage of over 20 years and now wonders if their were other lies. If there isn’t trust in a relationship as well mutual respect what is there?

    • Cammie F. says:

      Boundaries and Unsafe People are both good books to look into. Cloud amd Townsend…
      Having boundaries is healthy and produces an experience for the offending spouse that causes them to realize what they have done wrong or what they need to change.

  13. Chris says:

    What do you do if your husband wants you to be the aggressor in the marriage? My husband wants me to pursue him and be the one who shows him love through intimacy. I thought men were the ones who pursue their wives.

    • Laura Hutzel says:

      That’s counter intuitive to the male DNA. They are hunter gatherers. Is he wanting to role play or something? You can change things up a bit. Do it. Give him what he wants. Try to please each other, but I don’t think it’s the usual way that things should be done.

      • Kelly Akers says:

        I have the same problem. It is like he wants me to want him and I do at times but I also have needs and feelings and emotions that go unmet about 95 percent of the time and to never be told you smell good, or look pretty, or let me take you out, or even I love you is very hard on a woman. I have no idea what to do anymore. He won’t read any books or get any help. We just exist.

      • Anonymous man says:

        Not completely true. That would be like saying “women should only want to stay home cook, clean, and take care of children – not have a desire to go out and have a career. Maybe he feels insecure or is shy, or needs to feel desired.

  14. Daniel says:

    This is so good, but you spoke like men always falls for women to become interestingly withdrawn. What do you do, when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, but her own guilts and fear of what she’s doing scares her away from a marriage.

    I know Im making little or no sense, I hope u understand

  15. LT says:

    Extremely well done. Anyone wanting to actually save their marriage, this is your lesson. He got it exactly right IMO.

  16. JC says:

    Wow this explains alot it describes both myself and my wife’s behavior can’t wait to read more

  17. scott walker says:

    spot on

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