A marriage without trust is not much of a marriage. It’s relatively easy to break trust with your spouse, and not at all easy to re-build. How much better to grow a healthy balance by making steady regular deposits in your relationship trust account. That investment will pay off.
The larger the balance in your relationship trust account the larger the joy and intimacy between you. And like a financial account, regular deposits are where you need to start. And from there, compound interest takes over.
When your spouse trusts you, and then they experience evidence that you are trustworthy, they feel smart; their trust was well-placed. They feel safe. And they want to come closer to you. It often allows them to give you the benefit of the doubt when challenges come up in the future.
If you’ve previously broken trust this will be a lot more difficult, and take a lot longer. Think of it like being overdrawn at the bank; you’ll have to work harder to bring the balance from negative just back to zero. The overdraft “fees” can be enormous.
Here are some ways to make deposits into your relationship trust account. And the sooner you start, the larger balance can become.
Always Tell the Truth
The question is not, “Do I have to tell?” The question is, “What would I want to know if I were in their shoes?”
Look at the world through your spouse’s eyes. You probably would not need or want a minute-by-minute or penny-by-penny accounting of your time or money (unless trust has previously been broken here). But you’d want to know if you were delayed from your expected time coming home, if you were going to make a significant purchase, or if you were struggling emotionally with a big decision.
You don’t tell the truth because it’s a “law,” or for them to “fix” you; you tell the truth in order to build trust. That might look something like, “Honey, I’m not upset with you; I’m upset over what my boss has asked me to do. That’s why I may seem distant.” Or, “We got notice that the kids’ school fees are going way up next semester. Let’s plan a time to look at our budget again.”
Most of the time this looks like being at least as transparent as your spouse desires you to be.
Apologize When You’re Wrong
When you realize you’ve hurt your spouse’s heart, be quick to say “I’m sorry.” Not in a flippant way, but sincerely. Work very hard to keep your heart from becoming defensive. Don’t wait until your spouse apologizes; be the bigger person, and the first to apologize.
It builds trust when your spouse senses that you “get” the hurt they feel. If you were late, if an unexpected charge shows up, if you said something out of frustration that was hurtful, take the time to make a true and heartfelt apology – to the depth that your spouse needs.
Own Your Own Stuff
You came into marriage with expectations and ways of doing things around communication, money, male-female roles, handling conflict, sex and intimacy, and more. Those expectations and ways are very different from what your spouse brought. And some of those things you brought into marriage are immature, selfish, and just plain hurtful.
Own your own stuff. If you want to be successful at marriage, you’ll have to do your own necessary work to look under the surface and deal with your own wounds and trauma. You’ll have to give the Holy Spirit permission to deal with you and change you.
It builds trust with your spouse when they see you actually growing. The things that irritated you in the past don’t irritate you now. You become able to stay engaged in a difficult conversation. You are truly present during sex. You’ve dealt with your baggage, and are becoming a whole and integrated person.
You must become a trustworthy person in order for your spouse to be able to trust you long-term.
Clamming up, assuming the worst, or exploding in anger do not build trust. Being curious does.
When something isn’t as you want or expect, intentionally train yourself to ask Why. What is important to my spouse in this situation? What was my spouse expecting, and how did I let them down? Why did my spouse respond that way? What wounds or issues are they reacting to?
Study your spouse. Notice what makes them happy/irritated/relaxed/worried/engaged. What is the effect you have on them? The more curious you are, the more your spouse can be themselves. That builds trust. And it’s part of building safety – the last point.
Can your spouse be him/herself with you? Or do they have to walk on eggshells? How safe would your spouse say they feel around you? How do you respond when your spouse feels worried, hurt, confused, angry, or upset? Can she/he trust their heart in your hands? What’s it like to be married to you?
Imagine being entrusted with the care of a priceless jewel, a classic car in perfect condition, or a beautiful home. That’s like your spouse’s heart; it’s beautiful and priceless. How are you caring for it?
Manipulating, criticizing, micro-managing – it’s obvious those behaviors don’t lead to a sense of safety. Understanding, encouraging, spending time with, showing interest in – those are some of the behaviors that build safety.
May your relationship trust account be always growing!
Your Turn: What’s the balance in your relationship trust account? What kind of deposits are you going to make? Leave a comment below.
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- Don’t wait until your account is overdrawn to begin making regular deposits in your relationship trust account. The intimacy and joy between you and your spouse will be greater. And the compound interest works, too! Tweet that.
How’s the Communication Between You?
Whether newlywed or married for decades, communication is the key to the quality of your relationship. But most couples feel their communication is less than what they desire.
Understanding your communication style, and that of your spouse, will allow you to take your communication to the next level.