I’ve addressed forgiveness in a previous blog post, but today I want to talk to you about trust. While I’ll specifically be addressing this issue in the context of marriage, the principles apply to all relationships.
Do you need to rebuild trust in your relationship? If so, there are a few things you need to know.
First, notice that the word “rebuild” implies that a relationship has been torn down and needs to be established once again. Something you said or didn’t say, did or didn’t do, to your spouse, child, relative, or friend, has adversely impacted your relationship with them.
Second, trust is not something that anyone owes you. Trust must be earned. That means that you need to provide something to the other person in order for them to trust you once again. It is not something you just do one time, but rather need to display them consistently, day in and day out, over a period of time.
Third, to trust you, the other person must have complete confidence, from this day forward, that:
1. You are who you say you are. In a marriage relationship, for example, you are either a husband or a wife. And when you got married, you probably promised to be there for each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…till death us do part.” You also committed to become “one flesh.” That means the other person should be able to rely upon those promises—that you will not tear the marriage apart and that you will be there, as their husband or wife, no matter what happens.
2. You will always speak the truth. There are no such things as “little white lies” or “half truths.” What you say is either true or it is not. Let me illustrate. If your wife asks you something simple like, “What have you been doing?” Don’t just answer, mowing the lawn if you have also been watching television and posting on Facebook. Remember, truth is the whole truth. To rebuild trust, speak truth in everything, big and small. Doing so will help build the other person’s confidence in your trustworthiness.
Speaking truth also means not keeping secrets from your spouse. Whether it’s a purchase you made, an addiction you have, an illness you’re experiencing, or where you’ve been, nothing should be kept from your spouse. A surprise party may be an exception! Sharing challenges, problems and your emotions with your spouse may be difficult initially, but will help rebuild trust and ultimately intimacy in your relationship.
3. You will always do what you say you’ll do. In simple terms, when you say you’ll do something, the other person can “check it off the list” or “take it to the bank.” It’s a “done deal.” If for some reason, you are unable to do it, let the other person know immediately. Also, the seeds of suspicion and distrust seem to germinate when the person working to rebuild the trust does unpredictable things. So, for example, if you are going to be unusually late coming home from work, tell your spouse and let him or her know why.
As you rebuild trust in your relationship, remember that one of the best things you can do is to ask the other person, “What can I do to earn your trust once again?” Then, be sure to listen carefully and take action.