“I just don’t trust anymore.” When a person utters these words, their marriage is in peril.
The stated causes for divorce include everything from adultery to financial worries to merely growing apart. But, each of these often stems from behaviors that undermine trust.
Recognizing and changing these helps preserve the trust–and the marriage–for the long haul.
Though there are many ways to break trust–3 patterns prove key.
Words failing to match actions.
When behavior matches words, trust builds. When behavior fails to match words, trust is destroyed.
It can happen in the littlest ways.
Wife promises to pay the bills, but month after month Husband takes calls from a bill collector or covers late payments. Husband promises to fix all the issues in the house or hire someone. Yet, Wife keeps coming home to Husband sitting on the couch while she copes with the broken faucet and leaking washer.
When actions don’t match words, each failure chips away at trust.
Finally, spouses get to a point where they subconsciously then consciously default to “I can’t count on him/her.” Once spouses lose the ability to count on each other, the trust is gone. The marriage soon follows.
To be sure, everyone fails sometimes. Wife will forget to pay a bill, or Husband will dawdle in undertaking a construction project he dreads. The vow to stick together for better or worse was intended to prepare couples to overlook the human failures in each other. The goal is to focus on accepting each other’s flaws while working together to get through the tough times.
The overall pattern matters. When spouses routinely come through for each other, especially when it’s hard, trust builds. Couples learn they can count on each other.
The key is being very intentional and explicit, especially if trust has been challenged. To win back her husband’s trust, Wife can say, “I will sit down on the 1st and 15th and pay all the bills.” Husband can set a deadline for completing the work himself or having someone else do the job. As each person sees the other fulfilling their promise, they begin to trust again.
Being intentional in promises and behaviors proves key. Most people don’t set out to disappoint their spouse. The most common cause is passivity. They just don’t get around to doing what the other asks. This cuts at the heart of marriage.
At the wedding, spouses vow to make the other their top priority. When one person doesn’t actively attend to the needs of the other or everyday actions clearly say, “You are not my top priority,” the vow is broken. So is the trust.
People want to be married to the person who sees their need and actively works to meet it. Most don’t expect perfection, just a genuine effort.
Missing love languages/using love languages to manipulate.
Most people know about love languages, the understanding that people tend to experience being loved differently.
Love is expressed through: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, time spent together, and physical touch. All reflect genuine love in different ways–i.e. different “languages.”. And, just as the Spanish words “Te amo” mean the same thing as the English “I love you,” people can only receive the love if it’s offered in their language. (See Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.).
Many couples drift apart because one or both don’t “feel” loved. Usually, spouses do truly love each other, but they aren’t expressing their love in the language of their spouse.
For example, a husband may try to show his wife how much he loves her by working hard and providing well (an act of service). But, if his wife’s love language is time, all his time spent at work actually communicates, “I don’t love you enough to spend time with you.” She can’t trust his love because he doesn’t speak her language.
Even worse, trust crashes when a spouse manipulates the other’s love language. If a wife knows her husband’s love language is words of affirmation, and she flatters him to get her way or makes fun of him in front of friends because she’s angry, both manipulate. Receiving love requires vulnerability. Taking advantage of that vulnerability shatters trust.
Instead, spouses need to take the time to discern the other’s love language. They then purposely show their love in that language while refusing ever to use the vulnerability against them. When spouses do this, trust builds.
These are just a few of the patterns that wear away trust between spouses. Trust can be broken in a thousand different ways. However, spouses who want to keep their marriage strong can do so with one focus: create patterns where actions consistently say, “You are my top priority. You can count on me.”
If you would like to learn more about how to build a solid marriage, call 3137-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. We offer marital mediation to help couples transition from the marriage they have to the marriage they want. We look forward to talking with you about options for getting to a better place.