By Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott
“We want someone who holds nothing back from us, someone who trusts us with personal secrets. Intimacy fills our hearts deepest longings…”
Straight from our bestselling book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, comes this truth about trust: it’s the cornerstone of all intimacy.
Trust is truly the foundation of all healthy relationships. A strong sense of trust is essential to the longevity of a marriage. Whether you’re establishing trust in the beginning of your relationship, or whether you’re trying to rebuild damaged trust between you and your spouse, these six tips will get you on the road to a more trusting relationship.
- Keep Your Word
To the best of your ability, always do the things you say you’re going to do. If you tell your spouse you’re going to be at a certain place, be there. If you’ve said you’re going to spend time with friends or family, be with the people you said you would be with.
It’s simple, but being true to your word goes a long way toward creating a solid trust between you and your husband or wife. Knowing that you are honest about your location, the company you’re keeping, or just knowing that you’re going to keep a promise will help your spouse feel secure–and that is priceless.
- Be Transparent
Are you afraid to be honest about someone you’re communicating or spending time with? Places you’re going?
Would you hand your phone or computer to your spouse without a second thought? Or are you afraid of what he or she may read or see?
Transparency means that you and your spouse don’t have anything to hide from one another. It’s not about allowing your spouse to control or dominate you. It’s about feeling safe enough to open yourself fully before that person–voluntarily–without worrying about what he or she may see.
If you’re not transparent now, it’s time to clean up the areas of your life that you may not want your spouse to look into, so that you may share deeper intimacy and a stronger marriage.
- Do Not Lie
Lying is so damaging to trust, and it’s difficult to overcome. For the sake of your marriage, don’t tell lies–even if they seem harmless. Dishonesty ultimately causes immeasurable pain, and can lead directly to divorce.
It’s a given that lying to your spouse is a no-no, but you should also be careful not to lie to anyone else. Your spouse observes your behavior more closely and more often than anybody. If you lie to other people, what’s to keep you from lying to your spouse?
It’s important for your husband or wife to see that you are not only honest at home, but honest with the other people you come in contact with on a daily basis.
- Confess Preemptively
Holding onto secrets in a close relationship is very draining, and it can dampen intimacy. If you’ve got a secret that could be damaging to trust, it is best to open up and share it with your spouse now–before it has driven such a wedge in your relationship that your spouse becomes suspicious of you.
If your secret is particularly painful, you and your spouse will have to work together to rebuild trust and move forward in your marriage. But if you have taken the incentive to approach your spouse despite the potential fallout of your secret, you’re one step closer to a healthier connection.
- Be Trustworthy
Husbands and wives are meant to be best friends–confidantes and companions of the very closest nature. You should be able to confide fully in one another without fear of outside parties learning your private business.
Can your spouse trust you with personal, private information? Can he or she confide fully in you without fear that you will repeat the conversation to others?
Be sure that you carefully keep confidence between you and your spouse. You want to be the first person he or she comes to, every time–and the safest.
- Never Stop Growing
Continually developing and building your character and integrity will help your spouse maintain trust in you. If you’re actively improving yourself and always growing, he or she will see the positive changes you’re making.
If you have damaged trust in your marriage, visible and measurable personal growth is critical to moving forward. When you’ve broken that bond, your word is no longer enough; you have to show your spouse on a daily basis that your resolve to change for the better is intentional.
When You’ve Broken Trust
The process of rebuilding trust in your marriage will take time, hard work, and skill. When trust in a marriage is broken, its very foundation is shaken.
If you’re committed to healing your relationship, you and your spouse both have some hard work ahead. For your part, you must be fully accountable to your spouse. Even though you may have confessed your dishonesty, you’re not entitled to act as if nothing happened.
Expect your spouse to have questions regarding your dishonesty, and be open and willing to answer them. Commit to transparency, however uncomfortable it may feel.
If you are willing to do whatever it takes to regain your spouse’s trust, you’re much more likely to reap the rewards of a repaired marriage, with a deeper intimacy than ever before.
The Big Picture: Trust and Intimacy
Trust is inherently linked to intimacy, and intimacy is a key element of the passion-intimacy-commitment triangle. Understanding this “triangular model” of love, first developed by Robert Sternberg, is vital for a healthy marriage.
If you would like to enhance, enrich, or work on repairing trust in your relationship please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.