What is your trust quotient? Very trusting of others? Too trusting of some people? Distrusting of almost everyone?
How did we come to be who we are when it comes to the matter of trust? Since a good marriage and other important relationships depend on trust, it’s important for us to think some about these questions.
You may not have to search any further than your family of origin to understand why you trust the way you do. If you grew up in an environment that was emotionally stable it is likely you don’t have lots of trouble trusting others. However, if you grew up uncertain of the love of your parents, feeling you might be abandoned or that you had to earn their affection, you have probably struggled with trust issues. If you were a child of divorced parents this could also cause serious problems in trusting others. Abuse and neglect are also fertile soil for distrust.
“Well,” you may ask, “How does my trust quotient possibly affect my marriage?” Let me explain what could be happening. Transference is a term which means that we are acting in or reacting to a current situation based on past experience. For example, John says to his wife, Melanie, “I’m not your father. I’ve told you the truth and you refuse to believe me because your dad always lied to you.”John is saying that Melanie is accusing him of treating her the way her father did. She is transferring feelings of distrust and anger from her experience with her dad to her husband. There may be absolutely no rational basis for her behavior.
Obviously, John will feel like he is under scrutiny a good deal of the time and any slip up will bring the accusation, “You don’t love me.” Hopefully, he will see that, although he is trustworthy, he will need to be especially patient with Melanie in order to help her build the trust which will make the marriage work. Melanie will need to get some insight into how she has developed this deficit of trust and work through the emotional damage done to her so she can live with some sense of assurance and comfort in her relationship with John.
There is no way to overstate the importance of trust in marriage. Trust is to your marriage what your heart is to your body. Trust is absolutely indispensable to a healthy marriage. Therefore, our character and the things we do to earn trust are vital if we are to have a good marriage.
What I have just said implies at least two important things about trust. First, trust is a basic need in your marriage. Being able to depend on each other to respect your deepest feelings and needs builds security and gives comfort. When this is not true good communication is absent and there is a sense of anxiety and loneliness in the marriage. When your word cannot be relied on in ordinary, everyday transactions the foundation of trust is eroded and a deeper problem is often lurking just under the surface: If I can’t trust you in the small things, how can I trust you with my heart? Trust is basic to your marriage.
Another idea I want you to consider is that trust is learned. There is a real sense in which most of us didn’t really know our mate when we first married. Perhaps we had developed a certain level of trust strong enough to take a big chance on marriage. But, if our marriage has grown the way it should, we have had to continue developing trust in our spouse .The biggest issue for couples in this area, I think, is whether you believe your spouse is really trying to be unselfish and to look out for your best interest. If that trust is there you can continue to grow through mistakes by forgiving each other and address the areas where you need to grow. As you mature together in your love you will find that you have learned more and more how to trust each other.
Not all people enter into the venture of marriage with the same ability to trust and this can be a problem in making the marriage work. Why is this and what do you need to do if you are in this situation? We’ll look at this in the next blog.
How do you build trust in your marriage?
It’s a wonderful thing to be in a marriage where you trust your partner. Such trust builds security and hope, diminishes anxiety and fear and makes the challenges of family life much easier to deal with.
In my previous blogs I have dealt with the importance of trust and many situations which present us with the opportunity to build trust with each other. In this blog I want to be very direct in my approach and give you some advice which will be pointed and explicit on how to build trust in your marriage.
Make it easy for your spouse to tell the truth. If you think I’m saying that we can do something to help our spouse be truthful with us you are correct. Influence is the key issue here. You cannot make your husband/wife be honest with you but you can create an environment which can make it easier to be honest.
Think about this for a moment. Has there been someone in your life with whom you have felt safe to be yourself? What is it about that person that allowed you to be truthful about what you felt or where you had goofed up?
If you have been fortunate enough to have that person in your life I would say they offered you these things: a non-judgmental attitude, unconditional acceptance, understanding and a listening ear. These qualities create an environment which makes it easier for us to be truthful.
Pay attention to the things you need to do and things you need to avoid to make honesty an integral part of your marriage. Obviously, there are actions, attitudes or habits you will want to eradicate if you want to build a positive environment for truthfulness.
First, drop the critical attitude. Allow for human error and recognize that you are mistake oriented, too. Quit seeking perfection in your spouse until you have achieved that lofty goal for yourself.
Second, be generous with grace and mercy. Make allowances for personality differences and areas of weakness in your spouse.
Third, be quick to encourage and praise. Look for strengths and encourage your spouse’s efforts to improve. Few things help the marriage more than an attitude that is positive and looks for opportunity to encourage your spouse.
Fourth, listen with your heart as well as your ears. Listening is hard work. If you work hard and intelligently at it you will be rewarded with a deepened relationship which will grow in understanding and trust.
Do you realize your parenting affects the trust factor in your marriage?
One of the most important areas in which trust is built or destroyed in marriage is how you deal with your children. Having children, for most couples, is the easy part. Rearing those children to become healthy, responsible people is not so easy. Let’s face it; children are expensive and can be a lot of work if you do child rearing as you should.
There was a time in our country when the basic idea was that the husband earned the money and the wife did most, if not all, of the child raising.This attitude, I believe, is a very limited view of how parenting ought to be done. Thankfully, I see many young fathers taking a very active role in the care and discipline of their children. This is as it should be and builds strong ties with the child and trust with the wife.
However, there are moms and dads who, because of laziness, selfishness, or some other reason, put the work of parenting on their spouse. This is hurtful to the child and undermines the trust that is so basic to the marriage. What is there that a couple has that should be more important than the child they have brought into the world? To neglect the rearing of your child is a sin against the very marriage that gave the child its life. Such neglect can do nothing but destroy trust in your marriage.
As you realize, there is a lot more to rearing your child than the physical care and nurture they require. They are moral, spiritual beings which need guidance and spiritual foundations. Your time is limited,there is only a relatively small amount of time you have to lay the foundations of character and faith upon which the remainder of your child’s life will be built.
So, commit to work together to rear your child to have a positive influence on the world. By doing this you will build a trusting relationship in your marriage and give your child the character and balance he/she needs to face the challenges of life.
Another important factor in building trust in your marriage is being truthful about ordinary, everyday things in life.
Mary Ann asks John, “Did you make the bank deposit today?” John hesitates for a moment but responds from the other room in an irritable tone,”Yes, Mary Ann, I made the deposit.” Opening the site to their bank account he negotiates the on-line transaction.
Why did John choose to lie instead of saying something like, “No, but thanks for reminding me, I’ll do that right now?” There are various reasons he could give for his course of action: “She’s always nagging me about something.” or “”I can never do anything to please her.” or “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
While this kind of incident may seem to be unimportant , it reflects a deeper issue which can ultimately destroy the trust in the marriage. One part of deeper issue is John’s unwillingness to face Mary Ann with his mistakes and correct them. Without blaming Mary Ann, he needs to find the issue within himself that seems to make it easier to lie than to tell the truth. So far as Mary Ann’s part in this problem is concerned, she may need to look at ways in which she somehow makes facing his shortcomings more difficult for John.
If we are not careful about these little things and correct our error our spouse will eventually discover our secret lies. When we are found trust in the marriage will be damaged and she/he may begin to wonder if there are other things, bigger things, we are not truthful about.
The most important issue in the trust factor is your character. To build trust with your spouse you must hold yourself accountable to tell the truth in little things as well as the big things.
Trust is vital in marriage. I recently heard of a situation where a young wife had discovered her husband was having an affair. When she confronted him about his unfaithfulness and the marriage vows he took he replied, “That’s just a piece of paper.” The “piece of paper” he was referencing was, of course, the marriage license. There are several things wrong with a scenario like this.
First, adultery is wrong. It is a breach of trust between a man and a woman who have agreed to be faithful to each other. There may be lots of excuses as to why a person succumbs to this temptation but there is no real justification for it. If a person isn’t mature enough to keep their libido in check they shouldn’t take on the responsibility of marriage. Adultery is the breaking of the trust which is vital to a healthy marriage. Trust can be repaired but only through a truly repentant attitude and hard work.
Second, there was probably a lot of misplaced trust in this situation. Sometimes, people allow passion to over rule wisdom. All of us need to be loved but we may fail to use caution when giving our love to someone else. Why? Because our desire and need for the security of being loved is so strong that we may naively accept the other person’s “I love you” as the real deal. The truth is that lots of folks talk about love without the foggiest notion of what real love is. But, we want to be “loved’ and are liable to fall for any counterfeit.In the instance cited above, trust was blind and naive.
Third, situations such as this cause me to question the character of those involved. I tend to see adultery in this instance as a symptom of a dysfunctional marriage. Something at the core of the marriage wasn’t right. There was no solid basis for trust because there wasn’t character to build on.
When a man and woman have committed to each other to be honest and meet each other’s needs a solid trust develops. The glue that holds relationships together in tough times involves the trust that has been built by the way they have cared for each other before the tough times come. We learn to trust our spouse, or vice versa, because we know them.
Trustworthiness is a part of good character and it is wise to have a good idea about the “character” you are thinking about marrying before you say “I do.”
More on this in The Trust Factor: Marriage (part two)
How does your child handle success or failure? Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?
Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.
You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.
As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.
Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.
But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.