rebuilding trust in marriage

5 Crucial Steps to Rebuilding Trust in Marriage

I’ll never forget the time my wife first told me how much trust had eroded in our relationship. We were in our garage working on something and we were talking about the future. I mentioned a hope I had for us and she didn’t respond. I pressed her on why she was quiet. Finally, she said, “I just don’t know if I can trust what you say anymore.”

My initial response was anger. I couldn’t believe she would accuse me of being untrustworthy. Needless to say, anger was unhelpful. I quickly learned that if rebuilding trust in marriage is going to be a priority, I would have to make some changes for the long run. The same is true for you. Here are 5 crucial steps to rebuilding trust in marriage.

1. Own your stuff.

Look, not everything that’s wrong is your fault, but some of it is. Each time you brush aside your wife’s claim that you are untrustworthy, you simply reinforce it as true. However, if you can identify at least one or two areas where you have fallen short, you will be choosing to agree with your wife, which can bring some unity, even if it’s around something very difficult for you to deal with.

Don’t just admit that you’re wrong; choose practical steps you can take toward change.

2. Make Changes.

Don’t just admit that you’re wrong; choose practical steps you can take toward change. For example, I began communicating with my wife when I followed through on something I said I would do. It was small, and honestly sometimes it was annoying. But it also helped her to see the ways that I was trustworthy, even in the little things. When rebuilding trust in marriage, you have to move beyond words and begin making changes.

3. Get help.

It’s quite likely that the choices that have led you to the place where your wife no longer trusts you have become ingrained in you. They may even have become habitual (whether it’s watching porn or telling lies). That’s why it’s critical to get help when rebuilding trust in marriage. Help could be a friend or two who are willing to ask hard questions and challenge you. It could be a pastor, mentor, or professional counselor. Any or all of these could be helpful, and building in accountability helps reassure your wife that you are serious about making changes.

4. Validate your wife’s feelings.

You probably don’t see whatever it is the same way your wife does. That’s OK. But it doesn’t mean she’s wrong. It also doesn’t mean she’s right. The point is, she believes her own feelings (most of us do). So it does you no good at all, and probably a good deal of harm, to dismiss her feelings or tell her she’s being dramatic. As difficult as it is, especially when you feel as though you’re being falsely accused, you need to learn to validate her feelings. This doesn’t mean you need to tell her she’s right if you don’t actually think she is. But you do need to recognize that she’s in pain, that she feels hurt or perhaps even betrayed. Validating her feelings can help her feel seen by you.

5. Be patient.

It’s often said that trust is hard to gain but easy to lose. This is especially true if you’ve genuinely hurt someone. It’s easy for us to expect the process of rebuilding trust in marriage to go quickly. We made a mistake, we apologized, and maybe we feel really bad about it. We should be able to just move on, right? However, when trust is lost, it’s like wounding your wife. Even after it begins to heal, it takes some time for the soreness to go away. Be patient with her.

Sound off: What has helped you as you’ve worked to rebuild trust in marriage?

Huddle up with your wife and ask, “Are there any ways you struggle to trust me?”