I think for most people the ability to trust someone, even a spouse, is learned behavior. For many, trust and truthfulness was driven home as a number one priority from childhood. Still others are victims of having placed their trust in someone, usually a parent or parents, and have become jaded or even angry over a real or perceived betrayal. Then there are those who grew up in an environment that rewarded deception and stressed self-interest over truth and selflessness. This last group views trusting others, even their spouse, as a “suckers bet” and unfortunately too often they are right. It’s no wonder then that trust is such a difficult issue for many married couples. Mistrust, suspicion, and doubt are a malignancy that if left untreated or removed will eventually kill a marital relationship from the inside out.
So how then can I protect and maintain a relationship based on trust with my husband or wife? It begins with looking in the mirror; it’s about you learning how to be trustworthy and making it a ministry to your spouse. Your goal will be to share with them what you have learned in such a way that provides consolation not condemnation. Here are a few ideas based on God’s Word to help you in your ministry.
Consider trust and faithfulness to God and your spouse a priority by making it your ambition in life (1Thess 4:11). There are any numbers of verses in Scripture that link love and trust (faithfulness) together, almost as if they were one and the same, like the two sides of a coin. Solomon summarizes this idea in Proverbs 3:3, “Let love and faithfulness (trust) never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” To bind them around your neck and write them on your heart means that we maintain a focus and awareness daily on the business of being trustworthy and holding ourselves accountable to our spouse and before God.
Another way of protecting and maintaining trust in your marriage relationship is to make propriety second nature in how you conduct your everyday activities and encounters with others. Propriety simply means that you make every effort to conform to the standards of behavior that God has provided and not the worlds. Scripture speaks at length on propriety in worship as well as in everyday life. Paul tells us to “make it our ambition to lead a quiet life so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” This isn’t an exhortation to be something you’re not. If you are an outgoing person, that’s great. The issue is how you use your people skills and toward what end. If you are reckless and give others the wrong idea regarding your intentions it can grow into something other than what you intended. If you dress in such a way as to draw unwanted attention to yourself, the result can lead to a situation where you will be judged to have violated the trust of your spouse. It in the end doesn’t matter if it was intentional or not, the result is the same. Make propriety a priority.
It has always been a curiosity to me the number of people who claim that they pray regularly, and why some seem compelled to exaggerate a bit. I guess no matter what, it is a true statement since it depends on how you define regularly and what you consider to be prayer. The fact is that success or failure rests on asking God for help, since going it alone just doesn’t work. The power of prayer is showcased in the book of Acts and it is noteworthy that when the disciples would meet new believers in their travels they would invariably ask them if they had received the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the disciples knew that without the power of the Holy Spirit, success in following Christ and His teachings would always be just out of reach and be a point of frustration and not satisfaction. I know I have stressed the importance of praying for the power of God that only comes to us through His Spirit because of what Christ did for us on the cross, but it is the answer and the means of success. If you want to maintain and build trust in your relationship with your husband or wife, this is the key. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” he replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:25, 26).” Later Jesus would elaborate, “But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes (Acts 1:8).” This applies to every facet of your life, especially your marriage.
Tool #256 To maintain and protect the trust you share with each other, make it a priority, present yourself to the world with propriety and pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will sustain you in your efforts.