When Trust in a Marriage Is Violated
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Hide it! This was my first instinct. I was certain if my husband found out, he would leave me. So I rushed home at lunch every day to remove another credit card statement from our mailbox. My payments were late; fees were stacking up. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a financial and emotional abyss.
My husband was clueless about my debt ... now our debt. He never would have condoned my spending habits, as he is wiser with finances. So the spending was my secret.
Soon, it wasn't just letters in the mail, the phone calls began. I was either going to have to fess up or continue to try and hide it. But at that point, hiding was next to impossible.
I wondered things like, if I tell him, will he divorce me? Will he ever trust me again? Things are already bad, will this make them worse? They are just credit cards, right?
The regrets are many as I look back at this time. We pay high interest rates because of my choices. But even more, I regret violating my husband's trust. I created trust issues in our marriage that run deep and have required much time, effort, and grace to mend. What started out as just small pieces of plastic, ended up creating a gigantic rift in our marriage.
Trust issues in marriage can come in one form or another. There are the things that can knock us down quickly such as lying, committing adultery, and falling captive to an addiction such as alcohol or pornography. And then there are the things that chip away at trust over time like constantly showing up late, paying more attention to a phone or electronic device, cancelling date night repetitively, and refusing intimacy more often than not.
Most of us experience some combination of both major and minor trust-violating incidents unique to our marriage, resulting in trust gaps, and ultimately feelings of abandonment, anger, and rejection.
So how do we mend trust in a relationship as delicate as a marriage? Especially when we are the offender? A great place to start is looking at Philippians 2:3-4. In these verses, Christ calls us to imitate His humility. To do nothing out of selfishness, but value others above ourselves.
Imagine how your marriage would change if you and your spouse both chose to follow these principles. And even if your spouse is not on board, imagine how your life would change if you decided to consider his needs above your own?
This certainly is not a suggestion to be a doormat or endure an abusive situation. Healthy boundaries should be set if there is abuse of any kind. But what I am condoning is healthy humble behavior. Be cognizant of the words you speak to and the tone you use with your spouse. Do not disrespect him verbally. Encourage him every chance you get. Choose to consult him regarding the decisions you make, even the small ones.
Marriage is a partnership. Communicate the value and importance of your husband's opinions. The miracle of humility and respect is when we present it to others, it tends to come back to us in greater amounts.
My marriage is on the mend. I have submitted our finances to my husband. Not because he is a dictator or longs to be in control, but because he is wise in this area and leads in a way of spending and saving that looks out for the interests of our family.
Moving forward, let's choose to test our actions against Philippians 2:3-4 and try to look out for the interests of our husband, not just ourselves. A great first step is to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, be honest with our husband, and move forward together, learning from each other's trust-violating habits. Trust in a marriage is a beautiful, and attainable, thing.
Dear Lord, forgive me for hiding in the dark what should be in the light. Please prepare my husband's heart to hear what I need to confess, and give us the wisdom on how to move forward, together ... with You as our guide. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Are you violating the trust in your marriage right now? If so, make a plan to tell you husband. If you are nervous, pray about having a third party there to help mediate.
Ephesians 5:21, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (NIV)