rust is defined as a firm belief in the ability, reliability, truth and strength of someone or something. In the marriage institution, where a whole lot of emotion is involved (particularly in the beginning) trust is an essential ingredient, and it is often deadly for the marriage when violated or infringed.
Every person coming into marriage (or any relationship) have expectations (real or unreal) of the new relationship often based on what he/she was taught or learnt subconsciously, in pre-marriage classes most couples are told to watch out for unrealistic expectations often based on emotion that only typically last for a few years. There are some expectations however, that are basic based on biblical absolutes, such as not committing adultery, the man being the head, not secrets from the past – like fathering/mothering a child, like health issues that could pose major hazard to the marriage – such as not having children, etc., when I speak with young adults/singles, I always encourage them to be truthful especially as the relationship moves into marriage.
In marriage, we all expect certain things but may not get them such as romance or PDA (public display of affection), romantic get-away, going to bed together, family prayer time daily, etc., there are also some expectations or trust bursting revelations that would be more devastating, such as adultery, having a record (felony or civil), keeping a huge secret such as having a child previously, or whatever it is. Almost, all of us base our expectations (whether shared or not) of our experiences, so if I presume that my husband or wife cannot commit adultery because he/she is a Christian, when such a person do commit adultery the trust quotient takes a more huge hit compared to common lying.
In my opinion, when trust is compromised, it takes both party to rebuild, while it might take a minute to bulldoze or compromise trust built over 10 years, it takes a lot more time to re-build, rebuilding trust is one of the toughest thing to do in marriage, even after the offender has repented (some don’t even repent) and the offended has forgiven (mentally/intellectually).
The Offended: this is the person who is on the receiving end of the breach of trust.
I have found that based on life experiences, certain things hurt more than anothers, what brings about hurt in one person might look flimsy to another. Someone who grew up in a home where lying is the order of the day, might not react as much when lied to but would blow a gasket on adultery because he/she has vowed that would never happen to me.
It is important for the offended to realize that apart from God we can do nothing. One of my frequent words to my wife (meant in a good way), is that “I would not commit adultery because of my relationship with God, not necessarily because of you”, also “If you notice that my relationship with God is being compromised at any level, then it is time to panic, because in myself without God, I’m prone to anything”. It is also important for everyone, particularly the offended to realize what the sinful nature of humans mean.
Forgiveness is a Command of God, not a choice. Forgiveness start with spiritually understanding the concept of forgiveness as stated by Jesus in Matthew 5 and 6, then mentally/intellectually saying that I choose to forgive because God said so, then the next step is aligning the emotion with the spirit and intellect, this is the tough part. Naturally, we don’t want to be vulnerable to this person again, so often we come up with rules or standard that no human can attain, just to please our emotional vulnerability, but does nothing to change the heart of the offender.
After choosing to forgive, it is very important that with a godly counselor/spirit filled mentor that strategies of rebuilding trust be set in motion (again not unattainable things meant to punish, but to restore the home). For instance, more precise communication helps, being vulnerable or not keeping any secrets (sharing passwords of all email accounts – except work), spending time together using communication skills for effective communication, are tools and things that could restore trust. I have found (nothing scientific about it) that it takes about 2-4 years (again don’t take this as a rule) for the offended person to really heal and start relaxing from the hyped emotion of watching the offender, to see if he/she is really sorry.
It is very important for the offended person to know that the steps of restoring trust, is not a magic formula of change, true change start with true repentance of the offender and that attitude is then brought into taking on the steps. An unrepentant offender might follow the steps for whatever reason; it is only a matter of time before he/she does the act again.
The offended must never take advantage of the offense to dominate or enslave the vulnerable spouse, in his or her bid for restoration of self and the home, or else you’ll be sinning yourself.
The Offender: this is the person who violated/compromised trust.
The first thing for the offender is to check how/why he/she fell into the snare of the enemy, without pointing fingers (even if the offended person is culpable), what happened, which of my flank was compromised (prayer life, staying in the word or avoiding the gathering of true believers), and then determine to fix it.
The next step for the offender is to repent and seek forgiveness from first God, then the spouse with whom he/she has compromise trust. Repentance is Lord, I’m sorry, forgive me, and I won’t do it again – we see a model of this in Psalms 51 when king David repented after what he did to the household of Uriah the Hittite and his wife Bathsheba, compare that to what king Saul did after being confronted with his disobedience of not totally annihilating the Amalekites. Your repentance cannot be based on the emotional harm you did to your spouse (which is important) but more based on you approaching God’s throne room, David understood this when in his prayer he said “please take not your Holy Spirit from me” while you restore the Joy of my Salvation (that oomph I had at my spiritual rebirth).
The offender must be ready to deal with the long emotional struggle of the offended, depending on who breach trust, it often takes a long slow grind for women, while men happens earlier but with occasional weird outburst that frustrates. Agree to set of rules that will restore your home, not punishment – only instituted authority – God, Church leadership or civil authority should lay down consequences. Some with passive or passive-aggressive personality might say yes for peace but go right back to breaching trust again, because in the heart they never really believed in the set of rules to restore trust.
Repentance is at unto the Lord, while our earthly spouse would benefit, it must be from our heart and unto the Lord. Our change must be because the Holy Spirit has convicted us of the sin (regardless of who God use to expose it) and we are ready because we want to continually abide in God’s throne room. One of the things I’ve found out in the bible is that, it is not typically the sin that get God’s serious wrath; it is an unrepentant heart and cover up schemes.
The offended and the offender, must realize that while the grass would look greener on the other side emotionally, it is a trap/snare of the enemy – it is usually not, what the devil is convincing you to do “get out” is not for your good, but to get you to disobey God and eventually have your soul with him in eternity, most times the devil would give good emotional reason to quit and never trust again, but this is the time never to lean on your own understanding.
Surround yourselves with true believing friends who would challenge you (tell you what your emotion don’t want to hear) and keep at it, until your emotion calms enough that thoughts of leaving the marriage or other evil thoughts are no longer constant within you. This is the time to be close to God not step away because of shame in public or other stupid isolationist tricks of the devil.
May heaven restore the homes that trust has been compromised reading this article, may heaven give you the strength to be obedient and follow through, and may heaven reward your obedience and soothe your pain (physically and emotionally) in Jesus name. Amen.