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20 Proven Ways to Rebuild Trust in a Marriage

The Journey to Rebuilding Trust in Marriage

Other than “Dr. Joe, how can I save my marriage?” the most-frequently asked question that I receive from Christian men is, “How can I rebuild trust in a marriage?”  I must admit, I’m not surprised by either one of those questions, and if you’re a Christian man, neither should you.

Let’s face it, we’re not just men; we’re human beings.  And human beings make mistakes.  Admittedly, some mistakes are worse than others; from having a one-night stand after having a little too much to drink on a business trip, to hiding your addiction to porn from your wife, and everything in between, no one (including Christian men) are immune from making bad decisions and betraying trust.

how to rebuild trust in a marriage

How To Rebuild Trust In A Marriage - A Christian Perspective on Healing

As for the focus of this article, I want to offer you 20, that’s right, you heard me, 20 quick-hitting pieces of advice on how to rebuild the trust in your marriage.  These are 20 proven tips and strategies I’ve either tried (myself), shared with the men in our exclusive brotherhood (Real Men Connect), or I’ve received as advice from more than 150 “marriage experts” on our top-rated Christian men’s podcast – Real Men Connect.

Even if you don’t apply all of them in your marriage, they can only help, not hurt, your chances of rebuilding the trust in your marriage.  

NOTE: They’re not listed in any particular order, and neither are they the ONLY ways you can rebuild trust in a marriage. But they have proven to be highly effective. So, let’s get started…

rebuild trust in a marriage bible

20 Steps For Christian Couples To Rebuilding Trust In A Relationship

Don’t ever mention the word “DIVORCE” – ever! 

Eliminate it from your vocabulary.  I know this may seem like an obvious thing, but why is it so important in rebuilding trust in a marriage? Because a woman’s greatest need in a relationship is safety and security. Even if you’ve done something to hurt or even destroy your marriage; your wife, on a deeper level, still wants her marriage.  So, focus on giving her hope, not an escape hatch. Proverbs 18:1 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Don’t allow her hurting words to hurt you.

Yes, the words your wife may speak to you may indeed hurt you, but remember, they’re coming from a hurting place – her pain.  So, instead, have compassion, instead of contempt. Be thick-skinned about what she says to you; the truth is, she just wants you to hurt as much as she does (but don’t retaliate). Show her grace. Remember who God says you are in Christ, not what your wife (or anybody else) says. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Remember who the REAL enemy is – Satan, not your wife.  

Don’t just pray for your wife, pray against the enemy.  You’re not just trying to rebuild the trust in your marriage, you’re also fighting against an enemy who’s trying to destroy your marriage while you’re rebuilding the trust. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

Show her the love of Christ in every situation (and apologize and seek forgiveness from her if/whenever you don’t).  

This will probably be one of the most challenging things you will ever have to do to rebuild the trust in your marriage.  Your mistake or betrayal will have caused your wife A LOT of pain, and she will struggle to process it all.  And many times, she will lash out at you and do things that are uncharacteristic of her “normal” behavior; but with the help and power of Holy Spirit, just remember to HUMBLE yourself and HONOR God in your response to her.  James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And trust me, you’re going to need a lot of grace in loving her like Christ.

how to repair trust in a marriage

Start seeing and treating her as a wounded, heart-broken daughter, not just a heart-broken wife. 

Why? Because that’s exactly how God sees her.  As husbands, we often forget that before our wives became our spouses, they were (and still are) God’s daughter first and foremost.  The truth is, God is more concerned about our souls than our marriages; so, as you’re attempting to rebuild trust in your marriage, don’t forget your wife is God’s daughter FIRST, then your wife. 2 Corinthians 6:18 reminds us, And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” So that means, your wife is MORE than just your wife; she’s also your sister in Christ.  

Resist talking about how much you’re changing and growing as a man. 

If you’re sincerely remorseful for the pain you’ve caused your wife, and you’re taking the necessary steps to rebuild the trust and become a better husband, it’s natural to want to tell your wife about your progress. But you need to resist this urge to do so, because she’s still hurting and in pain. Instead, show your wife you’re changing and growing through your actions, not your words.  Let her see your heart, not just hear your words. 

Don’t make any promises that you won’t ever hurt her again.  Trust me, most wives will ask you, “Promise me that you’ll never do that again or hurt me like that again.” Remember what I mentioned earlier as a woman’s greatest need – safety and security. This is a way for her to protect her heart from being hurt again. But unless you want to set yourself for failure in the future, don’t make such a promise. Because the truth is, even with the best intentions, you might hurt her again. And if she’s really hurting, she won’t believe such a promise anyway.  Just do your best to be honest when with her, and trust God to handle the rest. 

how to restore trust in a relationship

Keep your word to her at ALL costs

I’m not talking about promising her perfection, I’m talking about the little things.  And I don’t care how small it is; if you tell her you’re going to do something or be somewhere, do it; be there.  No if, ands, or buts.  Breaking your word (even in a small commitment) is like breaking her heart all over again; don’t do it; likewise, keeping your word is like rebuilding her heart. James 5:12 tells us, But let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”

Don’t remind her about or point out her faults. 

Don’t hear what I’m NOT saying; I’m not telling you to turn a blind eye or ignore her faults.  But, during this season of rebuilding trust, you have to be careful in HOW you do it.  The inconvenient truth is, she’s not able to receive criticism or critiques from you (currently) – even if it’s true.  Instead, if you must point out something in her behavior, ask questions instead of making statements. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re really being mean and insensitive right now,” ask her, “Something seems to be really bothering you today, are you okay and would you like to talk about it?”

Don’t put a time limit on her healing

In fact, take off your watch, because it could take months or even years (sorry) for her to heal and trust you again. But don’t lose hope; instead, you just focus on growing as a man and husband, not on her healing.  Allow her to grieve and heal on her own timetable, not yours.  Paul reminds us in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Immediately seek to self-correct when you do something wrong. 

Most husbands, when they’re trying to rebuild the trust in their marriage, aim too high; they aim for perfection.  And sometimes their wife may even expect it.  But that’s not realistic, and neither is it healthy for authentically rebuilding the trust. So, here’s a better, more realistic alternative; whenever you do something wrong (even unintentionally), immediately seek to correct it and make things right. Confess it, own it (take full responsibility without blame, shame, or explaining), and make amends. Even though this may not matter to your wife at the moment, when she has time to reflect, she will see the growth and maturity in your response.

how do you rebuild trust in a relationship

Focus on your obedience to Christ, not the results (or lack of results).  

In other words, don’t get discouraged because you’re not seeing the marriage results you want to see.  It’s not about results anyway; it’s about your obedience.  This will keep you from being discouraged and losing hope as your wife goes through the emotional rollercoaster of healing.  Therefore, focus on obedience, not results. Trust me, God will honor and bless obedience (eventually).  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Look for ways to serve and honor her without being noticed.  

You may wonder, how could this rebuild trust if she doesn’t notice it? This tip is more for you than it is for her. By serving and honoring your wife without her noticing, this will keep your motives pure. Think about it, by serving and honoring your wife, while expecting NOTHING in return, including thank you or acknowledgement, you’ll be actually training yourself to do the right thing even when she’s not around.  And whether she knows it or not (at the moment), your wife will discover you’re becoming a man who can really be trusted. 

Don’t ask or expect her to have sex with you.  

I know this will be difficult, but this goes hand and hand with the previous tip of developing pure motives.  As your wife heals, and struggles with trusting you again, she’s also going to question your motives.  Every good thing you do, she’s going to wonder if there’s an ulterior motive behind it (usually sex). So, even if she asks for sex, make sure she’s emotionally healed first. In the meantime, ask God for the grace to control your sexual desires during this season.  Rely on your community of support (your spiritual brothers) to keep you encouraged and hold you accountable as you seek to walk in sexual purity.

how to rebuild trust in a marriage after infidelity

Always give her an honest answer to any question she asks you. 

This seems to go without saying, but trust me, as you work on rebuilding the trust in your marriage, you’re going to be tempted to protect your wife’s heart and not cause any further damage to her emotions. This is called “co-dependency” and it can erode whatever trust you have left in your marriage.  Trust is built on truth, not emotional damage control. So, tell your wife the whole truth when she asks you a question, and make it black and white, no shades of gray.  Because a “half-truth” from you could be considered a “whole lie” to her; and she will resent you for it.

Show gratitude for ANYTHING she does for you that expresses love and caring.  

They say whatever we reward, gets repeated. And as much pain as your wife may be in, and as much damaged as you may have caused in your marriage, your wife doesn’t want her marriage to fail. But the mountain of emotional trust she must climb in order to repair what was broken can seem impossible to her.  But she’s going to do the best she can, no matter how many times she fails.  So, it doesn’t matter how small an effort she makes in trying to love you, acknowledge it; thank her for it, and let her know how much you appreciate it. Because what you appreciate (in your wife) appreciates in value.

Never tell her you know how she feels.  

In other words, don’t tell her, “I understand.” Because even if you do, she won’t believe you.  And don’t attempt to tell her how she should feel.  Just let her feel what she feels the way she wants to feel it.  You can ask her about her feelings, but don’t ever attempt to correct and explain them.

how long does it take to rebuild trust

Whenever you want her to do something for you, make it a request, not a demand. Because of her hurt, your wife may believe you don’t ever have the right to ask her to do anything for you ever again. And as irrational as that may sound, that’s her reality, and you have to be sensitive to it. So, instead, ASK don’t TELL (i.e. question: Could you…? Would you…?).  Get past what you expect from her as a wife, and focus on giving her what she needs from you as a husband. In fact, memorize what I call the “Humility Prayer”:

"God, I can only make requests,

I have no rights;

I walk by faith

and not by sight.

And if my requests are denied (by her),

I will endure by seeking Your face;

and anything I receive (from her),

it's by Your grace."

Only get tough with her is if she gets verbally or physically abusive towards the children and puts them in danger. 

And if that’s the case, firmly, but lovingly set some boundaries to protect your family.  Ex. “Honey, I know I’ve hurt you badly, but I can’t allow you to take out your hurt and anger on the children.  This is my fault, not theirs. And I still have a responsibility to protect them and you.”  Even though she may resent you initially when you respond this way, she’ll respect you for it later when she has time to reflect.

Focus on building a friendship with your wife, not on restoring a marriage.

Friendship will always precede marriage.  You’re married by covenant, but you become friends by choice.  IN order to rebuild the trust in your marriage, your wife will have to like you before she can ever fall in love with you again and trust you.  Yes, this will take time, but look at it in stages instead of months and years – friendship first, then dating her, then re-marrying her. 

Rebuilding A Marriage After Trust Has Been Broken Take Time

We all know it takes time to rebuild trust in any relationship (especially a marriage), but unfortunately, it only takes one bad decision to break that trust.  And as hopeless as it may seems at times, as you seek to rebuild the trust, if you consistently focus on applying some of these tips, ideas, and principles to your marriage, I can guarantee you, you’ll have a better chance in rebuilding the trust than if you didn’t.

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