Rebuilding Trust in a Marriage
It’s hard to build trust in a marriage when a man has spent years or even decades lying to his wife about his secret sexual sin. But Jeff and Rose can testify to the Lord’s great power to restore a broken relationship. In this brief segment, they discuss some simple lessons they’ve learned on how to rebuild trust in a marriage.
Host: Jeff and Rose, as we focus on couples this week, we want to talk about what is admittedly a difficult issue for anyone. And that is the betrayal of trust. Jeff, how does a couple begin to deal with this issue?
Jeff: Well, first of all, the husband needs to understand the impact that has come from lying to his wife for a long time. He has hurt his wife very deeply by lying to the point that some wives actually are more upset at the lies he's told rather than the actual sin that was committed. And the husband has to understand that and realize that trust is not going to be something that's going to come automatic for his wife. He's going to have to be willing to be truthful and to handle things differently so that he can build that trust back into his marriage. And it might take quite some time to do that.
Host: So, do you find that sometimes the husbands think, “Well, ok. I've gotten all this out in the open. I've acknowledged everything that I did, so everything should be ok now.”
Jeff: Absolutely. That's what we see a lot of the time where the husband expects his wife to immediately begin to trust him as soon as he makes some visible changes. And really, I question whether that guy has really been broken over his sin if he is not willing to bear his wife through the process of building trust back into the marriage.
Host: So, are there any particular steps that he can take? What are the things that he needs to begin to do?
Jeff: Well, the Bible is pretty clear. In Ephesians 4:25 it says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25, ESV) And it pretty much comes down to learning how to speak the truth and being vulnerable. A lot of times a husband who is in sexual sin isn't honest about what is going on inside. So, the wife may sense that something's wrong, but he's lying and saying that everything's fine. But when a husband is honest, and he begins to speak truth from his heart and he's vulnerable to his wife then she can know that she can trust him. She can know that he is not putting a false front to her and that he is being honest about his struggles.
Host: Yea. And oftentimes, I would assume that a man is just looking at his own outward behavior, but God is wanting to do a deep inward work in his heart. And that's what the wife is looking for too. So, if a guy is just focusing on changing his behavior to make things right, he maybe won’t understand why his wife isn’t trusting him. What he'd be failing to understand is that she's looking to see if there's a heart change over a period of time.
Jeff: Absolutely. And sometimes the husband will fall into the trap of being lead to believe that she is just expecting perfectionism. So, in those cases the husband may fear that if he shares with his wife that he's struggling inside or that there's something not right inside then she's going to freak out. But really what he doesn't understand is it'll actually make her more secure if he is honest about his struggles. Our wives want to know what's going on inside of us and they're not looking for some spiritual superman. They're looking for a man that is honest and vulnerable and willing to open up his inside world with his wife.
Host: Rose, is there a different perspective that a wife in this situation has? How does a wife perceive this issue? Does she see it differently?
Rose: Usually the wife does not trust the husband at all. Even if he is someone who has gone through the Pure Life Ministries Residential Program and done all the right things, initially she still won’t trust him. And that's just where she's at in that point in time. Also, a wife will get frustrated a lot of times because the husband is in this mindset that he has proven himself to be trustworthy through the right things he has begun to do. But regardless of the outward acts, the husband still has a track record where he can't be trusted.
So, I try to help the wife to see that her focus needs to be on the Lord. She needs to see that the Lord is the one that her husband is accountable to primarily and she needs to trust that God is able to deal with him. Overtime as she sees the Lord working in his life and dealing with his heart, then the wife starts seeing that trust can be built back into the marriage. It can come back, but it really depends on the husband and how vulnerable he's willing to be and how open and honest he is with his wife.
That’s because you can trust someone that is honest and vulnerable. But someone that's been lying and deceiving – you can’t trust that person. And usually I'll ask the wife “When can you trust someone?” And the right answer is that you can trust someone when they're being honest with you. So, if they're not being honest, then they are hindering the Lord from working in the area of restoring trust in the marriage.