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“King Edward VII of Great Britain was quite a playboy in his day, and his wife, Queen Alexandra had often ignored his infidelities and wild escapades. As he lay on his deathbed, his faithful wife was grief stricken until one reassuring thought occurred to her. She turned to Lord Esher and remarked, “Now at least I know where he is.””trust_marriage

“Trust is like a vase.. once it’s broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be the same again.”  In every marriage there are two imperfect people brought together by a perfect God for His purposes. Marriage is an act of faith and a miracle that is happening daily. The ingredients of any good relationship include a sense of acceptance, confidence, honour and intimacy. The openness means spouses are making themselves vulnerable in the hands of the other. Trust says, in spite of your imperfections and potential to take advantage of me, I will still make myself vulnerable in your arms. The companionship, the honesty, the sense of comfort and relaxation in the care of the other, giving each other important tasks and responsibilities are all indications that there is trust.

In the course of life we all trust others till they prove otherwise. Parents leave their invaluable children in the hands of maids and teachers they hardly know while they go to work. Commuters trust the Kombi driver to safely take them to their destination. Car owners trust a mechanic to do their best to keep the car safe on the roads. Every person who takes a journey by air travel is trusting the travel agent, the airline, the technicians who certify the aircraft as airworthy and that the person who claims to be a pilot is capable, sober and healthy enough to land safely.

“Trust means enabling other people to take advantage of your vulnerabilities—but expecting that they will not do this.” Anon


This Session Is Intended To Help the Participant to Appreciate That People Will Break Trust But There Is Hope And Trust Can Be Rebuilt.

Some Basics

Characteristics of trust:

  1. Optional – we make a choice to trust someone
  2. Attitude – Past experiences and what I think about myself, what I think about what I think others think about me and what I think God thinks about life determines how I view and respond to challenges in life
  3. Risky -Trusting is a risk we take and we need to be prepared for possible losses
  4. Costly – vulnerability means I am ready to take the risk which could cost me in many ways (emotionally, financially, loss of time, loss of relationships etc.)
  5. Can be proven – My trustworthiness encourages others to trust me
  6. Fragile -it’s easy to break trust, it may never be exactly as before, but it can be restored
  7. Grows -it does grow if well nurtured

Generally there exists a natural gap between expectations and emotional needs of each partner in a marriage. Such a gap invariably results in tension which if not addressed leads to emotional and physical isolation. The more one or both partners continue to have unmet needs and unresolved issues, the more they feel insecure and lose trust in the other. Trust is lost when there has been betrayal, in situations of dishonesty, of affairs of any level and where one partner has been unfaithful in some way. The result is deep hurt that takes time, commitment and sacrifice to heal and rebuild trust.


Why Trust?

Every relationship is based on trust. Together with unconditional love, unequivocal commitment trust is key component of a healthy marriage. Where a relationship is growing in intimacy, there is greater vulnerability. With time a couple is supposed to attain the deepest level of communication – transparency. Partners at this level have “firm belief in the reliability or truth of the other”. In trust you voluntarily make yourself dependent on another person for some outcome in your life. Tom Marshal.

“To Be Trusted, Trust” – trust is the attitude that undergirds, interconnects, intergrates, interelates all human emotions and affections.

“Trust – breathed in an artmosphere of love, nourishes life like oxygen” As a result if one is starved of trust, they will do all they can to get it elsewhere. This can expose a marriage to affairs. “… as the trust level rises the willingness to risk being open with each other increases too. The two go hand in hand. Trust and risk. Acceptance and honesty. Each is advanced by the other, each is dependent on the other; they are mutually strengthening.

Trust is not a requirement for marriage; it’s a reaction to experience. It grows as each spouse shows himself or herself to be trustworthy. Anon

Situations which lead to a breach of trust

  1. Infidelity/Unfaithfulness of any nature – with a person or addictions to pornography
  2. Breach of Confidence – when what is shared in confidence is shared with outsiders – in-laws, friends or pastors
  3. Dishonesty – whatever is understood as dishonesty leads to breach of trust, no matter the intention
  4. Not being open – at times done in the pretext of protecting the spouse or to surprise, can backfire.
  5. Invasion of Privacy – Action considered inappropriate and snooping into mail and cell phone activities etc.
  6. Mistrust – Behaviour read by the other as mistrusting can damage trust, past experiences can render one untrusting

Consequences of breach of trust

Conflict expressed in anger, resentment, rage, revengeful thoughts, avoidance and withdrawal among many other harmful ways. The ultimate is emotional and physical divorce.

Pathway to trust

This starts with understanding behaviour patterns that indicate a trusting of distrustful attitude. The table below adapted from David Augsburger’s work includes a column for actions that encourage building trust.

Distrustful behaviour patterns Trust Building Actions
  • Constantly Evaluating Others
  • Directing judgmental statements at persons and personalities
  • Attempting to control anothers’ actions, words, expression of feelings
  • Using strategies to get desired outcomes, manipulation or threat
  • Acting distant, neutral and superior when another feels weak or hurt
  • Demanding absolute promises and ironclad guarantees from others.
  • Dogmatically asserting your opinions and view-points, black and white perspective to life
  • Avoiding all value judgements of persons and personalities
  • Objecting to specific behaviours – not the person who does such things
  • Respecting freedom to think, feel and choose
  • Making simple, honest statements and clear open requests.
  • Being willing to share, to vulnerable as an equal with equals
  • Allowing room for spontaneous choices, responses and actions.
  • Giving tentative statements which are open to others’ feelings and opinions