To say that trust is essential to marriage is a gross understatement. Trust may be easy to give in the beginning, but once it’s lost, it’s incredibly hard to regain. Not impossible, just incredibly hard.
When choosing a mate, there is one very important question to ask yourself: “Do I believe this person is basically good-willed toward me?”
In his amazing book, Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs touched on the concept of good will. This means that even though your sweetie does not always hit the mark, occasionally hurts you, and sometimes fails to treat you lovingly and/or respectfully, you will believe (based on prior experience) that he or she is basically good-willed towards you. This means that he or she does not actively and purposely seek to antagonize or hurt you, but can do so out of his or her human frailty (sinfulness and selfishness).
Do not – I repeat – DO NOT marry someone unless you honestly believe he or she has good will towards you.
If your girlfriend likes to disrespect you and “put you in your place,” even after you’ve made it clear that it bothers you, she’s not a good match for you. Even if she is joking, if this is a constant behavior, it will eventually get under your skin.
If your boyfriend continues “picking on you” or “joking with you” in such a way that breaks your heart and makes you feel devalued, even after you’ve told him it hurts you, walk on by and don’t settle.
The starting point of trusting anyone – step one – is believing your heart is safe.
Lack of Trust Inhibits Connection
Without trust, a relationship can hobble along for a while. If relationships were hinged on both people having complete trust, we would see a lot more single folks. Many people are in relationships with someone they cannot trust because they are waiting for improvement, they are hoping their gut feeling is wrong (and hoping the other person will change), or they think being with someone untrustworthy is better than being alone.
It’s rare, however, for a dating relationship to last when there are repeated trust issues. We want to protect ourselves from hurt; so, when we are abused, we wrap layers of protection around our hearts. After repeated attacks, we don’t let people inside who emotionally sucker punch us.
Healthy relationships require connection – and connection requires trust. In order to connect heart-to-heart with someone, we have to believe he or she will not hurt us. The more that trust is broken, the less connection can be created and sustained.
Trust is not only broken by unfaithfulness or mind games. Trust can be broken by poor priorities, repeated fights, and broken promises too. Connection in a relationship is like the blood flowing through our veins. When trust is not present, connection is blocked. When connection is blocked long enough, the relationship dies.
Look for Patterns
Occasionally, your sweetie will fail you. If you take every mistake to heart and refuse to forgive, you may as well walk away from the relationship now (honestly, any relationship). However, you should attempt to notice patterns. If your boyfriend has a history of lying to you and continues to be a trend, that’s a red flag. If your girlfriend continuously spends time with ex-boyfriends behind your back, that is a red flag.
And trust your instincts as well.
Make a Sincere Promise
Before you get married, look into each other’s eyes, hold each other’s hands, and say, “I will be honest with you from now on.” But, only say it if you mean it. This is just your way of launching what Eric and I encourage our clients to do: to create an honesty only policy in your relationship. If you want, have a ceremony (either large or small) where you promise to always be honest with each other so it is easier to reflect and remember when it occurred.
This honesty only policy is not a license to be brutal or to say every true thought that crosses your mind; but, if a question is asked, an honest answer will be given – and if something needs to be discussed, it will be discussed.
Eric and I have an honesty only policy in our marriage and, though sometimes feelings can get hurt, it has brought us both a lot of peace. Trust is huge. No marriage will meet its full potential if this essential element is missing.
Do you and your sweetie trust each other?