By: Leslie Cane: I often hear from couples for which trust is a huge issue. Usually, I hear from more wives than husbands on this topic but it’s clear that a trust is a large issue in many struggling marriages. Sometimes, the person writing has valid reasons to have trust issues. And other times, they are reacting from past relationships which have nothing to do with the trustworthiness of their spouse.
I heard from a wife who said: “I always feel like I can’t really trust my husband. He always tells little white lies and he hides little things. When I call him on it, he says that he gets so sick of feeling like I’m always trying to trip him up. He says I act like his mother rather than his wife. He says my nature is just to be suspicious and that no matter how he acts, I will find a reason not to trust him. I admit that my first husband cheated on me and so I am always suspicious of my husband. But honestly, if I wouldn’t catch him in lies, then I could back off a little. But every time I find out about his little untruths, it makes me feel like I need to watch him even more closely. This is really hurting my marriage. My husband has started avoiding me and calling me a nag. I don’t want to let my suspicions ruin my marriage. But I can’t help having them when I catch him in lies. I feel like if things don’t change, our marriage is just not going to make it. What can or should I do?”
This wasn’t an easy situation for either spouse. The wife had already been damaged by a man who wasn’t trustworthy. So she was overly sensitive to any untruth. And the husband resented this. But I strongly felt that there was a compromise that was possible, which I’ll discuss now.
Never Underestimate The Importance Of Trust In Your Marriage, Even If Your Spouse Doesn’t Get It: The wife sometimes felt guilty about placing such a huge emphasis on trust. But there was no need to apologize for this. Trust is vital in any important relationship, but it is the life blood of a healthy marriage.
You may try to tell yourself that you’re being too sensitive or that complete trust really doesn’t matter. But, deep in your heart, even when you try your best to turn a blind eye, you will likely always have those nagging feelings that never let you rest. That’s why it’s so important to come up with a compromise with which you can both be comfortable. I know it’s hurtful to have your spouse paint you as a nag, but the importance of trust shouldn’t be underestimated. And, if it’s important to you, it should also be important to your spouse.
Balancing Your Need For The Absolute Truth With His Need For Breathing Room: A huge problem that the wife faced was that every time she brought up trust issues because of her husband’s little white lies, he would pretty much mutter “here we go again” and just start to tune her out. He would then paint her as a paranoid nag, which would make her wonder what he was hiding.
It was important to break this cycle. my suggestion would be that the next time the wife caught the husband in an untruth, she might say something like: “honey, what you’re telling me just isn’t true. I’m not sure why you feel the need to hide things from me or to not tell me everything, but complete truth is so important to me and to our marriage that I’m going to ask you to commit to working on this with me. I know that part of the reason that you are so secretive is because of my own suspicious nature. And, I take full responsibility for that and I am committing to being more aware of it. At the same time, I don’t think I would be as suspicious if I knew that you were telling me the truth about even the little, seemingly unimportant things. Can I count on you to try to do better? I realize that my past is affecting our marriage. But I think if I could count of you to always tell me the truth, this side of me would not be as pronounced because it wouldn’t need to be.”
What Happens If You Put Your Cards On The Table And You Still Feel That You Can’t Trust Him?: The wife said she would try this approach, but she didn’t have a lot of faith that it was going to work. She said it was just part of her husband’s personality to always lie, even about tiny little things like what he had for lunch. This always made her think that he was trying to hide other, larger things.
If this is the case and none of your efforts work, then I would suggest counseling or at the very least for the wife to try to uncover what underlying issues might be contributing to the husband’s need to lie. Was there an underlying major problem between them that made him feel as if he needed to hide things from his wife? Did he have intimacy issues which contributed to him feeling as though he had to keep things to himself? Did he resent his wife’s suspicious nature and therefore lied in a passive aggressive attempt to punish her? These are just some possibilities. But sometimes, if the underlying issues aren’t solved, the husband will keep right on lying simply because he’s acting out of something rather than a lack of honesty.
No matter what was the cause of this lack of trust, it was important that the couple address it. Because continuing to distrust your spouse leads to resentment, doubt, and unhappiness. And that is no way to live your life and to conduct your marriage.
Trust was just one of the issues that I brushed under the rug when my husband and I were having problems and it came back to haunt me. If I had it to do over again, I would have dealt with this issue much earlier. I was able to save my marriage, but not without a lot of heartache and turmoil. Dealing with a small problem before it becomes a huge problem is always the way to go. If it helps, you can read about the process we used to save our marriage on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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