Trust In Relationships: It’s a paycheck, not a lottery


Trust in relationships is a powerful force. With it, everything seems clear and safe – because you have confidence that you know critical information and that you can rely on your partner. Without it, you lack confidence, because everything is uncertain, scary, and bleak.

It is frustrating to know your partner does not trust you. The knowledge can be quite painful. It is also, underneath the hurt, empowering. You know what is wrong, so now you can figure out how to fix it.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald

Trust is earned, as is credibility. It is not something freely given, no matter how much society tries to pretend that it is. Trust is earned by repeatedly telling verifiable truths. It is earned by not causing harm to another. It is earned when someone is always there to catch us when we fall. It is damaged when someone allows us to fall or, worse, is the cause of the tumble. It is damaged when untruths are detected. It makes us question what else has occurred. What else was dishonest? When else were you pushed and caused to stumble?

How to Repair Lost Trust

The answer to the loss of trust in relationships is to first realize that there is a reason for it. Second, you need to take responsibility for it. Third, you need to repair the wound your partner sustained when you were untrustworthy. Fourth, you need to accept that it takes time to rebuild trust. Finally, you need to behave in a trustworthy manner so as to actually rebuild the trust.

Repairing Trust Takes Time

People come to me all the time complaining that their spouse doesn’t trust them. My answer is to repair their credibility and behave in a verifiably trustworthy manner. “He should just know I’m telling the truth.” No. Read The National Enquirer. Do you just know that any article in there is true? I hope not. The problem is credibility. Until you rebuild your own, you must rely on the credibility of other things that independently verify your truthfulness.

Don’t Try To Stand On What You Don’t Have

Spouses who have lost credibility make the mistake of trying to stand on it anyway. If you try to stand on a bridge that isn’t there, you are going to fall. The same thing happens when you try to stand on missing credibility. They also attempt to portray it as the problem of the spouse who doesn’t trust them. “She just has trust issues.” My answer is, “She has issues trusting you because you’ve taught her that trusting you leads to pain and/or humiliation. She shouldn’t trust you. Want trust? Earn it.”

Final analogy: trust isn’t like the lottery, where you get a lot for practically nothing. It’s more like a paycheck that has to be earned.

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4 Responses to Trust In Relationships: It’s a paycheck, not a lottery

  1. Pingback: So You Want To Improve Your Marriage - Intro & Avoiding Common Mistakes - Marriage AdvocatesMarriage Advocates

  2. Pingback: Ending Your Affair and Returning to Your Marriage – Part III: Rebuilding Trust - Marriage AdvocatesMarriage Advocates

  3. Daisy72 says:

    Love the article!

  4. Ace says:

    Great article. (I also like your graphics showing an “Ace of Hearts up one’s sleeve.” )

    Four years ago, I sought online help to rebuild trust after being betrayed. I learned that I might never be able to blindly trust my spouse ever again. I’d be interested in exploring the lottery analogy (getting a lot of trust for practically nothing). Being a gamble, the “lottery” aspect seems to describe blind trust, which is what most spouses have early in their relationship. Once it’s shattered, some think it can never be re-assembled to its original condition.

    After it’s been broken, can trust ever be earned back in totality?


    P.S. I will cut/paste this comment on the discussion forum linked to this article.

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