5 Tips for Building Trust in a Marriage

Kristen and I said “I do” to each other on September 15, 2001. At the time, Kristen was 31, and I was 28, and we both worked as physical therapists in Atlanta. We each owned a home, and both of us kept busy schedules. Work, church, community group, and other commitments dominated our calendars.

Suddenly, his decisions impacted TWO people.

When we got married, all of a sudden, I had to start running my decisions by someone else. Our first arguments as a married couple usually revolved around our schedules. A typical argument looked something like this:

Kristen (to Scott): What are you doing after work today?

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Me (to Kristen): I’m not sure. Why do you ask?

Kristen: Well, we’re married, and I’m just curious what my husband is thinking of doing after work.

Me: Hey – back off. You’re not my mom, you don’t control me, and why can’t you trust me?

And…scene.

Okay – it didn’t look quite that bad, but not too far off. Kristen often asked me what my plans were and I just as often responded in a defensive tone. To me, it felt like Kristen didn’t trust me and wanted to know what I was doing every second of my life. For her, she trusted me completely but genuinely wanted to know my plans. She looked forward to spending time together, but for whatever reason, I responded with defensiveness to her questions.

Some Important Lessons

As we began to work through these minor marital conflicts, we realized a few things:

  1. We’re normal. Every married couple deals with small issues that can become bigger issues if you don’t deal with them.
  2. Marriage is challenging! Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “…Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles…” We experienced some worldly troubles and shouldn’t be surprised by the challenges.
  3. We needed to establish trust in our relationship. Kristen and I had no reason to distrust each other, but the transition from a combined 59 years of singleness to marriage had some clunky moments along the way.

Now after being married 15.5 years, Kristen and I work like crazy to be on the same team and to build trust with one another. We keep each other up to date about our schedules, and I don’t become defensive when Kristen asks me about my plans or schedule.

Building Trust

How can you build trust in your marriage? There are many ways, but here are five ways Kristen and I have built trust into our marriage:

  1. Keep short accounts.When we stumble in sin, have wronged each other, or face temptation, we keep short accounts. This means that we don’t let a pile of resentment build in the middle of our home. In Ephesians 4:26b, Paul writes, “…do not let the sun go down on your anger.” In other words, work through your problems or issues as soon as you can. Sometimes it needs to be the next day (after the sun goes down), but make every effort to resolve your issues and live at peace with one another (Romans 12:18). We confess, share, ask for forgiveness, and communicate throughout the day.
  2. We keep in contact throughout the day.I know this one can be tough, especially for you men out there. I’ll bet your wife likes it when you text or call her throughout the day. The brief text message, emoji, or a quick call communicate to your spouse that you love them and can’t wait to see them.
  3. Believe the best instead of assuming the worst. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Paul wraps up his great passage on biblical love with these four powerful statements. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that love believes all things. Marital love ought to believe the best about the other person instead of assuming the worst. I know that when I go on the defensive with Kristen, that I need to believe the best about her instead of assuming the worst.
  4. We invite others into our lives.Kristen and I lean on and depend upon the relationships we have with other men and women. We build trust by establishing accountable friendships with others who help us grow and who challenge us when we fall short. I know I can trust Kristen because she has many other women in her life who will let me know if I have anything to be concerned about.
  5. We pursue Jesus and model our lives after the One who is most trustworthy. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We want to be a husband and wife who, like Paul, follow Christ. The Psalms are filled with reminders of the trustworthiness of the Lord. The more we follow Jesus, and the more we grow to be more like Him, the easier it is to trust each other in marriage.