Marriage Advice

Broken Trust

Nothing breaks our hearts more than when someone breaks our trust. We work with an assumed social contract with those people closest to us. The people we call our closest friends are assumed to be those people who would never do anything to harm us. We expect our friends to support us and encourage us. We are expected to support and lift them up as we do our part of keeping that social contract of friendship.

The closer the friendship, the more devastating the results will be from a broken trust. Take it one step further; we never expect our marriage partner to do anything that would break our covenant vows. The reality is that sometimes friends will let us down. When it is our marriage partner it is as destructive as an 8.5 earthquake and a 25 foot tsunami besides!  We look at our spouse afterward and wonder, “Can I ever trust that person again?”

It all started out so well.

When couples come into my office to talk about getting married, they never seem to think of any circumstance when either person would betray the trust of the other. It would be irrational to marry someone who had broken promise after promise, vow after vow and could not be trusted to keep their word or contract. By the time that couple comes into the pastor’s office to be married, they have built up a level of trust in each other that pushes any thought of failure out of their minds. They expect that the trust they have at that moment will only get stronger as they live their lives and grow in their love.

The problem is that we are never perfectly honest with each other.

If we could really inspect a person’s heart we would find things they hold very tightly inside that “need fixing”.  Back in my old real estate days, we would take a beat-up old house and fix it up. When you get a house ready to put on the market, the cheapest thing you can do to make it look really good is put on a fresh coat of paint. We all know that fresh paint does not fix the broken plaster or termite damage. It does not cure the mildew issues or broken foundation. It may seem like the water damage has disappeared from the last plumbing leak, but there can still be problems that have not been addressed. Painting is a good idea, but it does not “fix” anything.

Most people have been painting over or putting another layer of wallpaper on parts of their private lives that really should be inspected and repaired.

God’s Word tells us that we are “broken people” on the inside.

Some people call it our human nature. Others will write about it as our sinful nature. I explain it by pointing to a small child. They are born with no comprehension of the needs of anyone else in their lives. They want what they want and they want it right now. They fear what they fear and scream in terror when those fears invade their dreams. When they fear (or want) something, that pleasant child can become a tyrant in the family. They need what they need no matter what anyone else might need. They grab what they want regardless of who it might belong to. They don’t have any judgment about the impact of what they are doing to anyone else. That “child” inside the personality of both marriage partners never dies.

We teach our children how to live and how to love. We teach them how to be responsible adults and look out for the needs of those around them. However, I know from many years of working with people, there will be that child that wants what it wants or fears what it fears pulling on the heart as long as we live.

Why don’t we see that influence all the time?

The reason we don’t see that sinful nature (or human nature) all the time is simple: we are basically dishonest people. We cover it up pretty well most of the time. It is part of being a grown up person to put on our grown up faces before we leave the house each day. We don’t like being seen when we first get out of bed because we are in our “natural state”. We don’t go to work without cleaning up and brushing our hair and teeth as well as all the other stuff we do to get ready to face the outside world. We want people to see us as well-kept and orderly and maybe even elegant!

We all know that we are not that way all the time. We just don’t want people knowing what we look like first thing in the morning. And, we don’t want people seeing that part inside of us either.

We all hide things.

You can ask any couple if they have thoughts, feelings or ideas that they don’t share with each other. Everyone will tell you the same thing. We keep a big part of our heart and mind trapped inside of us. We don’t even want our lifetime partners to know everything about us.  It is from this part that normally stays hidden that most of the broken trust events come from. Those undiscovered thoughts and feelings are now open to be repaired.

At that moment, when we discover something about our spouse that changes the way we will see them and understand them, remember one thing:  You married them for some very good and solid reasons. Those reasons are the things that will carry you through this time of broken trust. These times will test the character of everyone in the relationship, but they can, and often do, lead to an even stronger marriage.

Photo credit: bronayur licensed under Creative Commons

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