He's late again and hasn't called. She's not responding to text messages or voicemails. Where is he? Why won't she respond? A gap- doubt, wondering, question- is created in each of these circumstances...whether you choose to fill that gap with trust or suspicion will make all the difference in your marriage.
As Scott and I rebuilt our marriage, establishing trust was paramount. In marriage, forgiveness, encouragement, and respect must be given freely and generously, and we had been walking that out, taking that time to pray together, share our hurts, seek and grant forgiveness. (Read our journey of rebuilding trust: How Do I Trust Him Again?)
Trust, on the other hand, is built upon consistent behavior over time. Andy Stanley wrote a book Trust vs. Suspicion, which is a leadership book, but so many of the nuggets from his book and video apply to other relationships, including marriage.
Often there are unexplainable gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do. We choose what we place in those gaps. Our choices determine the integrity of the relationships. We can choose to fill them with trust or suspicion. ~Andy Stanley
What does trust look like in your marriage?
Trust God first. Psalms 118:8 tells us “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” When you feel suspicion rising, pray. Praying refocuses your thoughts, giving you better perspective on your circumstances and situation.
Trust and be trustworthy.These are both choices. It is important for husbands and wives to each choose to be trustworthy, regardless of the choices of their spouse. Being trustworthy is not the same as being flawless, it means that you will be worthy of your trust and you'll address the gaps you create.
Suspicion is a dark path. The enemy will take advantage of that moment of doubt and turn it into a foothold then a stronghold if you continue down the path of "what if" and the possibilities of what your spouse is really doing. You've got to speak truth wrapped in love. Instead of suspicion...
Choose to think the best.When there is a gap between what you expected and what you see, choose to trust their character and past trustworthiness. That's what you do for yourself, isn't it? When you're late or don't call, we justify it because you know the reason (there was traffic or no cell reception). What if you chose to trust your spouse, rather than choosing a path of suspicion, thinking the best of him/her?
When you are creating the gap, own it. Recognize when your behavior isn't what you'd want to see from your spouse. Call or text when you are running late. Communicate well. Do what you say you'll do, and when you don't, tell your spouse and seek forgiveness if you need to. And if your spouse points out this gap, own it, be transparent.
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you... ~Matthew 7:12
What do you do when you don't see consistent trust building behavior, but instead the gap gets larger? Have that conversation with your spouse, explaining the trust gap, sharing what you see and seeking truth and accurate information, knowing that a trustworthy person isn't a perfect person, but someone who 'owns the gap' and communicates about it. Jesus teaches us how to have these conversations in Matthew 5:23-26 and Matthew 18:15-20. Pray. Seek a biblical counselor to get good direction.
What is the result of choosing trust over suspicion? Trust is built on consistent behavior over time, so the more you trust and choose to be trustworthy, the closer you will grow together, fostering intimacy, mutual trust and transparency as you pour trust, mercy, love and understanding into your spouse and marriage.
FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember gave us God's blueprint for marriage and continues to strengthen and transform it, it can change yours, too!
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