Ask the Expert
In today's Ask the Expert CMR Co-director Alisa Grace addresses the issue of mistrust and offers a practical formula to answer the question: "How can a spouse support another spouse that struggles with trust issues?"
When traveling across the United States speaking at marriage, family, or couples conferences, Chris and I are almost always asked something related to trust. This makes sense, because trust is a big deal, in both our economy and God's. Our most important relationship, our relationship with God, requires that we trust Him, so why would it be any different in our primary relationship? While the need for trust is clear, the way we get there does not always feel as easy.
There is a formula I often use when addressing trust within a marriage, and that is: CB/T. That’s stands for Consistent Behavior over Time. That means always do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’re going to be home at 6:00pm, be home at 6:00pm, not 6:30pm, not 7:00pm. If you say you’ll pick the kids up from school, do it. If you say you’re going somewhere specific, make sure you’re there and the people you said would be there are there. And be patient; trust can take years to build and seconds to lose.
Have an open book policy
Give your spouse free access to your passwords, your cell phone, your computer, your emails, your texts, your social media. Unless it is for professional reasons requiring confidentiality, restricting or limiting access to these things only makes it look like you’re trying to hide something.
Ask for help
If an inability to trust or to be trustworthy continues, you may need to consider professional marital counseling as a couple or an individual. There may be deeper issues at play for you or your spouse that need to be addressed.
The idea of trust, specifically when there is mistrust, makes us feel vulnerable to potential consequences of the other person's actions. When we are emotionally driven in a siutation, a structured formula is often the best way to help guide our emotions to see if they are in line with the reality of the situation. So, next time you may find yourself questioning trust, look to see if there is Consistent Behavior over Time.
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their youngest blessing, Caroline.