Trustworthiness in the Marriage Relationship

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Trustworthiness in the Marriage Relationship

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Imagine a company trying to use trustworthiness to spice up one of those entertaining Super Bowl commercials. They could show two guys sitting on a bench when a woman strolls by. One man turns to the other and exclaims, “Wow! Now there is a woman I could trust!”

It doesn’t have much zing, does it?

Of course, trustworthiness isn’t a quality that you can spot just by watching someone walk by. You would have to observe the person over a period of time, before you could discern trustworthiness or the lack of it.

Too often many things are spoken of as “sexy” in our world. Clothes, cars, your hair, your eyes, your voice and your ideas might all be called “sexy.” But while the topic of trustworthiness is not a flashy concept, it is actually a great deal more important to our marriages than many things people talk about.

We need to start with a definition. One dictionary (Houghton Mifflin) says about trustworthiness: “Warranting trust; reliable.” It implies the concept of being sound. When we use the word “sound” in this sense, we mean whole, complete, uncorrupted or unimpaired. It is closely related to the quality of integrity.

When dating and thinking about marriage, a question to ask yourself is, “Can I trust him (or her)?” And you need to ask of yourself, “Can he (or she) trust me?”

Let’s look at a prophecy Jesus made to His disciples in Matthew 10:34-35 about difficult circumstances that they would face.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

In the context, He was telling them the potential cost of discipleship. He was actually quoting an end-time prophecy from the book of Micah, chapter 7:6: “For son dishonors father; daughter rises against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are [those] of his own household.”

Now, look at verse 5: “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom.”

This broadens the picture. Have you experienced a close friendship turning sour? That is, one who at one time shared your deepest secrets and then could no longer be trusted with any personal information?

Then we come to the comment about a wife. This does not mean that every believer married to a spouse of a different faith or to one who has no religion will have a terrible marriage relationship! But I brought this up because God inspired these analogies to illustrate what He considers trusting relationships.

The normal situation is that you would feel free to share everything in your life with your spouse. It shows how much trust would normally be in marriage. Is that how you would characterize yours?

The importance of trustworthiness

What inspires you to trust someone? What would break that trust? The answers might vary from person to person, but there are some fundamentals we have in common.
Trust is both vulnerable and powerful. Here are four true/false statements about trustworthiness. How would you answer?

* It’s no big thing if I betray my spouse’s trust in me, or if he (or she) betrays my trust, because trust is easy to reestablish.

* It’s unfair of my spouse to expect me to be trustworthy at all times.

* I have no right to expect that I should be able to trust my spouse at all times.

*All there is to trustworthiness in marriage is remaining sexually faithful to each other.

All these statements are false!

Relationship with God

Our relationship with God is built upon trust. Looking at what the Bible says about trusting Him will help us understand its place in marriage.

In one of the rich exchanges between Boaz and Ruth as their relationship was building; he said to her, “May…a full reward be given you from…the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to trust” (Ruth 2:12, MKJV). Other translations word the ending “for refuge” or “to take refuge.”

Here is a word picture of a bird gathering and sheltering its young under its wings. Ruth felt this way about God, because He made her feel safe.

She felt safe in leaving her family and her home country and becoming part of Naomi’s community, her country and her God. Eventually, Ruth came to trust Boaz in the same way, and she married him.

How does this relate to marriage?

Notice Proverbs 31:11-12: “The heart of her husband safely trusts her, so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

The husband of the Proverbs 31 woman feels confident with her. He is not out pursuing risky and dangerous ventures. He trusts that she would not harm him.

The converse is also true, that the wife of a man of good character safely trusts in him, so she is not fearful. He will do her good and not evil all the days of his life.

Regrettably, the lifestyle philosophy of this world is that we should put the self first—“the me generation.” Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that selfishness seems to work in marriage so long as both are satisfied. But when one spouse in that kind of relationship no longer gets what he wants, selfishness explodes.

Terrible things happen. In order to make your spouse feel safe, you have to have true love, which transcends your desires and even your needs at times. Our philosophy as believers should be outflowing concern.


I wrote above that trustworthiness and integrity are related. Integrity comes in part from a Latin word, integretãs, meaning “soundness” and integer, meaning “complete or whole.”

A piece of wooden furniture that still has its integrity is uncorrupted by rot or insects. A metal spring that still stretches and retracts has its integrity. In other words, something that retains its designed or intended quality has integrity.

You cannot make someone trust you, for in the final analysis, every individual decides whether he or she will trust someone. And, it takes more to gain the trust of some people than others. That can be due to their temperament or it can relate to hurts they suffered at the hands of others before you ever knew them.

Of course, human beings are going to disappoint us from time to time. Every relationship is patched here and there with the glue of forgiveness. After all, we often fall short of our obligations to God, and He forgives us, for which we are thankful!

Remember what Jesus added to the model He gave to teach the disciples how to pray. Matthew 6:14-15 reads: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

When your trust has been betrayed

When trust is broken, a blow is stricken at the most tender, the most vulnerable part of any relationship. It can be fatal to a marriage, but it need not be so.

What can be done if you feel betrayed? First, you should communicate clearly how you feel to your partner and tell your spouse that he or she has hurt you deeply.

You should communicate your willingness to forgive when the situation changes, rather than give the idea that there is no hope. Try to put yourself in a position in which you are physically, emotionally and financially safe. Obtain any counseling you need to help you through a difficult time. Avoid the temptation to “do unto others what they have done unto you” by breaching trust through slander.

The one who betrayed the other’s trust should make every effort to come to understand the damage he or she has done to the marriage relationship. He or she should immediately take steps to right the wrong. He or she should stop the behavior that broke the trust and start behavior that works toward building trust. The objective is to become a person of integrity.

Allow the necessary time for healing and rebuilding the breach. You cannot demand that your partner trust you, nor can you expect to regain trust on a timetable. If necessary, obtain any help that you might need through counseling and don’t discuss your situation with just anyone.

Components of trustworthiness in marriage

Certain personal qualities foster trust. They are truly pillars of character that make for a trustworthy person. What are they?

* A spiritual commitment to God’s way of life, successfully resisting human nature and temptation.

*Taking financial responsibility to live within one’s means, avoiding unnecessary debt, managing necessary debt and working together to decide the family’s financial issues.

* A personal commitment to what is best for his or her spouse. Philippians 2:19-21 summarizes this point well about Timothy’s caring nature; your spouse needs to be the one who cares for and about you like no other. Note: This needs to be mutual. You must be this to your spouse as much as he or she is to you.

*Honesty should have its own special category, even though it is covered in point #1, because it is so important. By the way, this does not justify unkind honesty or a lack of tact. “I can always take my spouse at his or her word” is a truly wonderful thing to be able to say. It is a valuable quality indeed. The opposite reality: “I can never be completely certain that what he or she says is the truth” is devastating to a marriage relationship. It seems so simple, but its worth cannot be overstated.

* Your spouse makes you feel safe and secure. He or she accomplishes this through countless gestures, large and small, conveying respect, kindness and gentleness.

With God’s help, let’s all work at being the kind of person in whom a spouse can safely trust.

Recommended reading:

Read our free booklet Marriage & Family: The Missing Dimension. Ask for your free copy by clicking the link below.

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  • leonardormera
    I need to regain my faith with God. This article has opened the doors to move forward & better understand trust. Thank you. Leo
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