Can Spouse Trust Again?
In our situation, we were married in 1986, I got pregnant (by choice) in July, we moved, my mother moved in with us (she has MS) and our first son was born in April of 1987. Not long after that, I remember one evening being exhausted after working all day and then coming home and cooking and dealing with the baby, etc., etc….. that my husband and I got into a heated discussion and I told him that maybe I had made a mistake and wasn’t ready to be married and have a family, etc. I think maybe it was postpartum depression….anyhow, I forgot about it. Now, 10 years later, he still can recount every word that I said and has dwelled on this for so long that he came to hate me. He left me and our two boys last summer (july, 1997). He was so angry when he left!
I don’t think he really wants a divorce – we have been to counseling and
have really been working on this, but there is something keeping him from coming home. I have prayed and believe that God will restore our marriage. I wish I could help my husband more. I think one thing that is hindering him is just plain fear – afraid that I will “reject” him again. Do you have any counsel for helping him over come this?
Thanks.Answer: Dear Friend:
My first question is: “Is your husband a Christian?” The reason I ask this is that when we put our trust in Christ, we experience 2 very important spiritual processes. We take the step of trusting God for our salvation and our lives. We experience His forgiveness through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins.
Maybe you are thinking, “how does this apply to a situation where my husband no longer trusts me because of harsh words I spoke to him years ago?”
It applies for the following reasons:
1. Trust begins and ends with God. Trusting another person has to have a certain expectation of failure and thus be combined with a willingness to forgive.
Heb. 12:1-2 talks about how Christ is the author and perfector of our faith. Faith comes from God. Our faith is in God. God is the giver of faith and the object of faith. Because of those 2 facts, we need a new perception of what it means to trust people.
People are human, frail, and sinful. Therefore, we need a realistic type of trust when we choose to trust people. We can trust God totally. If things don’t work out or our prayers aren’t answered, we can say that “God is God and I am not”. “He knows what He is doing and has a plan I don’t understand right now, so I can keep trusting Him. My life and circumstances are in His hands and under His sovereign control.” But when we are let down by people who don’t keep their promises or meet our expectations because they are human and fallible, then our trust has to be in God instead of them.
We can trust God for people and trust Him to help us handle the times they let us down. We can have a limited trust in people because of their good character qualities and how they have treated us in the past, etc., but people will let us down. That is reality. That is why Christ had to die for our sins….because we never can totally keep the law and live perfect, righteous lives.
You will never be perfect and therefore, you will probably disappoint your husband again. You can promise never ever to say those things again to him, but what if you slip sometime? Or what if you say something cross to him and he takes it that way again? He needs to trust that you will apologize for it and that he can trust your apology. We still fight our sinful tendencies within us. None of us is perfect.
2. Secondly, because God has forgiven us totally in Christ, we have a basis on which to forgive others. Paul in Ephes. 4:32 writes, “Be kind and compassionate towards one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV) Because of God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are cleansed, righteous, and justified before Him. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. That verse says that since we still sin we need to continue to confess those sins to keep our relationship with God unobstructed. That is exactly what needs to happen in relationships. We still hurt each other and need confession and forgiveness in order to reconcile and keep our relationships healthy and loving. Forgiveness is one of the keys to trusting another fallible human being again.
3. Thirdly, God can help us forgive. God can bring the healing and realistic trust back into our relationships. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
Another aspect of this problem is your husband’s self-esteem. He has been wounded by your words. Maybe his self-worth is low and maybe he has not built his self-worth on the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Talk to your husband about starting over by putting Christ at the center of your lives and marriage. If Christ is not in control of your lives then the old behavior will probably not change. With Christ you and your husband can begin again, and determine to put the pain and hurt behind you; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Cor 5:17 (NIV) You can learn to behave in healthy and loving ways towards each other.
I would recommend that you and your husband consider attending a PREP workshop or counseling. Read these excellent books together on the topics of separation and forgiveness:
Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed by Gary Chapman
Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis Smedes
I hope this is helpful. God bless you!
© copyright 2007 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC