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5 Habits to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage

Last Updated: May 16, 2019

Dan Wobschall
Dan Wobschall

Dan serves as the Director of Gateway to Freedom, a 3-day intensive for men, and also serves as a Sexual Integrity and Recovery Mentor. Gateway to Freedom is a ministry of Be Broken Ministries. Dan speaks nationally on Sexual Integrity Leadership team. Prior to his engagement in ministry, Dan spent 32 years in public safety. He & his wife Julie have been married for 34 years and live in Orlando, Florida.

To build anything that will hold up under the toughest of conditions and storms that will come, it is crucial to have a quality foundation. To maintain structural integrity over time, using quality materials to build that foundation is vital. Cut corners, and you weaken the entire structure and subject it to potential collapse under stress.

The quality of the components we use to build the foundation of our marriages is arguably more critical, if it stands a chance to survive the storms of life. One of the most destructive forces our marriages will ever be slammed with is pornography. 

Trust is the pure and powerful binding agent that holds our marital relationships together. Porn is trust’s greatest enemy. Its effects are relentless and destructive. And when that foundation of trust gives out and the structure of marriage sitting on top of it begins to crumble and fall, people get hurt leaving wounds and deep scars. And then what?

Can Our Marriage Be Rebuilt?

I wondered if our marriage could be rebuilt. I feared the damage I’d done was too severe to repair. You may be asking yourself that very question.

My answer to you–yes, it can be rebuilt.

Will it be easy? No. Trust built over time and destroyed in a moment will be rebuilt in time, not in a moment. In fact it will likely take a long time to restore and rebuild.

So where in the world do we begin? Here are five habits that provide a good starting point on the blueprint for rebuilding trust.

Habit 1: Leave no time unaccounted for in your day.

That’s pretty radical you say? Yep, you are right. It is. Share your schedule and plans of where you are going to be with you wife. Give her reasons to trust you. You can also have your accountability partner(s) be a person who knows your schedule. Give your wife full permission to check in with him. Keep no secrets!

Habit 2: Do things together that you might otherwise not.

One of the things Julie (my wife) and I do together now is grocery shopping. She’s not fond of doing that chore alone, and we make drudgery fun. I tell her my corny jokes (she’s very gracious), we reflect on fun times with our kids, and we have had many great discussions about life, future hopes and dreams while in the produce aisle.

Habit 3: Install Accountability Software on all devices with internet access.

Offer full access to your wife on the contents of the activity reports. If she is not receiving them, let her know she can contact your accountability partner anytime to get updated. Keep no secrets!

Habit 4: Her bedtime is your bedtime.

Even if you are not tired, grab a book and join her. Late at night, or when we are tired, is a very common time that we become vulnerable to temptation. Satan knows our every weakness and lays in wait to “steal, kill and destroy” in those moments. Ephesians 4:27 instructs us “and give no opportunity to the devil.” Do not give him the opportunity to stick his foot in the door.

Habit 5: Tell your wife when you stumble or are struggling with temptation.

No, I’m not kidding. Nearly all my fears about sharing my failings and struggles during my recovery, all proved to be faux fears. Instead of becoming angry with me, my wife’s trust grew as I was transparent and honest with her. Did it still hurt her? Of course it did. Yet she felt included, valued and it gave her an opportunity to pray with me and for me.

Radical Measures to Restore Relationship

We chose a pretty radical way to undermine the trust of our wives, so radical measures are required to rebuild.

Jesus took some pretty radical measures to restore the broken relationship between himself and us. In his total innocence he was beaten, crucified, died and rose again to rebuild that which broken trust destroyed in the garden.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Men, the cross of rebuilding trust is indeed ours to carry daily. That very cross, however, leads to a place of great hope, healing and restoration if we are willing to endure the path.

Trust is found in it’s most pure form in Jesus Christ. He is our example to follow and has shown us the way.

  • Comments on: 5 Habits to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage
    1. Dr. Harry Schaumburg on

      All those methods sound good and take time. But the opposite of mistrust is not to work on building trust, but caring. It can turn a marriage where trust is shattered around in a week. Let’s not draw this process out more than necessary!

      Reply
      • Annie on

        Wow. “It can turn a marriage where trust is shattered around in a week.”
        No. I don’t think so. How simplistic is your view at the depth of pain that infidelity brings? It took me six – nine months to even get the truth from my ‘husband’ — who was, in truth, joined/one with many others in the pure Biblical sense. As we are approaching year three of recovery, there is still very limited trust since #5 on the above list seems like a new concept — along with being truthful in the little things.
        While fortunate to be living in Colorado Springs area where my husband attends a 12 step program at Dr. Weiss’s facility, he is working on retraining old habits of 40 years of secrecy and self preservation.
        One week for me to–what? Forgive and forget and move on? How dismissive you are to the anguish of grieving women.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Thanks for speaking up, Annie.

        I agree with you that trust is something that takes real time to rebuild, even under the best of circumstances. Trust is broken in big and small ways, and it’s rebuilt in big and small ways. The best marriage research on earth is done by Dr. John Gottman, and he has some fascinating things to say about how to build trust. Hearing him speak on this was a huge aha moment for me, which I wrote about here.

        One of the things I find very often in porn recovery is that there’s a big emphasis on the man’s sobriety and on the marriage staying together, but often the needs of wives in recovery are almost completely ignored. I’ll have women come to see me whose husbands are “sober” and the marriage is “saved” but the wife still has serious symptoms of PTSD which have never been addressed or even acknowledged.

        Thanks for speaking up about the realities of recovery for women. The truth sets us free.

        Kay

      • A sex addict trying to rebuild trust on

        Shame on you for thinking that the devastating pain and anguish caused by this kind of betrayal can be turned around in a week! That is insensitive, unrealistic and UNCARING. Try caring about the fact that a wife has just lost everything that she believed in. She has heard years of lies and now a weeks worth of “caring” is to be believed?! Often the husband was still portraying himself as caring, all while betraying her. I know. I am such a husband and rebuilding trust with my wife will take lot’s of work from me and lot’s of time for her. It will also take staying away from “counselors” like yourself.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Thanks for speaking up. I agree with you that trust takes a long, long time to rebuild. Trust should only be given when someone is trustworthy, and we can only know that someone is trustworthy by their trustworthy behavior over time. Brushing off the wife’s need for time in recovery from relationship devastation is mind-boggling to me! I don’t know how a reputable counselor could say such a thing. Again, thank you for speaking up from a husband’s perspective. One of the things that helped the most in our recovery from my husband’s porn addiction was his willingness to be patient with my emotional processing. I personally think that is one of the key pieces to rebuilding trust. There’s some great stuff from Dr. John Gottman about building trust–he’s the pre-eminent marriage researcher alive today, and you might find his work helpful in recovery. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is just great. Peace to you, Kay

      • Roland on

        I lost everything.

    2. Stephen on

      All the above points are good. I’d like to add one more. Twice a week my wife and I sit down and discuss a Covenant Eyes blog. These blogs help us to stay focused and give us a forum to discuss how we are doing. Ever since the 40 day challenge of C.E. we have gotten in the practice of talking about all the advice and council that is out there. This approach has helped us rebuild and maintain trust with each other.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Stephen, that’s a really great idea. I really like how you’re keeping everything about sex and temptation out in the light! Well done.

        Peace, Chris
        -Covenant Eyes

    3. Dan Wobschall on

      Annie, thank you for sharing your thoughts. The experience of my wife and i rebuilding trust as well as the number of men & women I’ve mentored and counseled demonstrate what my words expressed in the article. Much prayer and a willingness to be open and vulnerable with each other is so very important. Stephen, well done indeed. The Light of Christ brings healing to the dark places of our lives. And the addict trying to rebuild. I’ve been witness to the hurt. It’s real and it truly takes time. My prayers are with all of you. Kay & Chris, thank you for your support!

      Reply

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