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3 Steps to Start Rebuilding Trust and Respect in Your Marriage

Last Updated: October 16, 2018

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.

Marriages Need Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are the concrete and re-bar of a strong marital foundation. If one or the other is missing, the marriage structure is weakened and subject to damage.

When you and I chose the road to lust land, the erosion of your marriage foundation began. If you’re single, it holds true for any future marriage. This road is paved with destructive potholes. It’s a path of daily aggravation, and it’s no fun to drive on.

Rebuilding trust is possible, but it will take hard work and significant time.

3 steps to start rebuilding trust and respect in your marriage

Here are three action steps you can take today to begin rebuilding and growing the trust in your marriage. Although I’m coming at this focused on men as the offender, they still apply when the circumstances are reversed.

There are most certainly more than three action steps required to rebuild trust in your marriage or relationship, yet these three are powerful and necessary.

Step 1: Be Honest

Seems obvious doesn’t it? Let’s be real here. We’ve been lying about our conduct for an extended period of time, quite likely for years. You should also expect your wife to not believe a word you say for a long time. So it follows that it’s going to take time to rebuild her trust and your words and promises aren’t going to be enough. Nor should they be, for a while.

Related: 3 Reasons Decepton Is More Destructive Than Porn For Your Wife

Part of this step is letting your spouse catch you doing the right thing! Stop talking about doing what’s right and DO it!

  • No more hiding spending habits.
  • Be where you said you’d be and when you said you’d be.
  • Initiate confession. No matter how minor a stumble, or how serious. Tell her first. Don’t let her find it out on her own. Confession hurts, lies destroy.
  • Be accountable to her for your time without being asked.

Step 2: Listen More Than You Talk

Your wife wants to be known deeply by you. In James 1:19-20, God tells us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” I guarantee you’ll learn more by listening than you ever will by speaking (especially about our spouses). If your wife is speaking to you, she is telling you something about herself, regardless of the topic of discussion. Pay attention.

Here are a few good listening tips:

  • Maintain eye contact (except when driving…watch the road please) with her.
  • Listen for what she’s saying as well what she is not saying.
  • Repeat back to her anything you’re not 100 percent sure you understand. That behavior tells her you’re listening and what she is sharing with you is important to you.
  • Demonstrate you’ve been listening to her by acts of service.
  • Don’t be formulating a solution while she’s still speaking. LISTEN.

Step 3: Be Humble

Here’s a tough but accurate truth: the proud cannot be taught. Pride is involved at some level in the sexual struggle of porn use or addiction. The Bible warns that pride comes before the fall.

Every man I mentor and coach suffers from pride-laced, self-centered thinking. My life was loaded with it before my long fall to the hard cold depths of my brokenness.

So what does humility look like? Here are a few steps toward being and, demonstrating humility.

  • Be willing to receive instruction, advice and correction. Proverbs 12:1 exhorts us, “He who hates correction is stupid.” If you don’t have solid accountability, it’s time to get it.
  • Curb your desire to be defensive when confronted about poor decisions and inappropriate behavior, whether it’s real or perceived. Defensiveness is a form of blame shifting. Resist it!
  • Humility is demonstrated in sacrificial service to others, and in this case, to your wife.
  • Practice thankfulness. It’s one of the best antidotes for pride and self-centeredness.

Each one of these actions holds a common focus. They are other people focused, not self-focused. They are giving focused and not receiving focused. Our porn use was entirely about us and these steps turn the sight of our minds externally from internally.

You can find other steps by reading my article entitled “5 Habits to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage.” Restoring trust in any relationship is very tough, and in a marriage, the challenge is typically even more difficult.

Embrace extending patience to one another during this process. It’s the one thing you will need the most of during this journey. Don’t give up on yourself or one another.

Christ Jesus is the master rebuilder. Setting your heart upon honoring Him in this process will make honoring your wife that much easier in the process.

  • Comments on: 3 Steps to Start Rebuilding Trust and Respect in Your Marriage
    1. Unwound

      “2: Listen More Than You Talk”
      — Married 38+ years — my husband has been doing SA recovery 9 years … I am losing hope that my husband will ever learn to LISTEN to me.

      • Kay Bruner

        Yeah, I would hope that after 9 years of recovery work, you’d see more restoration to the actual relationship. If he’s still not listening to you, that’s an indicator to me that the emotional trust of the relationship is not being restored as I would expect it to be, if he were making good progress. A healthy marriage is not just about “not looking at porn,” it’s about having a bond of emotional trust that nourishes both partners. Here’s an article about emotional trust that you might find helpful, just in identifying what’s going on here. Here, here, and here are some articles on boundaries that may also be helpful. Trust yourself, and have the boundaries that are right for you. Peace, Kay

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