What Causes Broken Trust in a Marriage?

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Unfortunately, betrayals are basically inevitable in a marriage. And it’s simply because people aren’t perfect. We make mistakes from time to time. But did you every think, maybe you could be breaking your spouse’s trust – without even knowing it? To answer that question, you’ve got to know what causes broken trust in a marriage to begin with.

There are countless truths and falsehoods found in marriage advice on the internet.  But here's one you don't hear often: betrayal is inevitable in marriage (those should be words to live by).  Broken trust will happen (especially if you've been cheated on), you're going to be sad, and feel like your feelings are out of control. There are many little ways that trust is broken in marriage and relationships.  Broken trust does not mean your life is over.  But you should be aware of these small things that make it worse over time.  #marriageadvice #marriageishard #marriagestruggles

1. Lying

You might think that a little white lie here and there is not that big of a deal. But you are incorrect – BIG TIME. Here’s why. Little lies almost always lead to bigger lies.

In order to keep up with a lie, you have to tell other lies so your whole story doesn’t crumble. So all of a sudden, your one white lie has spiraled into a massive load of lies.

And if one thing goes wrong, your spouse will find out that everything you told them was false. And that’s exactly what causes broken trust.

And what happens next is worse. Once your spouse finds out about all the lies, they will feel betrayed. They will feel hurt, and worst of all, they will not believe anything you say for quite some time.

And that will get really frustrating when you really need your partner to listen.

2. Hiding the Truth

This goes hand in hand with lying, but is a little different. Perhaps there’s something that’s happened, or something that you know you should tell your spouse.

But you don’t. Because you’d just rather not deal with the hassle. Or you’d rather not hear your spouse yammer on about whatever it is you’re not telling them.

Here’s the thing: hiding the truth is a form of lying. It’s called lying by omission. To tell the truth, you must tell the whole truth.

If your spouse eventually finds out that you accidentally forgot, or conveniently left something out – well they’re not going to be happy. And then they’ll begin to wonder if there are other things you’re not telling them.

Once they begin to question the little things you say, it’s only a matter of time before they question everything you say. And at that point, it can get really tricky to repair trust in your marriage if you want to.

3. Not listening

Here it is straight up: if you don’t listen to your spouse when they speak, they will feel like you don’t care. End of story.

Imagine if you’re pouring your heart and soul out to your spouse. And their response is nothing more than, “Uh huh.” That’s really going to make you feel like they couldn’t give two cents about what you’re saying.

They’ll begin to believe you don’t care about anything they have to say. Because the track record shows that that’s true.

And once they believe you don’t care about what they have to say, they’ll also start to believe you don’t care about them. Usually it’s at that point that partners get distant, withdrawn, standoffish, and cold.

It’s absolutely possible to turn this around though. And it starts with asking simple questions. Try to learn about them, and about what’s going on in their world. Slowly but surely, they’ll learn that you’re interested in listening to them again.

4. Invasions of privacy

Wanna see who your hubby’s been messaging on Facebook. Don’t do it.

Wanna see if your fiancé has been looking a risqué photos on Instagram or Google? Don’t do it.

I completely understand the temptation. You want to see if your man is staying true to you. It’s like a test, and you want to make sure he’s getting a good grade.

Think about this: how would you feel if your spouse did this to you? (And if you’re getting snarky thinking, “It would be fine because he wouldn’t find anything,” stop it right now.)

It makes your spouse feel like you’re watching them. Like you’re they’re parent or something. And they didn’t marry you to feel like there’d always be someone there, watching their every step, making sure they tow the line.

They married you because they want a lifelong teammate, confidant, and friend. Don’t abuse the closeness in your relationship to use it against them.


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5. Bad-mouthing

We’ve all seen it. You’re at Thanksgiving dinner with all your family, and you start telling your sister-in-law about all the “dumb” things your husband forgot to do around the house this month.

This may seem like harmless girl-to-girl bonding, but it’s not. It’s a little thing I like to call “spouse shaming”. And whether your spouse hears you or not, it’s one the main causes of broken trust in marriage.

Your spouse will eventually know how little you think of them for two reasons.

  1. It will be reflected in the way you treat them. When you talk down about your spouse behind their back, you build up a narrative that you are superior to your spouse. That you’re better than them. And before you know it, your actions will reflect that.
  2. It will be reflected in the way others treat them. Similar to above, you’ve created a negative, even derogatory, narrative about your spouse that you’re sharing with someone they know. Now their opinion of your spouse has been influenced by this negative narrative. And sooner of later, it’ll show up in how they treat your spouse.

6. Unfairness with money

Money problems – almost everybody has them, regardless of whether you’re rich or poor.  It’s rare in a marriage, to find two spouses who make exactly the same exact amount of money.  It’s rare to find a couple where each spouse contributes to the marriage and lifestyle in equal amounts all the time.  

This issue comes up a lot with couples where one spouse works, and the other spouse stays at home with the kids.  Responsibilities are usually divided like this:

  • One spouse goes to work and manages the finances
  • The other spouse stays home, raises the kids, and manages the housework.

Sometimes the spouse that works feels entitled to making all the decisions about money, because they are the one that brings home the bacon. 

This is a really fast way to erode trust in a marriage.  It shows the stay-at-home spouse that you aren’t concerned with their needs, material or otherwise.  It shows them you aren’t interested in making mutual decision or in being a team.

7. (Almost) cheating

Everyone knows that cheating causes broken trust in marriage.  That much is obvious.   But there are grey areas that don’t often get addressed.

What about when one of your exes starts messaging you one day. They’re asking you how you’re doing, and start bringing up how good you were together.

And then you start to open up. Tell them how things haven’t been going well in your marriage. And you start to take comfort in this person you used to have an intimate relationship with.

Soon enough, this old relationship is rekindled into something that is a massive threat to your marriage.

As comforting as it can be to seek refuge in someone who used to care for you closely, it more akin to running away from your problems. And in the meantime, to your spouse, it will look like you’re running back to an old lover and leaving them behind.

8. Broken Promises

When you choose to marry someone, there are certain agreements that you make with them. You promise to:

  • love them and care for them always
  • stay with them in the midst of crisis
  • protect them from harm

…. the list could go on and on. But some of these agreements are unspoken as well.

When you marry someone, you promise many little things as well. You promise to be their teammate and their cheerleader. There’s an agreement that you’ll design your future together. And that it will suit both of your needs.

If at any point any of these promises are broken, trust will be immediately damaged. Once trust is damaged from a broken promise, it can take a very long time to rebuild it.


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