How to Build Trust in a Marriage: 9 Ways to Create and Maintain Trust

Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

Whether you’re about to enter into a marriage or if you’ve been married for 20 years, building trust in marriage is something you can do over and over again. Marriages aren’t perfect, and they require frequent maintenance.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • The importance of trust in marriage
  • Tips on building trust
  • What impedes trust in marriage
  • How couples counseling can help

Why Is Trust So Important in a Marriage?

Marriage is, in part, an emotional experience. There are moments of elation: experiencing a full heart as you feel the impact of your spouse's love, seeing your child smile for the first time, and thinking, “Wow, we made life with our love.”

There are also moments of hurt: working through hard decisions about finances, being at odds with each other, and trust being broken.

All of these experiences are easier to go through if your marriage is built on a firm foundation of trust. Trust lets both people in a marriage experience difficult emotions, hard situations, and stressful events safely. Because at the end of the day, you’re both committed to staying.

9 Tips to Building Trust in a Marriage

On the day of your wedding, you likely said some vows. These vows aren’t a set of magical words you say in order to be married. They’re a commitment.

There’s a reason wedding vows are exchanged on the first day of your marriage—they build trust. Over time these vows might be forgotten or misunderstood—what does it even mean to have and to hold? 

As you and your spouse live and grow together you’ll need to make an effort to continually show each other love, commitment, and trust. Here are nine tips for doing just that.

9 Tips for Building Trust in a Marriage

1. Be Honest

Honesty goes a long way.

Sharing thoughts, feelings, and fears tells your spouse that you trust them. Don’t get content just sharing mundane information, let your spouse know what you’ve been thinking and feeling.

Honesty goes beyond answering questions truthfully. Being honest with your spouse means:

  • Letting them know you’re having difficult thoughts
  • Explaining that something they did hurt your feelings
  • Being vulnerable and showing your emotions

Being open, genuine, and honest with your spouse might be easier said than done. In a healthy marriage, there’s a level of confidence and trust that your authentic self will be respected and cherished.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency means you’re reliable, dependable, and will react to situations in a way that makes sense to who you are. If you change your expectations, views, and plans frequently your partner will have a hard time discerning how to live with you.

By being consistent your marriage will be stable and your partner will feel:

  • Stable
  • Supported
  • Safe
  • Relaxed

Doing this requires work on your part. This means being well-adjusted, understanding yourself, and keeping yourself accountable. Throughout your years in marriage, you will change. This is where our next tip comes in handy.

3. Communicate Well

Communication is key to a healthy marriage. Without healthy communication, both people will be shooting in the dark.

Effective communication is important for:

  • Planning a vacation
  • Talking about expectations
  • Making weekend plans
  • Choosing what’s for dinner
  • Talking about having children

Married people are always making plans and navigating through each other’s feelings and expectations. Expecting your spouse to know what you want without communicating it is a fool’s errand. It’s important to communicate what you want, need, and how much you love your spouse.

Related article: OCD and Relationships 

4. Consider Before Deciding

It’s hard to be true to your word if you make commitments flippantly.

You might think it’s helpful to accept anything your spouse asks you to do, but it’s not. If you don’t think you can fulfill a commitment then don’t commit. 

Don’t just tell your spouse “no.” Use your denial as a way to explain your expectations and feelings. Maybe you have a busy week at work and you want to reserve Saturday morning to take a long bath and read a book. Let your spouse know that.

Agreeing to take out the trash at the end of the day is simple enough, but agreeing to repaint the spare bedroom, do an oil change, and go on a hike all within a single day is a bit much.

Before committing to do anything, consider if it’s something you will actually do. This goes for inside and outside your marriage.

5. Be Attentive

When a marriage is saturated with trust, both people feel free to speak their minds. Not only because they feel safe, but because they know their partner is listening to them.

Being attentive means listening, letting them talk without interruption, and asking thoughtful questions. Putting down the phone and diverting your entire attention toward your spouse during conversations shows them you’re available to them.

Attentiveness applies to daily life as well as deep conversations at the Waffle House. If your partner is saying something, make a concerted effort to listen and let them know they’re being heard. But if you can’t, let them know you’ll be available to listen later.

6. Be True to Your Word

It’s hard to trust someone who isn’t true to their word.

Your spouse will have an easier time trusting you if you do what you say you’re going to do, honor your commitments, and follow through on promises.

This ties into many of the other tips. If you’re consistent and consider what you commit to, it will be a lot easier to keep your word. That being said, being true to your word takes effort on your part, but it will help your marriage in the long run,

7. Own Your Mistakes

There aren’t many things worse than a person who diverts blame and doesn’t take ownership of mistakes, and you likely make a lot.

Mistakes aren’t typically a huge deal. You forgot to bring your wife water, you left the milk out, you got distracted by your phone and now you’re running late. Own these mistakes by admitting there’s no one else to blame but yourself.

These situations are not major issues but letting your spouse know that you notice where you get stuff wrong will help them trust you more.

For bigger areas of conflict like reckless spending, lashing out, and major lapses of judgment, it’s even more important to own your mistakes. Those issues could point to larger issues that you and your spouse should deal with together.

Related article: ​​Blaming Others When Things Go Wrong

8. Remind Your Partner That You Are With Them

Throughout any form of conflict, it’s important to remind your spouse that you aren’t going anywhere.

A verbal reminder of the commitment you made to your spouse on your wedding day reminds them (and yourself) of the security they have. They can freely talk about anything because no matter how they feel you will be there for them.

Related article: How to Help a Depressed Spouse

9. Work on Yourself

You can only control yourself, so don’t try to “fix” your spouse.

Most of the tips above require you to have a certain level of self-understanding and self-discipline. Seeking your own growth will help build trust in your marriage and help you trust your spouse more.

Things That Impede Trust in a Marriage

Marriage is made complex by the fact that both people in them are still two distinct people.  Whether you notice or not, you and your spouse bring things to your marriage from past experiences.

Related article: Codependency vs Interdependency

Trust in a marriage can be affected by outside influences. Individual and Couples counseling can help couples overcome trust issues.

Attachment Styles

Attachment styles define how we relate and interact with others. These traits could make it difficult for someone to make healthy relationships with others and they certainly affect marriages.

The four major attachment styles are:

Attachment styles are developed through childhood and can make relationships difficult. Insecure attachment styles can make conflict resolution explosive, anxiety-inducing, or hard to engage.

Past Experiences and Relationships

Past relationships and experiences can affect the way you view current experiences. Surviving an abusive relationship, experiencing neglect from parents, and having untrusting parents can make it difficult to freely build trust.

Building trust in marriage is made easier if you, as an individual, seek counseling for mental health. Your partner may not be a mental health professional, and even if they are, it’s a good idea to seek outside help for complex issues such as trauma, depression, anxiety, attachment styles, and other mental health issues.

Related Article: Healing from Emotional Abuse

Couples Counseling Helps Build Trust

Couples counseling isn’t only useful when a marriage becomes volatile or when they’re breaking apart. Attending couples counseling while things are going fine, and when things aren’t, is a great way to build trust within a marriage.

There are two kinds of couples counseling we utilize at Inner Balance Counseling, the Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

The Gottman Method helps couples improve their communication skills and create positive interactions. We can always learn how to communicate with each other better. The outside help a professional counselor can provide can help the two of you learn things you might otherwise miss.

Read our full guide on the Gottman Method.

EFT is focused on improving dysfunctional emotions and helping couples express healthy emotions. Reacting explosively or shutting down are both reactions that aren’t as helpful as they could be. EFT helps you and your spouse identify these issues and work through them.

Read our full guide on EFT.

Build Trust at Inner Balance

Marriage is work. It requires occasional maintenance and realignments. The better you and your partner are at communicating and expressing emotions, the easier conflict can be resolved.

Inner Balance Counseling is a safe space where you and your spouse can grow together. Here, you aren’t just a number on a page, but an individual who deserves help. We offer relationship counseling for each person in the marriage individually, or together as a couple.

Request a consultation to begin the pre-screening process.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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