How to Build Trust in a Marriage: A Therapists’ Guide
how to build trust in a marriage

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Are you in a dark place in your relationship and finding it difficult to trust your partner? It can be tough to build trust in a marriage, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past.

The thing is, if you’re not sure how to build trust in your marriage, you’re not alone. Many couples feel confused and lost when it comes to rebuilding trust after it’s been broken.

But don’t worry we’ve got you covered.  Our guide offers expert tips and advice on building trust in a marriage and, more specifically, making your marriage stronger than ever!

Read on to find out more:

Laying the Foundation

One of the most important foundation stones for any relationship is trust. Trust is what allows us to feel safe with someone, to be vulnerable and open without fear of being hurt or rejected.

Trust is the emotional glue that holds a relationship together, and without it, even the strongest bond will fracture and crumble.

If you are struggling to trust your partner, or if your marriage has been damaged by betrayal or hurt, it can seem impossible to rebuild that trust.

Thankfully, trusting again is possible, and here are some practical tips to help.

First, commit to being more vulnerable, or vulnerable again.   Although being vulnerable can be uncomfortable, it increases trust, intimacy, self-love, and feeling appreciated and recognized. Connection and intimacy are only possible if we are willing to risk being open and vulnerable.

Second, communication is key. You need to be able to share your true and authentic thoughts and feelings with your partner if you want to build trust.

Third, take responsibility for your role in the unfolding drama associated with trusting each other.  Ask yourself, “How have I helped fracture the trust between us?”  For example, when conflict arises, do you blame?  Do you criticize?  Or, do you go quiet or shut down by focusing on work, your kiddos, or other things like exercise?

Fourth, be willing to forgive. We all make mistakes, and holding onto anger and resentment will only damage your relationship further.

Finally, be patient. Building trust takes time, but it is worth the effort if you want to create a strong and lasting bond with your spouse.

Let’s dig a little deeper:

Communicate Openly and Honestly With Each Other

Couples rebuilding trust often find it helpful to establish ground rules for communication.

This may mean doing something as simple as setting aside time each day to talk. Also, agree to be open and honest with each other.  Commit to avoiding blame and criticism. By creating a safe space for conversation, you can begin to nurture and rebuild the trust that has been broken.

One of the most essential aspects of effective communication is listening. To really hear what your partner is saying, you need to be present in the conversation and resist the urge to interrupt or offer solutions.

Instead, try to slow down and reflect on what you’re hearing.  Ask yourself, “What is my partner trying to tell me about themselves in this moment?”  Doing so will not only help your partner feel heard and understood, but it will also give you a better understanding of their felt needs.

Rebuilding trust takes time and patience, but by communicating openly and honestly with each other, couples can begin to repair the damage that has been done.

Listen Without Making Assumptions

In every relationship, communication is key. Without it, couples can quickly misunderstand each other and grow apart.  And while it’s important to communicate effectively, it’s also vital to make sure that you are really listening to what your partner has to say.

Too often, we can make assumptions about why our partner feels a certain way or does something that bothers us. But these assumptions can often be wrong, and they can lead to further complications and mistrust.

If you want to build a solid and lasting relationship, you must learn to listen without making assumptions. Take the time to hear your partner out, and try to validate their perspective.  Although you don’t have to agree with their perspective, validating it expresses your empathy, understanding, and acceptance.  Doing so sends a powerful, yet unspoken message:  Although we may not see eye-to-eye, I’m still here for you.  You matter to me.  I see your heart.  You can rely on me!

Only then will you truly understand them and build the trust that is essential for any relationship.

Respect Each Other’s Boundaries

Respecting each other’s boundaries is essential in any relationship. But this is especially so when trust is at stake.

According to John Gottman, researcher and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, “Couples who have trust issues often don’t know how to respect each other’s boundaries. They overstep each other’s limits, invade each other’s privacy, or try to control each other.”

If you want to create a safe space in your relationship where you can communicate openly and honestly, it’s important to respect each other’s boundaries.

Here are some ways to do that:

First, ensure you’re both on the same page about your boundaries. This might mean having a conversation about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with.

Second, once you know what your boundaries are, make sure you respect them.   This means no invading each other’s privacy, trying to control each other, or overstepping each other’s limits.

Third, if one of you does violate a boundary, own up to it and apologize. This will show that you’re taking your partner’s feelings seriously and that you’re willing to work on respecting their boundaries.

Lastly, be patient with each other. It takes time to learn how to respect someone else’s boundaries, so give yourselves grace as you navigate this process.

Building Trust in a Marriage Takes Time, so… Be Patient

Anyone who has gone through a relationship crisis knows that rebuilding trust takes time. It can be challenging to be patient when you’re eager to put the past behind you, but taking things slow is essential.  Consider simple gestures like thank you, good morning, and hello because each gesture makes a small deposit in the trust account.

Rushing into things typically increases stress and can often lead to more problems down the road. Instead of expecting things to change overnight, focus on taking small steps to create a lasting connection between the two of you.

This may mean having regular check-ins with your partner, communicating openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings, or participating in Marriage Counseling.

Thanks for reading, and we hope this article was helpful! Check out our blog for more great content like this.




About the Author

Picture of Steve Cuffari

Steve Cuffari

For over 20 years, Steve Cuffari has been an ordained minister, assistant college professor of psychology at vanguard university, and a therapist committed to helping individuals, couples, and educators learn how to put an end to destructive conversations so they can build secure and lasting relationships... More about Steve →


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