Are you always on guard because you don’t trust your spouse? Have you been repeatedly deceived? What can you do rather than just being patient and forgiving?
I don’t think anyone wants to go throughout their day with some gut feeling that their spouse is up to something. The more we have been deceived, the less we are going to trust.
The less we trust, the less we enjoy our relationship and the less our spouse enjoys us. Emotional distance increases. It becomes a vicious cycle.
The end result of the cycle of distrust can be either a high conflict relationship, or a loveless, dispassionate one.
I want to help you end this cycle of distrust so that you can have a closer marriage and trust your spouse more.
Step one, realize that blame is not a tool for relationship improvement
Note that I didn’t say that your spouse is not to blame. Your spouse may well be to blame for everything, although you likely played a part by having poor boundaries. Blame helps us to feel better about ourselves, but it doesn’t actually improve our relationship. I would love it if blame did. Imagine this exchange:
You: You lied to me and are to blame for our failing marriage.
Spouse: Thank you so much for letting me know that. I will get right onto changing my ways and restoring our relationship.
In actuality, blaming works no better than criticism. You know what criticism is, right? It’s telling your spouse what you don’t like about what he or she does. Counselors actually recommend that you do that. But, just like blame, it only results in a defensive reaction and greater distance from your spouse.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Go give them a try. Blame your spouse or criticize your spouse. See how helpful it actually is. If it doesn’t work, then come back and learn a better way. Or, keep doing it. But, once you know something doesn’t work and you keep doing it, you realize you are part of the problem.
As a coach, I teach people better ways so that they can be part of the solution–regardless of who caused the problems.
Step two: determine which type of mindset you have
With a deceptive spouse, it’s easy to develop an insecure mindset. We have an insecure mindset if we actively look for signs of deception. It can also result in asking questions of your spouse to test or check for deception. Although you may feel reassured when you don’t find evidence, your spouse will sense the distrust and it will damage your relationship. Seeking reassurance is one of the most common signs of neediness.
We can also have an insecure mindset even if our spouse is completely trustworthy. How does that happen? It can happen because we have been betrayed by others we had relationships with in the past. Insecure mindsets are characteristic of needy people. They didn’t make themselves this way; someone else made them this way.
You are not to blame if you are insecure. But, you are responsible for becoming secure. No amount of reassurances from other people will ever make you a secure person. You will need need to overcome neediness, by yourself, to develop a secure mindset and secure behavior.
The more secure you are, the less anybody will dare to lie to you, cheat you, or mistreat you.
Insecure people are insecure because they believe that they will not be able to handle problems if they happen (“I would be devastated”).
Secure people know that bad things will sometimes happen, but don’t live in fear of them. They have a strong faith, a plan B, and skills to deal with problems. As a result, they are both more relaxed and more successful. They are also very attractive.
Step three: develop a secure mindset
Don’t confuse a secure mindset with optimistic thinking. Optimistic thinking is a belief that everything will work out alright. It will help you live a happier life until problems come along. Then, you will be ill prepared to deal with them. As a result, problems will be more devastating.
A secure mindset happens because of preparation and by successfully managing problems. The more we do those two things, the more secure we will be. We will have fewer problems and will deal with them better, without constantly seeking reassurance.
Here are some examples of an insecure mindset, an optimistic mindset, and a secure mindset:
- Insecure Mindset: I better continually check and re-check my home for any signs of danger.
- Optimistic mindset: My house will never be damaged and I don’t need to think about it. I can just focus on other things.
- Secure mindset: I maintain my house well. And, my insurance and emergency saving will completely cover whatever damage happens to my house.
Notice the preparation with the secure mindset example–maintenance, buying insurance, and having emergency savings. Without those, it would not be possible to be as secure.
Here is relationship example:
- Insecure Mindset: I’d better monitor my spouse’s texts, comings and goings, and ask many questions to make sure I am not being lied to or cheated on.
- Optimistic Mindset: My spouse will always be faithful and love me no matter what I do.
- Secure Mindset: I maintain my marriage well with good connection skills and by remaining attractive. My spouse would be foolish to cheat on me, because I could then find someone better.
Again notice the preparation with the secure mindset example–maintaining connection and staying attractive. Doing those things, while also not being fearful about losing the marriage, will help to prevent their spouse from lying or cheating.
Insecure people are lied to and cheated on a lot. That’s because their spouses have learned that while their behavior may make their spouse angry, it won’t result in losing their relationship or in any lasting boundaries.
Security comes from a strong faith, good skills, and a plan B.
Weak, unprepared, unskilled, and fearful people are the most common victims of everything. If your spouse sees you this way, you will have set yourself up to be a victim. Instead, you can be loving, prepared, skilled, and secure. You will not argue, criticize or blame. You will treat your spouse very well. And, you will use very good boundaries if your spouse treats your or your relationship poorly.
Do you have these skills?
There is a particular set of skills that will help you to be secure in relationships. This is not an exhaustive list, but if you don’t have these, you are not going to be secure.
- Connection skills–what makes other people feel you are similar and want to be with you (featured in the Re-Connections Coaching Package)
- Boundaries–what makes others respect you and stop any damage they are doing (featured in the Difficult Spouses Coaching Package)
- Attractiveness–what makes you more a more desirable catch for your spouse than the next person. Attractiveness makes the difference between being friends and having romance (featured in the Ending a Spouse’s Affair Coaching Package)
If you are good at all three of these skills, connection, attraction, and boundaries, your spouse is far less likely to cheat on you, or do other damaging things. Work on your own, or with a coach, until you can do these three things well. Then, you will no longer live in fear of what your spouse may do, and you will have a much better relationship as well.