When Trust Erodes Love Fades

Throughout my ministry, I have counseled about 150 couples.  Many have been pre-marital couples and others have been couples with marital problems.  Through my counseling and my marriage, I have learned how important trust is to relationships.

The Apostle Paul mentions trust in his list of attributes about love in 1 Corinthians 13.  He writes that “love always trusts.”  This question is worth asking, “Does love follow trust or does trust follow love?”

Regardless of how you answer this question, one thing I know is true: when trust erodes, love fades.

As couples begin life together, selfishness can seep into the relationship.  That selfishness sometimes plays out in deceptive ways, which breaks the bond of trust. How so you ask?

Here’s an example. Barna Research shows that one in three Americans seek porn once a month and most porn users say it doesn’t bother them to use it.[1] So, it comes as a surprise to many husbands when their wives discover they are using porn, that the trust level in their relationship suddenly drops.  The wife feels betrays.  She feels belittled, that her sexuality is not enough.  Some wives suddenly feel ashamed of their bodies and have difficult being vulnerable and intimate.  Men need to understand that many women view porn as infidelity. This issue, which is more of an issue for men than women, breaks the bond of trust in the relationship, especially when the husband agrees to stop and does not.

We can break trust in other ways.  Whenever you lie to your spouse about anything, you break his/her trust.  Common areas where couples lie to one another include finances, alcohol, what they were doing with others, issues with their job, problems with the children, in-law issues, and social media.  Whenever we tell something to our spouse that is untrue, or whenever we do something that is deceitful, we jeopardize the trust in the relationship.

When you tell your spouse you have stopped drinking (some people cannot drink in moderation), only to drink again later, can you be trusted?

After you say you will not view certain things on your phone or computer or text with a certain person any more only to have your spouse discover that you have broken your promise, can you be trusted?

When you say you are no longer placing bets on sports and your spouse discovers you are still using precious resources because you think you can beat the spread and make big money, how do you think you can be trusted?

When trust is broken, love fades.

Trust is earned.  It’s not something we give freely.  The Apostle Paul named faith, hope, and love as three of the greatest qualities we might have in relationships and he called love the greatest.  However, without trust, love fades away like a shadow during sunset.

While we can still love someone we don’t trust, that love is one-sided.  It’d doomed to failure and heartache unless it’s returned. It will eventually crumble.  There will come a time when we realize that the other person is in the relationship for what he/she can get and not what he/she can give.  That’s the reason the Apostle Paul also said that love is not self-seeking.  When someone is deceitful, that person is self-seeking.  Self-seeking is the opposite of trustworthy.

In the Genesis story of the Bible, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they did so because the serpent caused them to doubt the words of God.  They didn’t trust what God said to them.  If they had loved God completely, they would have trusted God.  Instead, they placed more trust in the words of the serpent.  The serpent was convincing — “There’s a reason God doesn’t want you eating from this tree.  God doesn’t want you to be his equal.”  Besides, the fruit was pleasing to the eye.

Eve, then Adam, trusted their own judgement.  In return, they were looking for something more than they had, pleasure, and position—to be their own gods. The decision was selfish. For this couple, breaking God’s trust had immediate consequences.  They tried to hide from God in the garden.

This ancient story is designed to teach us about relationships. When we are selfish and deceitful, our relationships crumble.  When we put ourselves first (position) and think only about the pleasure we might have in deceiving our spouse, the price we will pay is the bronken trust in the relationship. Broken trust creates distance and kills intimacy. Instead of coming immediately to apologize and make amends, we often try to hide and cover up what we have done. Sometimes, it is because we intend to continue to do what we have done again and again.

We live with the illusion that our spouse will not know. Eventually, our spouse discovers who we are, what we have become, and what we are doing, and the damage is done.  When our spouse finds out, we often make excuses.  We don’t take responsibility.  We deny we have done anything wrong.  We even blame our spouse for our actions.  Sound familiar?

Sometimes, we acknowledge we were wrong.  We apologize.  We confess our wrongs to our spouse and to God.  We do what’s necessary to repair the damage.  Sometimes too much damage has been done.  One thing is for sure: love fades when trust is broken.

If the relationship is to be repaired, it requires humility, repentance (turning around of one’s actions), and time to show that one’s repentance is genuine.  It requires grace, forgiveness, and time to heal by the one whose trust was broken.

If you are in a relationship with someone you love, love always trusts.  When tempted to deceive, remember the deep consequences that come from breaking the trust of your partner.  If you break your partner’s trust, the sooner you confess and seek forgiveness and reconciliation, the less damage that is done.  The longer you hide what you’ve done, the deeper the divide will be when your wrongdoing is discovered.  You cannot hide forever.  And even if you could, you can’t hide from God.  And you have to live with yourself.

[1] https://www.barna.com/research/porn-in-the-digital-age-new-research-reveals-10-trends/