Trust Starts with Yourself

He’s talking a lot about his new co-worker. What if they’re having an affair?
He always gets so mad when I ask him to do things at home. What if I push him too hard and he leaves?
He isn’t taking care of himself like the doctor told him to. What if he gets really sick and I’m left to deal with things by myself?

Do you ever get scared and then lose yourself in doubts about your husband? Sometimes “what ifs” can be a sign that there are some trust issues in your marriage. But the person you mistrust may not be the one you think.

Is This Really Something to Worry About?

If you’re often troubled by worries like the ones above, a good first step is to investigate how valid your fears are.

Let’s take the example of that new co-worker your husband is chatting about. If you feel like this is part of a bigger pattern (he’s had an emotional affair before, there are other issues in your relationship), then there might indeed be reason for concern. But if he’s loyal, reliable and generally happy in your marriage, it’s a good sign that he is talking to you about her. He is probably worthy of your trust. Similarly, an irritated husband may be trustworthy, but simply overwhelmed by the pressures of work and just needing some breathing room, not a divorce.

If you can’t quell your anxieties even though you know on a rational level that they’re baseless, then it’s time to ask yourself another question.

Instead of pondering whether you trust him, consider whether you trust yourself.

The Root of Your Fears

When you’re constantly plagued by irrational fears about your husband, that insecurity may come from lack of trust in your own ability to handle life. On some level, you might literally believe you won’t be able to cope if he really is cheating (or if whatever other scenario you’re worried about turns out to be true).

It’s important to remember that everyone will let you down sometimes, in big or small ways. You can’t keep that from happening. But you can cultivate  your own resilience and confidence in yourself. Without self-trust, you risk becoming clingy, needy, or jealous, making it much more likely your husband would need to get some distance from you. Desperation and mistrust are good ways to drive off even the best of men.

Cultivate Self-Trust

As psychotherapist and author Cynthia Wall writes, you have to trust yourself before you can develop trusting connections with others. Learning to take care of your own needs — something busy wives and moms often forget — helps build self-trust. So does being kind and compassionate with yourself, the opposite of the perfectionism that pervades our lives these days. Little crises with others, including your husband, will seem less catastrophic when you feel more confident in your own skills.

Reminding yourself that your husband can’t be there for you 100% may seem depressing at first, but doesn’t necessarily make him untrustworthy. Rationally examining his devotion to you is important. If you figure out that you have mistakenly assumed the worst about him, don’t forget that research affirms the power of couples to repair big and small rifts in their marriages. If others can do it, so can you!

One resource that can help you trust yourself and your relationship is my book Strong Women, Strong Love. In it, you’ll find many more practical strategies like the ones in this article.

When Trust is Betrayed

Learn how to cope when trust is betrayed.

Trust Love


Trust is built over the years, one experience at a time.  That’s why it’s so painful when trust is shattered.  Any time you feel betrayed, the level of trust in your partner is affected. Maybe he failed to stick up for you when your mother-in-law criticized you.  Perhaps, he made a nasty comment in the middle of a fight.  Or, worst case scenario, you discovered that he is involved with someone else.

Once you have been hurt, you have to evaluate whether it is worth your while to rebuild trust.  If your partner has a long history of betraying you, you may need to give serious thought to whether things will ever change.  However, when the transgressions are relatively minor and infrequent, working through the hurt can actually deepen your bond.

When the betrayal is more significant, like in the case of an extramarital affair, it is important to assess whether you and your husband have enough commitment to the marriage to do the hard work of rebuilding trust.  He has to have enough remorse and understanding of your pain to earn your trust back.  And, at some point, you have to be willing to let go of your desire to “make him pay” for the pain he caused you. Trust can only be rebuilt with tremendous courage, commitment, and persistence by both of you.

Pain can actually serve as a motivator to tend to your relationship and keep it on track.  Believe it or not, a marriage can actually end up on more solid ground when the two of you open yourselves up to learning from the sorrow you have caused one another and use it to strengthen your relationship.