Althought Therapy

Marriage Counseling and Trust Issues

Trust is an essential piece to a successful marriage. Trust issues can happen before meeting someone or within a marriage, causing problems with trust. A marriage and family therapist works with individuals and couples to strengthen and rebuild trust in a marriage with marriage counseling.

This blog will cover 14 areas where trust can become an issue in your marriage. Couples therapy can help with conflict resolution and relationship problems. A couples counselor can create a safe space for you and your partner to work through challenges during counseling sessions.

Couples Therapy Sessions

1. Infidelity or Cheating

Cheating is the physical or emotional betrayal of one partner. This can deeply damage trust in a marriage causing emotional pain. Trust is the foundation of a marriage. The hurt partner may feel angry, sad, and even question their self-worth.

This can lead to communication breakdowns, resentment, and a loss of intimacy in the relationship. Repairing the damage caused by infidelity takes time, effort, and often counseling. If not addressed, it can lead to the end of the marriage.

Imagine this scenario of an emotional cheating:

David and Emma have been married for eight years. David confides in his friend, Laura, about his personal problems and feelings, things he no longer shares with Emma. David and Laura text and call each other frequently. David finds himself turning to Laura for emotional support instead of Emma.

He begins to feel closer to Laura than to his own wife, sharing his hopes, fears, and dreams with her. Emma senses the emotional distance between her and her husband. Emma finds the messages between her husband and Laura. She experiences hurt and betrayal.

The communication between David and Laura undermines the marriage, leading to trust issues and emotional pain for Emma. This emotional cheating creates a rupture in the marriage; challenging their ability to reconnect and rebuild their marriage.

2. Dishonesty

Dishonesty in a marriage consists of lying about finances, whereabouts, or significant life events. Dishonesty can lead to feelings of not knowing who the other person truly is.

Below is an example of financial dishonesty.

Alex and Jamie have been happily married for five years. Jamie secretly accumulates credit card debt by making large purchases without telling Alex. When Alex learns about the hidden debt, he feels betrayed and angry with Jamie.

Financial dishonesty breaks trust in marriage. The couple engages in serious arguments and experiences stress as they work to repair their relationship.

3. Broken Promises

Broken promises or failing to follow through on commitments undermines trust. Each time a spouse commits to doing something and completes the task, they earn and build trust. However, when a spouse stops following through, they erode trust little by little each time.

A hypothetical couple, Tom and Lisa, are married for seven years. Tom has promised his wife that he will attend their son’s school play. Tom finds himself caught up at work and times slips away from him; he misses his son’s play. This isn’t the first time that Tom has missed an important family event for work and broken his promise.

Lisa feels frustrated by her husband’s broken promises. The repeated cycle of broken promises causes tension and resentment in the marriage. This makes it difficult for Lisa to trust Tom.

4. Lack of Transparency

Withholding information or being secretive can lead to suspicions.

Jake and Emily are a hypothetical couple who experience a situation where the husband withholds information. At work Jake learns that he may need to relocate, but he doesn’t share this information with his wife. He withholds the information out of fear that it will cause conflict.

As time passes, Emily notices Jake’s increased stress and distance but remains unaware of the potential move. Emily feels hurt and deceived when she learns about the job opportunity via a mutual friend. Jake’s decision to withhold this important information damages their trust and leads to a significant strain in their relationship.

5. Past Trauma

Unresolved issues from past relationships or childhood can affect trust. This type of trust issue arises before the couple meets one another.

Here is an example of how childhood trauma can damage trust in a marriage:

Mark experienced neglect and betrayal during his childhood, leading him to develop deep-seated trust issues. Whenever Rachel makes new friends or spends time away from home, Mark becomes overly suspicious and anxious, fearing abandonment. His inability to trust stems from his unresolved childhood trauma, causing frequent arguments and emotional distance in their marriage. This ongoing distrust creates significant challenges for their relationship, as Rachel struggles to reassure Mark and maintain their connection.

6. Emotional Distance

Withdrawing emotionally or shutting down communication can create doubts. It can leave the partner feeling rejected or dismissed.

James and Laura are married for 10 years; over time, James becomes preoccupied at work. He spends long hours at the office and brings home work stress. He gradually withdraws emotionally, rarely sharing his thoughts or feelings with Laura.

Laura feels lonely and disconnected, missing the deep conversations and emotional intimacy they once had. As James’s emotional distance grows, Laura starts to feel neglected and unimportant, leading to frustration and resentment. The lack of emotional connection causes a rift in the marriage. This rift makes it difficult for the couple to maintain a strong bond.

7. Addiction

Substance abuse or behavioral addictions can strain trust within the relationship.

Imagine a woman, Sarah who starts drinking as a way to cope with stress from work. Sarah’s drinking escalates and is becoming unreliable at home. Sarah frequently arrives home intoxicated and late.

Alex becomes worried and frustrated, constantly concerned about his wife’s well-being. Sarah’s drinking has a negative impact on their marriage, leading to arguments, broken trust, and emotional distance.

8. Control Issues

Excessive jealousy, possessiveness, or controlling behavior can breed distrust. This can include controlling how someone spends their time or lead to people feeling like they are “walking on eggshells.”

A hypothetical couple, Chris and Ashley, are married for five years. Chris becomes increasingly controlling, dictating how Ashley spends her time and who she can see. He checks her phone and monitors her social media, causing Ashley to feel suffocated and resentful.

Chris’s need for control leads to constant arguments and a lack of trust in their relationship. Ashley feels trapped and stifled, unable to express herself freely. The control issues strain their marriage, ultimately eroding their emotional connection and intimacy.

9. Financial Betrayal

Hiding debts, overspending, or financial irresponsibility can harm trust.

A hypothetical couple, Michael and Emily, are married for ten years. Michael secretly takes out a loan to invest in risky ventures without her knowledge. Emily discovers the debt when they are unable to pay their bills and face financial difficulties. Emily experiences deception and betrayal, which leads to arguments and loss of trust in their relationship.

10. Inconsistency

Unpredictable behavior or mood swings can make a spouse feel uncertain. Untreated mental health issues can harm the emotional health of a marriage.

Picture a man, David, who becomes erratic and unpredictable due to untreated bipolar disorder. Some days he is affectionate with his wife and other days he is distant and irritable. His wife, Julia, doesn’t know how David will react in different situations causing her to feel anxious and uncertain. David’s unpredictability erodes trust in the marriage, as Julia struggles to rely on David’s stability and support.

11. Boundaries Violation

Disrespecting personal boundaries or violating privacy can damage trust. This can be oversharing information about your partner to any other type of boundary.

Imagine a couple, Kate and Mark, who have been married for six years. Mark frequently goes through Kate’s personal belongings, including her phone and diary, without her permission. He also insists on going with her to social events, even when she expresses a desire to go alone.

Kate feels suffocated and disrespected by Mark’s constant invasion of her privacy and disregard for her autonomy. His actions crossing boundaries caused arguments and tension in their marriage. Kate is trying to assert her independence and hold onto her sense of self.

This breach of trust and boundary violation is putting a lot of pressure on their relationship. It is weakening the mutual respect and understanding they have for each other.

12. Failure to Support

Not being there in times of need or failing to prioritize the relationship can lead to mistrust.

The next example, John and Lisa, illustrates a failure to support one another’s dreams and aspirations. John decides to go back to pursue a degree that he is passionate about. However, Lisa is not supportive of John’s decision. Lisa dismisses his ambitions and frequently complains about taking on extra work around the house.

When John struggles with his coursework, Lisa shows little empathy and offers no help. This lack of support leaves John feeling isolated and undervalued. Lisa’s lack of emotional support leads to a strain on the marriage. This festers into growing resentment and emotional distance between them.

13. Communication Breakdown

Poor communication or lack of active listening can create misunderstandings and doubts.

A hypothetical couple, Amy and Jack, are married for seven years. Over time, they start to experience frequent misunderstandings. When Amy feels upset about something, she often keeps her feelings to herself, hoping Jack will notice and ask her about it.

Jack, on the other hand, assumes everything is fine because Amy doesn’t say anything. Jack feels blindsides when issues arise, which leads to arguments. Their conversations often end in frustration, with both feeling unheard and misunderstood.

14. Unresolved Conflict

Ignoring or avoiding addressing issues can breed resentment and distrust over time.

Imagine a couple, Rachel and Tom, who have been married for eight years. Early in their marriage, they had a major disagreement about where to live. Rachel wanted to stay close to her family.

Tom preferred moving to a different city for better job opportunities. They never reached a compromise, instead choosing to avoid the topic and continuing to live in their current location.

Over the years, this unresolved conflict festered beneath the surface. Rachel continued to feel resentful for sacrificing her career opportunities. Tom experienced frustration for not being able to act on his desired job opportunities.

Every time we had to make a new decision, the old issue resurfaced. Because of the unresolved conflict, it  fueled new arguments and created a constant undercurrent of tension.

Marriage Counseling Sessions Can Help

Marriage counseling can help with trust issues by creating a safe space for couples to talk openly and honestly. Through guided conversations, a therapist helps partners understand the underlying causes of their trust problems.

Counseling equips couples with effective communication skills and strategies to rebuild trust, such as setting boundaries, practicing transparency, and demonstrating consistent, supportive behavior. By fostering empathy and understanding, marriage counseling helps couples heal emotional wounds, restore trust, and strengthen their relationship foundation.

About the Author

Dr. Awalt is a psychologist who specializes in marriage counseling and marriage therapy at Althought Therapy. She is located in Lakewood, CO, near Denver and the Denver metro area.


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