How My Husband and I Restored Emotional Trust in Our Marriage

Amanda Idleman

Contributing Writer
Published Feb 22, 2024
How My Husband and I Restored Emotional Trust in Our Marriage

I’d venture to say that one of the primary marriage killers is when emotional trust is broken. This can be harder to spot, understand, and manage because it’s much more subtle than the traditional big breaks we know bring marriages to an end.

My husband and I reluctantly entered the room with our new marriage counselor. We were both anxious about the upcoming conversations and hopeful that bringing an outsider into our relationship. The session started with a comprehensive family history, which revealed our parents had remained married, thankfully upping our chances of overcoming the issues that we faced in our union. Yes!

Next, our counselor asked if we had experienced any major breaks in trust. He asked about sexual promiscuity, pornography, financial trust, affairs, and other lies that may have undermined the foundation of trust between us. We answered these questions honestly, revealing that none of these obvious violations had taken place between us. He cheerfully reported the odds of our success looked good! We left feeling encouraged. 

We stayed faithful to our counseling sessions and made some progress toward healing. We soon felt we were doing well enough to step back from attending these sessions. Fast forward a few years, and the issues between us had grown. We felt more lost and hopeless in our relationship than ever before. 

We have since resumed counseling a second time with a new therapist and have found the healing that had eluded us the first go around. In retrospect, I realized that the reason why the first time didn’t “take” for us is that the questions about trust overlooked one major area where trust is vital in marriage. Emotional trust had been lost between us. 

I’d venture to say that one of the primary marriage killers is when emotional trust is broken. This can be harder to spot, understand, and manage because it’s much more subtle than the traditional big breaks we know bring marriages to an end. 

It starts when we go to our partner with a need, a want, a failure, a desire, and we are rejected many times over. Eventually, what happens is we start building walls that keep us insulated from our spouse. We no longer trust each other with the important stuff. 

Our Story 

In our home, it got so bad that I was nervous to ask my husband to do small tasks, such as passing me a fork. I was worried that any request could be used against me, but I wouldn’t know until I asked for something more taxing, such as emotional support for the stress I was feeling as a mom. Then, the way I asked for a fork the day earlier would be ammunition as to why I was either chronically at fault, I was failing as a wife, and ultimately, as a reason not to show me love and support when I needed it. I would grow more hurt and distraught, confirming my husband’s feelings that I was “crazy,” too emotional, unreasonable, unsafe, and all around not worth it. 

This kind of cycle of distrust, bitterness, disunity, and unhealthy communication grows unbearable over time. Though we were deeply committed to our marriage, the lack of emotional trust had corroded any goodwill that we were clinging to in our marriage. At the end of our 15th year of marriage, I told my husband with utter honesty that I no longer believed he loved me. He liked the idea of me; he appreciated my ability to run a house well, take care of our kids, and generally support him. Yet, me, as the one he declared to have and to hold until death, the one he nervously got on one knee to propose to, the one that he shared so many firsts with, that me he had lost sight of and only worked to guard himself against in the present moment. 

Long story short, we were at a crisis point. Our commitment to marriage was about convenience, kids, and expediency. Emotional intimacy was a pipe dream that neither of us understood how to realize. 

You, like me, are probably starting to feel hopeless. I was without hope. I asked my husband to leave because I honestly believed I was only making him miserable. His refusal to leave felt like more of a punishment than a commitment to love me. I was so burdened by the role of ‘failing wife’ that I wished for separation more than I hoped for change. But God. 

God is the defining difference in being able to overcome a truly dark cycle of bitterness. Without our mutual, separate, yet unified decisions to give up all our own efforts and instead cry out to God to heal the things we could not change on our own, our marriage would still be on the fast track to destruction. We had done everything we could over the prior 15 years to manage our own broken tendencies, but the one thing we were unable to achieve on our own was true repentance and forgiveness.

couple in marriage counseling

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages 

The Steps Towards Repentance 

This is the part of the story where wonder and mystery intersect with practical work and effort. God does this crazy thing where he changes us completely in ways we can’t quite quantify while also telling us to use wisdom to partner with his life-changing Spirit. We did the thing we knew to do, which was go back to counseling. My husband went a step further and found his own personal counselor and did some extra work on his own to discover where the tension and closed-offness had originated in his life. 

Not all men are the same, but I know in our case, things had got so tense between us that he honestly could not hear me anymore. The more I worked to explain, the more disdain for me grew in his heart, and I could feel it. He needed someone else to talk to that he could trust, and that would feel safe for him to really explore all that he was struggling with. I believe his individual counseling from a Spirit-filled man helped lead him toward repentance. 

In the meantime, all I could do was let go. I had to let go of a cloud of ugly words that had been exchanged between us. I had to ask God to allow me to forgive myself. I had been weaker, less able, meaner, more frail of a wife than I ever imagined I would be. The weight of guilt I felt for being anxious, depressed, needy, naggy, or whatever the word was that filled my head that day became crushing. 

I needed God to help me to forgive my husband. He had not loved me well when I needed support. He had no idea how to let me into his life; he had never learned. From a young age he learned how to build strong emotional walls that kept him safe from sadness and all other unpleasant feelings. Then came a woman filled with empathy, looking for support. As soon as my emotions came out, his walls went up. It was a recipe for hurt that played out many times over fifteen years of marriage. Only Jesus has the power to re-write those kinds of broken stories. 

I asked God to change the way I saw my husband. I wanted God’s eyes for this man I had committed to love. I still pray that he would help me see the things that sometimes bother me as a blessing. We are different, which sometimes makes being together tricky, but our differences don't make us wrong; they just require us to be a little more patient sometimes. I had grown quite impatient with my husband. I started being more open with our village. We needed more than ourselves to climb out of this pit. I showed up at counseling again. I asked God to help him hear me and see me because that was the thing that had been lost between us over time.

We also began praying together each night. 

The Miracle

Somewhere over the course of the last year, which happened to also be a very stressful year for us, God started changing us, and the reason I know repentance and forgiveness are covering us is that I can feel the fruits of the spirit at work between us again. I have peace while in the room with my husband again. I can trust that he will do all he can to be self-controlled when it comes to his reactions to my needs. Joy can be shared between us when we are alone together. These are the markers of a trustworthy change. Freedom from a dark cycle of painful interactions is rising up in our marriage! God is gracious. 

The Takeaway 

I share this first to let you know that if you and your spouse are in that dark corner of hopelessness for your marriage and you are safe from abuse, desiring to find a path towards repentance, God is able

You have to be willing to give up your every right and let God give you his eyes of love for your spouse. There is no easy, painless road to repentance when years of discord have resulted in the place you are now. You have to confront the ugly and then patiently hand it over to Jesus. Trusting him to give you a new way of being. 

Here is a reminder as your journey towards freedom in marriage is that we are not the Savior of our partner. An important step in my going to God was also giving the outcome to him. No part of me was able to change my husband to be the man I needed him to be. I knew if we could not get off our ugly roller coaster, one of us would have to get off alone at some point. I had to trust God if that was the outcome, too. 

Marriage was not made to be a cage that traps us, but it’s a fireplace that keeps our passion, love, and families safe. Freedom from an unhealthy relationship can look like repentance, and sometimes it looks like separation. God is with us on either journey, and both are hard. Wherever you are I pray that God would do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine on your behalf (Ephesians 3:20). He is able!

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Sam Edwards 

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.