Put on Your C.A.P.P. to Build Trust in Marriage (or, Kindness in the Prison of Mistrust)

I recently asked a couple what daily acts of kindness they could share with one another. Sadly, they could not think of any. After a few minutes of silent thought, one of them said, “It’s hard to think of kind things to do when you don’t trust the other person.”

That is sad, but true.  A lack of trust in our spouse locks our marriage in a prison of insecurities. It binds us behind bars of despair and shackles us with the fear that our vulnerable offers of kindness will be rejected or, worse, used to manipulate us.

Lack of trust also blinds us to any kind acts our spouse does share. It causes us to misperceive those acts of kindness as an attempt to exploit us.

If you find your marriage in a prison of mistrust, how can you begin to build trust? Try the CAPP method.

  • Commit to building trust in your relationship. Trust grows through small daily moments of connection with your spouse. Commit to looking for and initiating those moments. Trust grows when we follow through on our word so commit to following through.  Show yourself
    trustworthy in making daily connections and in keeping your word.
  • Admire and appreciate your spouse. Resentment or anger may have blinded you to those things you admire in your spouse. In this case, you will need to expand your view of your spouse beyond your resentment by intentionally looking for those things you can admire and appreciate in them. A lack of trust may also keep you from voicing what you appreciate. It will demand courage to risk voicing your admiration and appreciation. Commit to diligently searching for those things you truly admire and appreciate about your spouse. Every day, courageously express genuine admiration and appreciation to them.
  • Practice small positive moments. We already noted that trust is built on small, daily moments of connection. Practice making those connections. Practice doing kind things for your spouse—things like washing their dish, getting them a drink, offering a compliment, opening a door. Practice noticing when your spouse does a kind deed for you and practice thanking them for that kindness.
  • Prove your devotion. Let your spouse know you “got their back.” Don’t laugh at your spouse’s expense. Encourage them instead.  Take your spouse’s side. Even if you disagree, don’t disagree in public. Instead, talk in private and search for an intent or motive with which you do agree. Start with the agreement. You and your spouse are a team. Don’t let anyone or anything come between you. Prove your devotion.

These four actions will begin to build trust as you practice them over time. As trust grows, kindness will become easier to share. As kindness to shared more often, trust will grow. (For more on building trust read Building Trust in Family Relationships.)

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