First Comes Trust?

I am a stubborn woman. I don’t trust easily. One of the underlying issues in my refusal was my lack of trust in my husband.

My husband asked me once, “What is the worst thing that would happen if you just had sex with me once a week and actually participated in the activity?” I couldn’t answer him, but it was one of the things that kept rumbling around in my head. My unexpressed response was, “I might like it and get closer to you, and then you’ll know the real me and won’t like me anymore and you’ll leave me and it will hurt so much because I’ve let myself get close.” And dealing with my insecurity and trust issues….it was just too hard.

I’m a pretty linear thinker with some things, confident that most things in life happen in a certain order. You crawl before you can walk, after all. I’ve always thought the same thing happened with relationships and feelings. I was convinced that trust precedes intimacy. In my mind, trust is necessary for intimacy which is necessary for me to say “yes” to sex, not to mention to ask for it myself.

Much to my surprise, this was not at all what happened for me.

For what were pretty selfish reasons, my un-refusing began with saying yes, which led to emotional intimacy, which led to trust. Somehow in the past two years, the trust has grown without me even realizing it until I sat down to write about the importance of trust.

I always thought that trust was a necessary condition of saying yes and being a sexually generous wife, but it turned out that the intimacy that developed from generosity created the condition in which trust could grow. Realizing this made me feel like my world got tipped upside down.

I know there are other women who are afraid to fully trust their husbands. Maybe they weren’t able to trust the first men in their lives (their fathers), or they experienced challenges in their youth that made it hard to trust in God and His love for them. For most of my life, I would have directed their husbands to work hard to prove their trustworthiness.

Now I say, wife, act as though you trust him already. Exhibit the behavior of a woman who trusts her husband. Do this for an entire month, and see what happens. When you allow yourself to be more fully intimate with the man God has placed in your life, your trust will be able to flourish.

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11 Comments on “First Comes Trust?”

  1. Absolutely!! It’s some weird kind of ‘law of inverse reciprocal agreements.’ I, too, find it hard to trust and am stubborn. But, once you put yourself out there, consistently, the whole wonder of your marriage explodes! Great insight.

    1. Thanks to one of my favorite marriage bloggers for visiting my blog and commenting! I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this with acting in trust. It’s been a good reminder as I’ve continued to grow in my marriage–if I act in the way I think I should, the feelings just might grow despite my stubbornness.

      1. “Fake it until you make it,” Mary Kay Ash. It has merit in the marriage relationship as well as cosmetics. Although, I think it sounds better the way you explained it.

  2. OMG. During an extended period when my (now ex-) wife and I were trying to reconcile after she had filed for divorce the first time, one of her stipulations was that sex would be off the table until she was “ready.” One of her other stipulations was that we enter into a post-nuptial agreement on various financial and other issues. A number of times, we would be cuddling and kissing in ways that — between normal people — might well lead to sex. Each time, she would (seemingly sincerely) tell me that she wanted to get to the place where she could have sex with me but that she didn’t yet trust me enough to go there, and she would point out that the post-nup wasn’t finalized and signed yet. I had no answer for that, because it made sense to me as well that “trust precedes intimacy.” But I also knew, innately, that not having sex for 18-24 months (or more) wasn’t good for the marriage, but who could argue with her position that she couldn’t be expected to have sex with a man she didn’t trust? My only recourse was to try to convince her that she could trust me, but for a myriad of reasons she was not subject to persuasion on that point — I’m convinced that was partly, if not primarily, because she did not want to be convinced that she could trust me. I began to figure this out after I had signed the post-nup in a version that was favorable to her and yet she still refused to have sex due to her lack of trust.

    I would probably be fooling myself to think that if I had seen this post 3 years ago it would have made a difference. But this is a terrific insight on your part, and God bless you for putting it out there.

    Seems to me your insight is consistent with 1 Cor. 7:3-5. Paul doesn’t say: “don’t deprive each other (unless you have trust issues).” He just says “don’t deprive each other.” I guess God knows how things work for us, doesn’t He?

    1. I don’t know that this post would help a husband experiencing sexual refusal. After all, what could you have done about it? If your ex-wife was convinced she couldn’t trust you, she likely wouldn’t believe you saying that trust could develop after intimacy. Let me say, though, that I was stunned by this realization. It was a good lesson that truth does not always make sense. God’s understanding is not ours.

      1. You’re probably correct that it wouldn’t help for me to say it to her. But maybe I could have posed the question to the marriage counselor and let him explore it with her. Not that she was inclined to accept his perspective where it varied from hers anyway. Basically, at this point, you’re helping me be better prepared for the next marriage, if God sees fit to arrange that.

    2. Not meaning to be cruel at all. but it does sound like you got played there and know it. The quick engagement to that guy 400 miles away sounds way more than coincidental too. I think you’ll come out of this in a better place than you could have ever been with her and somehow so will the boys. You will find a better mother role model for them through this. I just feel that in my heart without being able to explain it.

      1. I did get played. Not in the sense that she was having sex somewhere else, but that the prospect of ever earning her trust was illusory. The quick engagement and remarriage were genuine; I’m sure she had never had any contact with the guy before they met online after the divorce was final. But it was/is a further demonstration of several underlying problems/instabilities she had/has. I appreciate the encouragement and I am inclined to think the same about the future, at least for me (I’m not so sure about the boys; they could easily be married before any remarriage by me); I’d just prefer to skip from here to there rather than live through the time in between. But I know the “gap” is a necessary part of the happier future. Thanks.

  3. Allow me to add this perspective Chris and O7 (whose blog I also subscribe to). If you looked at this from a child raising or team-building exercise, what you are really talking about doing is providing trust-building opportunities. Sometime those opportunities will arise through a natural evolution within a relationship: He’s never late. He always calls to check in when delayed. He never forgets important dates. He always follows through when he says he is going to do something. We never miss a church service out of laziness of selfish indulgences.

    Then there are other times you will put something out there for him and how he responds will determine if the trust builds further: “Remember to kiss me goodbye when going to work. Ask me about my day. Tell me you love me more often. Touch me without it always being a precursor to sex. Realize when I need your help and offer it without my having to ask. Please do the dishes or vacuum when I am totally worn but it still needs doing. Respect me and my place in you life. Know me. Can I trust you to do that?” This, I think, is the real trust you are looking for and you have to provide opportunities for him to affirm that trust. You need to experience how much he cares before you are comfortable caring for his needs.

    Meeting his sexual needs before “trust” is there provides trust-building opportunities. It can help build the particular type of trust that is need to step outside of that sexual behavior comfort zone which is inhibiting the intimacy the two of which you are capable.

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