THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD (SUCCESSFUL) MARRIAGE, HOME,
AND FAMILY LIFE
No marriage, family life, home, or relationship can be classified as fruitful and successful if the people involved in the relationship do not trust each other. Love is the key factor for the establishment of any successful marriage, productive family life, joyful home, warm fellowship, and satisfying friendship, where trust must also be an indispensable ingredient. Love is therefore the key factor for the establishment of trust in any form of relationship. That is why Jesus commanded us to: “love one another (as the basis of our relationships) as I have loved you” (St. John 13: 34).
Under no circumstances can two or more people live, work, or fellowship together without trusting each other. Lack of trust implies doubt and uncertainty about the integrity and suitability of the person or persons you are dealing with, which implies that you have no faith in your interactions. Under such circumstances, there is no way you can give all of yourself to the person and to the relationship and build true loyalty for a successful relationship.
(I) Trust Is Determined By The State Of Your Mind And Heart
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”.
Scripture makes it clear that trust must begin and develop in the heart (center of your soul). This will depend on your state of mind (understanding), and will be further demonstrated by the extent to which you depend on God and consult Him for wisdom and direction in all that you plan and do (your ways and paths). If we do not learn to trust God with our hearts and minds, then we cannot trust our fellow human beings. Couples and family members who do not trust God would not also experience any appreciable measure of genuine trust in their marriages and family life. They would not be able to easily forgive offences and get past them to develop good relationships with people. Little offences would always throw them off balance and quickly break any trust they have for their partners and family members, or friends.
In Proverbs chapter 31 where the virtuous (ideal) wife is defined and described for us, her characteristics begin with trust in the heart of her husband for her.
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her” (Proverbs 31: 10, 11).
It is the person (wife) that you trust, and not just things the person (wife) does, although the person’s acts and behavior will promote the trust. If a woman earns the trust of her husband in his heart (seat of emotions and center of his soul), abundant love is triggered and nourished to flow freely from his heart to his wife.
When the wife responds properly to her husband’s unconditional love and trust, unprecedented security is created in the relationship, and both of them feel very safe in each others arms and bosom.
I believe that this is the foundation as well as the beginning of any genuine husband-wife relationship that has true love and meaning. This sets the tone for love and leadership in the family, when Daddy sincerely trusts Mommy in his heart, and enables Mommy to trust him also in her heart. The reciprocal (two-way) trust enables both of them to allow each other the freedom to develop their gifts and talents to their full potential, grow into each other in deeper love and trust, strengthen the marriage bond, and transfer the spirit and values to the children and rest of the family. This is the only way to promote fruitfulness and success of any marriage and family life, and for every other human relationship as well.
Your thoughts determine what is finally conceived and felt in the heart. To become virtuous, ideal, or trustworthy companion, you should therefore:
- Work diligently on your mind in order to sow good and godly thoughts into your mind.
- Allow your heart to trust the one you are relating to, and discipline your heart to maintain the sincerity of the trust.
- Make a conscious effort to remember the needs and interests of your mate or friend, and determine to freely share your mind and heart with the person you have decided to join your life to.
- Avoid any thoughts or acts of distrust that would hinder complete unity and agreement in your marriage or relationship.
When someone closes the heart and does not open up to you, hides his or her true feelings and thoughts from you, lives a life of secrecy or insincerity, and exhibits a life of selfishness and self-centeredness, it becomes extremely difficult to trust, relate to, or marry such a person.
The trust in your heart for someone who is close to you, produces:
- Sincerity ---- You easily open up your mind and heart to one another, accommodate and tolerate each another, and tell the truth to one another.
- Loyalty ---- You become so committed to each other that you constantly strive to remain faithful to one another in the relationship.
- Faith ---- You interact and do things with the person without fear, hesitation, and doubt.
- Confidence ---- You derive courage and inner boldness for your activities in the relationship.
- Genuine love ---- You constantly look out for the best interest and welfare of each other, and share all things freely for mutual benefit.
- Warm fellowship ---- You always desire and enjoy each other’s company, pray and share scripture together, converse and share good information together, support each other, and enjoy meeting each other’s needs.
- Intimacy ---- You develop closeness (physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual).
- Security (safety) ---- You feel safe and protected by the strong believe that the one in whose hands you have entrusted yourself in absolute commitment for a permanent relationship, will never fail nor betray the trust you have reposed in him or her in any way, and under no circumstance.
- Peace ---- You have a deep sense of peace as you trustingly live with the person and expose yourself fully to the one, firmly believing that God has ultimately given you a true companion for fruitfulness and progress.
- Joy ---- You have true joy in your heart as you relate to the person and enjoy sweet fellowship with him or her.
- Motivation ---- You are encouraged to discover and improve upon your talents and gifts. You are further stimulated to seek for new ways of doing things in order to become a greater blessing and make the relationship more successful and satisfying. You are motivated to fellowship and work more with the person, and constantly trust him or her to team up with you in your efforts.
No husband can claim that he is genuinely committed to his wife, loves, and cares for her, when he does not sincerely trust her in his heart. You could say: “I trust you”, with your mouth, but not really mean it in your heart. The same situation applies to the woman who claims to trust her husband only with her lips. Genuine trust in the heart is the basis of a godly relationship that is directed and controlled by the Spirit of God.
(II) No One Can Trust Someone Or Something For You
No matter the counseling and prayers you receive from people, no one can trust your spouse, parent, family member, or friend for you. It is similar to faith and salvation where no one can believe and become saved for you. Faith and trust are personal matters. Although people can ask others to be with you or help you to do things, give you something to support you (food, medicine, accommodation etc.), or can offer you recommendations to choose people and things that will benefit you, no one can actually trust anyone or anything for you. You have to learn to develop your own trust and confidence. You can still work with someone or use something with constant doubts, no matter how it works for you, unless you make a firm decision to operate in the realm of faith and trust. If after testing you become convinced that someone’s recommendation is good, and is the best answer for your particular situation, then you need to open your mind and heart to create some trust to the required degree in order to continue to derive all the expected benefits.
(III) Love, Faith, Agreement, And Trust Go Together
You cannot sincerely love someone without believing in the person. Neither can you agree with anyone to walk and work together in harmony, without trusting that you will always be faithful to each other and maintain the bond of unity and fundamental principles that hold the relationship together.
(III) Basis And Kinds Of Trust
In my opinion there are variations or kinds of trust, as well as a basis for any kind of trust, depending on the kind of person being trusted, what is involved in the trusting process, and the circumstances surrounding whom and what you are trusting. In other words there should be a reasonable, genuine, and solid basis for trusting, which determines the kind or extent of the trust you exercise.
I have tried to categorize different types and variations of trust in my own way in order to explain my point. I encourage you to discuss, analyze, and improve upon it.
- Common, Normal or Involuntary (Automatic) Trust ---- This is trust you automatically exercise without any pause to consider the outcome, because it is virtually part of human life. For example a mother gives breast milk or feeds a baby and automatically trusts that once the nutritious food has entered the child’s system, it would produce growth and strength. A driver begins to press on the accelerator once the engine of a vehicle responds favorably to ignition, trusting that the vehicle is going to carry him or her forward without any doubt. Under normal conditions a sleepy person lies in bed at night and fully trusts that he or she is going to sleep soundly and wake up the next morning. Unless other factors come in suddenly or unknowingly to interfere with these normal life processes, and become hindrances or problems that need to be dealt with, we do not have the slightest problem with exercising absolute, automatic trust for such situations.
When a husband, wife, family member, fiancée, or friend does not exhibit automatic trust that every other person should portray, to your expectation, it then becomes a problem in the relationship. You see such a doubtful person as someone who cannot even exercise simple trust of a child, and believe in relating to you even under the least of all circumstances. Such a person would doubt almost everything you say and do. Even when you serve him or her food or water, the one would not trust you enough to regard it as wholesome. Every conversation with someone else could trigger the suspicion in the one that there is some form of gossip about him or her in at least one or two sentences from your lips. The person never believes any explanation for any mistake you make or deviation from routine (e.g. coming home a little later than usual).
Such a situation could be satanic, in which case the person needs deliverance from a doubtful and suspicious spirit operating on the mind, but it could commonly result from wounds and scars of very bad experiences of the past that the one needs to be healed of.
- Regular Tested Trust ---- This is trust that all of us exercise for someone or something after several, long term interactions or usage under the same or very similar circumstances. For example all of us respond to adverts on television, on the radio, or by the wayside and test the products of companies or people’s services, and finally put our trust in goods of the company or persons that satisfy our needs.
- Exclusive Tested Trust ---- This is trust that is peculiar or exclusive to you alone, or particular for you and your family or among a small group of people. It results from long term testing of someone or something under special circumstances in addition to all regular situations that are common to relationships. In my opinion, courtship and marriage relationships come under this category. I have to explain that after careful examination I realize that all the other kinds or categories of trust I have enumerated come into play as preliminary stages before an Exclusive Tested Trust becomes finally established.
For example a wife or husband is selectively chosen to bond permanently with you under your own specially considered circumstances, which becomes a trust that is exclusively tested, developed, and accepted.
In my opinion, it is this kind of trust that should define the extent and depth of the love, quality, fellowship, and success of any marriage, family life, friendship, or church. Exclusive trust cannot be achieved without the fear of God, wisdom, sincerity, sacrifice, selflessness, and genuine love.
To establish Exclusive Trust, you will need to do the following:
- Sacrifice ----You must learn to sacrifice time, effort, money, and resources to build such trust. No real trust is ever cheap, because it is earned and not just given.
- Deal with weaknesses ---- You will have to acknowledge and deal with your own human weaknesses as well as the faults and failings of the other person or persons you are relating to, before you can establish trust between the two of you.
- Consider circumstances ---- You will need to take special circumstances, problems, and peculiarities of the other person or people into careful consideration, especially the mind of the person you wish to trust. For example: children (immature mind); someone with a very weak will and weak spirit (naïve and easily deceived mind); very old person (reduced mental faculty and physical abilities); troubled or traumatized person (worried and confused mind), illiterate or poorly educated person (ignorant mind), spiritually possessed or oppressed person or someone dabbling in the occult and witchcraft (satanic controlled mind); unsaved or backslidden person, or someone living in sin (ungodly mindset); someone with intentions of revenge for an offence or with malice in his or her heart to do you harm (wicked or evil mind) etc.
The devil, in collaboration with the normal corrupt human spirit, can influence such minds to think, act, and behave in disappointing and undesirable ways that make it difficult or sometimes almost impossible to trust the person you are working hard to build trust between you and him or her.
- Persevere till the end ---- You must determine to endure any hardships and disappointments as you build trust, especially in people who are difficult to live with or hard to relate to. Determine to persevere until you achieve your ultimate results and reach your goal of building genuine, enduring trust that would promote lasting friendship and fruitfulness in your relationship.
- Work with people ---- No one has ever succeeded in establishing the best relationship with another person without obtaining some form of good advice or essential information from someone else. This is where premarital and post-marital counseling become necessary for a couple to build trust in their marriage. Usually parents, adult family members, pastors, church leaders, and elders with experience, can be of immense help in guidance and counseling. If such people are also wise, spiritual, and godly in character, they can be of tremendous help in advising and assisting you in handling someone, especially your husband, wife, in-laws, children, boss, and colleagues. Anyone who has had long association with someone that has similar characteristics as the one you are dealing with can offer you good counseling and guidance. It does not mean you should simply follow everything they suggest to you, but learn to apply the acceptable part of the knowledge alongside your own convictions to gradually build trust in your relationship. If there are very intimate and personal issues involved, then be extra careful how you let these sensitive matters get out to other people.
The trustworthy people you consult can also support you in prayer.
IF A CONFLICT OF ANY KIND HAS OCCURRED BETWEEN YOU AND THE ONE YOU ARE TRYING TO TRUST, THEN I CAUTION YOU TO BE VERY CAREFUL NEVER TO BRING ANYONE INTO THE PICTURE WHO IS NEITHER PART OF THE PROBLEM NOR PART OF THE SOLUTION!
- Work with the Lord ---- Study your Bible, meditate on God’s word at the beginning of each day, learn to use scripture to control your thoughts, actions, and emotions during the day. Use the scriptures as basis to engage in fervent prayer for yourself and other family members or person you are dealing with. Study the Bible and pray jointly as husband and wife, between you and your family member or friend etc., in addition to your own personal meditation and prayers.
Jesus said: “Without Me, you can do nothing” (St. John 15: 5). Trust is a matter of the mind and heart, and you must admit that you do not even fully know your own mind and heart very well in order to have any power to manage and control your inner-most being. How, then, can you have any power or authority and skill to work and change someone’s heart for him or her to become trustworthy, or produce any real sense of trust within you when you are struggling with your own doubts and weaknesses each day?
(IV) Conflict Management And Trust
No relationship exists without any form of conflicts from time to time. The ability and manner of managing or resolving conflicts and building trust is a primary sign of maturity of a person, and the depth of his or her relationship with other people that he or she has conflicts with. The building of trust in the parties involved in the relationship becomes more important especially during or after times of disagreement. The offended must especially learn to build trust for the offender, and the offender must trust that the one he or she offended has sincerely forgiven and released him or her from the chains of the offence for them to continue loving each other and working together in peace.
The person wounded and disappointed will find it hard to trust the other person whom he or she finds as unfaithful. The other fellow who caused the hurt can also develop mistrust for the one he or she offended because of the fear of the disappointed companion not trusting him or her anymore.
“I don’t trust you anymore. I wonder if I can ever trust you again. I can’t believe or understand what happened. I never knew you could do that to me. How can I forget what you did?”
These are among the most common statements we hear in our homes and other places when trust is broken between two people, especially couples or lovers. It is also frequent among close friends, business partners, church leaders and their congregations, and among family members.
Another familiar one is: “As for me I don’t trust anybody.” When you hear this statement then it clearly indicates to you that the speaker has had a bad experience before or has heard about the unfortunate experience of someone who innocently, reasonably, or foolishly gave his or her trust to someone and got the trust badly trampled upon, with subsequent damages.
After dealing with offences and resolving all conflicts, the hurdle to overcome is the establishment of trust. We need to understand at least three very important characteristics of trust around which we can consequently concentrate our thoughts, mend broken trust, renew our trust for a beloved companion, and build deeper and more meaningful trust in our relationship:
- Trust is a process, not just an act or event
It is the process that takes the act of forgiveness to completion, and enables us to establish true love and fellowship with any neighbor or companion. You CANNOT achieve it as a flight by night or in one sprint, no matter how gigantic your initial effort is.
Without patience and consistent works of righteousness towards the person you are dealing with, you will forever struggle to trust your husband, wife, child, in-law, relative, or friend. I must confess to you that it can take you the patience of a donkey to trust some untrustworthy people again, as you wait to get convinced that you can open up wholeheartedly to them without getting wounded or disappointed AGAIN.
- Trust has to be earned and not just given
Because trust is a process, it has to be earned like a certificate and not simply given to anyone. Although we can deliberately decide or try to trust people or entrust things to them, even that is still a process of attempting to help the distrusted (or doubtful) person to earn some trust in order for us to have a foundation to trust him or her more.
After a husband (or husband-to-be), for example, has painfully violated the trust of his wife (or fiancee) and gotten himself sexually involved with another lady, suspicion is built up in the mind of the woman in addition to the excruciating hurt. Suspicion is a chief destroyer of trust. It could be the other way round (i.e. the woman flirting with another man for the male partner to develop suspicion).
From then on there is the temptation to screen phone calls, spy on one another especially about one’s movements and visits, eavesdrop on conversation, search for and scrutinize pictures and reading materials, secretly open up and read both incoming and outgoing letters with the skills of a detective, look for strange addresses and complimentary cards, steal passwords in order to scrutinize e-mails, examine under-wears and shirts for traces of sexual and romantic evidence, question gifts and unexplained delays in getting home, and critically analyze attitudes and appearances (including how wrinkled or tainted a dress looks).
The partner goes further to fish for strange keys and other items in the briefcase or handbag, tune up his or her nose for special or unfamiliar smells, and in the worst cases the lady or gentleman seriously digs for sex accoutrements like condoms (the most common) and critically examine bed-sheets as well.
Some people hide serious diseases and physical abnormalities from their mates, and others go as far as hiding children they have had with other ladies or gentlemen in the past until the mate discovered them. Deep and sometimes irreparable mistrust results after the discovery.
A suspicious parent will question all exits and incomings of his or her child into the house, will constantly and secretly search the room, drawers, and school bags of the child, and screen his or her phone calls and mails.
What are we trying to say here? We are implying that it becomes VERY DIFFICULT TO TRUST the husband, wife, child or person you live with anymore, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, especially when the one does not show signs of true repentance, lies to his or her teeth, or appears proud, sneaky, and deceptive.
But what do we usually hear being drummed into our ears? We hear: “TRUST ME, TRUST ME; I SAY TRUST ME!” being echoed from the offender all over the place.
Well, we cannot simply “trust you” by giving you “cheap trust” which usually results from “cheap forgiveness” (pretentious forgiveness that does not address and deal with the root of issues). The fact of the matter is: we are not sure you will know the value of the precious trust offered you, give it its due respect, and fulfill your required part of the trust agreement and responsibilities.
As much as we should forgive and forget the past, and learn to trust people again, I have already emphasized that we should be cautious of offering cheap forgiveness to someone who is genuinely unrepentant. It may be appropriate in certain circumstances to limit your interactions with the one for a period, and allow him or her to develop true repentance and for you to redefine your relationship with the one. But give such treatment to the one lovingly and wisely in order not to cause the person to become hardened.
Paul exhorted that: “If anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother” (1 Thessalonians 3; 14, 15).
AFTER CAUSING AN OFFENCE AND REPENTING, YOU WILL HAVE TO PROVE YOURSELF TRUSTWORTHY BY WHAT YOU DO (OR DON’T DO) FROM THEN ON, IN ORDER TO EARN THE TRUST. YOU DON’T NEED LONG SENTENCES, MANY HOURS OF SPECTACULAR ACHIEVEMENTS, OR MANY LETTERS OF CREDENCE TO BE TRUSTED, RECOGNIZED, AND VALUED, ONCE YOUR PRODUCT IS PROVED TO BE SUPERB BY THOSE WHO HAVE HAD LONG ASSOCIATION WITH YOU.
- Trust takes time to grow
Trust is created and built in order to grow in size and strength with time, so as to meet the challenges in a relationship that demand deeper trust with changing seasons.
This explains why trust cannot simply be an act, or handed over to a person instantaneously like a wrapped gift without the one earning it like a diploma. That is why it is also not wise to go the full length and presumptuously trust any Sue, Sally, and Mary, or any John Doe you meet down the road.
It further explains why you need to “walk into love” more often rather than just “falling into love” blindly at any time.
- Trust in small as well as big things
If you do not learn to trust each other in small matters, you will find it difficult to trust one another in big or very important matters. If, for example, you are careful and sincere with small amounts of money or property entrusted into your care, it becomes easier to trust you with large amounts of money or expensive property.
Spouses, partners, family members, brothers, sisters, and friends should not be careless and unwise about simple trust in small matters of daily life, and wake up suddenly to make frantic efforts to demonstrate trust in huge matters of importance. The primary reason is because faith, trust, holiness, and sin etc. are absolutes to God. No matter how small any unbelief, un-holiness, distrust, unfaithfulness, or sin appears to be (in our opinion), it is still unacceptable in the eyes of a holy God who demands complete obedience.
- Trust begins with humility and trusting in God
Every form of trust in your relationships, marriage, and family life, ultimately hinges on your trust in God who gave you your body (allowed you to exist), and gave you your spouse, children, family members, neighbors, and friends. If you lack the humility to submit to God and to people and work cooperatively with them, it will be very difficult to trust anyone. God also gave you your home to dwell in, where the genuineness of your trust is ultimately tested. Be constantly aware of the fact that God works in the life of every human being, either to convert the unbeliever, bring the backslidden back to Himself, or use the committed child of God to his glory. Learn to think and act past the human being you are dealing with by looking to the Lord as the one you are really living for. This will enable you to trust in God and do His will by focusing on being an agent of salvation, deliverance, and blessing for family members and people you deal with, rather than focusing on yourself, human beings, and people’s weaknesses and then end up thinking, acting, feeling, and behaving in the flesh with little or no ability to build any trust at all in your relationships, especially when it is taking a long time (in your estimation) for people to do the right thing and make themselves trustworthy.
Words and deeds (actions), fashioned into their right shapes and sizes by the right attitude and timing, are the bricks used to build trust. The mortar is a mixture of love (the cement) well mingled with forgiveness (the sand), reinforced by iron bars (prayer and practical application or obedience to God’s word), for the building of the mansion (God’s Kingdom).
Above all, praying for any companion and constantly interceding on his or her behalf, will give you enough grace and power from God to love the unlovable, and trust the untrustworthy one.
Copyright November 2005 Rev. Dr.Samuel A. Kisseadoo (Professor of Biology, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA) Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Inc.,
6 Red Robin Turn, Hampton, Virginia 23669, USA. Ph 757-7289330 Fax 757-7289335 firstname.lastname@example.org