When I asked about your biggest marital struggle, several of you mentioned trust issues. The surrounding circumstances varied, but the upshot was the same: you didn’t trust that your spouse loved you or would continue to be there for you.
My solution to trust issues is somewhat spiritual and deep and tough for me to explain in words. It’s possible that I will explain it so poorly that no one will get it and everyone will comment about how it doesn’t make sense and would never work in real life. But I’ll toss it out there anyway, just in case I manage to describe it effectively.
The solution lies in knowing that trust is an act of faith. It’s a choice. I, for instance, don’t know for a certainty that my husband will come home tonight. It’s possible that he might meet a beautiful woman on the street today and the two of them will decide to run off to the Swiss Alps together where they will take part in extreme snowboarding for the rest of their lives.
It’s possible. But I’m not going to worry about it because 1) it’s not probable 2) if my husband did move to the Alps with some snowboarding floozy, there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it.
The truth is that you can’t trust anyone in your life 100 percent of the time because you can’t control other people. Everyone in your life – including you – is a deeply flawed human being. If these folks were not flawed, they would be divine, enlightened or on the verge of being canonized as saints. Because they are flawed and because they do not share your thoughts and opinions, chances are they will indeed let you down one or more times.
This doesn’t mean they don’t love you. And this doesn’t mean that they are bad people.
Now it’s quite possible that your spouse has given you good reasons to stop trusting him or her. Assuming you’ve addressed that issue and assuming your spouse has apologized and promised to make amends, then you might as well stop worrying about the “what ifs.” The more you try to predict the future – What if he lets me down? What if he cheats? What if he walks out on my marriage? – the less trusting you will become.
You can’t control the future, and worrying about it probably won’t help you prepare for it, either. You also can’t control your spouse.
But you can control you. You can take steps to do everything possible to stand on your own two feet. You can become so confident that you will know—without a doubt—that you will okay whether your spouse is in your life or out of it. You can be the best spouse you can possibly be, too. You can be someone who is warm, compassionate, forgiving, and loving. You can ask for what you need. You can talk about your fears. You can grow. You can be a leader. You can be a big person with a big heart.
And you can live in the moment. You’ll deal with whatever happens in the next moment once it gets here.
Those are choices you can make. Those are all things you can control. Whenever you find yourself thinking, “What if he…” stop that thought and tell yourself, “I am not going to waste my mental energy on that right now. Instead I am going to focus on what I can do instead.” Then shift your thinking to what you can control: your actions and your thoughts.
Readers: What do you think? What have you done to build trust? What has worked for you? Do you struggle with trust issues in your relationship? What are the stumbling blocks for you?
* I would love if more of you commented on How PHEA Changed Your Lives.
* I’m giving a book signing this Saturday. You can find details and RSVP here. During the signing I will be raffling off a free Romance Swag Basket donated by Eden Fantasys.
* You can listen to my radio interview with Bruce Kelly on Secrets of a Romance Writer’s Husband. Here I talk about romance, communication, marriage and more.
* At The Writer’s Place, I talk about what caused me to fall in love with writing. So do several other writers.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.