Monday, August 01, 2016

Lack of Trust Does Not Equal Unwillingness

Tiger swallowtail in Yellow Springs, Ohio
"They are unwilling to work on our marriage! They don't even want to try!"

X shared this with me about their spouse, Y.

"No," I responded, "it's not that Y doesn't want to try. It's that Y doesn't trust you."

What appeared to X as unwillingness to work on the marital relationship was actually a lack of trust. There had been so many starts and stops, put-togethers and fall-aparts that, over time, trust severely eroded.

Let's say I'm told that the floor beneath us is secure. But then it fails to hold, we fall through, and we get hurt. Imagine this happening time after time after time... The point will quickly come that X's promises fail to hold weight. Y will choose not to come into the room any more. Y doesn't want to get hurt again.

X accuses Y of not wanting to try to make the marriage work. This drives Y further away. What is needed is rebuilding of trust. Promises mean nothing at this point. X and Y need to act and go to a professional marriage-builder. This will take a lot of time, require a lot of humility, and necessitate learning different ways of doing marriage, to include how X and Y communicate.