Dear Dr. Elia.
How does one learn to trust? My husband of 24 years is the most unconditionally loving, kind, Christ-like person I know. I love him deeply, but I have struggled all our married life to trust him 100 percent. He has never intentionally done anything major to hurt our relationship, and for the most part, I believe that I do trust him. But so strangely, and occasionally, without any common trigger whatsoever, I will find myself doubting him in a sad and what I can clearly see later to be a ridiculous manner. Over the years I have prayed, fasted, read many books, studied the scriptures and done everything I can to learn to trust and have faith in not just him but in people, in my Savior and my Heavenly Father. What is wrong with me?
This is actually more common that you might think. It sounds like you have been blessed with a wonderful man in your life, so he is not really the issue. The real issue has to do with trust in general, be it with your husband, other people or even God. You have done so much already to resolve this particular issue: fasting and praying, reading scriptures and other good books, and everything else in your power.
Perhaps the only thing left for you to explore might turn out to be the answer to your question. Mentally go back in time, perhaps to your childhood, and think about a situation when you felt totally betrayed (typically by someone who meant a lot to you, like a family member or a best friend). When something like that happens to us and we get deeply hurt, we unconsciously decide that the world is not a safe place and no one is to be trusted. After all, if this person could hurt us, anyone could. So we build up a protective layer; it’s our strategy for survival. Well, it might work initially, and so we do survive our growing up years. Once we get older, however, this strategy has become so much a part of our nature that we apply it to others, even if they are good to us and totally trustworthy, like your dear husband.
You might want to let the “little girl” inside you know that it’s time to trust those who have been good to you consistently. It is helpful to remind this “little girl” that the adult you can protect and take care of her now.
How wonderful for you that you have been blessed with such a worthy and Christ-like eternal companion. He’s the perfect person for you to come out of hiding for and hold nothing back — to give to him 100 percent of your heart without any trepidation or fear and experience the fullness of joy and peace that comes with trusting.
Ultimately, life comes down to this: Do we live in fear or in faith? People will let us down and betray our trust; it’s part of our human experience. We’ll even let ourselves down from time to time, but God never will. Putting our faith in him will help see us through the ups and downs of our daily lives, and it certainly beats the alternative.
Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.