The danger of unearned trust
In the article A Healthy Dose of Loyalty I read that “People who were apt to forgive their partner without that partner making amends tended to show a gradual erosion of their self-respect…” I would word it differently, but that sounds spot on to me. I’ve seen it play out in marriages, and it’s ugly.
Forgiving is good, but if that means leaving yourself wide open to more of the same, it’s a problem. If you can’t or won’t hold your spouse accountable for their wrong actions, they are unlike to change. Beyond this, unearned trust may be an indication that the person who is offering that trust has issues with self-image and/or self-respect. They put up with things they should not because they feel, or have been told, that they don’t deserve any better. This creates an inequity in the marriage that will eventually cause problems.
I suspect those of us who follow Christ may be more prone to this than others because we tend to confuse grace and trust. I can offer grace to someone I know I should not trust. Grace does not leave me open for more of the same, nor does it make me feel like I am inferior to the other person. Grace is a loving act that has nothing to do with the person who has done something wrong; it is a choice I make. Grace does not say I am weak, stupid, or inferior; it says I choose to act better than I feel like acting.
If you are “too trusting”, if you routinely let your wife get away with wrong behaviour, or if you tell her “It’s okay” when she has made no effort at amends, or maybe has not really apologized, PLEASE STOP! This is not loving, it’s enabling wrong behaviour. This does not make your marriage better; it only sets you up for problems in the future.
If your bride is letting you get away with things, or accepting an empty apology as if it was a real confession of guilt and a change of direction, PLEASE don’t accept that! I understand the temptation to think you are getting by easy, but realise that it is wounding your bride in ways that both of you will pay for later. Also realise that all those things probably are not forgotten, and maybe not even forgiven; odds they will come back to get you someday. Maybe she won’t mention them, but the anger and hurt she has built up may come out all at once – a volcano of emotion that will bury you and possibly kill your marriage.