By Taha Ghayyur
So you are a newly-wed couple and wondering how do I earn by loved one’s trust?
Or you may be married for a while now and lately you feel your spouse has been getting paranoid and questioning everything you do.
Building, earning, and keeping trust, which is known as Amana in Arabic, is a daunting task that requires a life-long effort.
Building trust is like building a bridge. It requires multiple skills and steps: intention, determination,strategy, architecture, engineering, and gathering supplies. It involves labour and at times risks. Bridge building is not a one time task. It needs constant care and maintenance.
Why Trust Matters?
You may be wondering, what’s the big deal about trust? Isn’t it something that comes naturally with love? Not necessarily.
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” – George MacDonald
It’s crucial to understand the role of trust in a relationship, especially in a Muslim marriage.
- the basis of your Islamic marriage contract
- what glues the hearts and souls of two different, sometimes seemingly incompatible, people together
- what helps you understand your life-partner’s needs, preferences and annoyances
- what keeps you and your spouse going when the storms of stress, arguments, financial distress, anxiety and external interferences hit your relationship
- what Allah asks us to have in Him for final results, after doing our effort (Tawakkul)
- what Allah told us to fulfill: “Fulfill your promises that you will be questioned about them.” (16:24)
- something if broken, makes Allah displeased. Ali bin Abu Talib once said: “Breaking promises makes others unhappy as also Allah will be unhappy.”
Not surprisingly, truthfulness (Sidq) and trust (Amana) were the primary qualities that attracted Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her, to the Prophet, peace upon him. The entire relationship of the first two Muslims in Makkah was founded on these remarkable qualities.
10 Ways to Build Bridges of Trust
Good news is, with a consistent sincere effort and an honest character, you can build and maintain bridges of trust and understanding with your spouse.
1- Never Lie to Your Spouse: Make sure to establish a truthful character in the sight of your spouse and children from the outset of your relationship. Have zero tolerance for lies, big or small, in your family. If you take “small lies” lightly, it may make your wife or husband think, if you can lie about something insignificant, what else would you be lying about? From small things to where you are going or what you ate today for lunch, to big things like your education, or immigration status, or family history, all require honest disclosure in order to nurture trust.
2- Never Deceive Others: While you may not be lying to your spouse, you may think it’s OK to lie to outsiders. For instance, calling in sick at work for some other reason; telling your spouse or children to lie to someone calling, “No, Mr. xyz is not home”; playing tricks on your business partner; or deceiving to your customers. When your loved ones witness your dishonest behaivour with outsiders, how can you expect them to trust you? A believer can never have one face in one setting and another somewhere else. This is what Prophet, peace be upon him, warned us about:
“Whoever has (the following) four characters will be a hypocrite, and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up. These are: (1) Whenever he talks, he tells a lie; (2) whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; (3) whenever he makes a covenant he proves treacherous; (4) and whenever he quarrels, he behaves impudently in an evil insulting manner.” (Bukhari)
3- Be Proactive in Keeping Your Spouse Informed: Small things such as letting your spouse know what your plans are for the day, who you intend to meet and why, and what your school, work or travel schedule will be like, will help strengthen their trust in you.
4- Hear Out Your Partner: If your husband or wife feels insecure about or suspicious of some activity of yours, listen to what they say and the feelings behind their inquiries. Don’t interrupt or judge them. Let them finish before you speak up. Sometimes understanding their concerns is more important than lengthy explanations.
Keep in mind this advice from an anonymous person: “Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself.”
5- Avoid Things that Make Your Spouse Feel Insecure: If there are settings that make your spouse uncomfortable or if there are certain activities that make them anxious and insecure, regardless of their reasoning, it’s a good practice to avoid these as much as possible. Of course, any action, environment, or company that displeases Allah and is against Prophetic teachings should be avoided to begin with. Make sure you are aware of the Islamic limits on gender interaction and social engagements, whether in person or in the virtual world of text-messaging, phone conversations, or chatting on Facebook.
6- Be There When Your Spouse Needs You: Whether it’s a grocery item your spouse asked you to pick up on your way home, or you are requested to babysit children at home while he or she attends a meeting or a class, make sure you fulfill their request in the best possible manner. And it goes without saying, being there with your physical, verbal, emotional or financial support, in times of illness, pregnancy, loss of loved ones, or financial crisis, is the real test of your love and trust.
7- Be as Transparent as Possible: Don’t make your husband or wife guess or wonder what you’re up to. Don’t make them feel guilty for asking questions or having doubts. Be clear about your financial situation. Let them know about any illness or emotional limitations, or criminal records, before your marriage. If you have developed a reputation of honesty in all spheres of life, you shouldn’t have problem.
8- Spend Quality Time with Your Spouse: Building trust requires making time for the one whose trust you are trying to earn. Giving them your undivided attention and love helps them develop a true bond of trust and understanding. Doing things or going out with them, even to places you may not find exciting, is vital to earning their appreciation and trust.
9- Pray Together, Eat together, and Sleep together: This may sound very obvious, but setting your schedule in a way that you both are available to do these things together, is very spiritually and emotionally reinforcing. A relationship that is based on a strong spiritual and moral foundation can only bear love, trust, and respect as its fruits. Keep in mind, families where spouses don’t find time to eat together, sleep at the same time, and pray together often, are usually subject to miscommunication, insecurity, mistrust, boredom, lack of feelings of love, mercy, and joy.
10- Remember Allah’s Trust in You: God is watching you at all times. A constant reminder of death and your accountability to God, will always keep you in check. You would be careful to not to break your husband’s or wife’s trust, whether by watching something you shouldn’t be watching, or engaging in extra-marital relationships, or not fulfilling a promise or your spouse’s needs, because you know you will be ultimately breaking Allah’s trust. Your wife or husband and children are trusts from God. Either you take care of this trust, or God forbid, loose it.