Trust is a foundational block and fundamental aspect of every relationship. Simply put: You can’t have a relationship without trust.
The lack of trust in relationships can create a whole host of problems. From constant fighting and arguing to a poor sex life to being completely closed off to each other’s life experiences.
Trust doesn’t dísappear overníght. ín fact, ín most sítuatíons where couples fínd they no longer trust each other, ít’s usually due to small acts over tíme. Just líke couples who have buílt strong trust foundatíons buíld ít over tíme, the opposíte can also happen.
In some cases, trust disappears because a singular act with a large impact, such as an affair. However, even in these situations, there were small acts of distrust being performed, but maybe not as damaging as the one major act of betrayal.
Whichever end of the stick you find yourself on, you’re here because you’re hurting and you don’t want to be. While this is a painful process, it’s one that ends in joy.
If you’re here, I imagine you want to keep going in this relationship. And, I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can. This is a solvable problem that so many couples have faced and come out on the other side of.
You can, too.
I’m going to walk you through several dynamics to start rebuilding trust and repairing your relationship. Take notes and be sure to save this for later references!
Be honest and open with your communication.
Now is not the time to keep things to yourself or shove things under the rug. If you feel that there is broken trust that needs mending, you need to be open and honest with your partner about what it looks like.
Here are some baseline questions to ask each other:
- What certain behaviors are either one of you doing that are mending or damaging trust?
- Do you feel safe to be completely, but compassionately, honest about your needs, thoughts, and opinions? Does your partner?
- Do you feel heard? Do you feel like your partner understands your perspective and vice versa?
- What story are you telling yourself? Can you share it with your partner so they can offer insight?
Start with those questions and go from there.
Make your goal to listen over being heard.
It may be a difficult goal to achieve at first, especially if you feel like you’re in an unfair spot, but it’s one of the best ways to ensure that you are both heard in the long run.
If it at the end of the conversation, you feel like neither of you came to a conclusion, don’t be afraid to say something along the lines of “I value what you have to say so much, but I just don’t feel like we found common ground. Can we pick this conversation back up again in 20 minutes/an hour/tomorrow?”
It’s important to set a time to return to the conversation.
By settíng thís tíme, you’re creatíng an ínvítatíon and reestablíshíng trust. In addítíon, you’re also creatíng space for both of you to get new perspectíves, dígest the conversatíon, and process any emotíons that may have come up.
Assume the positive.
There’s actually a term for this and it’s called “positive sentiment override”. This is where a partner is aware of their partner’s shortcomings and annoying personality traits, but overall, sees them in a positive light. Essentially, saying “the good outweighs the bad” and making that their mantra.
Every person is going to have traits we don’t enjoy. Every couple is going to have recurring arguments over those traits. It’s part of the process.
However, when you’re in a situation where you feel as though you can’t trust your partner, those traits that would normally be background noise become full-blown life and death issues. This is known as “negative sentiment override”.
While it may seem like the ball is in your partner’s court to “cure” the lack of trust between you, you also have immense power over the situation. Your key role is to keep coming back to that positive mindset.
I’m not saying it’s going to be a walk in the park, especially if there was some level of betrayal (such as an affair) that lead to a break in trust. However, if you want this relationship and you want this relationship to thrive, then you need to commit to this mindset first and foremost.
What does a positive mindset and positive sentiment override look like in real life?
- Using tasteful and encouraging humor during arguments and tense conversations.
- Approaching your partner over grievances gently (aka avoiding criticism, blaming, and/or interrogation tactics).
- Prioritizing the friendship bond between you and your partner.
- Focusing on the traits you love about your partner. (It may be helpful to write a few of these out daily in the beginning.)
- Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt when mistakes are made.
- Committing to repairing any damages/grievances in a timely, but gentle, way.
- Ex: Your partner talked all about their day and forgot to ask about yours. Instead of exploding “Why don’t you care about me?” a week later over something less relevant, taking a moment after they finished talking to say, “I love hearing about your day and what you’re up to. I’m feeling upset right now because I didn’t get a chance to talk. In the future, I would love it if you could ask about my day, too.”
A note on forgiveness.
None of these tactics and tips are going to be effective if you’re not in a forgiveness mindset. If there was an act of betrayal, then you may not be there yet.
It’s okay if you need time to get there. However, it’s important to communicate this need to your partner and keep them in the loop, even if you’d rather go silent. Stonewalling at this point will only exacerbate the issue and cause more pain.
Healing doesn’t happen in a linear pattern. Neither will rebuilding trust. There may be moments when you feel that you two finally have the hang of it again. And there may be moments when you feel like you two have made no progress at all. This is all part of the journey.
Forgiveness is also not a straight path. It’s more of cycle between accepting what happened, feeling the feelings that come, and letting them go. Over time, it’ll become easier and faster. You have the time and space you need to go through that cycle as many times as necessary to heal.
What’s important is not how fast you forgive or your partner forgives, but that you’re always making moves to keep healing and letting go of past resentments. That is what is going to heal your relationship and cause it thrive the most.
Forgiveness doesn’t excuse or condone the harm and damages done, but it does forge the path of peace and joy in your personal life and your life together as a couple.
Reference : http://thecozie.co