As mentioned in our last posting, while every struggling couple is unique, they do seem to share several common yearnings. We wrote last time of every person’s desire for emotional connection. In this posting we will briefly consider the challenge and opportunity of repairing eroded trust.
Trust is one of the cornerstones of any successful relationship, yet virtually every marriage will experience periods of ebbing trust, not necessarily due to significant betrayals or breaking of vows, but often a result of the build up of little things such as not spending quality time together, chronic faultfinding and criticizing, or not following through on commitments.
We sometimes ask at our Retreats, “What do you think would be the fastest way to build trust with another person?” We always get some great answers that come from the hearts of people yearning for trust:
- Speak honestly from your heart
- Be open and vulnerable
- Be accountable regarding past mistakes
- Show authentic respect
Clearly these are all key elements to building trust with your partner. These and other elements of trust are woven throughout the Retreat experience. We always point out another simple but effective process in building trust: Make and Keep Promises.
Simply consistently being our word can quickly develop trust with others. Many people make promises to others with little actual commitment to follow through, then find themselves constantly making excuses for why they forgot to pick up the cleaning or how they could not get to that project they promised to complete, and a hundred other promises that are delayed or forgotten. While these seem like small slips, broken promises and forgotten commitments can add up over time, slowly but surely eroding trust.
If you want to build trust with your partner, making and keeping promises can be a clearly “trackable” place to start. A few hints to help in the process:
- Consider each promise you make. Don’t be stingy in making promises, but make sure you really can follow through and deliver on them.
- Determine some promises that might be particularly meaningful to your partner
- It’s OK to start with ‘small’ commitments, then build from there.
- Write every promise you make, then review your commitment list regularly
This concept of consciously making and following through with promises might seem somewhat contrived at first, something of an ‘exercise;’ but the building of any new habit will involve some conscious thought and planning, and this trust building process will bear some wonderful fruit for you and your relationship.