A relationship relies heavily on trust – but trust can broken very easily. There is hope, though – trust can be rebuilt.
Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Trust is like air: we only see it when it is polluted.
When our partner has let us down (or worse) and we feel that our trust in them has diminished or gone, we need to make a decision. We need to decide to either stay in the relationship and put effort into working it out, or leave the relationship.
The choice being made be complicated by: shared finances, children, mitigating circumstances, and the nature of the issue that has left us feeling betrayed.
One thing is certain though – we do need to choose.Without a concrete and definitive choice being made to either stay or leave, the relationship remains in limbo, and trust is difficult to nurture in uncertain situations.
It is clearly better to be mindful rather than mindless.
Here’s the hard part: trust is rebuilt in small steps. Gradually, a little at a time. You’ll need to decide together if you have space for this process in your life, as patience from both parties is the key. There is no place for anger or resentment: remember that you have chosen to be here. Also, if you want certainty that they will never betray your trust again, the only way you can truly achieve this is by leaving the relationship.
The two parties involved in the trust issue (victim and culprit) both need to acknowledge that there is a lot of work required by both parties to regain trust – it is without doubt a two-way street. For example, the victim needs to decide if they wish to do the rebuilding, which takes time, patience, and may involve painful emotions.
John Gottman is an evidence based couples’ counsellor. He says that trust is built in very small moments of ‘turning toward’. Turning toward means you are ATTUNEd to the other person:
A = Awareness of the other person’s emotions
T = we Turn Toward the other person
T = we have Tolerance for the other person’s opinion
U = we have Understanding of the other person
N = we use Non-defensive responding
E = we have Empathy when we respond
Is my partner being honest, open, truthful? Or do they tend to lie, hide, and deceive?
Hopefully the answers to the questions above is yes, in relation to both yourself and your partner. If not, it may be time to re-assess your relationship – the key to all relationships is firstly being able to trust yourself.
Marcus Andrews is the founder and director of Life Supports, which was established in 2002. He has extensive professional experience working as a counsellor and family therapist across a broad range of issues. The core component of his role at Life Supports involves the supervision of other counsellors, including secondary consultations. Marcus has worked in many sectors, including private, government, non-profit, health, forensic and community practice.