Have you experienced a loss of trust in your relationship? Trust is a crucial part of any successful partnership and its loss can be devastating. However, there are ways for couples to work together to rebuild trust
Why is Trust Important in a Relationship?
Many mental health specialists who work with couples agree that trust is the most important thing in a romantic relationship. Trust is more than just feeling that your partner is faithful to you; it is about the ability to rely on each other, to feel safe with each other, and to know that your partner has your back in difficult times.
There are many important benefits to building and maintaining trust in your relationship. It creates a strong foundation of closeness which allows you to provide your partner with comfort and care during life’s challenges. It is a crucial element of reducing and navigating conflict, allowing you and your partner to work together to find solutions to any problems you might be having. Trust promotes positivity in a relationship, allowing you to give your partner the benefit of the doubt and to believe in them even when they make a mistake.
The Five Types of Trust
There are five key types of trust within a romantic partnership which are important to maintain for a healthy relationship.
In all our relationships, we value honesty and the ability to those close to us to tell us the truth. In a romantic relationship, it is important that you trust that your partner is telling you the truth. Of course, there are going to be white lies and moments when your partner isn’t entirely honest with you. There might even be moments when you’d prefer they don’t say what they’re really thinking! But if you don’t feel like you can believe anything your partner says, it is not possible to build a stable and long-lasting partnership.
In a loving and supportive relationship, you should feel consistently safe and secure. This can be everything from physical safety (knowing your partner is not going to hurt you or commit any physical violence) to emotional safety (knowing your partner is not going to bully, belittle or intimidate you). Everyone deserves to feel safe when they come home, and you need to be able to create a safe environment with your partner.
Everyone is going to have difficult days, challenging life events, and moments when they need more emotional support. Often when we are in these low moods, we can feel like we are “not much fun” or not good to be around. But trusting your partner means knowing that, even when we aren’t at our best, they will be there to love and support us. If you don’t feel that your partner can offer the emotional support and safe space you need during hard times, it can be harder to enjoy the positive times in your relationship.
When you build a life with someone and combine or share financial resources, it is vital that you trust your partner to be responsible and fair in how they use them. Some couples may have significantly different values and priorities when it comes to money, so honest conversations are needed to decide how joint finances are going to be spent. If you worry that your partner is going to waste all your money or leave you in a precarious position, it will have a negative impact on your relationship.
In most romantic relationships, fidelity is a key area of trust. It means committing to one person and being sexually exclusive. While some couples explore relationships and encounters outside their monogamous one, this always has to be done in an open and honest way. In couples where an affair has taken place, it can be very difficult to overcome and rebuild trust.
How You can Rebuild Trust when it has Been Broken
If you or your partner has broken trust in one or more of the ways listed above, it can feel impossible initially to see yourselves trusting completely again. But it is possible to work together towards rebuilding trust. Some ways you can begin this process include:
- Taking responsibility – acknowledge what you did wrong and show that you are remorseful by apologising often and sincerely
- Make a commitment – agree that you want your relationship to work and commit to the healing process together
- Acknowledge and apologise for the trauma trigger the hurt partner experiences multiple times per day
- Appreciate those areas of your relationship that are still working ok, be kind and respectful to each other
- Be open and honest – don’t try to hide any details of the betrayal of trust, even if talking about it is difficult (there is some information that is recommended not to share, specifically explicit details about any sexual activity that happened when sexual infidelity has occurred)
- Be congruent – make sure you are doing what you said you would do
- Work with an experienced couples counsellor who specialises in infidelity – couples therapy can provide a safe space to work through your issues in a constructive way.