All marriages have moments when they have to rebuild broken trust.
We can’t help ourselves in this because love is a setup for revealing anything that is not like it. We start out thinking this is the man/woman of my dreams and then we find out that they are human.
When we fall in love with someone BECAUSE we have issues with trust (all of us) that we need to resolve. We pick them because there is an opportunity in that relationship to find healing within ourselves.
Here are seven powerfully simple ways to rebuild broken trust.
Get Honest (With Yourself)
We want to believe it’s all the other person’s fault. IT’S NOT.
Even when we marry the most abusive, horrendous person, the fact is we married them. We chose in for whatever reason.
Being honest with ourselves about the fact that we bought what they were selling is the starting point. Once we examine ourselves from this place, we enter a world filled with new possibilities!
This requires utter and complete honesty with ourselves. Looking at why might we enter into a relationship with someone less than perfect? Duh everyone’s less than perfect!
So the real question is why did we enter into a relationship with the person who has these particular defects? What are they triggering in us? What are the lessons we want to learn in this relationship?
Next, we want to look at where have we been dishonest with ourselves and with them. By asking ourselves what we want to learn in this relationship we’ve already begun this journey.
Now we want to look at what are we withholding from our partner and what do we fear that withholding from us? We might have very good reasons for not sharing these things. Just note that any breakdown in honesty clouds are experiences of one another.
Here’s an exercise to help :
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. How honest and reliable are you with your partner?
Next rate your partner on the same scale. Now add those two scores together, and multiply them by 5. The number you get represents the level of trust you believe is present in your relationship out of a possible 100.
Now you’ve got something to work towards!
Congratulations, simply completing that assessment took courage!
The next step is to look within yourself and assess where are you withholding and why? This is not something you’re going to answer in 5 minutes.
You might want to do some extensive journaling on this. Go through your day and just notice when you’re unwilling to share something with your partner and jot it down.
Over a couple of days, you’re going to start to notice a pattern of things that you aren’t talking about.
The courageous part is asking yourself why? Why is it I don’t want to talk about these things? Am I afraid that there’s infidelity in my marriage? If I bring this up will he/she “explode”? Am I worried that I might trigger a drinking bout?
Whatever the answers it’s going to take courage to look. You’ve already shown the courage to rate trust in your marriage, this shows that you have what it takes to move on to the next steps.
Make It Right
Next step, setting right what’s been knocked down between you.
You now have a list of areas where you have been less than honest with your partner. It’s up to you to make this right.
Making it right is not simply apologizing. Anyone can say ” I’m sorry “. The words I’m sorry are perhaps the most overused and abused words on the planet.
Real redemption occurs through repentance. Repentance is the act of setting right that which is wrong. Every time we withhold the truth from our partner, we put a boulder between us and them. Enough boulders over time and we’re completely walled off from one another. Making it right is about tearing down the walls.
Let It Go
Part of making it right is letting it go. We need to let go of whatever it was that kept us from being honest in the first place.
It could be we will be letting go of childhood fears. We could be letting go of the hurt that we experienced in our relationship with our partner. We’re certainly going to be letting go of self-anger and self-condemnation. There’s no place for these feelings when building a trusting relationship with our partner.
We’re going to let go of any wrongs we’ve perceived our partner has committed in regards to us and our relationship. That doesn’t mean that they were right in doing what they did. It does not mean that they should ever do what they did, it simply means that we’re going to let it go.
Holding on to any perceived wrong ultimately hurts us more than the other person.
Look At The Elephants
Every relationship has skeletons in the closet, elephants in the room that we’re not talking about. It’s time to look at the elephants.
What are the glaring inequities of our partnership? Are there huge and painful occurrences that have happened that we never properly resolved? What are the fears that we have about the future? Where is one of us dropping the ball consistently and we just look the other way because we feel powerless?
Possibly there’s been infidelity in your marriage. Perhaps you’re having very low physical intimacy right now.
Maybe you’re both guilty of focusing more on the children than your marriage. One of you is having emotional intimacy with friends that should be reserved for your marriage.
You’re overly dependent on a parent. You’re selling out your marriage for your parent’s dream and approval rather than your partner. These are all the kinds of elephants we typically see in marriages with broken trust.
To address the elephants in the room in a way that can be received by your partner, you’re going to need to become vulnerable first.
It is normal to look at these elephants and tap deeply repressed rage. Anger may help you get off the pot so to speak, but it’s not going to rebuild broken trust. People who speak from anger drive other people away from them.
Trust is about bringing our partner closer.
To bring our partner closer, we’re going to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We’re going to continue to be honest with ourselves about what we permitted. About what we tolerated. That these things went on because we chose to look the other way when we should have been looking at our partner and their needs as well as our own.
This is the place we want to address these elephants from. A place of personal responsibility.
Begin A Dialogue
Once we’re in a place of personal responsibility we’re prepared to begin a dialogue.
The opening of the dialogue is speaking from our own experience. Stating to our partner that we’ve allowed this elephant to be in the room because we’ve been looking the other way, now we’re done with that, however. We will explain that we’re going to engage in a dialogue about this.
We also need to be prepared for the fact that they may not want to enter into a dialogue.
It is helpful to have a plan for what we will do should they choose to look the other way. Will we leave? Are we going to seek counseling? Will we take some time off from one another? By having a plan in place for managing our feelings if they choose to remain in denial, we ensure that we will not be triggered by this possibility.
Maintaining our emotional equity is key!
These seven steps are just the beginning of building a new road to rebuild broken trust.
When both partners are willing to look at the elephants and take personal responsibility for how and why they came to be in your partnership, the are possibilities are endless! Remember that trust is key in intimacy. The first steps towards restoring an intimate relationship that is growing in depth and breadth are to rebuild broken trust through caring communication and empathy.