3 Pillars to Building Trust in a Loving Relationship
Trust is so vital to a healthy relationship that without it, there’s no way for a relationship to thrive. You can’t have bread without flour, you can’t have a relationship without trust. And like bread, as Ursula K. Le Guin said, “Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” Trust, like love, doesn’t get made once and then it’s done. It must be remade new all the time. When you know this, then the process of continual building and re-building of trust is not a chore, but a joy that is vital to a healthy life. Knowing the three pillars of build trust in a relationship will help you to cultivate that trust toward a truly amazing connection.
There are many ways to actively build trust. If you can articulate your thoughts and feelings, that’s a great start. One of the ways the Cera and I worked on our clarity was by journaling as a couple. We would go to a cafe together with journaling prompts and write. Then we would share what we had written in our relationship journal. We did this at the very beginning of our relationship - and we continue to do it.
We also do couple challenges - things to keep us engaged. For example, a challenge to run 2 miles per day for a month. A missed run means you have to take the other out for a meal. A win-win. Either you keep your commitment or you get a date out of your “failure.”
Building trust takes time. And when trust is broken, it often takes time to re-build it. That process of building or rebuilding trust can be scary, even traumatic. What happens if they break my trust again? Or, what happens if they never have, but someone has? Now you are asking them to prove their trustworthiness over the pain caused by someone in your past.
First Pillar of Trust
Approach your challenges with positive intentions and good will.
Dr. Beverly Kitaen-Morse said that “being in an intimate relationship is like dancing in a small closet: you are bound to step on each others’ toes once in a while.”
You see, if you know this will happen, then comes the question: can you hold onto the belief that your significant other didn’t do it on purpose? If you start with the assumption that they meant well, then you can have healthy dialogue. Maybe they did have ill intentions. And if that’s the case, then by all means, you will need to address it. And if they have the space to be honest and say, “yeah, I wanted to hurt you,” then you can deal with that issue with honesty… and trust.
If you don’t trust them, then it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that there was some ill-intent or unhealthy pattern at play. Also, without trust, they also can’t take the risk of being honest for fear that you will “take it the wrong way.”
Second Pillar of Trust
Ask what your partner’s intention was, with honesty in your own intention.
This is important, as it’s also very hard to know what the intention is, sometimes. “Was it your intention to make me feel stupid?” Probably not. At least not consciously. And that’s a perfectly valid question, if you feel like your partner made you feel dumb. However, that question can become an accusation, with a harsh tone of voice.
If your partner made you feel dumb, that hurts. And you may want to hurt them back, or at least express how painful that was to you. But you will have to leave that out. This question asked with true curiosity leaves the other person to really hear the question and try and find a good answer.
Likely, they will answer “no.” In fact, they may have “made you feel stupid” because they want you to succeed and pointing out a mistake with some attitude may seem like a good idea at the time. When you find out that the intention was good, then you actually will want that, too.
Now you have the opportunity to let them know, “I want to succeed, too. But when you speak to me like that, it hurts and I get defensive and shut down. Would you be willing to do it another way next time?”
Third Pillar of Trust
Intention to solve problems without blame.
Each of us comes to our relationship with pain points. And often, we choose a partner who can trigger those. This isn’t because we’re masochists, but because we seek out the people who will challenge us to grow. It’s hard, it hurts, and it’s easy to wonder why we have to go through the challenges. But heroes must be challenged to grow and you’re a hero. So, welcome to the life of a hero ;-)
Now, when you come to dealing with challenges with your partner, remember: YOU CHOSE THEM. Yeah, the challenges that you’re facing are vital to your growth. So, when you know that, you can come to the table with the intention to solve the problem without blame. You will find what positive intention was at the foundation of the action that left you with stepped-on toes.
Trust in a relationship
When you have trust, you have the foundation to build a great, healthy relationship. And the three pillars of trust will give you the support that you need to hold up love you want in your life. For great prompts for building this trust, The Lover’s Journal
is a great guided journal for couples.