Learn these 4 steps to increase trust in couples’ relationships.
Trust grows where there’s just enough space for it to expand into, but not too much space for it to evaporate.
Idit Sharoni, LMFT
Couples who deal with trust issues are right to assume that it is an essential part of a healthy relationship, however, they don’t always know how to increase it. This blog is all about finding the right amount of room for trust to grow between partners so they can continue to enjoy each other.
Couples experience trust issues due to various reasons. Some of which can be past or present infidelity, multiple breakup history, emotional roller coaster communication patterns, and more. When experiencing lack of trust, couples resort to trying everything they can think of to create or recreate it. I notice that the number one fix couple try to improve trust is leaving no room for speculations. They simply let their partners know everything about their whereabouts, and who they are with at all times. Some even choose to constantly update their partner as their schedule changes and even send pictures or short videos of their whereabouts as a proof. One of my clients kept all receipts to show his partner at the end of each day.
Leaving No Room for Speculation
As much as I believe and appreciate a partner’s will to be as transparent as possible, I didn’t see how leaving NO room for speculation helped couples increase trust. What usually happens is the assumption of the updating partner that the updated partner should increase trust just because they know everything now. However, what usually happens is the more you update, the more it makes your partner dependent on the need to know, which may turn to an increase in thoughts and overanalyzing ending in even less trust. At times, it may turn into a crazy making behavior and create huge frustration on both sides like this partner describes:
“I really don’t know what else to do. She knows where I’m at every second of the day. I even take pictures of lunch bills to show her. But if I don’t answer my phone, she’ll call 20 times blowing up my phone. The people I’m with when she’s calling like that, tell me to take the call. They feel sorry for me. I hate this feeling. Isn’t it enough that I update her all the time? What else can I do to make her trust me?”
Obviously, this guy did not increase trust by leaving no space for it to grow into. He actually created a vicious cycle that starts with constant updates with expectation for more trust – that turn into more instant inquiry from his partner being worried – that invites more frustration on his behalf – lacking in crazy making behavior (blowing up phone) – ending with even less trust and more frustration.
What IS the Right Amount?
It may vary with each relationship and the intensity of the trust issue in hand. In general, I would recommend following the next steps to find your own just enough space:
- Know more – It is important to let your partner know your issues with trusting him or her in the relationship. If you have lost trust due to past events, you may want to share your reasoning. If you’re the untrusted partner, please find out how it makes sense for your partner to not trust you. You may want to know how vital trust is for your partner’s happiness.
- Make room not too tight not too loose – Don’t resort to solve the trust problem by telling your partner that from now on you’ll update them on everything you do. IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT, but count on your partner’s resilience to guide you through what THEY need to increase trust. It may surprise you, but they may want something else than constant updates.
- It takes 2 to tango – it’s not one of you that has to fix the trust issue (even if you caused it) – it’s BOTH of you. You have to collaborate on why, how, when, etc. And, you may also want to check in with each other once in a while to find out where you’re at with trust and what still needs to happen.
- Keep it up – If you have been able to bring more trust into your relationship, you must have been doing something right. So, don’t stop doing the right thing, and if you have for a while (cause we all get tired and forgetful) start over again and again.
To your relationship’s success,
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist