Strong relationships have common foundations: they are generally based on mutual respect and open communication. They’re also rooted in trust. Couples who have difficulty trusting one another are more likely to experience marital complications and divorce than those who trust completely. But what makes for a trustful relationship, and how can we attain it?
What Is Trust?
We all know that we should trust our loved ones, but it is an intangible term. A working definition is helpful: generally, we define trust as a state of transparency, vulnerability, and availability to another person. We make the conscious decision to trust people in our lives, and this shows that we believe in their honesty, integrity, and reliability.
In other words, trust isn’t a gut feeling or blind sense of faith. It’s something we earn, and continue to earn throughout the course of a relationship.
How Do We Build Trust?
Trust can build and crumble over time, depending on the nature of your relationship. You can build trust by:
- Being available. Not just in a physical sense, but emotionally, as well. Are you there to listen to your partner and support them, and are they there for you? Do you celebrate life’s successes and provide comfort in the dark times? These are all indicative of a foundation of trust.
- Being consistent. Do you show up when you’re supposed to, both in a literal and figurative sense? Do you respect one another’s boundaries?
- Being honest. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. When both parties can adhere to this, trust builds over time.
What Happens When Trust Is Broken?
Relationships inevitably have stumbling points, and at times our trust in one another can be bruised or broken. When this happens, we must revisit steps in our trust building journey. Trust is not static – in other words, it can change based on the circumstances in our relationship. We can lose trust over large issues like infidelity, or little lies that build up over time. In order to rebuild trust, we must learn how to forgive and leave the past where it belongs – in the past. Revisiting old wrongs will only lead to more distrust and problems in a relationship.
Trust is essential to the continued success of a relationship, but sometimes it can be hard to rebuild it on our own. In this case, consulting with a marriage counselor can be helpful in addressing any unresolved issues.