In the first two parts of this three-post series on trust in relationships, I offered seven tips on building trust in your marriage. In this final part, I offer a final set of more advanced tips. Master these and even you’ll be amazed by how well your relationship does.
Tip #8 to build trust: know what’s important to your partner and support it
When I first opened my private practice, there were the typical setbacks as happens with any new business. My husband knew how important this was for me, as well as for us as a couple. He constantly reminded me how great a therapist he knew me to be, and how much of a difference I make in my clients’ lives. He reassured me we would get through the setbacks and things would work out. This gave me the space to trust myself and take the risks needed to grow my practice. My practice developed twice as quickly as expected, strengthening our relationship.
When your wife sees you as a true partner in the things most important in her life, she will trust you more readily. This applies to issues outside your relationship as well as to the relationship itself. Each of you should be the other’s greatest fan and cheerleader. Make sure she knows you care about her happiness, and how far you’d go to help her achieve her goals and dreams.
Tip #9 to build trust: be willing to work with your partner on problems in the relationship
Problems come up in every relationship. It could be you see things differently about raising your children or how you manage your money. Your interests may develop in diverging directions. Even wounds left by a previous relationship can rear their ugly head. Whatever your particular issue, don’t sweep it under the carpet. Dealing with issues together enhances trust. As a couple, you should strive to create an atmosphere where either one of you is able to bring up whatever issue is troubling you. Be open to hearing and working on the problem, whatever it is. If you’re willing to be uncomfortable for a few hours as you hash out a problem, your relationship will prosper and your partner will trust that you’re committed to her and to the relationship.
Tip #10 to build trust: what to do when you’ve blown it
We’re all human and make mistakes. When you make yours, big or small, you need to mend fences. Acknowledge to your partner what you’ve done. Show him you appreciate how you impacted him. Apologize and repair the damage you’ve done as much as possible. If you’ve taken something, give it back. If you said something negative about him to a friend, go back and explain that you said it in the heat of the moment and that it doesn’t reflect your true, long term feelings AND that you will do whatever possible to make sure not to repeat the behavior. I call this process the 3 R’s: Recognize the wrong you’ve done. Take responsibility for the damage you’ve caused. Repair the damage as much as possible. Above all, don’t undermine a sincere apology with an excuse.
Final Takeaway on Building Trust in a Relationship
To maintain trust, you have to tend to it on an ongoing basis. Use the tips in this three-part series not just to build trust, but also to maintain it. Always remember that trust is broken in an instant and takes years to rebuild. When you make a mistake, work quickly and diligently to patch things up. You’ll have your work cut out to regain trust, so the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get back on track. Trust is a crucial part of the foundation of any relationship, so don’t wait too long before you do what it takes to restore it or it may be too late. In cases where you can’t seem to bridge the gap, consulting with a trained Marriage and Family Therapist can help.