6 Ways to Build Trust in Your Marriage Building trust takes time. Use these six tips to make your marriage unbeatable! BY SHARON M. RIVKIN, MA, MFT
Outside of love, it's hard to think of something more important within a marriage.
“ In order to make it safe for your partner to be vulnerable, you need to be a good listener, have compassion, and be supportive and loving.”
With so many problems in marriages these days, how do you build and keep trust? Everyone talks about the importance of trust in relationships, but what does that really mean? If you donít trust partner, for instance, youíre more likely to be frustrated, anxious, depressed, angry, sad, preoccupied, tenseÖ and the list goes on and on. But, if you trust your partner, thereís mutual respect, more security, and more openness to love, communication, and intimacy. Simply put, lack of trust is very damaging to the marriage.
Here are six ways to build trust and ensure a healthy and loving marriage:
1. Be On the Up and Up. In a marriage, there are certain behavioral patterns that are predictable. So if any of those familiar patterns are going to deviate, let your partner know. If you donít, it could bring suspicion. For example, you join a health club and start working out. Be sure to tell your partner that you donít like the way you look, and you want to do something about it so youíll be joining a gym. That way, your partner doesnít become suspicious about your new activity.
2. Be Honest About Your Negative and Positive Feelings. If youíre suppressing any negative feelings about yourself, your partner, or your relationship, itís crucial that you discuss them with your partner. Why? Because thereís the potential for resentment to build, which could ultimately break down the relationship. "Why didnít you tell me sooner that youíve been feeling this way all this time?" "Now I canít trust you!" The truth hurts, but it doesnít damage the relationship. In fact, it will ultimately deepen the relationship and create a stronger foundation.
3. Be Consistent and Clear. If your partner confronts you with something that you know to be true, be honest. Donít give your partner a double message. Whatís a double message? When your words donít match your message, i.e., your partner hears one thing in your words, but your tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions are really saying something else. Double messages make people crazy and are huge trust breakers. Being trustworthy in the little things renders trust in the bigger things.
4. Be a Spouse That Keeps His/Her Word. From seemingly little things, such as remembering to do something you promised your partner, showing up on time, or calling if your plans changeóto keeping your partnerís confidence; your word is only as good as your actions. Do what you say youíre going to do, and you will automatically build trust in a relationship.
5. Be Vulnerable. It is important to share personal information about yourself. If a relationship feels one-sided, i.e., only one partner is open to confiding in the other, this builds resentment and distrust. Both partners need to open up to each other and be vulnerable by sharing their thoughts and feelings. In order to make it safe for your partner to be vulnerable, you need to be a good listener, have compassion, and be supportive and loving.
6. Be Aware of Your Partnerís Needs and Their Best Interest. Make choices that are beneficial to the other person and the relationship. This doesnít mean that you donít get your needs met. It simply means that you are aware of your partnerís needs and recognize and meet them as frequently as possible. The healthiest relationships are those where there is a balance between meeting your own needs and those of your partner. And remember, if youíre both looking out for each other, ultimately the needs of everyone will get met.
Marriages are sacred and need to be treated with the utmost care, nurturance, and love. Trust is the glue that holds marriages together. It is very important to stay conscious of your actions so that you are continually building trust, not breaking it. Once trust is broken in a marriage, it is hard to repair. By remembering and practicing the above six tips, you can build a strong marriage with trust as its foundation.
Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in O Magazine, Reader's Digest, Time.com, and Prevention.com. Sharon has appeared on local TV, appeared on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. For more information, please visit her website at www.sharonrivkin.com.