Trust in your relationship is something we encounter daily as we move together. Our decisions impact more than just ourselves, especially in a marriage and whether those choices are self-serving or with charity depends on us.
In a speech given by John Gottman, a well-known couple researcher, he described how he wanted to finish a mystery novel one night when he saw his wife was sad. He said that he could have chosen to ignore her and continue on with the novel or put himself aside for a little bit and listen to her worries. He decided to ask her what was wrong:
“Now, at that moment, I was building trust; I was there for her. I was connecting with her rather than choosing to think only about what I wanted. These are the moments, we’ve discovered, that build trust.”
The points we will talk about do not have to do with the bigger trust breakers like infidelity or other indiscretions, although they may be the start of some of those things.
What are you doing to lose your spouse’s trust?
Talking about your problems to family & friends
At the beginning of dating or marriage, you are used to talking to others about your problems, maybe your parents or friends. You may go to them first for advice, out of habit.
Whether it is about your spouse or whether it’s a decision in your life, if you want your relationship to last, he/she is the best person to go to from the very beginning.
If you have a disagreement with your spouse, you need to discuss it together. Don’t run to anyone else complaining about their actions, unless you are dealing with abuse. Telling others about such things is like reading something out of context: They don’t know the whole story but create assumptions based on those tidbits you share with them. By default, your spouse is given an unfair advantage in the eyes of your family and friends, destroying some part of the trust he/she had in you.
Solution: Work through problems together. Sit down and talk about issues, pet peeves, problems you are facing in your life. It may seem uncomfortable at first but it will help bring you closer together.
Another way to combat this is to talk positively about your spouse as much as possible, whether they’re in ear shot or not. We gain opinions of people from many sources and if several sources are saying that a person is good, we tend to think of them that way.
Talking about him/her over social media
Much like the point above, you want to be careful about sharing personal information online. Ranting and raving about how your husband can’t do anything right, or that your wife doesn’t get anything done, can be detrimental to your relationship.
Unlike speaking face-to-face, when we post online, we don’t know exactly who can or will see what we post. What if you say something that gets your spouse fired? Or what if it will ruin their relationship with a close friend?
As much as people like to say that things online don’t portray real life, keep the things that will hurt your family and relationship off it.
Solution: You can post funny things (with his/her permission) but do your best to be positive. Make sure that you share the good and keep the arguments for a face-to-face conversation.
Overly critical and harsh about weaknesses
We all have our weaknesses, believe it or not, and sometimes we need the help of our spouse to correct them or to at least be gracious about our imperfections.
There is never a time to treat someone like they are worth nothing, especially when your spouse discloses a weakness or a bad habit. Chances are you have weaknesses that they don’t consistently and with contempt point out so neither should you.
If your wife feels off, tearing up at just about everything and unsure of what she needs to do, work with her to overcome it. Telling her that these feelings are stupid or that she shouldn’t feel like that will do nothing but make things worse.
If your husband is unfulfilled in his job, don’t start yelling at him for it. Maybe he needs your support to go on a new venture.
Solution: Realize we all have weaknesses. Find ways to work together to strengthen them. Sometimes it will take a leap of faith but it’s one day at a time that will help us accomplish our goals and together is much easier than feeling like you have no support.
The best thing to do in a marriage or relationship is be honest. Be open about where you went, the people you talked to, where you spent money and anything else that can cause a rift if left until later.
Chances are that your spouse will know you’re lying, whether they found out about an incident from someone else or they just know how to read you.
Solution: Be upfront about anything that might cause your spouse to be upset and work together to figure out how to correct whatever it is you are hiding.
If you are being lied to, find a way to confront your spouse when you are calm and patient. Things can turn quickly when we feel anger.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Trusting Your Spouse
The biggest point from all of this is that we need to communicate with our spouses first. That doesn’t mean you can’t chat with friends and other family but you and your spouse are the ones invested in your relationship and the best way to grow together is to work together on the things that will continue to keep you bonded and close.
Talk to your spouse.
I loved this quote from John Gottman’s speech and thought it would be perfect to leave you with:
“Can I trust you to be there and listen to me when I’m upset? Can I trust you to choose me over your mother, over your friends? Can I trust you to work for our family? Can I trust you to not cheat on me and be sexually faithful? Can I trust you to respect me? To help with things in the house? To really be involved with our children?”