Re-building Trust in Couple Relationships

Rebuilding trust after either one or two people in an intimate relationship has betrayed the other is a challenging processing. It can be the trust is broken be repetitive small things such as not turning up on time to an arranged meeting. Or it may be big things such as an affair. The broken trust may result from lack of understanding another’s perception. For example, one party may not have known that forgetting to buy fish on Fridays is sacrilege. Or it may be that there was deliberate deceit, often mixed with avoidance, denial and maybe even harboured resentment.

Common Mis-understandings

To re-build trust in a couple relationship the key is to communicate and if both parties want to repair the relationship, then they need to embark on a healing process. If it was a legitimate mis-understanding then there needs to be exploration of values, significant meanings of events, and family of origin norms and patterns. It is very normal to not understand your partner’s nuances because they grew up in a different family with different rules. So now is he time for exploration and open communication between the couple which can enrich and deepen the connection, if both people are in the space of compassion and an open mind.

Deliberate Deception

If the betrayal was deliberate, then rebuilding trust can be more difficult, especially if the betrayal was big, such as an affair. This healing process involves the person who broke the trust becoming very open, transparent in their thoughts, feelings and actions, and incredibly patient while their partner recovers. It is very normal for the person who has been betrayed to need to ask a million questions, go through intense anger and hopelessness, and wonder if it is worth continuing the relationship. The person who betrayed the other needs to earn their trust back, through openness and displays of commitment. It is hard work! However eventually, it can be rewarding as it can bring skeletons out of the closet and motivate both parties to look at what has been denied or avoided in the relationship. Ironically, it can even bring people closer, but only if they enter this process. If it is glossed over or the person betrayed has not been able to re-build the trust in their partner, then it can be excruciatingly painful or the relationship can disintegrate.

Trust is an incredibly important ingredient in healthy intimate relationships and needs to be nurtured and cultivated if the relationship is to thrive. Ultimately, the key is to cultivate openness, respect, good will and communication from the beginning of the relationship and seek professional help at any point in the relationship if needed.  This maximizes trust and minimizes misunderstandings or even deceit. If both parties hold positive, loving attitudes to each other, open communication can occur and trust can build.

Have you ever healed trust in your intimate relationship?

What aspects of your connection did it deepen?

7 Responses to “Re-building Trust in Couple Relationships”

  • Amanda:

    It is my belief that the only way you can heal trust is to accept that the other person is untrustworthy and act accordingly. If it’s an affair situation, and everything has been laid out on the table about what drove that person to have the affair and both sides have been spoken, then again it’s going into acceptance that it’s likely that the person is capable of doing it again. If you can remove yourself from the equation, if you have truly and honestly done all that you can to work through your own issues around the subject, then the relationship may survive. If at any point you look at the situation and personally do not want to stay in it, then be kind to yourself and leave without blame or projection, only that you are putting yourself first and living where there is trust is important to you.

    • Vanessa Bushell:

      Hi Amanda, powerful comment!
      I agree that each person has to work through whether they stay or leave, and there is no right or wrong answer. In my experience as a couples counselor affairs can mean many different things. If the meaning is about relationship problems and it was a way of unconsciously bringing attention to this and both parties want to work through it and do what is needed to rebuild trust and commitment, then it is repairable. If the affair is more about disrespectful attitudes to the other gender or a complete lack of regard to their partner, then it may not be repairable because there are entrenched negative attitudes involved. Thank you for your comments.

      Kind regards

  • Krishna Everson:

    I think the only way trust can be restored is for a complete sharing by both parties. Fully. Completely. I don’t think it can ever be restored unless everything is exposed. Only then can healing possibly begin.

  • Kama:

    Trust and Communication two of the most important words in a relationship. Without these a relationship will never reach the level it is capable of reaching. If trust is broken it can be the end of a relationship or an opportunity to build a stronger bond, which way depends on the communication. I have experienced both. I believe communication is really the main key to the make or break of a relationship.

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