In my work with couples, I have seen two different sides, couples who want to learn how to maintain their trust and commitment to one another and couples who have experienced their trust to be broken or violated. For both sets, it begins with a conversation of what trust means to the couple and to their relationship.
Some of the discussions that we have are processing the components of trust and knowing what it takes to build trust in order to maintain it for a lifetime.
What does it mean to trust someone?
According to relationship researcher, John Gottman, trust is knowing that you can count on your partner to be there for you emotionally. Trust is also knowing that if in the case your partner was not there at the moment you needed them, you know that your partner will want to repair what happened, or didn’t happen.
Some questions to consider that revolve around trust are:
Are you there for me if I need you?
Will you choose me and make us a priority?
Do I know you will hold onto my secrets?
Can I be vulnerable with you and know you will be there to comfort me?
While these questions often relate to emotional availability, it’s important to know that being emotionally available towards your partner 100% of the time is impossible. Gottman mentions that couples are emotionally available about 25% of the time when the couple is together, which means that 75% of the time, there is room for miscommunication to occur.
Miscommunication can mean interpreting a comment the wrong way, saying the wrong word or phrase when responding, being unaware of the tone you are using, etc.
Whenever miscommunication occurs, the repair attempt is crucial because, there is a slight sense of lack of trust in that moment. You lose the sense that your partner “gets you and understands you.” If you or your partner are able to repair this, the void is quickly filled and you and your partner are both reassured of that emotional availability. Repair attempts also send the message that the bond between the two of you is a priority and taking the time and energy to invest in your relationship also increases your attachment to one another.
This is why engaging in repair attempts early on in the conversation and often, is so important.
Repair attempt examples:
I’m sorry, let me rephrase that.
Wait, we are getting off track, let’s refocus
I need a break
I see this is important for you, help me understand
This is important for me, may I finish
On the other hand, a repair attempt also needs to be received when it is given. As in any relationship, it takes two people who are active and working to a similar goal. Learning the power of giving and receiving these repair attempts will definitely increase trust within the relationship and this is one component you can implement in your relationship to maintain the trust you have built.
If you would like to learn how to implement repair attempts into your relationship as a way to maintain trust, I
encourage you to take the time to invest in your relationship
and learn the skills needed that will increase closeness and happiness.. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the free 3-week email series
on learning different ways to build your relationship.
I specialize in working with couples and individuals to restore their relationships by utilizing research-based therapy techniques. Feel free to look at the online services offered through Modern Wellness Counseling and check out the client portal to conveniently schedule your next appointment.