By Francine and Byron Pirola
RELATIONSHIPS thrive when trust is strong.
But how do we build it in the first instance, and then recover it if we’ve lost it?
Here are three tips to help you build trust and hold on to it.
1. Keep your promises
We all know major betrayals like an affair is a clear violation of the explicit promises of the wedding vows. But there are other, less specific, implicit promises in our wedding vows that we all too easily forget in the daily grind.
Like the promise to be kind and courteous (I will love and honour you), or to be caring and thoughtful (in sickness and in health), or to be financially responsible (for richer, for poorer).
We might be tempted to think that because we avoid breaking the bigger promises the smaller broken promises don’t matter so much, but the cumulative impact of these can do as much damage.
If we don’t follow through when we say will do something minor, like to be home at a certain time or to do a particular task, our spouse gets trained to distrust us because we are so unreliable.
If we cannot be trusted in small things, then unconsciously the other will start to distrust us in larger ones as well.
It’s really difficult to keep trusting someone who breaks promises.
Even if it’s only rarely, the fact that there is an inconsistent record means that the other is constantly on the alert for disappointment.
So here are some tips about making and keeping promises:
- Recognise when you are making a promise – be explicit (to yourself and to your spouse).
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep – to your spouse or to your children.
- Commit to following through when you do make a promise.
2. Speak the truth in love
Lying, even ‘white lies’, destroys trust in a marriage and trains the other to question your word.
A habit of dishonesty discredits your word and drives a wedge between you.
Make a commitment to each other always to speak the truth in love.
- Speak honestyly and kindly – always. Unregulated bluntness or cruelty is not acceptable.
- Admit your limitations; be honest with yourself and each other.
- Volunteer information before it’s requested, and make a full disclosure. Don’t wait for the other to request information or ask a specific question.
3. Apologise for stuff ups
We all mess up. We all make mistakes, whether it’s promises we break and little white lies that hurt. When it happens, we can undo a lot of the damage by humbly apologising, asking forgiveness, and doing what we can to rectify the situation. A few do’s and don’ts:
- Accept responsibility. Take ownership of your actions/inactions.
- Don’t make excuses; especially avoid deflecting blame to your spouse.
- Demonstrate your sincerity with reparative action.
When a marriage begins to deteriorate, one of the first complaints is often that the other can’t be trusted. Keeping our promises, speaking the truth in love and apologising when we err are three essential strategies for building relational resilience and trust.
Francine and Byron Pirola are the authors of the SmartLoving Series. Visit www.smartloving.org for more information.