As a marriage counselor, couples often come to me wanting to know how to build trust in a marriage again. Sometimes there was a breach of trust due to an affair or because their partner wasn’t there for them during a crucial time of need. Other times trust has eroded over time through smaller actions that proved their partner would no longer be there for them.
But what is trust in a relationship? How it is broken and how do you get it back?
Building trust in a marriage has three crucial elements to it:
1. Building trust in a marriage involves predictability.
This predictability is shown by consistency and stability in behaviors. We all need to know the predicable pattern of our partner. When your partner is consistently kind and caring, you develop trust in the relationship that your partner will likely continue to be that way. Similarly, trust is broken when your partner is consistently critical, blaming, or emotionally unavailable. Rebuilding trust in a marriage again involves time as you and your partner will have to develop new patterns of interacting and give it enough time so the new patterns become predictable.
2. Building trust in a marriage involves dependability.
The next component of trust in a marriage is dependability. This is really a belief that your partner has good character qualities and cares about you. This belief in their dependability and their good intentions often only comes about after there has been a predictable, consistent, and stable pattern of positive interactions between the two of you. At the same time, you can help develop this in the relationship by looking for the things your partner does well and noticing the predictable positive qualities they already have.
3. Building trust in a marriage involves faith.
Lastly, building trust in a marriage involves a little bit of faith. This faith is a belief that your partner will be responsive and caring in the future. Again, the first step is developing predictable patterns of positivity in the relationship. As you and your partner are developing this, you can have faith in good intentions and true desire to have a better relationship.
So trust is broken when your partner has consistently not been there for you, you feel like you can’t depend on them, and you expect that in the future they won’t be there for you either. Building trust in a marriage again requires that you both develop new predictable patterns of positivity, so that way you can depend on each other emotionally, and have faith that you will be there for each other in the future.
Elizabeth Polinsky, MSW, LCSW, is a marriage and couple therapist specializing in working with military members, veterans, and their families. Liz is located in Norfolk, Virginia, and provides online counseling services throughout Virginia, South Carolina, and Arkansas. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Virginia (#0904011022), South Carolina (#11302), and Arkansas (#7735-C). She is also licensed as a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy in Virginia (#0730000567) under the supervision of Dr. Victoria Holroyd at The Relationship Center at East Beach.
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In Communicate & Connect For Military Relationships, I provide educational tips for relationships, communication, and navigating military family life.