Trust is not an end point or a commodity in a relationship. It is a way of being. Couples in therapy want specific interventions to recreate trust after infidelity and there are definitely things that each partner can do. However, I would like to focus on ten characteristics that you should be doing every day to develop a trusting relationship -if you want specific infidelity trust interventions, wait for a future blog post or call to set up an appointment! So here are 10 things to commit yourself to "being" to create a strong trusting relationship with your partner.
1. Integrity Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. That means the person with integrity has a strong adherence to their moral and ethical principles and these principles inform and guide their behavior. Someone with integrity operates beyond basic ethics and lives life by their virtue ethics. Basic ethics tells us right from wrong and answers the question “How should I behave”? However, someone operating from virtue ethics concerns themselves with the question “What kind of person should I be”? Virtue ethics is embedded in their character and they behave consistently with truth, honesty and compassion, regardless of what others think or do.
Honesty in part, is about telling the truth. It also implies fairness in dealing with others and the refusal to engage in deceit or secrets. Honesty is also a demonstration of good character. A person that is consistently honest has integrity, and when you hold the same values in all circumstances, it is easy to be honest.
3. Reliability A reliable partner is someone that you can depend on to be consistent in their character, judgement, and behavior. When they commit to doing something, you can depend on them to keep their commitments. It is easy to predict how they will respond in specific situations because they put their values into practice.
Partners in trusting relationships openly share how they spend their time and energy throughout the day. They share where they have been, where they intend to be, who and what gets their attention, or does not get our attention.
An advocate cares and nurtures the relationship. They pay special attention to the state of the relationship and have sensitivity to when thing go awry. They quickly attend to repairing when tension occurs in the relationship or conflict arises.
6. Vulnerability It is in risking greater vulnerability in a safe relationship that one can grow in trust. Increasing emotional exposure by both partners will create greater intimacy in the relationship. At the deepest level, directly exposing one’s pain to another who hears with compassion and understanding creates a confidential relationship that cultivates trust.
7. Accessibility Pragmatically, an accessible partner is one who will answer the phone when their partner calls or responds to voicemail and text in a reasonable time. An accessible partner also shares their internal world to their partner, without the need for any prompting. They will openly share their thoughts, feelings, convictions, longings, and their fears and doubts. There is a willingness to share these and have open dialogue about them.
8. Personal Presence
Intimate, trusting relationships take effort and both partners need to have a strong personal presence in the relationship. This means that they need to commit a great deal of their energy to being mentally, physically and emotionally available to their partner. Spending time together is a priority, and the time together is intellectually and emotionally engaging. In times of crisis, the couple makes their partner a priority over everything else.
To be transparent is to make intentional choices to allow key information regarding relationship health and fidelity to easily and consistently be available to both parties without requiring a direct request for the information. Nothing in either partner’s communications to anyone should need to be so private that it could not be shared openly and willingly with both partners.
Commitment is the mutually agreed upon promise to one another to be exclusive. It means that partners are “closed” to other options, emotional or physical. Committed couples also create a barrier to all others that might be a risk to the of the relationship. This barrier protects the intimacy of the relationship and helps committed partners to be dedicated to the growth, health, passion and vitality of the relationship.