One of the first questions I get from clients who are experiencing relationship challenges is how to build trust in a relationship. They are wondering whether or not their relationship can be saved.
Is our marriage salvageable? Is it worth fighting for it?
Trust is arguably the most important part in building a strong foundation for a loving and long-lasting relationship. Naturally, we all want to feel safe, appreciated, and loved. We want to be supported and understood in our intimate relationships.
When trust is broken, it’s not always helpful to be laser-focused on that incident. If your goal is to learn and grow as a couple, you have to be able to see the bigger picture.
From my experience, unhappy relationships were more likely to show symptoms of disconnect, disrespect, or dissatisfaction way before the trust-breaking act was committed.
With that being said, I know how it feels as someone who has been cheated on. If your partner didn’t apologize or you felt like they didn’t really mean it, from the bottom of my heart -- I am so sorry this happened to you!
As I write these words, I am sending you my love, peace, and compassion.
Since I coached many couples how to build trust in a relationship they were able to restore love and peace in their relationships, I would like to share what I found to be most helpful when you’re asking yourself why your partner chose to act the way they did.
If you have been together for a while, you may have developed enough trust in your partner or spouse to consider them reliable. It may come as a complete shock to find out that they did something wrong behind your back.
At that moment, you may feel like your entire world is crashing down. You may feel a lot of emotional pain and feelings of betrayal.
From my experience, things like this don’t happen for no reason. Broken trust is only the tip of the iceberg. Very often, trust in relationships is broken when you or your partner are not satisfied.
The break can happen in your emotional connection — being open and honest with each other — or physical intimacy. Either way, if one of those things is missing, you or your partner may feel deprived of love.
So, how to build trust in a relationship with your partner and prevent this from happening to you? How can you rebuild the trust that’s already broken?
I would like to share 7 practical steps that I found to be not only easily accomplished but if practiced properly, gives you better results.
When trust in a relationship is broken, the very first thing you should do is offer a sincere and whole-hearted apology to your partner.
Look at it as the first step on a journey to rebuild your trust, because this journey will take time.
In order for you to move forward, your apology should be fully accepted by your partner. I can understand why that might be hard. Your partner may not want to do that.
Perhaps you’ve apologized in the past for similar things, and now this apology simply isn’t satisfactory.
However, it’s still a crucial first step in order to begin building a bridge of trust.
It may be a cumbersome process, but if both partners are invested in saving a relationship wholeheartedly, nothing is impossible.
I would like to encourage both partners — the one who broke the trust and the one who feels betrayed — to work on apologizing and accepting the apology.
When life gives you an unexpected and unwanted surprise, it’s time to have an honest and open conversation with yourself first.
Ask yourself what happened and why. Listen to your inner guidance and follow your moral compass. How to build trust in a relationship? We all have this inner knowing, but life sometimes disconnects us from our core.
If you are the one who broke your partner’s trust, be willing to have an honest conversation with yourself first. Have the courage to open yourself up and feel liberated.
It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will free you from feeling embarrassed and guilty for the rest of your life.
You have enough power to overcome this challenge. You will need to give yourself and your partner the space to be healed. With a lot of patience, courage, and compassion, you can invite love back into your relationship.
This may come as a surprise to you, but one of the reasons you or your partner are searching for excitement elsewhere is that you find your lives boring.
Without realizing it, you may find yourself blaming your partner for letting your relationship go stagnant. Or maybe your partner begins to blame you.
But neither of you is at fault.
You may not feel lost, but what about your partner? What happens when this person comes home? It’s close to impossible to be happy if you spend 40 hours per week — which is most of your waking hours — being unhappy at work.
Over time, it becomes a pattern. Inevitably, this negativity and boredom will surface in your relationship. This toxicity will start affecting your relationship, leading to a potential break in trust.
If you recognize your and your partner’s situation in this passage, it’s time to make a change.
It’s crucial to find your true passion in life. Some of us are lucky to make a career out of it. But even if it’s just a hobby, it will have major effects on your health, relationships, finances, and overall happiness.
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do, you may begin to take steps toward getting there — whether it’s a desired career or a new hobby.
It’s always easier to blame people for their transgressions instead of having compassion for them. Having compassion doesn’t necessarily mean you accept the person’s hurtful actions. Instead, it means that you’re willing to create some space for understanding so both of you can begin the process of healing.
If you want to know to build trust in a relationship instead of blaming your partner for being deceitful, you may want to ask why it’s hard for them to be truthful. It may open the possibility for your partner to be more open and honest with you, and perhaps as a result, they may be open to being truthful in the future.
In life, you and your partner will face challenging situations. That is the nature of life and relationships.
When your trust is already broken, you may enter an “emotional emergency room” in which your emotional trauma needs to be healed as soon as possible.
You can start observing and recognizing your triggers first. Noticing them would make you aware of them, which is half the battle. You may want to start keeping a journal to help heal your unprocessed trauma.
Allowing yourself to feel ALL of your feelings — pleasant or unpleasant — will allow you to free yourself from unwanted baggage.
In my humble opinion, releasing emotional trauma may not be the easiest DIY project though. Understanding and caring professionals may come in handy at that time.
Becoming best friends with each other is essential for the health of your relationship.
Do you remember when you began dating your partner? You were probably spending a lot of time doing things you liked. That is how you created your emotional connection and learned about each other.
Over time, maybe you got the impression that you knew everything about your partner.
But the truth is that life doesn’t stop. Your partner’s interests may have evolved and their opinions may have changed.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said: “The only constant in life is change.”
He’s right. You and your partner change every day.
It’s worth your time to connect with them on a deeper level to keep that connection lively and vibrant. When partners stop being genuinely interested in each other it leads to an emotional disconnect. Once a person disconnects on an emotional level, sooner or later that disinterest finds its way to the bedroom.
How can you rekindle your friendship with your partner?
You can simply start by asking them about their day or the people that they work with.
Ask them about their hobbies and interests, even if they don’t interest you personally. It’s important to show genuine interest, too. Ask them questions, but don’t interrogate them. Try to think about the first time you met them -- how would you ask the same questions to discover what they like?
You give your partner the gift of being seen, valued, respected, and understood by showing interest in what they like.
On the other hand, it is hard to communicate openly and honestly when trust is broken.
To begin rebuilding that genuine connection, ask yourself first: How would I talk to my best friend? What would I do for my best friend?
Treat your partner in the same way you would treat your best friend.
If each of you has been in your own world for a while, make an effort to reach out first. Suggest doing something together, but don’t necessarily make it a “date night” right away. You may not be ready for that. Instead, go to an event or place that would interest both of you. If you go to the gym, for example, invite your partner to a group class or ask them to join you at a coffee shop nearby for a latte.
Doing this will help you become more connected, which will in turn create better communication.
You can never overestimate the importance of speaking the right Love Language to your partner or spouse. There is simply no such thing as having too much love.
When I explain to my clients how the 5 Love Languages work, I sometimes compare it with breathing. How long can you last without oxygen? Not for too long, right?
The same principle applies to utilizing the correct Love Language as if it were a vital life force. In other words, your partner’s Love Language is their oxygen.
Love Language is the life support for your emotional connection.
Your partner’s love language is the mechanism they receive love. If it’s not spoken or felt, they may feel disconnected from their life support altogether.
Take time to familiarize yourself with how your partner receives love. This is vital to rebuilding your trust.
According to Gary Chapman, there are only 5 main Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Time Together, Gifts, and Touch.
You can start by observing your partner.
What makes their face light up? Is it when you hug them? Tell them how proud you are of them? Cook for them? Maybe when you bring them their favorite snack or flowers?
I would like to encourage you to take a mindful approach toward using Love Languages.
…and, finally, the fun part!
We’re a hard-working nation that takes pride in our work. Having been born in a European country, I have a different perspective that allows me to see things from a different angle. Our identities are sometimes wrapped up in our work and business.
We may forget that we are human beings, not human doings.
It's important to find time and energy to enjoy our lives, spend time with our loved ones and smell the roses. We can’t work all the time.
If you and your partner are buried in work, you may start experiencing intimacy problems. You may notice your passion waning or not appearing at all.
Does that automatically mean the end of your relationship? No, it doesn’t!
It just means it’s time to spice things up and make your intimacy more interesting, playful, and exciting — for both of you.
Start by going on dates once again. You can plan them together or take turns, and make it fun! Go beyond the usual scenario, like going to a restaurant or watching a movie. Ask your partner about their hobbies. Maybe they want to take a painting or cooking class. Maybe they want to go dancing, or camping and fishing.
Become more conscious of the foundation of your relationship and start rebuilding your connection and trust. By working on your fulfillment, developing a friendship with your partner, and creating more intimacy and passion, flowers will begin to bloom on your side once again!
Now you have enough knowledge on how to build trust in a relationship, but in case, you would like me to assist you on your journey to building Trust and a Better Relationship with your partner you can start by scheduling your free consultation.
Relationship and Marriage Coach
Gary Chapman. 5 Love Languages.
Tony Robbins, 6 Human Needs
John m. Gottman, Ph.D. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work