Relationships are hard work, and yes, some are definitely harder than others!
But when we see a happy couple they tend to really stand out.
Why is that?
Perhaps it’s because they’re so rare these days.
Or maybe it’s because they’re in such a good mood that we’re captivated by their infectious energy.
Whatever the reason, it tends to leave us wondering…
What’s their secret?
As a relationship therapist I see couples that really DO want to be happy. They’re committed to doing the work and putting in the effort to make things right again.
They come to me to help them ‘get back on track’.
Once we start to delve right to the heart of the matter, there’s invariably one theme that will emerge – trust – or more specifically, lack of trust within the relationship.
There are a million different ways to improve or damage the health of a relationship, and all of these depend largely on the existence, or absence, of trust.
So from where I stand, ‘trust’ is the secret ingredient to a happy and lasting relationship.
But what does trust actually look like?
Well for starters, being trustworthy is more than simply saying, “I’m faithful”, or “But I love you and I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t want to be!”
Being trustworthy is about being reliable, accountable, and genuine.
It means your words match your actions, and you follow through on what you say you’re going to do – and on a side note, sticking to these two simple philosophies in all areas of your life builds self-esteem – that’s a win win!
Trust is a key ingredient in any relationship and absolutely vital when first getting to know someone.
We can’t demand trust or try to prove that we are trustworthy.
Whether we trust someone or not is a choice that we make.
You might consider yourself a trustworthy person, but how does your new partner know that?
In deciding whether we trust someone or not most of us will initially go by how we ‘feel’. This can be partly influenced by what others think of that person, but it’s mostly based on our own life experiences.
We’re all afraid of getting our hearts broken. Most of us have felt the pangs of being let down by love at some point in our lives.
So it makes sense that the more hurt and let down we have felt in our lives the more mistrusting and unsure we’ll feel when we first meet new people – particularly when it comes to our intimate relationships.
Then how DO we establish that all-important trust at the beginning of a relationship?
Don’t expect it to happen quickly. Building trust can take time, it’s a gradual process and each couple will be different.
Trust your instinct. If something feels a bit ‘off’ about your relationship, it probably is. Listen to what your intuition is telling you, no matter how attractive or charismatic someone is, if their words don’t match their actions, you need to take notice.
Don’t keep things to yourself. Trust needs both partners to be open right from the start. Nothing erodes relationships faster than secrets or withholding our true feelings so it’s important to express any issues that arise quickly and honestly.
Learn how to say no. It’s one thing to strive for a harmonious relationship, but you don’t have to say yes to everything your partner proposes. When you start out pandering to your partner’s whims it sets a precedent that will be difficult to maintain.
Without trust, it doesn’t feel safe to be open and vulnerable with your partner. But when there’s trust, both partners can finally feel seen, heard and understood.
Make trust your number one priority and the rest will take care of itself.