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Maintaining And Re Establishing Trust In Your Relationship: Trust- Part 3

Although there are exceptions most couples would agree that for a relationship to thrive and bring out the best in both partners trust is an essential prerequisite. In the previous two articles on trust we have discussed some strategies that if implemented in the early days of your relationship can help create a respectful and trusting environment that will nurture and support your relationship throughout its lifetime.

In order to be realistic in our overview we also, in the second article, discussed some situations in which trust could be threatened and the stability of your relationship consequently undermined.

Now in this last article you will be exploring not only ways to maintain trust beyond the initial bloom of your relationship, but also actions you can take when there are signs that trust is being eroded and your relationship is at risk.

To begin it is probably a good idea for you to review the four actions that were listed in the first article on trust. These were: affirm values, communication, address the past, and establish boundaries and guidelines. These measures with the exclusion of addressing the past are valid now in our discussion on how to maintain trust and on how to limit the damage due to broken trust.


Any time you talk about relationships communication is always mentioned. And no wonder honest and open communication is one of the secrets for maintaining a healthy marriage. It makes much sense therefore to do everything in your power to keep the channels of communication open and clear. If you and your partner are able to share your concerns, clarify them so that both of you are on the same page, and then in a collaborative style work towards solutions, you may be able to prevent situations from arising that could result in a betrayal of trust.

With regular communication your intuitive self can consistently measure the well being of your relationship. You can note any major changes in the behaviour of your partner, address them and hopefully prevent them from becoming a concern. If you notice that your partner is distracted or withdrawn when relating to you, this behaviour can be discussed quite candidly if you have maintained honest communication channels.

Being able to talk about problems, changes and threats to your relationship does not necessarily guarantee that all will run smoothly and issues concerning trust will never arise, but effective communication does certainly improve your chances of making this happen.

Affirm Values

During the initial phase of your relationship little thought is usually given to the values you and your partner hold. Often assumptions are made that your values must be the same since you and your partner are getting along so well. As your relationship becomes more serious and a marriage may be looming some talk re values may be initiated. It will be during this dialogue that you can reassure yourself that trust is a value that you and your partner both share, and that your other values are similar enough to ensure an honest relationship in which you both are working towards the same ends.

And this is great! But this discussion on values does not stop here. Once the courting and the honeymoon period are over it is essential for you to establish an ongoing dialogue or some other method of reviewing values and reaffirming them. During your communications you may take note of any behaviours that may be veering from your relationship values, and then table them for discussion. Values may change but this only becomes a problem if you are not aware of these changes and fail to take actions to incorporate these new values into your relationship.

A practical step you can take to assure that you and your partners’ values are reinforcing your relationship is to schedule regular chats whose sole purpose is to discuss and reaffirm your values.

Such a dialogue may be useful both as a way to maintain the value of trust in your relationship, and to re establish it if there has been some form of betrayal.

Establish Guidelines And Boundaries

Once you have established some clear boundaries in the early days of your relationship you now have some guidelines to help you keep your relationship on track. If you sense that your partner’s or your own behaviours and actions are stretching the limits of these boundaries, you can draw attention to this and use effective communication to address and hopefully stop any damage to your relationship foundation.

Often the first casualty of violated boundaries is the trust you and your partner share. If you can provide ongoing maintenance to your boundaries, and as with your values schedule some honest discussions on their relevancy, you can make any necessary changes that will reaffirm the importance of these guidelines to your marriage.

What Else Can You Do To Maintain And Re Establish Trust In Your Relationship?

Without sounding too boring we’ll just say it one more time- KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNCICATION OPEN. If you can talk about it you have a chance to change it. If you can see mistrust creeping into your relationship – communicate this, think action and do something about it.

It’s important not to take your relationship for granted. It is wonderful when things are running smoothly and your needs are being met, but this does not mean that you can take a holiday from your marriage and just assume that everything will be the same if you cruise on automatic pilot. Your relationship benefits from time, attention, nurturing and your presence.

If you are truly living your relationship and not just floating through it you will be aware of any changes and should be able to initiate a dialogue about your concerns that could prevent mistrust slinking into your relationship.

Often relationships can be overwhelmed by external and internal pressures and you may begin to look to your partner to resolve your problems and satisfy all your needs. Realistically this is an impossible demand, and you only set yourself up for disappointment and frustration when your partner cannot meet your expectations. In your exasperation you may emotionally and physically withdraw from your partner creating a psychological and emotional gap big enough for mistrust to crawl through.

You can stop this from happening by taking responsibility for your own role in the relationship and for your own needs. Obviously there are needs that you and your partner fulfil in each other’s lives, but ultimately you are responsible for your own satisfaction and happiness.

As simple as this may sound it is important for you to spend time with your partner. It is not unusual today for couples to flit in and out of each other’s lives spending almost no quality time with each other. Eventually you may find yourself living with a stranger. And how can you trust someone you don’t know? If you spend time with your partner, continue learning about them and enjoy being with them, there should be no reason for mistrust in your relationship.

Although you have entered your relationship with trust in your heart, sometimes this trust is broken without any intent by you or your partner. Some examples of broken trust were noted in the second article on trust. If you and your partner want to re establish trust then you both need to be patient and take one day at a time, nurturing whatever trust remains in your relationship. Little things such as a phone call to show care or the completing of a task that you promised to do communicate willing and a desire to once again feel trust in your relationship.

When trust has been betrayed as a result of an infidelity it might be impossible to return to the old status quo and you may need to create a new relationship out of the ashes of the old one. In the article Moving Forward After Adultery some consideration is given on how to re establish trust when your relationship is in this fragile state. Also the points discussed above can both help prevent the temptation of adultery devastating your relationship, and if this is too late, they can help you establish a new foundation built on trust.

A discussion on trust is ongoing. The topic is sensitive and may create uncomfortable feelings. But if you are like many couples in the western world a relationship without trust may be an impossible reality and so related issues cannot be swept under the table but need to be exposed and discussed.

Depending on your cultural input and life experience you may view certain aspects of trust as non issues. For example in European countries adultery is often considered the norm as third parties complete the marriage arrangement. But as you have seen trust is also a broad topic and therefore a mistrust can take many different forms.

The intent of these articles has not been to make you paranoid and on the constant look out for a breach of trust. The concepts and suggestions offered have been general information that can be easily incorporated into the maintenance of your relationship. If you feel that you may have some major issues then it may be beneficial to seek professional help.



#1 Angelika von Sanden on 10.01.10 at 10:18 am

“For example in European countries adultery is often considered the norm as third parties complete the marriage arrangement”
Have you got any data to support this claim? I am European, lived nearly all my life in Europe, have insight in German, Swiss, Italian, Turkish and Spanish culture. I have never ever met anyone claiming that a ‘third party’ is a norm! Acceptance of adultary due to financial and, or legal complications does not make it a norm – and even this is happening less and less, as statistical data shows. Please be careful with assumptions as they can hurt feelings of Europeans. And it also hurt your reputation as it is an unsubstained claim!

#2 Zahava on 10.04.10 at 2:06 pm

Hi Angelika,
My apologies for my hasty comment. As someone who likes to avoid assumptions I have apparently made one based on a minimum amount of research. Thank you for this wake up call.