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Marriage Counseling: How to Build Trust
Marriage Counseling: How Can We Improve Trust in our Relationship?
A common theme you will see in marriage counseling is building trust in each other. After all, trust builds the foundation for the other work you will put into improving your marriage. If you don’t trust each other, you won’t be able to progress together. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- Why Waiting Can Hurt).
Thankfully, trust is a well-researched topic, and there are things you can do to improve trust in your marriage. Today, you will learn about a strategy for building trust that you can try in your own relationship.
What is Trust?
If you have been struggling with trust in your relationship, it can be hard to understand what good marital trust actually looks like in practice. If you have trust in your marriage, you have confidence in your partner. You generally believe that they want the best for you. (Source: How to Build Trust in Your Marriage). Maybe you can see why trust is so important! It will be nearly impossible to improve your relationship and communication if you don’t trust your partner to do what is best for you.
Sure, improving trust in your partner sounds great. But how do you do that? John Gottman is a marriage and relationship researcher, and he created an acronym that might help. (Source: The Three Phases of Love). Let’s talk about it.
ATTUNE to Each Other:
A for Awareness of your partner’s pain.
It’s important for you and your partner to make an active effort to notice each other’s moods and emotions. Genuine caring and interest in your spouse’s wellbeing opens up the opportunity for connection and good communication. You can use these opportunities to practice the communication skills you are learning together.
T for Tolerance
Tolerance goes a long way in marriage! Although it would make things easier, you will never be able to read your partner’s mind. And they won’t be able to read yours! So, having tolerance for your partner and understanding that they have their own perspectives and experiences will help you set the stage for genuine connection. (Related Article: How to Communicate Effectively).
T for Turning Toward
It’s one thing to notice your spouse is having a hard time. It’s another to make the effort to bring them relief when they are suffering! Turning toward means not shying away from challenging conversations, and taking the time to help your partner feel better when they are struggling. (Related Article: Marriage Counseling- The Anatomy of an Apology).
U for trying to Understand your partner
Like I mentioned earlier, you will never be able to just read your partner’s mind. However, you can definitely try to make an effort to understand where they are coming from. You can also make an effort to really understand what they are trying to communicate to you when you talk. This is especially important when you are working through difficult conversations. Go into the discussion with a goal of understanding your partner instead of just being right.
N for Non-defensive listening
Listening is a common theme in these blog posts! And for good reason. Listening is also an essential part of good communication. You can work on your communication skills all day long. But, if you don’t truly take the time to listen in a non-defensive way and give your partner your full attention, then you are just giving a speech and not really connecting with your spouse. (Related Article: How to Fix Your Marriage Problems).
E for Empathy
Empathy will be an important part of your mar riage as you work to build trust. Marital trust revolves around you and your partner feeling emotionally safe with each other. (Related article: Marriage Counseling- What is Empathy?). Emotional safety is improved when you practice empathy for your partner’s experiences, struggles, and perspectives.
Trust: Taking the First Step
This list is not exhaustive; there are many things you can do to continue building trust with your partner. And your experience will be unique. Maybe you have tried these approaches and you still struggle to trust your spouse. Or maybe you have experienced a major betrayal, and you aren’t sure where to begin. Or maybe you are new to all of this and you are looking for a guide. No matter your starting point, marriage counseling can help you make the first step to building lasting trust in your marriage.
Written by Lauren Adkins