Relationship Help

When there’s been a break in trust

Anytime trust is broken, there’s going to be a wound in the relationship. It might be painful to face, but leaving these issues unaddressed won’t help anyone recover. Take a few of the following pointers from several researchers! 

1. Take responsibility if you’re at fault

If there has been infidelity or trust has been broken, it’s important to take full responsibility for what happened and be understanding of how your behavior wounded your partner.

Avoid becoming defensive. “You should own it in a loving way that creates the space to start to rebuild trust,” says Kraushaar.

Basically: Take responsibility, but don’t attempt to justify your actions or blame them on someone or something else.

2. Give your partner the opportunity to gain your trust back

While you have every right to feel upset and angry, there should be a desire to work on the relationship.

“Trust can never be restored until the person whose trust was broken allows their partner a chance to earn it back,” Kraushaar affirms.

3. Practice transparency

Instead of bottling up emotions, Kraushaar encourages couples to be “radically transparent” with each other about what has hurt them. This involves getting it all out there.

The one who broke the trust, needs to be radically transparent with yourself about what motivated you to do so. Was it a lapse in judgement, i.e. alcohol? Or an attempt to sabotage a situation you didn’t know how to get out of?

4. Seek professional help

Broken trust can cause wounds on everyone in the relationship.

If there’s been a significant wound, consider working together with a qualified therapist who specializes in relationships and can provide connection for healing.

5. Give compassion and care to the person you hurt

If you’ve hurt your partner, it’s easy to fall into a spiral into disappointment in yourself. But that’s not going to help your marriage.

6. Manage the damage

Have a discussion with your partner and set ground rules and barriers that take into account your exclusiveness and commitment to each other.

Being honest and upfront about your expectations from the beginning can prevent things from going wrong.

7. Regularly scheduled visits

“It’s so important that couples know and have scheduled visits and can look forward to those times and plan to make them special,” notes Kraushaar. In fact, research has shown that long-distance relationships where partners have a quality time planned are less stressful and more satisfying.

8. Set aside time for courtship

If you’re not able to organize scheduled time together, Kraushaar recommends setting up regular online dates with a theme or specific focus if distance is a problem.

Cook a meal together, watch a movie while you keep the video chat open, play a virtual game, or even read a short story aloud, taking turns.

9. Take time for yourself

While it’s important to pay attention to relationship closeness in a long-distance relationship, that aspect shouldn’t consume you.

No matter how much you miss the other person, don’t forget about yourself!

10. Plan a weekly ‘couples meeting’

Kraushaar recommends setting up a specific time each week that allows you both to talk about more difficult topics, such as money, sex, and trust so that these don’t bleed over into all of your interactions.

11. Learn to compromise

All relationships require give and take. When you’re living in close quarters, being accommodating of the other person’s needs and preferences without sacrificing your own can help fulfill more happiness.

12. Spend time with friends outside of your relationship

Spending time with friends can have a relaxing effect on your personal and emotional health and can help strengthen your personal identity.

Staying connected to your partner means having a life outside of your relationship.

13. Engage in affectionate physical contact

Kraushaar encourages couples to regularly hug each other in a fully present and connected way. Holding hands or hugging releases oxytocin which can reduce stress and boost your mood.

If you’re not on great terms right now, this might be easier said than done. Start slowly — simply putting your hand on theirs can help to show that you still care.

14. Don’t be hooked on romance

Deep-level intimacy is about creating a satisfying and meaningful relationship that isn’t always based on romantic expression.

Sure, everyone wants to be swept off their feet from time to time, but it’s important to genuinely respect and enjoy your partner for who they are outside of what they can give you.

15. Skilled communication

“Being open and honest about one’s thoughts and intentions about the relationship itself and the future can restore — or newly create — a sense of safety” in the relationship, says Montreal psychologist and relationship specialist Zofia Czajkowska, PhD.

16. Speak from your heart

In order for you partner to truly hear you, it’s important to communicate what you’re really feeling below all the tension.

For example, avoid accusatory phrases, such as, “You did this to me!” Instead, aim for something along the lines of, “When X happens I feel Y and I think it would be helpful if you could do Z to reassure me or prevent that from happening in the future.”

17. Active listening

If you catch yourself forming a rebuttal in your head as your significant other is talking, you’re not really listening. “You’re getting ready to defend yourself or go to battle,” says Czajkowska.

“Winning” an argument is never truly winning, she adds. “If your partner feels that they lost, it will likely contribute to more distance, tension, and resentment, so in the long run, you lose too.”

18. Break the pattern

When rebuilding the relationship, Czajkowska advises:

“Seeing it this way creates an opportunity for defining rules and boundaries from the beginning.” This means striving to understand and work through underlying issues as well as letting go of past resentments you’ve been holding onto.

19. Look at the upside of your relationship

Spend a week noticing or writing down all the things your partner does “right.”

Researchers have found that we tend to see what we are looking for. If you’re looking for reasons to be mad or upset with your partner, you’ll probably find them. But this works in reverse, too. Keep your eyes peeled for the good things.”

20. Say ‘thank you’ for the small things

Similarly, don’t just silently observe your partner’s right-doings. When they do something that’s kind of helpful, even if it’s just tidying up the kitchen after a meal, verbally thank them.

21. Have fun together

KEEP THE SPARK   Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Take a fun class together, maybe dancing, cooking or scuba diving.
  • Grab a deck of cards or a board game you both used to love.
  • Review your local weekly paper for unusual events. .

22. Maintain the intimacy and communication

Establish how to take care of each other emotionally, advises Czajkowska.

What does this actually mean? For starters, commit to giving each other a heads up when it feels like you’re drifting apart. Sit down together and look at what might be causing that. Have you both been wrapped up in work? Has it been too long since you spent the day just enjoying each other’s company?

“Commitment to working on the relationship is just as important as commitment to the partner,” she emphasizes.

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