Forget those corporate trust-building free fall exercises. When it comes to relationships, it all boils down to communication. There's no better way to get your point across to your partner, than sitting down and addressing the issues head on. It's tough, but if you're looking to have a successful relationship, you have to do the hard work it takes to keep the ship afloat.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, award winning therapist and author, shared some sound trust-building advice with us straight from his latest book, The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time and beyond.
There are lots of things that can create mistrust in a relationship, from lies to untrustworthy behaviour, bad habits and infidelity. Whether your partner has a past you weren't aware of, an affair to confess to or has simply let you down several times, it is possible to salvage your relationship, and it starts with building trust.
From communicating your point, to making a confession, listening to your partner and moving forward together, these tips will see you bring more trust and solidarity into your relationship.
Fully understand the importance of honesty
"Trust between couples can be defined as knowing that your partner’s intentions are honorable. A lack of honesty can erode the foundation of a relationship, leaving a couple confused and insecure about their connection and life," says Dr. Goldsmith.
We second that! You must both appreciate that to move forward honesty is the crucial ingredient. From honesty, grows trust.
Begin with terms of endearment
If you're coming clean to your partner, be sure to start the discussion with terms of endearment. Words such as "baby" or "darling" can go a long way in helping your mate understand you still care deeply about them. It's also a great way to set the tone for the talk - you're not attacking your partner, you're discussing how to have a closer, stronger relationship.
Sit face to face
Sit facing your partner so they know they have your undivided attention. It's a great way to kickoff your discussion.
When you're gearing up to have a serious talk with your lover, set a tone of togetherness by holding hands.
Tell the WHOLE truth
As hard as it may be, Dr. Goldsmith suggests telling the entire truth. "One of the most important rules for building and maintaining honesty is always to tell the whole truth. Being open and honest about your unspoken thoughts and feelings helps to ensure physical and emotional fidelity," he says.
Whether you don't like the way he looks at other women, or the way you feel insecure after being cheated on in a previous relationship, if you don't speak out about your feelings and thought processes, there's no way your partner is going to be able to guess them. Once you start talking truthfully with each other, you're one step closer to each other already.
No white lies
Many people don't see the harm in a little white lie. In actuality, they're doing their relationship a huge disservice.
"If you tend to omit or color the truth, to make things look a little better, it could actually damage your relationship on a deeper level. Trying to protect your partner or trying to avoid looking bad in their eyes can create more trouble than it’s worth," Dr. Goldsmith shared.
Be gentle with your honesty
While you might want to treat your confession like ripping off a band-aid, be warned: it's a bad idea! Key words from our expert, "You need to temper your honesty with some degree of kindness. You can be honest without being harsh."
Perhaps you want to confess to infidelity, or simply talk frankly about the way you really feel about your in-laws, whatever the issue, there's always a tactful approach you can take that's mindful of the other person's feelings.
Allow your partner to speak about their transgressions
When you're hurt, it can be extremely difficult to keep your lover's feelings in mind. Why would you? They've completely neglected yours. But you have to put that thinking aside, and allow them to speak about what they've done wrong. It's the first step on the path rediscovering trust.
Share information freely and be completely transparent
If you feel the need to withhold information from your partner, you're actively engaging in behaviour that could be detrimental to the foundation of your relationship. The more open you are with your partner, the less doubt they will have. It's a process, but it begins with showing you have NOTHING to hide.
Always be open to answer your partner's questions
No more holding back! If your partner has a question or concern, it is your duty to respond and alleviate their worries. Not complying only makes you appear guilty, even if you're completely innocent.
Your first instinct might be to attack your partner once they come clean about their error in judgement. Remain calm and hear them out.
Do not belittle
Name calling and belittling is never acceptable, especially when someone is opening up to you. It might be difficult to understand, but they're being vulnerable by confessing.
All those condescending remarks that are at the tip of your tongue? Swallow 'em!
Screaming is not allowed
Screaming at your lover won't solve anything. Although it might feel good to get that off your chest, it isn't a healthy form of communication. Furthermore, you'd probably discourage them from wanting be honest in the future. Take a deep breath and take time to collect your thoughts before responding to their words.
Give a sincere apology
After you've told your partner about the wrong you've done, make sure you offer up a sincere and thorough apology. Make sure they see you understand the depths of your betrayal, and that you're genuinely sorry.
Ask what you can do to restore trust
Dr. Goldsmith says once you've opened up to your other half, you should ask, "What can I do to make up for it?" It's another way of showing you know you messed up, and want to do better in the future. Look them in the eyes while telling them it won't happen again, that way they'll know you mean it.
Be a trustworthy person to everyone
How your partner treats others is a reflection of how they will treat you. If they have a difficult time maintaining their integrity outside of your relationship, it's a good indicator of what's to come.
Don't do anything that can break trust
No-brainer, right? You'd be surprised at how many people get this one wrong. Many people take their mate's love for granted, and can neglect small things that lead to big issues of distrust. Always be mindful.
Make sure to say "I love you"
When you're done having a serious discussion with your partner, it's always great to remind them how much they mean to you. Dr. Goldsmith suggests topping off your talk with a heartfelt "I love you."
Thank each other
Sitting down for a difficult talk is draining, so showing appreciation is always nice. Thank each other for taking the time to resolve your problems.
Seek professional help for big issues that go unresolved
If there's anything you can't quite forgive your partner for, don't be afraid to seek help. Bigger issues, such as infidelity, can require the assistance of a trained professional who can help you both work through this painful time together.
Do you have any trust-building tips? Tweet us @sofeminineUK