Whether you are talking among friends about relationships or you are sitting with a couple’s therapist, the concept of trust is likely to come up. For some it’s a question of “how do we rebuild trust?”, “How can I ever trust you again?” or even “I’m struggling to trust you due to a past relationship experience.” According to John Gottman, a leading researcher and writer on relationships and marriage, one of the fundamental issues for couples is trust and betrayal.
While each person may have varying ideas about what trust consists of, we can agree that culture, family background, media and personal experience among others influence our definition. Nevertheless, my experience is that the majority if couples’ arguments are less about the actual words being said, and more about the underlying theme of trust.
Here are just a few questions that I have found resonate with my couples during arguments:
- Can I trust you to take care of me?
- Can I trust you not to hurt me?
- Can I trust that you will be there for me?
- Can I trust that you are being honest?
- Can I trust you not to be unfaithful?
- Can I trust you not to do drugs or drink (typically for couples in recovery)
A question commonly asked in couple’s therapy is about building, strengthening or re-establishing trust. The short answer is that trust is realized in the ordinary moments, rather than extraordinary ones. Although trust can be broken in extraordinary moments that are momentous and perhaps dramatic, such as discovering an affair, it tends not to be easily mended by grand events or gestures. That means that every day there are small, even seemingly simple opportunities when you make a decision to either turn towards or turn away from your partner. Read the rest of this entry
In the era where if someone doesn’t answer their phone, we have the option to text them, e-mail them, Facebook them or even Tweet at them, communication has definitely become a little complicated. While most of us can recite countless benefits of all these various channels, we often pay little attention to the detriment that technology and online communication can have on our romantic relationships.
While the obvious pitfall of technological communication is misunderstandings and misinterpretations, an even bigger pitfall is emotional infidelity. According to Dr. Dale Atkins, emotional infidelity or emotional cheating is “about forming meaningful attachments with people other than your partner in ways that prevent your partner from having that deep emotional intimacy with you.”
How Does this Happen?
Relationships often become vulnerable to this type of infidelity when one partner feels misunderstood or unappreciated. Often, when one partner’s needs are not being met in the relationship, he/she will go outside of it. As we spend more time at work and online, these become our primary outlets. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and other social media serve to connect people and often do so on the basis of common interests. However, the lack of face-to-face and physical contact may serve as a factor in blurring boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate. Read the rest of this entry