My spouse did something very hurtful and I have lost trust in him. How do I allow myself to open up and trust him again?
The key here is to require others to be trustworthy toward you. This commitment requires that you first recognize and respect your own incredible worth and value, your own vulnerability. As a result, you require anyone that you allow access into your inner sanctuary to proceed with honor and care. When someone gets distracted and forgets to treat you with honor, you respectfully inform them that access to your inner sanctuary is a special privilege that is granted by invitation only, that they will be asked to leave if they continue to behave poorly, and future access may be denied. They need to prove themselves worthy of your trust. You do not owe them your trust, it is earned and must be maintained and continually reestablished through respectful, honoring behavior.
It is important to understand that trust is never something that is earned once and for all. Trust is something that is warranted by consistent honor and care towards another. Trust can be betrayed in an instant. Becoming caught up in your own feelings while even momentarily forgetting about the ultimate well-being of the other is all it takes to be untrustworthy. Thus, focusing on being trustworthy towards the other is far more useful than focusing on getting the other to trust you. When you additionally make respect and honor of you a prerequisite to allowing someone access to your own vulnerable places, you begin to trust yourself, and feel deeply cared for and self-confident. Therefore, even if the other person forgets to care about you, even for a moment, you know that you won’t forget!
When two people mutually commit themselves to being simultaneously trustworthy towards the other, and require the other to treat them with honor and respect, the relationship begins to feel extremely safe.
Both will tend to relax and open up, creating greater opportunities for deep and satisfying intimacy. If you consistently act in a trustworthy manner, others will be far more likely to choose to trust you. After all, isn’t feeling safe enough to relax, open up, and just be yourself without the fear of being ridiculed or rejected the state that most of us want to live in? And isn’t the ideal relationship one where entering into the other’s presence feels like coming home into the safety of the garden?
This material on trust was developed by our dear friend Robert Paul. Robert Paul works at the National Institute of Marriage in Branson, MO. They specialize in working with couples on the brink of divorce.