I Just Don’t Trust You Anymore!
It’s a given that things will not always be as rosy as they were in the early days of our committed relationships. It is quite common that trust is one of the elements hardest hit over time – and that is quite surprising for people.
It seems like everything is falling apart when trust takes a back seat. Often, it’s just that we no longer trust our partner with one (probably significant) aspect of the relationship, while we still trust them unreservedly with others.
Have you ever heard or said something like this:
“I trust you with the kids but I can’t trust you with the finances.”
“I know I can trust you with the money but I don’t trust you to be faithful to me.”
“I know that you have good intentions but I don’t trust you’ll ever follow through on them.”
It seems that where trust is concerned, we are able to compartmentalise – and this is certainly worth noticing. It may be that we need to bring repair into the part of the relational landscape where the trust is most lacking. It might be helpful to realise that absolutely everything may not actually be falling apart.
It can just look that way.
Noticing that your partner isn’t completely untrustworthy can be a great starting point for repair. It certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned about the loss of trust, but it can help in giving you a way of introducing the subject into dialogue with your partner that might allow them to hear you. Starting the conversation with, “I just can’t trust you at all, can I?”, can set you on path that quickly deteriorates into blaming, shaming, controlling and withdrawing – all the losing strategies that carry you miles away from genuine dialogue and any possible repair.
(Note: If your partner is untrustworthy in many or all aspects of the relationship, and scathing of your efforts toward safe dialogue about it, then you have most likely already resigned from trying to find hope and the relationship is probably on its last legs.)
If you want to have a fruitful dialogue with your partner about your declining trust – or even about the possibility of getting professional help in moving toward solid repair – try starting with the areas where trust is still strong and then share how much you really miss being able to trust in that problem area too. It’s a loving thing to do – sharing about the things that you agree on, the things you are getting right together, as an offering of hope before you also give voice to the area(s) where you desire/need to see change.
Knowing how to talk is just as important in long term relationships as is knowing how to listen. If your partner is trying to talk with you about the areas where your behaviours leave disappointment in their wake, try to notice their courage in doing so. It takes so much courage to raise the areas where trust has gone ‘missing in action’.
It’s easier to hear your partner’s request for change, their heartfelt desire to be able to trust you again, if you can hold some hope that they can still see your good intentions and desire to be trustworthy. Soothe yourself down, take a seat and open your ears to hear the things that need addressing. Better still… start the dialogue yourself by becoming accountable for the area(s) where you constantly drop the ball.
Working, with goodwill, toward a collaborative alliance is just the beginning along the road to repairing trust, but it’s a good start.