TRUST .. it's such a big word ..
After looking up the word "trust" in many dictionaries, I found many heavy weight words associated with it......reliance, integrity, virtue, faith, help, confidence, support, comfort, consolation, reliability, trustworthiness, fidelity, faithfulness.... Wow....it's no wonder when trust is violated in any relationship, the sacred web, which contains all of these other words within its delicate strands, gets a pretty darn good shake, sometimes tearing a hole so ragged that it is beyond repair for the wounding it delivers.
In his decades of working with couples, John Gottman, author and well respected marriage therapist (and who I had the honor of studying with), says that just about all conflicts are about trust. "And you can think of there being a fan that opens up .. where every region of the fan is an area of trust. That would describe all of our conflict discussions."
In his book "The Science of Trust" Gottman identifies the following trust related issues:
Can I trust you to be there for me when I'm upset?
Can I trust you to work for our family?
Can I trust you to choose me over your friends?
Can I trust you to not take drugs?
Can I trust you to not go back to your bad habits?
Can I trust you to not cheat on me?
Can I trust you to be sexually faithful?
Can I trust you to respect me?
Can I trust you to help with things in the house?
Can I trust you to really be involved with our children?
I would like to add the following based on grievances couples most commonly share with me when looking for support around their communication styles:
Can I trust you to say what you mean and mean what you say?
Can I trust you to be accountable and use language that is clean and clear?
Can I trust you to speak honestly and vulnerably with me?
Can I trust you to not to use what I say against me?
Can I trust you to really hear what I'm saying and not distort it?
Can I trust you to keep the lines of communication between us open?
Can I trust you to hold a high standard in how we relate?
Can I trust you to let me know when you're struggling inside?
Can I trust you to exercise responsibility and vigilance when you're angry?
Can I trust you to hold our relationship as important and sacred?
Recently I watched the following video and found it both inspiring and extraordinary. And found it interesting and clear that the primary question "Can I trust you?" was equally as important as the question "Can I trust myself?. Without trust, anything that people attempt to achieve will fail or at least be poorly executed. The mark of good teamwork is the ever deepening awareness of how each and every move, even when barely perceptible, has a decidedly profound impact on the other and therefore equally on ourselves and the relationship as a whole. In high performance teamwork and marriages, there is great attention to detail, to movement, to response-ability, to shifting of weight, to what comes next in the unfolding sequence...each of these must be intelligently considered and respectfully held. In these relationships we find a kind of attunement to the other person and to the relationship itself as well as to what they would ultimately like to achieve. Agreements and promises must be kept because without them, the form crumbles...it cannot be maintained without the foundation of trust.
Granted, it is certainly not possible to speak about trust without being honest and admitting that trust does get violated. And, it happens regularly. People say they will be there for us and then they don't follow through. A parent dies and a child believes himself betrayed either by the parent or by life itself. The hard lesson comes that one must choose (or not) to take big risks to allow oneself to love and be loved, especially given that someone can be taken away so swiftly. Let's look at a couple different storylines...You discover that something shared in strict confidence to a friend or colleague has been let loose.....OUCH!! how in the world do you trust that person again? Or...your spouse breaks his or her promise to be monogamous and becomes sexually intimate with someone else...OUCH AGAIN!! How do you now trust this person? Do you attempt to rebuild the trust that has been violated? Some couples choose to take on that challenge and are able to make a remarkable recovery, which sometimes strengthens their relationship, and some couples fail while attempting and endure even more pain in the process. And then there are those who do not have faith in making recovery and choose to refuse the invitation.... And...whatever the couple decides to choose, their choice is neither "right" or "wrong", it's just a choice made by them.
So yes, trust is regularly violated. And I
somewhere right now, as you read these very words, trust
is being violated. How do we wound less and love more? For starters we can decide to become increasingly trustworthy as human beings. Author and teacher Miguel Ruiz provides a valuable template in his widely acclaimed book "The Four Agreements": 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don't take anything personally. 3) Don't make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.
Ruiz believes that the first agreement "be impeccable with our word" is the most important. Where we find ourselves lacking in impeccability, we will also be untrustworthy. Yes, we will fail from time to time...and over the course of a lifetime, we will hopefully choose to become increasingly aware of the cost of not being impeccable with our word and take a deep look at how it erodes the bond of trust between us and others. It certainly seems pretty clear that nothing is more vital to a relationship than trust. What do you think?