by Leteria S. Price, LCPC, LPHA
"I love you, but I can't trust you!", "What did you do with the money?" or "You never keep your word." These words are often said when one partner feels as if their trust has been violated through infidelity, broken promises, fiscal irresponsibility, or constant accusations of deceit. Neither is fun and certainly not what either partner signed up for when they began the relationship. Trust is "the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something" per Oxford Language. Merriam-Webster says, "Trust definition is -assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." Both reflect similar ideals and identify "reliability" as the first element of trust. The question then becomes, 'Can I rely on my partner?'; 'Is my partner reliable?'
When looking at behavior sometimes looking to determine if it was intentional or unintentional and if it is intentional then the conversation should be what is your partner attempting to say to you with a poor communication style? This would include learning to better communicate. It also means being willing to learn assertiveness skills and to be open and honest with one another when communicating. However, if it is unintentional, we must look at what is going on with your partner and your expectations.
Will I Trust Again?
If the trust is broken due to infidelity, the answer is still "yes, you can trust your partner (in time)". However, there is significant work that will need to be done to repair the trust as well as identifying the cause of the infidelity to prevent a repeat. The person who went outside of the relationship must earn the trust back and figure out what influenced the behavior, while the other person must work on forgiveness and establishing boundaries. Effective communication is the key element to all of it. Open and honest communication is the foundation to improving the relationship and restoring as much of the trust as possible that had been lost.
If the loss of trust is due to broken promises, fiscal irresponsibility, or compulsive lying, exploration of the cause can solve the issues sooner rather than later. If your partner is fiscally irresponsible then a conversation around who is the better money manager for the household might alleviate this issue once it is clear that they may have a different relationship to money than you do or they do not have a head for finances. Broken promises could be the result of an eagerness to please with unrealistic expectations. Learning to trust your partner is the foundation of a healthy relationship of which love is built and flourishes. Being unable to trust your partner is a large gap in the foundation that can lead to destruction and instability in a relationship. No one is happy in a relationship that lacks trust and is often be the downfall of many relationships.
Communication is Key