“Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” --Stephen Covey
If you ask any couple, they will tell you that trust is foundational in the relationship. Violations of trust are the most common reason that couples seek help. It is devastating when a partner breaks the trust that has been established. It is not easy, but with work and effort trust can be rebuilt.
I often use the analogy that as a couple, you are building a city together. The longer the couple has been trusting in the relationship the larger the city grows. If there is a small trust issue, it may just damage a building or two, but the rest of the city remains strong. When there is a major violation of trust it is like an earthquake hits and the entire city crumbles. All the forms and structures of the relationship that were once known are gone. The city is now just dust and debris. It becomes dangerous to navigate and feels foreign. If the couple tries to ignore the problem and move on without proper clean up, it is like building new structures on top of the rubble. It is not a firm foundation and it won’t be long before the new structures fall. It is only when couples make genuine repair attempts and work to gain trust again that the debris starts to be cleaned out. Reaching out to make a genuine apology while listening with the intent of understanding, is like the removal of a wheelbarrow of debris. It can’t all get cleaned up in one ‘I’m sorry.’ Clearing is arduous work. It takes time and a willingness to be vulnerable, but the work starts to clear enough solid ground to start rebuilding.
Couples can start creating their new city while sections of debris remain. The beauty is that they get to choose how they would like to rebuild their city. In this new city, they can decide what was working from the old and incorporate it, while they can leave out what wasn’t working. When they continue to communicate with clarity, they begin to rebuild and remove debris. Eventually, a new relationship is created that may, or may not, look anything like their old relationship. I emphasize that this is a brand-new relationship and it must be treated with the respect and reverence of any new relationship.
Violations of trust do not need to end a relationship. They can become an opportunity to create a new relationship which better meets the needs of everyone involved. It takes a willingness to do the demanding work of clean-up and rebuilding, but it can revitalize your city.