For this post, I wanted to continue the topic of cultivating intimacy in marriage by talking about one of the pillars of a healthy relationship: trust. Trust is vital to any relationship because it gives us information whether or not you or someone else is safe to be with or depend on. So for a couple, being able to trust your spouse is just as important as feeling love for them. There are many different therapeutic models that conceptualize trust, and the one I like to refer to comes from Restoration Therapy (RT). In RT, there are three areas of trust that help create a sense of safety between couples.
Can I rely on you? How consistent are you? Will you be the same person tomorrow? Simply, can your spouse predict what you are going to be like one day to the next? Also, If you struggle to complete responsibilities or keep your word, it will be difficult for your spouse to see you as a partner. The spouse relationship dynamic can shift to parent-child: one spouse lecturing the other to take care of their work. Ask your spouse if there’s an area that they find difficult entrusting you (finances, time, safety, etc). It can be cleared up with direct communication or you will have to make adjustments to ensure your spouse can depend on you.
Do you feel safe enough to talk about various topics in your life? Are you keeping secrets so that you do not hurt them or in fear that they will hurt you? Maintaining closed-off boundaries between spouses makes it harder for intimacy to flourish. Struggling to be open is a sign of struggling to find security with one another. Reflect on what do you feel hesitant to share with your spouse and then how you think your spouse would react to you sharing about it. What response are you afraid of or avoiding? Afterward, check with your spouse if that is how they would react or if there is a way they can respond in a way that does not make you scared.
Being able to make compromises in your relationship is important, but if you feel like those compromises are not fair, this can be a roadblock in building confidence that your needs can be met. There needs to be a sense of balance between the give and take between the couple. If one spouse is making all the compromises, of course they will begin to question if their needs will ever be met. If there is an imbalance in the relationship, it may feed behavior like manipulation, threats, or withdraw to communicate what we want. Reflect on what feels unfair between you and your spouse. Are you getting certain needs met or have they been neglected? Identify what needs have been unmet between you and your spouse.
Building trust in marriage can be a huge struggle. Each spouse brings in their past experiences that make these three areas a different challenge. The key is to come together and understand how to make each other feel safe. Each of these areas can be difficult to walk through, but with caring support and guidance, you will notice a deeper sense of intimacy as your trust in your spouse increases. Intimacy is not only a feeling of love, but it is also the experience of someone who you can wholeheartedly trust. Reach out to close ones or professional help if trust is an area of struggle in your marriage. I know I’d be thrilled to hear from a couple who wants to work on deepening their relationship in this way.
Written by therapist Daniel Pak
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