For years, trust and commitment have been evaluated as two of the most pivotal aspects of any successful long-term relationship. Consider yourself, no matter what stage in the relationship, there is something to say about the value of trust that keeps two people happily committed to one another. Without it, the years you’ve spent dedicated to your partner, through the ups and the downs, can be shattered in seconds.
Throughout this article, we will be exploring 5 key factors that will help to build more trust and commitment in any relationship. Whether you’re struggling to advance your connection to the next level or have been looking for ways to salvage your relationship entirely, these strategies can be beneficial at any stage.
Trust is the belief in the reliability or truth in someone’s words or actions. In trusting someone, you have made the conscious and vulnerable decision to put your faith into them as a person. Because of this, trust creates the foundation of every relationship.
“Without trust, there can be no meaningful connection” — Brene Brown
According to Dr. Gottman, trust exists in any relationship where both partners behave in a manner that has the best interest of one another. The more trust you have within your relationship, the more willing you will be to have your partner’s back no matter the challenges you face. Without trust, you won’t feel secure that your partner will be loyal to you and the boundaries you’ve set in your relationship.
A committed relationship occurs when two people agree upon a ‘level of commitment’ to one another — whatever that definition means to them. Whether you’re committing to a monogamous relationship with no exceptions or choose to forgo an open relationship with specific boundaries, it’s important to establish the degree of commitment you wish to share with your partner.
Trust and commitment fall hand in hand with one another. In order to maintain trust, both partners must be willing to fully commit to one another. Without this commitment, you won’t have a reason to trust that person.
5 Ways to Build Trust and Commitment in Your Relationship
1. Stay true to your word
The first strategy towards building more trust and commitment within your relationship is by staying true to your word and honouring your commitments. Have you ever experienced a situation where your partner has made a promise that they couldn’t keep? Whether it’s a small or large promise, over time this can result in the loss of trust in a relationship.
Be considerate of your word and make a conscious effort to do everything in your power to stay true to these commitments. Of course, life happens and unexpected events come up that are outside of our control. In these situations, it’s important to create an open line of communication in advance — more on this in a moment.
2. Be consistent with your actions
Staying consistent within a relationship helps to establish certainty in your actions. In terms of building trust, being consistent with your actions helps to reaffirm that you are going to follow through on your words and that you are someone who is dependable. With this, you become that person that your partner can confidently rely on in any given situation, and that is an essential component of any relationship.
3. Maintain an open line of communication
To begin, it’s important for couples to have an open and honest line of communication to share concerns, create boundaries, and discuss potential challenges with one another. This will encourage you both to address things early and avoid suppressing difficult conversations/“sweeping them under the rug”.
Here are 3 key tips when having difficult conversations with your partner:
- Use “I” language: share how an event has impacted you, how it made you feel, and what you need moving forward.
- Avoid blaming or “you” language: instead, focus on understanding the problem to begin working towards a solution.
- Consider the timing and location of your conversations: be mindful of when and where these discussions are taking place (i.e late nights, before work, in public, etc.) and try to schedule a time where you are both available to talk.
At the end of the day, in any healthy relationship, communication allows both people to address their thoughts and feelings in an environment free from judgement or ridicule. The act of communicating not only helps you both meet your needs, but it also allows you to feel more connected to your partner.
4. Be honest
It shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise that honesty is an essential component in building trust. When you own up to your mistakes and address your concerns in an open and honest manner, it will bring more comfort and security to your relationship.
5. Make thoughtful decisions
Last, but certainly not least, an important way to strengthen the trust and commitment in your relationship is by making your decisions thoughtfully — especially those that might affect your partner. One way you can do this is by posing the question to yourself, “would I be mad if my partner did this to me?”. If the answer is yes, then it may not be the right decision to make.
When in doubt, talk it out. If there is ever a time where you’re uncertain about how your partner would feel, it’s important to have a conversation about it to address any concerns. This also ties into the communication and honesty tips listed above.
Relationships are like a blossoming flower, without the proper soil, sunlight and water, they can perish very quickly. In saying this, taking away the trust in a relationship can have a similar outcome as the flower. Although you can re-introduce the sunlight and water, it will take time to see the flower thrive like it once did.
Oftentimes, when couples have experienced an event that cost one person to lose total trust in the other, it can be quite the journey to repair what is now broken. Rebuilding trust takes time, energy, and a lot of patience.
If you’re the person who broke the trust, here are some valuable tips to assist in rebuilding it:
- Take time to reflect on the reason(s) behind your actions when you broke the trust with your partner
- Take ownership of your mistakes without placing any blame on external factors (i.e. alcohol, the actions of another person, etc.)
- Apologize sincerely to your partner
- Give your partner space and time to reflect on their own
- Be compassionate and understanding for your partner’s needs while they process
- Commit to providing clear communication moving forward
- Follow the 5 tips on building trust and commitment listed above
For those of you who are struggling to build or repair the trust and commitment in your relationship, counselling may be a great option for you. Depending on the dynamic of your relationship, we offer both individual and couples counselling sessions to help address unique challenges and offer support for you and your partner either together or on a 1 on 1 basis.
Even though your partner isn’t participating, individual counselling can help you recognize your own feelings, motivations, and concerns in your relationship. Throughout these sessions, you will gain a better understanding of yourself both as an individual, as well as a partner. Together with your therapist, you will adopt the tools necessary to identify solutions to your unique situation and work together toward your best future possible. Book an Individual Counselling Session today.
No matter if you’re embarking on your first, fifth, or thirtieth year with your partner, couples counselling can help resolve current problems, prevent the exacerbation of problems and guide couples towards a more happy and healthy partnership. At On Your Mind Counselling, we offer a Smart Couples program that will help couples navigate conflict and grow stronger together. Book a Couples Counselling Session today.
Written by Tori Mudie BA, MA, RP, CCC