Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Matter of Trust

We have often pointed out that trust is essential in a healthy and growing relationship. And the single most important element in that trust is safety.

The need for physical safety is a given, but in emotional terms, how is that sense of safety damaged in our intimate relationships?

Obvious examples might include, physical violence and actively trying to tear down your partner with name-calling or other hurtful statements intended to do harm.

These examples are more likely to occur with couples stuck in a cycle of trying to "win" a disagreement, sometimes at any cost.

Less obvious examples are more often encountered, even in generally satisfying relationships.

Two of the more subtle forms are undermining and discouraging. Both are closely related and important to address.

A good analogy for emotional undermining occurs frequently when we are trying to lose weight and our partner brings home our favorite cheese cake.

A mistake is one thing, but a pattern of such behavior can be undermining.

Discouraging is well-known to most of us and can be intended to help us avoid trouble.

Reminding us of our limitations rather than our strengths, or focusing us on the difficulties of our life options, if consistently applied as a pattern, can be discouragement.

What to do about these patterns in our relationships?

Point these patterns out, how they effect you, and describe how you would rather have a partner express concern for you.

These often well-intentioned partners can be offended by an allegation of using these processes.

Maintain the effort consistently and tactfully and always tell them what to do instead for your sense of safety. And call us if you need help.

Live Well. Now.