Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

repair trust

Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

There are a lot of different reasons someone can blow the trust in a relationship. It could be infidelity, emotional cheating, cleaning out the bank account and blowing it in Vegas, a shopping spree and hiding the credit card bills, or instead a string of little things so long it makes one wonder if they ever told the truth at all. Whatever the reason, trust is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Without trust there is no intimacy and without intimacy, no relationship. You can’t be intimate with someone you have to constantly be on guard around. So can you repair a relationship where the trust is gone? Certainly no one is perfect. Depending upon what you believe and what they have done, there are ways to build bridges back to trust. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience, forgiveness, owning up to what both parties have done and superb communication. It’s important to look at what led up to the violation. Oftentimes there are certain goings-on in a relationship, underlying problems that must be addressed so such a slipup don’t happen again.

Those who are the victims shouldn’t rub their partner’s face in transgressions. Nor should they ignore what contribution they themselves may have made to the situation. Only when each person is open and honest with each other can they make plans of action or rules of engagement that work for them, can they overcome these obstacles and rebuild trust. If both parties are still very much in love, engaged and committed to renewing the relationship then it has the highest likelihood of happening. But half measures will cause few returns. The person who has perpetuated the betrayal has to be sorry. But they should also be open and forthcoming in all aspects and ready and willing to change. The more open they are the faster the healing process will be. A betrayal can be implicit or explicit, meaning it may be something that was a spoken rule or just an obvious one. But it can’t be obvious to one person and not the other. When a transgression has occurred and the person lies or covers up their betrayal, these actions only make things worse. They also contribute to a longer and more difficult road ahead.

Of course every relationship and situation is different. That said there are a few things anyone going on this harrowing journey should keep in mind. If you are the betrayer, fess up before they find out. The longer you wait the more damage you will cause and the more time it will take for the relationship to recover. Plus, unburdening yourself from the guilt will also be a great relief. Decide then and there to have absolutely no dishonesty in your relationship ever again. If you can’t be honest with your partner, why are you with them? At the time of confession and even after, allow your partner to ask questions. Be honest in answering. You want to communicate and restore goodwill. If you are the victim, you shouldn’t keep asking questions just to shock or hurt yourself. At a certain point, you have decided to stay in the relationship or go. If you are staying, it’s important to find the path toward healing, not dwell on the past. Patience is the best characteristic in this situation. Practice it unendingly. Keep in touch with yourself and your feelings. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything to be fully present and listen to your partner as you work through things. Stay focused and if you are both meant to be together, you can get past this terrible time and find each other once again. For advice on keeping your marriage on the right track before transgressions start read, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love by Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom.

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

The Rules of Engagement for Fighting Fair

fightfair

The Rules of Engagement for Fighting Fair

Arguing in a relationship is eventual, even necessary. From fighting, boundaries are found, deep seeded issues are exposed and can be dealt with, and development and healing really have their roots in conflict. What breaks people up is fighting unfairly. You need to learn the rules of engagement for fighting fair. The first one is focus on the goal. In the heat of an argument all of a sudden lovers become adversaries who throw down their gauntlets and will do whatever it takes to win. But this mindset is poisonous for a relationship.

Instead, focus on tackling a problem cooperatively instead of competitively. If you are used to fighting a certain way explain to your partner before your next squabble that you don’t want to do this anymore. That you love them and don’t want to fight like this with them but want to find a way to work together instead. If they are yelling at you or goading you into a fight, don’t take the bait. Instead, walk away. Or tell them “I don’t want to do this with you.” Or “I hate it when we hurt each other.” That will stop them cold. Focus on the crux of the conflict. Do the two of you interpret the same set of events in different ways? Interpretation is everything.

If you think something is no big deal but your sweetie flips their lid, and you act like it’s no big deal instead of validating their feelings, you are essentially saying that they are no big deal, since they care about it. Then they will go on and on to prove to you why it’s important, and if you dig in on your side to protect your ego, whammy, you have a fight on your hands. Instead, try listening actively. Listen to what your lover says and repeat it back to them. See if you’ve got it right. It might sound silly at first. But if you can figure out how the two of you interpret something you can plan a way of dealing with the situation that suits both of you. Oftentimes fights are more over miscommunication than anything else. Usually both sides mean well but misunderstand one another, and so a fight ensues.

Tell the person how you feel when they say certain things that upset you. Don’t throw past arguments or issues in your partner’s face. That isn’t fair. It isn’t helpful and they will resent you for it. Don’t call each other names. You will regret it and they will be hurt. Sarcasm doesn’t move anything forward, it only slows the process down. If you feel yourself getting heated or your lover is, suggest that you two couch the problem and discuss it at another time. Be sure to mention when so that your lover doesn’t feel like you are blowing them off. Don’t insult or give a low blow. Show respect when fighting. Think of arguments as the pruning that helps your relationship develop and grow. For more advice read, The High-Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy & Validation by Alan E. Fruzzetti, Ph.D. and Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

phone

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

We are connected to so many different people, venues and organizations through our computers and mobile devices that today people are overwhelmed with options. This is true of modern day “hookup” culture where young adults, spurning marriage and family planning for the extended education it takes to get a job in today’s market, cycle through one hook up after another, for fear of missing out on an amazing experience with someone new. But the problem is that they are never in a relationship long enough to form any kind of intimacy. Studies have shown that millennials are more frustrated and emotionally unfulfilled than previous generations. People of all ages now serially date. They cycle through one person they met online after another, fearing that they are missing out on “the one.” But with so many options, their standards skyrocket. The result? They are too picky and judgmental. They gloss over each date, never really piercing the surface and getting to know the real person deep down inside. Instead, they usually find a superficial reason to rule the person out and move on. So they may have found “the one” without even giving “the one” a chance.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is now something of a massive psychological condition brought on by mobile devices carrying the internet. People veer to their Twitter while at work, diminishing their concentration on an important task. They check their LinkedIn while with friends, their Facebook while on a date, they even put their own lives at risk and the lives of others by texting or checking email while driving. Lots and lots of people around the world do this. And when confronted with how wrong that is, they just shrug.

Our fear of missing out has us glossing over what is really important in life, and that’s being there, being in the moment, savoring it and enjoying it. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle has a chapter on this phenomenon and The New York Times covered FOMO in an article by Jenna Wortham. There are singles who go on Facebook and feel bad when they see how happy their married or attached friends are. There are teens who lose sleep and are distracted from their studies constantly checking their social media to see who broke up with who, who is dating who and so on. The truth is, this is an impulse control problem. FOMO makes us hyper vigilant, always seeking for something better for ourselves. Most of the time, however, there isn’t anything on there that’s so important it should interrupt the real, offline life in front of you.

Being constantly distracted is no way to live life. Being constantly unsatisfied isn’t a great way to manage a love life either. Instead, limit your use of social media. Only check it at certain times of the day and stick to your schedule. When you feel the itch to check, notice something in your immediate environment that makes you feel satisfied: a warm smile, a delicious cup of coffee, a beautiful scarlet picture frame with a photo of someone you love. Savor the real world with all of your senses and you’ll soon see that social media just can’t compare.

Forgiveness is Liberation

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is Liberation

One of the biggest problems a couple can face is infidelity or betrayal of some kind. Usually the aggrieved party’s thoughts are focused on anger, resentment, jealousy and revenge. When someone is in this state and you ask if they have thought of forgiveness they will look at you as if you’ve been colluding with the enemy. They want you to reflect their need for anger, resentment and revenge. But the truth is these emotions will bog you down and make you feel even worse perhaps than the object of your scorn. However, the other path toward forgiveness is the path toward liberation.

Though it may make you feel important and empowered, it may even give you some attention as an aggrieved party, at least for a little while, before long you’ll realize that hatred is an emotional prison. It bogs you down. It makes you feel bad, even depressed after some time. You wallow in self-pity. And those around you suffer from compassion fatigue, avoiding you rather than comforting you. The only true way to set yourself free is to forgive. But how can you forgive something so egregious?

The first thing you need to do is stop blaming and pointing fingers. You know what happened. Blaming how you feel and how lousy everything is on your ex can only take you so far. After that it’s up to you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into the game of life again. No one is going to want to stand by you if all you do is plot revenge. Instead, plot forgiveness, not for their sake, but for yours. Be able to see things through different perspectives. Instead of focusing on pain, look through the lens of a different emotion. See what you can be happy about, even grateful for.

Don’t replay painful memories in your head over and over again. Accept that the person who has hurt you may never apologize. You may never find closure outside. So look for it within yourself. Understand that not everyone is meant to stick by you. And that’s okay. Now is the time to get yourself together and find the real, happy and harmonious you. For further reading on this topic try, How to Forgive When You Can’t: The Breakthrough Guide to Free Your Heart & Mind by Dr. Jim Dincalci.