Happy spring, everyone! It still feels chilly, but the sun has been out longer and robins are flying through New York. Yesterday was technically the first day of spring, so the warmer weather should be here soon.
Toward that end, we will be discussing what may be
a critical missing element in your relationship
if you are not experiencing your relationship at its best. Perhaps more importantly, we will be discussing how to foster more of this element in your relationship.
That missing ingredient is the T-Word:
When we think of trust, we might imagine it on a large scale. For example, “I trust my partner won’t cheat on me.” Well, that’s good, and of course important, but today we’re discussing a more subtle trust, one that’s easier to mess up on a regular basis.
It’s not so obvious.
Dr. Sue Johnson, the main psychologist behind Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, discusses the importance of the A.R.E. questions in any relationship. A.R.E. stands for Accessible, Responsive and Engaged. Dr. John Gottman, another leading psychologist in the field of relationships, understands the answers to these questions to make up the kind of “trust” that every relationship needs. Gottman, in his new book The Science of Trust, discusses trust in terms of how couples interact in the moment.
Each moment or interaction involving accessibility, responsiveness and engagement in a couple therefore make up the kind of trust that we are talking about. I cannot overstate the importance of the A.R.E. questions in any relationship.
Let’s do a quick assessment of your relationship.
1.) Do you feel that your partner is accessible? Are you able to hear from them and understand what’s going on with them most of the time? If you need them, can you reach them?
2.) Is your partner responsive to you? When you reach for them, do they reach back? Do you feel seen and heard by them?
3.) Do you feel your partner is engaged with you, particularly on an emotional level? If you’re upset, can they tell and do they care? Do you feel connected to them?
Hopefully you answered “yes” to these 3 questions, but if you didn’t, fear not.
If you feel like your partner is coming up short when you ask these questions, you may not trust them in that more subtle way that matters a great deal. You may not feel so inclined to go to your partner with your hurts or daily struggles event though you, like each of us, need to be able to do that.
Your relationship should be a safe haven
It should be a place to take comfort in, and a shelter from the little struggles of every day life. This is more than just knowing that your partner won’t betray you. Without this more subtle “trust,” you may not feel like your relationship is totally safe.
But you deserve it to be
So let’s talk about building trust.