determining and increasing trust in marriage and Daring Greatly

I thought I totally trusted Dan. And I thought he totally trusted me. Then we went to a marriage workshop and were handed a list of “check in” questions.

We got home. I already felt a little defensive. The workshop had brought up a few areas where I knew I was really not doing a stellar job.

We sat on the couch to go through the list. And what do you know, we couldn’t say “yes” to all of them. I thought we had trust figured out. Communication? Not so much. But trust? Yes, yes, yes.

increasing trust in marriage

While I’m not going to reveal the questions we each said “no” to, I do want to share some from the list.

+ Is there more unity, understanding, and love in your marriage than there has ever been?
+ Do you do the things you promise to do in the time you’ve promised?
+ Are you attentive to what your spouse sees as important?
+ Do you carry wrongs around with you, or do you trust one another to confront and confess?
+ Are you conscious of editing your words and withholding your feelings because you can’t trust your spouse to deal with them properly?
+ Do you say things to other people about your spouse that you haven’t communicated to him or her?
+ Are you comfortable with the vulnerability a good marriage involves?

We had a good discussion and figured out a few things that had been long-running issues. Not big issues, but issues that came up too frequently.

This past week, I read Daring Greatly. It was so timely and encouraging in terms of vulnerability and well, daring greatly. I didn’t expect trust to come up there, too, but it did in “sliding door” moments. 

The concept was explained by John Gottman, and it just makes so much sense.

What I’ve found through research is that trust is built in very small moments, which I call “sliding door” moments, after the movie Sliding Doors. In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner.

Let me give you an example of that from my own relationship. One night, I really wanted to finish a mystery novel. I thought I knew who the killer was, but I was anxious to find out. At one point in the night, I put the novel on my bedside and walked into the bathroom.

As I passed the mirror, I saw my wife’s face in the reflection, and she looked sad, brushing her hair. There was a sliding door moment.

I had a choice. I could sneak out of the bathroom and think, “I don’t want to deal with her sadness tonight, I want to read my novel.” But instead, because I’m a sensitive researcher of relationships, I decided to go into the bathroom. I took the brush from her hair and asked, “What’s the matter, baby?” And she told me why she was sad.

Now, at that moment, I was building trust; I was there for her. I was connecting with her rather than choosing to think only about what I wanted. These are the moments, we’ve discovered, that build trust.

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Those questions + this passage have been on my mind frequently. And I never expect to master trust in my relationship with Dan, but I’m thankful for the ways my young little mind is being opened to the concept.

Have you considered the ways you can increase trust in your relationship? Do you think it’s important? 

  • I’ve been married for 2 1/2 months and this was a very helpful post for me to read! 🙂 I LOVE that passage… so practical. Marriage has been pointing out my selfishness more than anything else. Ugh. Lord help us!

  • As a newlywed, this post is so helpful. Thank you for being vulnerable and posting about this, Natalie!

  • Wow… Some of those are really difficult but definitely good to ask… Thanks for the great reminder.

  • Wow, super thought-provoking for sure. Trust is something every couple should continually be working on, I think. Like you said, I’m not sure it’s something you can ever really master completely!

  • I honestly have never thought about increasing trust in my relationship because I too was like you- of course I trust him! It is SO important and that illustration that you gave from the book just hit home. Those questions are all great questions that have got me thinking… thanks for the thought provoking post! Sounds like a great workshop!

  • MeandMySoldierMan

    Man, this was what I needed to read today. Feeling conviction regarding these issues recently. Thanks for being transparent.

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