Building Solid Relationships: Trust is the Foundation
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
See Part 1 of this series here.
Trust is absolutely vital to relationships, and not just in marriage relationships. Children need to trust their parents, and parents need to trust their kids. A friendship without trust is rather lacking and shallow. You need trust in basic business relationships as well, such as with your banker.
What can you do when trust is broken? It has to be repaired for the relationship to survive. Just as trust can be broken in many ways, repairing it usually is doing the opposite of what was done to breach the trust. For instance, if an affair happened, transparency and accountability are going to be needed to rebuild trust. Having transparency and accountability to begin with can help prevent trust from being broken in the first place.
Here are some tips for how to rebuild trust after it has been broken in a romantic relationship:
Open access to phones and computers. If your spouse doesn't want you looking at his/her phone, there is typically a reason why. While it is not healthy to snoop and harass without cause, it is good to have open access. A little bit of accountability can go a long way to keep a relationship healthy.
Financial transparency. It is good to know where the money is going in the family. You should know how much money your spouse makes and what they spend money on. Your spouse should also have equal access to your finances. Allowing access to finances is a way to rebuild trust. Your financial records leave a trail of everywhere you have been and show on paper where your priorities are.
Introduce your friends. Including your spouse in your activities and bringing them in on friendships can help to restore trust. People fear the unknown and will often assume the worst of a situation. While it is important to have friendships outside of your marriage, it is also important for your spouse to know who you spend your time with. When you plan to go out with friends, it is best to communicate where you are going and who you will be with. Being honest and consistent about these things will nurture the relationship.
Tell the truth. No explanation is needed with this one. It is okay to say you don't want to talk about it or to reframe things. Lying or purposefully withholding important information will get you in trouble.
Be consistent. Being transparent a few times isn't enough to build trust. It needs to be a consistent lifestyle.
Related post: The Balancing Act: Avoiding Extremes in Parenting
How to build trust with your children:
Do what you say you are going to do. It can cut deeply for a kid to hear you say you are going to do something, then fail to do it. If you say yes, do everything in your power to make it happen.
Be there when your kids need you. Make their activities and important dates a priority. It speaks volumes to kids to know that their parents make them a top priority and are there for important moments.
Value their hearts above their behavior. They are going to mess up and disappoint you. While discipline is important, it is more important to have love and compassion for your child. We all need grace, mercy, and patience at times. Be aware of when your kids need it.
Don't tell their secrets. If your child trusts you with important information, take it seriously. Don't tell others if it is not absolutely necessary. Also, don't exploit their embarrassing moments or failures for the sake of humor. You can get away with it when they are tiny, but once they reach school-age it's off-limits.
Be real. When you mess up, admit it. When you are angry, state it (kindly, not blowing up.) Kids can see through the façade. It is best to own your failures or your emotions. Kids will value your honesty and being real more than the image of you that you'd like them to have.
You don't have to be perfect to have trust in your relationships. We are all human and fail in many ways. Don't beat yourself up if you screw up, but be honest about it. Even if it hurts, even if there are consequences, tell the truth. Those you love will respect you more for it. It will also help you grow in character and to make better decisions in the long run.
Keep in mind that the way you behave will likely be the way your children behave. They usually don't do what you tell them to do, they do what you do. Making the hard choices to live a transparent life will teach them to do the same. And, if you lie to your kids, they will learn to lie right back to you. Trust goes both ways. You must be willing to do what you expect others to do for you.