“Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.” Unknown Author
Most of the time when I speak to men and women about trust in their marriages, we’re talking about overcoming either lies or infidelity. Because I primarily work with women, the question they’re often asking is, “Can I trust him?” And while that kind of trust is important to a healthy and committed marriage, there’s another kind of trust that my clients and I also address and that is being able to trust your spouse emotionally.
The questions around emotional trust ask, “Can I trust him with my heart?” It means I know that you wouldn’t intentionally hurt me. It means I feel safe being myself and expressing my ideas and opinions, without the fear of being degraded, laughed at or rejected.
And here’s how you know that you can trust your partner with your heart:
Emotional trust means your partner will choose you. Creating emotional trust is choosing your partner and their needs over other available options, even when it’s not convenient or comfortable. This includes choosing you and your needs over their career, over their family and friends, and even over themselves and their needs for all the important decisions. If one of your family members says something derogatory about your spouse and you don’t defend him, your husband could feel as though you chose the family member over him. Choosing your partner means having his back and genuinely caring that his needs are being met in the relationship.
Emotional trust means your partner will keep their promises. Keeping our promises and commitments in our relationships is one way that we demonstrate emotional safety to our partners. When we make a commitment to be home to assist with a special project, but one partner chooses to work late, we’ve betrayed our partners and taught them that we can’t be trusted to keep our word.
Emotional trust means your preferences will be honored. We all have specific wishes and preferences in our lives, some more important than others. For instance, if your kid’s nutrition is really important to you, you would likely expect that your spouse would feed them whole and nutritious food when you’re not present. That’s a simple way to build emotional trust: knowing what’s important to your partner and then honoring that preference, even when they’re not looking.
Emotional trust means you won’t betray your partner through your behavior. When we withhold love, or affection, we’re betraying our spouses. When we shut down, stop talking or sharing our feelings because we’re angry with our spouses, we’re betraying them. When we treat our partners with disrespect or prolonged coldness, we’re betraying them. Our choices, actions and behaviors are how we best demonstrate that our partners can trust us emotionally.
Trust is a cornerstone of happy and healthy relationships, but trust goes beyond knowing that your partner won’t lie or cheat. It also means that you can trust your partner with your heart. It means that you know your partner will choose you time and again. It means they will keep their promises to you and they will honor your preferences. It also means that your partner won’t readily betray you through their actions and behaviors. Emotional trust is just as important so that we can readily open our hearts to our partners without fear of betrayal.