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Steps to Strengthen Trust

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Susie and Otto Collins
Three Steps to Strengthen Trust in Your Relationship or Marriage

When it comes to intimate relationships, trust is too often taken for granted. We often make agreements with the ones we love which may include "being there" for each other no matter what, staying faithful to one another, and always trying to deepen our relationship. We trust-- or don't trust-- that these agreements will be honored.

However, if you take a clear look at your everyday life with your love, you might begin to wonder if your relationship is really based on a strong sense of trust.

Trust might be limited in subtle ways or perhaps more intense ones. It could be that you doubt that your partner will love you if you let your true self be seen. Maybe-- with no proof of it-- you fear that your partner is cheating on you. Or perhaps you regularly expect that your love will not follow through on his or her promises. Regardless of how subtle or intense, weakened or lacking trust will interfere with your relationship being as intimate as it could be.

See the similarities with this example...

Wall climbing is a popular sport in which the climber ascends a wall which may be 50 ft. up in the air with nothing holding him or her up there except a harness, rope and your climbing partner-- or belayer-- who stands on the ground holding that rope. Let's name our pretend climber Lori. From the top of the wall she gazes down at the ground and might begin to wonder: How sturdy is this rope that is holding me up? Will my belayer prevent me from falling and get me down safely? Despite her love of wall climbing, Lori begins to experience some nervousness and trepidation.

Her belayer-- we'll call him Neal-- has to pay attention to what Lori is doing on the wall and adjust the climbing rope accordingly. For her part, Lori has the choice to trust that Neal will gently ease her down the wall to the ground once she's reached the top. If Neal is distracted, it could mean not only a bumpy ride down but also Lori's safety in jeopardy. But Lori could also choose to allow her fears to take over, mistrust Neal, and end up hanging indefinitely on the wall refusing to move! It is literally a leap of faith when she lets go of the holds and allows herself to be lowered down. Climber and belayer must work together, stay present, and communicate clearly so that the climbing experience will be enjoyable and not end up an emergency room visit!

There are many parallels with intimate relationships. One or both people may feel vulnerable from time to time and wonder whether or not the other person will be there when needed. The unfortunate result of a lack of trust is that intimacy cannot grow and relationships can become stuck.

These 3 steps can help strengthen trust and intimacy...

1. Allow yourself to let go of the past.

It is not uncommon for the hurt of painful past relationships to leave us resistant to loving or trusting others. Become aware of your present situation and allow yourself to let go of those old hurts. This might mean that you see the ways that the past comes up for you in the present. Breathe and remind yourself to allow the past to go and shift your attention to what's currently going on.

2. Let your true colors show.

No matter what habits, tendencies, or desires we think we need to hide from our partner, find the courage to let every part of yourself show. Intimacy is undercut when we don't trust our partner to love us as we are. Deep down we may not feel lovable as our true selves. Chances are your love will be more accepting than you think. So set an intention to appreciate yourself completely and then allow every part of you to be seen by your partner.

3. Practice Listening from the Heart and Find Understanding.

Just as we saw in the example of the wall climber and belayer, listening to one another is vital to strong intimacy and trust in a love relationship. When a situation comes up that challenges your trust, stop your thoughts and ask your love questions to clarify what seems to be happening. It is highly likely that what you think you are seeing is just not accurate. Open your heart, listen, and really try to understand what is going on for your partner.

These 3 steps can help you strengthen trust in your intimate relationship. It starts with letting go, loving yourself, and listening with an open heart.

Susie and Otto Collins

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