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The best way to build trust in a relationship

The need to keep building and working on keeping the trust of your partner is an inevitable requirement if you are committed to staying together

Trust in a relationship develops over time. But a breach of trust can happen at any juncture. (Unsplash)

By Simran Mangharam

LAST PUBLISHED 21.10.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Can you trust you and your partner will always have each others backs no matter what; can you trust you or your partner will not hide personal financial details from each other; can you trust that you or your partner do not hide from each other what you truly feel about something; can you trust that you and your partner continue to honestly share with each other any and all information that can affect your relationship? 

Trust in a relationship develops over time. But a breach of trust can happen at any juncture. The need to keep building and working on keeping the trust of your partner, therefore, is an inevitable requirement if you are committed to staying together. 

Infidelity is perhaps the most commonly discussed cause for a breach of trust. However, it is not the only one. Financial mistrust is the most common issue that young couples face in these times. Counsellor Ajanta De, co-founder InnerSight Counselling, says that financial mistrust beats infidelity among clients who come to her for couples-counselling. That corroborates with what I hear from my clients who are couples, too. 

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K has been married to S for the past eight years. Both earn well and decided to put 80% of their salaries in a joint account. A year ago, K discovered that S had been given a substantial raise in his annual income, which he had not disclosed to K and had obviously not added that increased amount to their joint account. 

When she confronted S about it, he was unable to give her satisfactory answer as to why he did it. The thoughts that went through K’s mind ranged from whether S thinking of leaving her, if he thinks she is misusing the money from their joint account, to whether he had expenses he wants to keep from her. 

It is indeed odd that one does not share something big like getting a raise with their spouse. S’s explanation that it slipped his mind to change the monthly automated transfer, is not satisfactory. It has lead to K wondering what else is her husband hiding from her. 

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Another couple, R and N have been happily married for 16 years. The fact they’ve lived with N’s parents throughout these years is commendable, too. However, a recent incident has shaken the trust R had in N that he always has her back and will stand for what’s right. The saas-bahu drama, which R and her mother-in-law had never experienced hit them hard on the most common of issues: that of house-help. 

For some reason R’s mother-in-law took a dislike to a newly appointed house-help. The person in question is a young girl who likes to dress well, in a pant and shirt, when she comes to work. R’s mother-in-law had given her hand-me-down salwar kameez to wear at home. The girl took these politely, but continues to wear her own clothes. 

This lead to her ill-treatment by the mother-in-law. R considers this a violation of the girl’s rights and her own belief that everyone has to be treated with respect. Though N was impressed with the efficiency of this domestic help and her good demeanor, he sided with his mother when it came to either making the staff member comply to his mother’s wishes or let her go. 

Neither of these options were acceptable to R. Behind closed doors, N agreed with R, but the moment there was a confrontation with the mother-in-law, he was either quiet or nodded in agreement with his mother. This incident might seem trivial to many, says R, but it has made her question the values of the family she has been a part of for the last 16 years. She is now nervous about how her husband will behave with her if his mother or any other figure of authority in their life will find some fault in her. 

In my opinion, despite one reason seeming more egregious than the other, the intensity of hurt both these couples' experienced will be the same. In both cases though, it did not lead to the end of their relationships. These bumps on the road of a healthy relationship are experienced by most couples from time to time. 

Both S and N accepted what they did was not right and committed to fixing these issues. That acknowledgment of their error goes a long way in rebuilding the trust of their partner.  

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Acknowledge and take responsibility for your mistakes. Do not hold back on apologising and be as specific as possible about how you will approach things differently in the future. Make sure you follow through.

Equally, it is important to accept that we are all imperfect. This will certainly make it easier to move on from such situations. The next natural step is to forgive. 

Above all though, do not be evasive or fearful of having difficult conversations with your partner, where you share your thoughts, emotions, needs and requests honestly.

Practice these if you are truly committed to each other and your relationship. 

This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on simran@floh.in