Communication & Rebuilding Trust
You may not be ready to trust right now and that’s okay. However, the first step to rebuilding trust is open and honest communication. If both you and your spouse aren’t able to share your thoughts and feelings without getting into a fight, then you both need to do some healing work on your own first.
Most likely there have been some lies or concealing behavior. One of the reasons spouses feel so hurt is because relationships require trust. The closer the relationship, the more it requires trust and safety. When trust is broken, the relationship is threatened.
This is one of the reasons spouses can accidently slip into co-dependent behaviors in an effort to restore a sense of safety. However, enabling and co-dependency can’t restore trust, only honesty and openness can do that.
When You’re Ready to Talk Honestly
You have to both face your insecurities first, to see how your thoughts and feelings have impacted your actions. You may need to learn some communication skills too, like how to express your feelings without blaming or accusing. Then you have to be brave because honesty and openness requires courage.
When you’re ready, you’ll want to establish some ground rules for communicating like the ones below.
1) Avoid generalizing and stereotyping.
2) Don’t blurt out responses.
3) No name calling.
4) Speak honestly, but with care.
5) Develop & sustain patience.
6) Think about your partner’s words from their perspective.
7) Have a time-out signal and use it as needed.
Add whatever rules you think will help your couple communicate well. Check out the resource links below for more information.
Listening and Sharing Openly
Remember in the beginning of this course we did an exercise for you to hear your own feelings? Everyone has to go through a reflective process before they can express their feelings well. The problem is, too often we don’t. In our closest relationships we frequently just react. This is a sign that we haven’t been sharing and listening in an open way.
Listening takes some discipline. To be fully present and focused when another person is speaking we have to turn off the inner chatter and be interested in what the other person has to say. Being open means to not be intent on your own agenda. Use reflective listening by rephrasing what the other has said to confirm your understanding. Ask for clarification when their words and your understanding don’t match.
Rebuilding Trust Takes Time
When trust has been broken it can be hard to share your own thoughts and feelings without blaming, accusing and generalizing. You may want to consider using “I” statements or “I” Messages, putting the focus on your feelings rather than your partner’s actions. If you aren’t familiar with “I” statements, read this: “I” Message
In the following video, a young couple talks about how they rebuilt trust during the porn recovery process. They suggest that couples watch their video’s together, but we suggest you watch it by yourself first. It’s actually not as hard to rebuild trust as you might feel in the beginning, it just takes some new information and a little time and effort.
Resources for Communication
- Fair Fighting Rules, Nathan Cobb
- Establishing Ground Rules in Couples Communication, Synergistic Psychotherapy
- Compassionate Listening, compassionatelistening.org