When we think about trust we usually think about infidelity, but there is another way to think about trust in intimate relationships. It has to do with trusting that your partner has the best interest of both you and your relationship in their heart.
Sometimes we forget to trust our partners when faced with stressful decisions. We may believe they can’t help, they will interfere and prevent us from following our plan, or for whatever reason, we may feel uncomfortable about sharing our dilemma with them. Blinded by stress and our own needs, we may not see how a decision we feel pressed to make will affect our partner and our relationship.
When you are faced with a stressful decision one of the best things you can do is talk to your partner about it. Even if your mind tells you not to. That is often the best time to discuss your predicament with them. “But it will start a conflict,” often is what we tell ourselves. Yes, it might, but some decisions are worth fighting over in order to find the best way to address a pressing problem and to avoid a bad decision. In such moments, a constructive conflict might be the very thing necessary to get you to better vete your ideas about the best way to take action.
Trusting your partner in situations like that can be instrumental, not only in helping you avoid making a bad decision and making the situation worse, but it can also increase closeness between you and your partner by demonstrating to them that they are important enough for you to include them in your decision-making process.
What do couples fight over? Couples fight for numerous reasons but feeling unheard, ignored, and excluded tops the list. The decisions you make in your relationship not only affect you. They also affect your partner. They should be given the opportunity to opt in or out of those types of decisions. The trap you spring results from trying to avoid conflict by convincing yourself that your unilateral decisions are right, necessary, and insignificant to your partner—without discussing them together.
I’m not saying you have to run every decision by your partner, but I’m asking you to examine the decisions you find difficult to discuss with your partner. Why? Are you afraid they will disagree with you? Are you trying to avoid the feelings evoked by discussing it with them? Are you making the assumption that they feel the same way about the situation that you do and, therefore, there is no need to discuss it? Do you believe that they will get in your way? That’s when constructive conflict with your partner can be most beneficial. You have to trust that you can tolerate your own strong emotions along with theirs and that they have your best interest at heart. You have to trust that communicating with them—even if things get heated—will help you both arrive at the best decision for both of you.
That requires thinking about trust differently.