The objective of this article is to provide an exercise for couples – dating or married – for assessing trust that exists and building trust.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed
Building Trust for dating Couples Planning Marriage (Or Those Who Are Married)
Summary: We all carry different levels of trust based on our prior experiences.
The following is an exercise designed to yield information to couples as to their trust in each other as well as to build trust. The exercise has three steps to execute, followed by discussion. Here we go:
- You need a room large enough for you to lead each other around various objects. Arrange all the small furniture so that there are obstacles in the way if one tries to walk straight but also there are no dead-ends in the room.
- You will take turns leading each other around the room for about eight minutes. The person being led must keep his or her eyes closed and must concentrate on the feelings experienced as he or she is being led. Both points are important.
- The leader may choose any manner convenient for leading, such as placing his hand in his partner’s hand or on the partner’s shoulder. More benefit is derived by keeping quiet. There are no oral directions. Your partner is to rely solely on you through nonverbal cues. The leader must remember that you are responsible for caring for your partner. If you run him or her into something, trust will suffer.
The person leading should also be fully aware of feelings generated in him or her during the exercise. Each of you must concentrate on yourself for eight minutes to become more aware of your feelings.
To begin, decide who goes first. Then switch roles after eight minutes. Do not talk–concentrate on how you feel as you lead or follow.
After both of you have led each other, consider the following five points:
- What impressions did you get of your partner? Was he or she confident in you? Did he or she resist you? How do you feel concerning your partner’s response to you?
- What feelings were you aware of when you were being led? Discuss these with your partner. Stay in the present.
- Did you get any new feelings about your partner?
- Do you need to work on building more trust between you? Relate your feelings during the exercise to the communication that you and your partner have developed.
- What did you like best about this experience?
Trust must earned. Before we are willing to share our feelings with another person we must trust him or her. In a healthy relationship, trust ordinarily grows if there is a desire to work on it. This exercise may have aroused mixed feelings in you–some anxious, some caring, responsible, secure, or those of dependency.
There are times when you may wonder about your willingness to trust each other, especially if your trust has been violated. It is important to get these feelings out into the open so that you can judge if you are justified in your mistrust or not, and then to understand why you are mistrustful. Mistrust can come from betrayal inside the relationship or from prior experiences outside of it. For trust to exist, both partners must be open and truthful with each other.
Another requirement is that both of you must be realistic. If you didn’t trust your partner in this exercise, it doesn’t mean that you can’t trust him or her in other ways. You must accept that you and your partner are growing people and you both will change over time and continue to discover new things about each other. There may be some things you won’t like.
It is also important in building trust, to hear what your partner has to say calmly and without an emotional reaction. Many people keep things to themselves because they are afraid of criticism or blame.
You may at times feel deceived because your partner did not make you aware of certain attitudes or faults. Time, experience, and good communication will help you learn more about each other. Very often we take two steps forward and one step back but the direction is forward if we work on it.