Aspects of Healthy, Generative Relationships

We hope the writings on commitment in the former blog had value for you. This next topic, Trust, is a big one. Let us know your thoughts about it.

#2 Trust

“Every couple has ups and downs, every couple argues, and that’s the thing—you’re a couple, and couples can’t function without trust.”Nicholas Sparks

This is also one of the more important aspects of generative relationships. If we were to name what must be in place for a viable, generative relationship, it is commitment and trust, and it is difficult to have one without the other. We trust when 3 things are in place: sincerity, reliability, and competency. If we lack trust in others, most likely one, two, or all of these parts are missing. If both partners are truly committed to the relationship and truly trust each other, you will most likely be able to work through any issue, even those that seem like the biggest breakdowns.

Trust is earned, rarely granted. Occasionally we meet people where we will grant trust directly related to their presence. We feel or sense their trustworthiness, and some people are better at this read than others. In our relationship, Madeline has an uncanny ability to know, and in most cases know immediately when meeting someone, whether or not they are trustworthy. Mark has had to learn to trust her instincts. We call it an instinct and/or intuition, and also know it is at least partly a result of Madeline’s historical shaping.

Building trust with others is a skill. Though it may seem like others are a natural at it, it is always a skill that is or has been developed. What seems natural in others comes from their historical experiences over time, usually not consciously. There may have been people around them from whom they inherited the skill through examples and appreciation. The inclination not to trust or be trustworthy happens the same way. It is powerful to acknowledge and attend to embodied tendencies and be choiceful about how we want to be seen and assessed. What identity do we purposefully want to create both inside of and outside of our relationship related to having others trust us?


Take some time out for this conversation. With your partner, feel into and think about what is automatic in each other related to trust. I am trusting first; I distrust first, or is there something in-between? Have the conversation together about where you find yourself and ask your partner how they see you. Be kind and gentle here. If you offer an opinion, ground it in things you have seen your partner do as a way to verify your opinion. The grounding offers your partner a place to look where they may want to work on themselves.

Is there something you or your partner is doing that if changed, would build more trust? Is there something you or your partner could begin doing that would build more trust? If so, make a clear request for what you are looking for. Be clear about what you want to request, and name a time frame in which your partner can be successful.

Negotiate the request together before a promise is made and make sure there is clarity about what is being asked. The possible types of promises include the response of yes, no (a promise NOT to do something), counter offer (shift the request into something you are willing/able to promise), or commit to commit (“I’ll get back to you by…”). The conversation is not complete until a promise is made. Becoming skillful with this is a practice to continue to build trust within a relationship.

Things to look for:

How is it to be making a request to your partner?

How is it to be making a promise to your partner?

Once the request is complete, what happens? How is this being held and carried forward?

Is there dignity or blame in the conversation?

Is there accountability with both partners?

How this is done and what it provokes can offer a view into where more effort on the part of each partner can be organized. Remember you are supporting each other, a partnership if you will, as opposed to working in opposition. If you see a recurrent issue that is difficult or seemingly impossible to shift, the practice is revealing a place for your continued self-work.

This is a big one! Let us know what this is for you, and any questions or comments you may have.

Cartoon courtesy of Meredith Broome

1 Comment

  1. felipe on December 19, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    this is awesome! where is that hidden cat i forgot where i put it

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