John and Julie Gottman, known somewhat as the leaders in the couples’ therapy world, created a book consisting of eight dates essential for every couple to have. Each date is a different topic consisting of varying questions for both self-exploration and conversation starters. Each topic of conversation is crucial for the continued development of a healthy relationship. Regardless of what stage of a relationship you’re in, whether you’ve been married for 30 years or recently began dating, these dates have been proven extremely effective for strengthening, deepening, and growing your relationship.
On The Gottman Institute’s website, Mary Beth George, LPC discusses trust and commitment through the lens of participating in the first of Gottman’s eight dates. The title of date one is “Lean on Me: Trust and Commitment”. It’s pretty common to hear people say an important basis for their relationship is trust and how can you fully trust someone without some level of commitment. The question is, what does trust and commitment really look like and how can you tell if these things are present within your relationship?
To begin thinking about this question, the Gottman’s ask the reader to create a list of things they cherish about their partner. When we cherish the person we’re with we feel the relationship we have with them and the way they make us feel is unique to that person. That makes them irreplaceable to us and life without them a dark reality. It’s important to convey to your partner throughout your day, every day, that you appreciate them and recognize their importance in your life. By doing this, and receiving this from your partner, you continue to build trust within the relationship.
While cherishing someone can be more of a feeling expressed verbally, committing to someone is more of an action shown every day. Although you may have committed to your partner by agreeing to be their boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancée, or spouse, you’re really making the decision to commit to your partner each and every day. The unsettling reality is any day you or your partner can decide this relationship is no longer what you want. However, this makes the act of waking up and choosing and being chosen by your partner again each day even more romantic and meaningful. We show our continued commitment through remaining faithful to our partner, thinking about them and prioritizing them in our day-to-day lives, and turning towards each other to solve conflict instead of backing away. By focusing on what we cherish about our partners we nurture gratitude within our relationship instead of resentment.
While it’s easy to talk of commitment and trust, identifying what it is that demonstrates these words is more difficult. Commitment is demonstrated by leaning on each other regardless of how difficult things get and refusing to give up during these times. Whether it’s the birth of a child leading to sleep deprivation or an intensely demanding career, waking up each day determined to work on things is a clear demonstration of commitment to each other. Commitment is shown in the small moments of support even if it requires sacrifices on one person’s end. It’s shown in being strong for your partner when they’re struggling to be strong for themselves, despite how scared or upset you may be feeling. Commitment is shown and trust is built in the small everyday actions of love and patience and continuing to choose each other.
Feeling comfortable in a relationship where you’re completely, authentically yourself and knowing that your partner accepts the inevitable flaws and struggles each individual brings to a relationship is a good indicator that you are in a trusting and committed relationship.
If you’ve found yourself struggling within your relationship it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!