The roots of trust are built in our childhood, where we learn to receive consistent, predictable care from our parents. Trust is built on order and predictability, which makes it even more psychologically traumatizing when that trust is broken. Studies have shown that psychological traumas (like discovering an affair) can have an effect on brain functioning long after the event has happened.
One of these common changes is the development of hyper-vigilance to prevent further assaults. Being hyper-vigilant is a survivor perspective, it protects us from harm.
These behaviors are commonly acted out by the partner who has been betrayed, by being looking for and being ultra aware of any change in behavior or pattern from their partner. Unfortunately, being hyper-vigilant is non discriminating. This puts us in a position to mistrust everyone around us- other family members, co-workers, spiritual leaders. This is harmful to our social connections- how can we prevent ourselves from mistrusting everyone around us after a betrayal?
Are you having trouble communicating with your partner?
Try these super strategies for success at communication!
- During your evening meal together, avoid watching the television, reading the mail or newspaper. Look directly at your partner and have a conversation.
- Ask open ended questions to encourage your partner to open up and talk. Open ended questions begin like this:
- Tell me about…
- What do you think of…
- What was it like when…
- Check your communication with your partner and beware of using “You” messages. These are statements that begin with the word “you”. For example:
- You need to come home by 6:00
- You shouldn’t do that
- You should call me if you are going to be late
“You” messages are damaging because they make the other person feel bad or that they are being blamed. It feels like you are talking down to them and can put them on the defensive.
The Key to Success in your Relationship
If you want to demonstrate to your partner that you respect and care about them, try substituting “I” messages instead. When you start your statement with “I”, you are taking responsibility for the statement. It is less blaming and negative than the “you” message.
Try this formula: Your feelings + Describe the behavior + Effect on You
Here’s how it would sound.. “When I heard that you had to work this weekend, I was angry that you hadn’t asked me first if I wanted to spend time with you”.
It takes some practice at first, but with a little patience and time you will be communicating in a more positive way with your partner!