Trust, a simple concept. How is it then that this simple concept is so misused, misapplied, broken, and spoken of as both our weapon of choice and our great hope in a relationship.
"I trust you" or I don't trust you" are powerful words, from our lips or from the lips of those we care about.
A baby has a bond of trust with mom, a lessor bond with dad, and a conditional bond with most others. We all try to coo and giggle our way into the security bubble that a baby surrounds itself with. When the baby responds with a smile or open arms, "ok I trust you for the moment, you can hold me", we are happy to have this moment in the baby's life. This is the beginning of trust in all of our lives.
If we all get the basic idea of what trust between two humans is, what is behind the drama? Our self image, our Ego, our expectations, our assumptions are. In individual relationships the most pronounced misuse of the concept of trust is the idea that because you have professed love for me you will intuitively understand and meet my needs. These needs rise up from our concept of who we are and who we think you are. And they do require mind reading, something we all fail miserably at.
For example suppose I think my spouse is extremely smart and I think I am not so smart. If I depend on that smartness and you start making what I think are mistakes, I can begin to lose trust. This can appear as initial disappointment. It can appear as you failing on purpose. Of course the giant word "Why" can appear often. "Why did you do that? The simple answer "I wasn't paying attention" never suffices, specially if a trend has been established in the mind of the one who thinks you are really smart. The other simple answer (never given except under extreme duress) is "I am not interested in what you are interested in so I don't always care enough to pay attention". Oops, not good, the fight really begins here.
Of course it is silly to "trust" so much in the smartness of another that they cannot make any mistakes. This is a flagrant misuse of the idea of trust and comes from within, our deep needs that guide and direct what we expect from another person. What is not mind reading is when another person makes a promise to us, it is a commitment. Both of us have entered into a verbal contract. Failure to live up to that promise is a breech of Trust. Our tolerance for broken promises depends on three elements. The level of importance we attached to the promise, the circumstances surrounding the failure to live up to the promise, the attitude of the person when the broken promise has been exposed.
Children experience broken promises on a regular basis. Adult circumstance, needs, priorities, get in the way. The child may learn from these repeated broken promises that promises don't really mean anything. Trust is then a non issue. The expectation that a promise means something becomes a submerged or hidden issue. It will reappear later, sometimes much later. Probably sometime in the marriage contract.
The marriage promise is the most visible, important, and iconic symbol of trust ever conceived of between two people. The willingness to utter "til death do us part" clearly indicates momentary insanity or at the least temporary loss of our faculties. The promise arises from our DNA, our hormones, our desire to have children, and our illusions of enduring love. We have no idea what we are getting into. We are surrounded by sunshine until the clouds begin to form and the rain begins. Only this rain does not germinate new life it just gets everything wet and uncomfortable. The umbrella of awareness, the quiet non judgmental observer, and our self image in the background is just not there. So when getting wet is no longer fun, when our soggy clothes are just too uncomfortable, when our partner is as dissatisfied as we are, the promises we made so long ago disappear in the mist. Our real drama begins, for each of us and for our children.
This really is not necessary. An alternate path is possible. Self awareness and the quiet observer is the critical missing ingredient.