By Dr. Frank Gunzburg
Ultimately, all of the work we have done adds up to putting yourself in a
position to regain your partner’s trust. At times this might seem impossible.
Remember Margaret’s fear that she would never regain David’s trust?
That fear ended up being unfounded. But Margaret had to become more
transparent in order to get to that point. That’s what you need to do.
Looking at the definition of the word “transparent” in Webster’s Dictionary
is quite revealing. There are two definitions that fit together for my meaning
of this word: “fine or sheer enough to be seen through” and “free from pretense
You should develop this kind of mindset with your partner. Become free from
deceit by learning to open up and keep fewer secrets from them. Practice being
sheer enough to be seen through so that your partner no longer has to question
whether you have ulterior motives.
Some people I have treated fear that this means that they will have to give
up their identity, lose their autonomy, or start asking permission for every
little thing they do.
This isn’t the case. You will always and should always keep your identity as
a separate adult person. But when you are involved in a committed relationship,
your identity does change in certain ways.
Here’s what that means…
In many different cultural traditions marriage ceremonies are marked by
language or symbolic events that suggest that the two people being joined
together are no longer separate people, but one common, collected identity.
Any committed relationship should have this sensibility behind it. If you
have decided to commit to your partner, what you are essentially telling that
person is, “You and I are no longer two separate people; we are one unit.” That
is a very powerful statement. By engaging in this you expand your being across
two different people. You open yourself up.
That is one of the reasons that intimate relationships can be so scary. But
in time you learn that this special unity is a valuable and beautiful aspect of
being in an intimate relationship.
Opening up to this sense of transparency is the major way you will rebuild
the trust you destroyed. Like all the other work in this book, it isn’t
particularly easy, but it is the best way to get your partner to trust you
In order to do this, look at yourself from the perspective of your partner.
If you were in their shoes, what actions would make you suspicious? In your
workbook, create a comprehensive list of the ways that you could potentially
make your partner suspicious.
Doing this in advance of actually making them suspicious will allow you to
predict what might upset them and nip it in the bud before it blossoms into a
Once you do this, consider ways that you could act in these circumstances
that might help allay their concerns. Again, if you have the workbook, take it
out and do the work that is associated with this step.
Dr. Frank Gunzburg is a licensed counselor in Maryland and has been
specializing is helping couples restore their marriage for over 30 years.
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