Distrust in a relationship
The most crucial component in a love relationship is trust. You cannot build a solid, satisfying relationship with your partner if trust is compromised. In a lot of people trust is one of the hardest things to learn as we face life in all of its challenges.
Too many times we’ve been burned by others who have betrayed our trust because of their actions or things they have neglected to do for us.
How many times do we have to be disappointed before we start to build this wall up around ourselves and decide that there is really no one we can trust? This often includes ourselves.
The following episode happened to me 16 years ago. I’ve excerpted it from Chapter 18 in my book, Throughout All Time, but have left out some of the details for the sake of brevity:
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It was during the cold winter of 1993 that I began writing to Luiz, a foreign researcher we had met in
I didn’t tell Ethan that I was corresponding with Luiz because I suspected he would become jealous of a man who had shown me some attention. I remembered how we had argued in our motel room in
In February or March, Luiz wrote, saying he was coming to our valley. He had a friend who was starting a vineyard and wanted Luiz to consult with him about growing grapes for wine. Unwisely, I invited Luiz to visit me and suggested he stay with me as I had an extra bedroom. I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously, it was poor judgment on my part. I thought perhaps Luiz would visit at a time before Ethan returned, and he would never have to know about it.
I had no intention of participating in any shenanigans with Luiz. But at the same time, I was fascinated by him and thought there was nothing wrong with inviting him and getting to know him better. It just shows how naïve my thinking was at the time.
Ethan came home from
When Luiz arrived, he was friendly and acted like an old-time friend, although we hardly knew him. He was just that sort of guy, outgoing and not concerned about what Ethan might think. I noticed Ethan kept watching me, almost with a smirk on his face, as if to say, “You think I don’t know what’s happening here?”
As evening approached, it came time for me to drive to Delta to meet my son at the middle school for his trumpet performance. Ethan suggested I take Luiz along. Luiz said he thought that was a good idea. Ethan had no desire to accompany us, so we two went to Delta in Luiz’s car.
In Delta we arrived at the school, and two of my sons were there with Jeff and Evelyn, who seemed rather surprised to see me there with this good-looking, foreign dude instead of Ethan. Scotty crawled up on my lap while we sat in the audience and waited for Marty’s turn to play his trumpet solo.
His time came, and I accompanied his solo on the piano. Shortly after that, it was over and everyone left. On the way home, Luiz asked, “What do you want to do next?” But all I could think of was “Go home, I guess.” So we headed back to Paonia.
When we got there, I found a hand-written note from Ethan on the kitchen table that said he hadn’t been feeling well and had gone to bed. Since he and I were staying in the travel trailer and giving up our bedroom in the house to our guest, that meant that Ethan was in his trailer.
My first thought was: What a poop Ethan is being. He doesn’t even want to socialize with us. Luiz wondered if Ethan was all right. Was he ill? I shrugged and said he was probably okay, and never gave it another thought.
Luiz and I spent the evening in the living room, talking and drinking some of the dry red wine he had brought with him. I had a couple of glassfuls. Mainly we talked about UFOs and my experiences, and at one point Luiz stood up and looked out the living room window.
“Someone’s out there,” he told me.
I stood up. “Oh? Who is it?”
Luiz walked out the door, and then I heard him talking to Ethan. He wondered if he was all right. I wondered what Ethan was doing outside. He told Luiz nothing was wrong. Then he must have gone back to his trailer. I realized then that Ethan had been watching us, and it seemed strange that he hadn’t wanted to come in and join us.
If I had picked up on his feelings then, I would have excused myself right away and gone out to the trailer to be with Ethan. But I honestly didn’t realize what he was going through, or that he had been actually watching us for quite some time.
After another hour, I was beat and said good night to Luiz, and then I went out to the trailer to join Ethan. It was probably between 11:30 P.M. and midnight, and the trailer was dark. I wasn’t drunk from the wine, but I was feeling tired and lethargic from it.
When I started into the bedroom, Ethan’s voice suddenly rang out in anger. “Don’t come in here!”
I was startled. “Why?” I asked.
“I don’t want you here,” he said.
At first I thought Ethan was joking. But then I realized he wasn’t. He was dead serious, and he was extremely upset with me for some reason.
“Go!” he ordered. “I don’t want you in here. Get out.”
“What?” I cried. “Where am I supposed to go?”
“Go to your own bedroom and sleep,” he said.
“I can’t,” I protested. “You know I can’t sleep in there. We have a guest …”
“Yes, you can. You’re going to. Go on inside and sleep with your new lover. You know that’s what you were planning to do all along.”
I was completely shocked and humiliated. I tried to explain to Ethan that this was not at all true, that he had it all wrong.
“You think I don’t know what was going on?” He was beside himself with jealousy and rage. “I watched the two of you from outside. I heard what you were saying to each other, and … you’re drunk! I don’t want you in my trailer. Now leave before I throw you out!”
Never in my life had I been treated this way by anyone. It was the worst moment of my life. I just couldn’t believe that the man I loved was acting this way toward me, or that he was accusing me of actions that were false. Yet, I could understand why he was behaving in this way. He was mistaken in thinking I was wanting an affair with Luiz.
Yet hadn’t I corresponded with the man and invited him to my home without telling Ethan? I had not been truthful in that respect, but it had been my fear of his finding out I was writing to another man, even if was for the sole purpose of sharing UFO experiences. I hadn’t wanted Ethan to even conceive of the idea that I had a male friend. I knew he would be jealous.
That night was the worst night of my life. I’ll never forget it. After arguing with Ethan for a long time, I told him, through sobs and tears, that I was going to sleep down by the river and maybe ... I’d simply swim away. I think it scared him, the thought that I might drown myself, because he reluctantly agreed to let me stay in the bed — but as far away from him as I could possibly get. But he told me he’d be pulling out, then leaving me the next day.
No amount of denial nor defense on my part would appease him. I cried and I laid awake the whole night, dozing off every once in a while. I was emotionally devastated.
The next morning I had to go work at the front desk of the newspaper. I packed a few things and stopped over at a friend’s house on my way to work. She was leaving on a trip that day and I was supposed to take care of her dog while she was gone. We had arranged for me to take the dog to my home, but I explained about the night before and asked her if I could stay at her house instead.
She agreed and said, “He really set a trap for you, didn’t he?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean, girl, you were set up!”
At work I kept bursting into tears. I could barely function or manage my duties as receptionist. Finally I got someone to relieve me. Ethan called before I left and asked when I’d be home. I told him I wasn’t coming home, that I had arranged to stay at my friend’s house.
“You do that and I won’t be here,” he threatened.
“But …” I didn’t know what to say.
“You come home or I’m leaving … today,” he insisted.
That was my first indication that Ethan had no intention of carrying out his earlier threat of leaving me, and also my first glimmer of hope that maybe we would be able to talk things out and repair our relationship. Yet I knew I wasn’t out of the woods, and how was I supposed to explain this situation to our poor house guest?
The next few days were torturous. But at least Ethan was willing to talk with me about what had happened. He still believed I had deceived him and he was badly hurt by my actions, he said … and yet I felt I hadn’t done anything to deserve this kind of treatment from him. Oh sure, I had kept my correspondence to Luiz secret, and I’m sure it disturbed him that I had invited Luiz to stay with me. I’m sure Ethan thought I had hoped Luiz would visit me while he was still in
As I recall, Ethan treated Luiz from then on as a proper guest and actually the two of them had some good man-to-man talks while I was at work. Ethan learned more about Luiz and the fact that many women had problems with their husbands or boyfriends on account of him.
After the weekend, Luiz went to stay at his friend’s parents’ house, where he was working on the new vineyard. Ethan and I slowly worked on patching up our relationship. He continued to accuse me of deception, although I kept insisting it wasn’t what he thought. But he’d keep asking why I wrote to Luiz in such detail, telling him so much of my personal life.
After Luiz left, I went against my word to Ethan and wrote to him again, this time to apologize to him for what had happened. I indicated that there had been “trouble,” but didn’t spell out in detail what that was. By “trouble” I had meant the damaged feelings between Ethan and myself.
When Ethan asked at some point if I had written again to Luiz, I outright lied to him. I couldn’t stand to think of Ethan’s rage if he knew I had continued the correspondence. This would later prove to be a big mistake.
(To read the rest of the story… order my book, Throughout All Time, through my Web site or at Amazon.com.)
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The incident I related above almost ended my relationship with my soul mate, yet it was necessary in order for us to work out our issues with trust.
In my case, I did not trust myself enough to be honest with Ethan from the beginning. Because I feared he would become upset with me for befriending a good-looking man who had shown an interest in me — whether it was professional or personal, it doesn’t matter — I did not share with Ethan the fact that I had invited this man to our home, and even carried the belief that if Luiz visited before the time Ethan returned from Arizona, he wouldn’t even have to know about it.
One of the rules for maintaining trust in a relationship, according to Brian Marshon, a certified relationship counselor in
Keeping secrets like this from your mate can be devastating once the truth comes out. The very fact that you tried to cover it up only shows that you were feeling guilty and had something to hide. Even though I felt justified to “spare” Ethan from the negative feelings of jealousy, it was far worse trying to sweep it under the carpet than bringing it all out into the open.
Trust must be developed in ourselves first, and from within, as well as in our partners. The fact that I carried around such dread of Ethan’s jealousy toward other men throughout our relationship only proves that I did not trust him to trust me. I was expressing insecurity by giving him the message, “I don’t dare even look at any man on the street for fear Ethan will become moody.”
As I recall it took a long time after that incident in 1993 before we could build the level of trust between us again. It took a lot of work, staying consistent in our relationship and not introducing a lot of changes. I worked very hard to prove to him that I was reliable and true. Even though he told me he no longer could trust me, I held on and stayed in the relationship because I loved him unconditionally, and also because I believed in myself. No matter what he felt toward me, I knew I could be trusted. I realized that his trust in me had to be something he would regain eventually, but that was entirely up to him.
Communication works side by side with trust. Through words and actions it is important that we say what we mean, and mean what we say. One of the reasons Ethan’s and my relationship lasted 19 years, until his transition in 2008, was because we did communicate with each other. The worst thing you can do is shut the door on the other person when things go wrong. Keep those lines of communication open.
And it’s okay to say no. If your partner makes a suggestion and you just don’t feel comfortable about it, express your feelings. Say no, without compromising your integrity. It’s not helpful to just go along with an idea because it pleases the other person. You are not doing either of you a favor that way. By opening yourselves up to change, you will both grow in the relationship.
Building trust in a relationship may lead to uncomfortable scenarios and even pain, from time to time. No good relationship is without bumps and scrapes along the way. When experiencing the rough times now and then, just remember you are building levels of trust and your relationship will be stronger because of it, and your love bond that much greater.
Relationship Advice -- Trust Issues in a Relationship, with Laura Luvv