Ten Destructive Habits That Demolish Trust

Dr. Frank Gunzburg
Baltimore, MD

At this point, you should have some fairly solid ideas about how you can become transparent and rebuild the trust in your relationship.

If you institute the strategies above, trust will blossom, and warmth and love will come back into your relationship.In order to reinforce this process, there are 10 destructive habits that you should stay away from if you truly want to rebuild the trust in your relationship and make it thrive again. In order to initiate and maintain a warm relationship, avoid the following:

1. Neglecting Your Partner. You will remember that attention is one of the building blocks of trust. Neglect is its antithesis. If you consistently neglect your partner, you can be assured that any trust you’ve developed will falter. Be attentive, not neglectful. Here are some ways you might be neglecting your partner:

2. Angry Outbursts. Anger is a feeling. At some time, each of us gets angry. It’s what you do with your anger that can harm your relationship. The caution here is that even when you are angry, be respectful and reassure your partner that you are just angry, not dismissing or un-loving them.

3. Unfair Accusations. You will get nowhere by accusing your partner of not caring about you, having never loved you, going out with their paramour when they are five minutes late from work, trying to take revenge on you, or intentionally trying to hurt you. Accusation is not a good way to rebuild your relationship. It makes your partner defensive, and a combination of accusation and defensiveness generally just leads to useless arguments.

4. Constant Fighting. If you are constantly bickering with your partner at this point in the program, you need to review the 2-stage method for conversation that I presented in Section 6. In it you will find ways to be an active listener. If you cannot effectively do this exercise, then you might want to seek professional counseling. Fighting all the time is akin to being angry all the time. It simply doesn’t work to create a healthy and loving atmosphere in which a relationship can flourish in.

5. Taking Revenge. Revenge in any form is a mistake. You certainly don’t want to take revenge and have an affair yourself. Nor do you want to get involved in any other kind of revenge. We have already discussed that issue. Even small ways of being vengeful, like snapping at your partner when they say something you don’t like, biting sarcasm, or saying passive, hurtful things to or about them, should be avoided. If you feel the desire to be vengeful, go back to Section 1 and look at your feelings more closely.

6. Disrespectful or Demeaning Comments. These don’t serve any kind of healthy relationship, and you should particularly avoid them if you are recovering from an affair. There is always a cleaner, more direct way to communicate your needs than being demeaning.

Some people, for example, combine their own frustration with a simple request such as, “Will you open the door for me, please.” The combination of the frustration (whether it is related to the request) and the request make the person sound angry. If they are frequently frustrated or overwhelmed, they might come across as always being angry or always talking with an angry voice to their partner. Situations like this are not demeaning by intent, but that is the unintentional impact.

7. Nagging. You certainly will have to make requests of each other from time to time, and you might have to do so multiple times in a day. Asking once or twice about something is okay. Once you go beyond that, you will probably be accused of nagging. If a responsible adult needs more than a few reminders, then some other issue is at work. This is when you need a conversation about the request and whatever issue might be present around that request. Think of times when your partner has nagged you; what issue was going on for you that kept it going? Now think of a time when you nagged your partner. Make a guess about what issue was going on for them that kept it going.

8. Intentionally Engaging in Irritating Habits. If you intentionally annoy your partner by engaging in habits that you know irritate them, then you are not doing all you can to rebuild the trust in your relationship. Cease the behavior, and look at what lies beneath your desire to irritate.

9. Selfish Demands. A relationship isn’t about you. It isn’t about your partner either. It’s about both of you together as a unit. You need to have your needs met in order for the relationship to function in a healthy way. However, selfish demands do not fall in line with this. These kinds of demands inhibit trust by telling your partner you think your needs are more important than their needs. End the selfishness. Open up to the world of sharing your life with your partner. (If you feel that you or your partner might be having problems with this, have a look at Minefield #3: Inconsiderate Choices in Section 5.)
10. Dishonesty. I left this for the end of the list because if there is one of the 10 destructive habits that I want you to remember to avoid, it’s this one. The only thing dishonesty can achieve is a breakdown in trust. It serves nothing else. Don’t get confused into thinking that dishonesty will make your life easier later or that you are somehow protecting your autonomy by lying. It won’t, and you aren’t. Dishonesty only serves to further hamper your progress toward a more beautiful relationship.

If you employ the other strategies in this chapter and avoid these 10 destructive habits, your relationship will warm up again and you will learn to trust your partner.


Dr. Frank Gunzburg is a licensed counselor in Maryland and has been specializing is helping couples restore their marriage for over 30 years. He is also the author of How to Survive an Affair, a step-by-step healing system that can help a couple repair their relationship after it has been shattered from an affair.

If your relationship has been damaged by an affair and you would like a step-by-step system for repairing your relationship, then please visit Dr. Gunzburg’s site for more information: http://www.surviveanaffair.com

This article was used by permission from How to Survive An Affair

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