In What Do We Trust?

Trust - A Fragile Commodity

Trust is defined as the firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. It also means to have custody or care of someone or something and it is also a noun, referring to something committed into the care of another. In all of these definitions, the implication is that someone is caring for someone or something. It implies dependability and a confidence that things will be alright.

When a child is little, provided he or she has had loving parents and a solid home, that child trusts adults and those who come into their sphere. That confidence or trust remains stable unless something happens to change it. Perhaps the child experiences abuse or betrayal of a confidence. Then there is a mark on the trust chart that signifies that not all people can be trusted. And, as life progresses, more and more marks appear on the chart. Such is life.

Defining Trust

Some people imply that those who trust are fools. That may or may not be true. What is real is the fact that trust is something that grows over time. In a relationship, it means that there is a give and take of information and intimate secrets entrusted to a partner. As time goes on, the trust grows-as it often does in a marriage. If the trust that has resulted over time is broken, it can be very difficult to recover and trust again.

In the initial stages of marriage or relationship, one walks on the proverbial egg - afraid of making a mistake, saying too much or too little, doing the wrong thing, all for fear of hurting or offending the other person. At the end of the road, it all has to do with trust. Since neither fully trusted nor fully knew the other, whatever is expressed is taken at face value. Therefore, if a man says to a woman, "If you say that again, I'm going to slap you," the woman may really fear that is what will happen. It takes time and communication to develop the foundation of trust that is necessary for successful relationships.

Violating Trust Is Like Snuffing Out A Fire

When someone violates the trust they have been given and the other person is harmed - whether it be mentally, emotionally, or physically, then trust fully disappears. Trust only happens again if the injured party is willing to trust again and allows the other person to earn trust again. In the example of a young person who takes his parents' car out for the evening, ends up in a ditch because he had too much to drink, and decided to drive home, there is a breach of trust between him and his parents. Thankfully, he was not injured, but the fact remains that he drove after having had alcohol. An accident ensued and there was damage to the vehicle. Do the parents give him the car again without restrictions? Hardly.

The same holds true in a personal relationship when one of the partners has done something to violate the trust of the other. Is there forgiveness? Usually. Is there trust? Not usually. Trust must be earned and both participants in the scenario must dialogue and determine what the criteria are for trust to be re-established. It can sometimes be a very painful journey, but if love is the bottom line then the journey is worthwhile.

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