What Does Trust Mean To You?


A relationship without trust is like a phone without service, all you do is play games.
I retweeted this above sentence one day and someone asked me, "And what is the definition of trust?" I found it interesting that I had to stop and think about my answer. It is generally assumed that trust is important in any relationship and we're all quick to trot it out when listing qualities of a good relationship. But we forget that trust is very multifaceted, and means different things to different people. My final response was, "trust is believing the relationship and the person in it with you mean good for you. Always."

There was this lady I was talking to one day who told me about her marriage. She had one very bad live-in relationship with a guy who verbally abused her even while he was cheating on her. He managed to cut her off from most of her family and friends and it was only by chance that she managed to extricate herself after a couple of years. The guy was posted to another city by his job and the distance while they were sorting out their moving opened her eyes and she then broke it off.

One year later, she met this amazing guy, Danny, who was the complete opposite of her ex and after some slow wooing and seeing what this new guy was capable of and who he really was, they got married after two years of dating and courtship. But soon after settling into their new house together, little things began happening with her husband that reminded her of her ex. Danny would snap at her sometimes and other times, he would keep silent when she asked him questions. She began to wonder if he was keeping secrets from her.

It took another six months into the marriage for realization to dawn on her. While she had thought her trust issues were a thing of the past, they were undermining her relationship with her husband. She was still carrying some baggage from how her ex had treated her and it was seeping into her marriage. The usual arguments most normal couples had quickly escalated in their own case. In fact, within those early months, they had at least three massive fights where she cried her eyes out and on the last occasion, she actually moved back home.

It was the discussion with her mother that opened her eyes, not anything in particular her mother said, but the whole conversation just got her thinking.

She realized that she didn't really trust her husband, and most men for that matter. Deep down, she believed they would hurt her, and in her husband's case, she was lashing out first to avoid the hurt. And the funny thing was that since she had no proof for not trusting Danny, or anything tangible he had done, she picked on the little things. Stuff like taking the trash out, going to the car wash, or doing some chores around the house. In her mind, she fixed the time she expected him to have done those things and if they weren't at that time, she flipped and began to nag at him.

When he tried to explain or set his own time, she became angry. If he snapped back or blocked her off, her anger peaked and led to their explosive quarrels. And then the memory of those quarrels fed into her distrust, further damaging their relationship. During her soul searching, she realized her husband, for all their quarrels, always ended up doing whatever it was that set her off. She remembered something her father had said when they told him they wanted to get engaged, he called Danny trustworthy.

So why didn't she trust him? It was because in their months together, she had allowed fear to cloud her perceptions of his actions. So while he remained trustworthy in the big things, she didn't believe he meant good for her in the little things. And that was what she needed to work on. It wasn't a day's journey the woman said, and she continues to build on that trust everyday.

It is sometimes said that love is a choice, and I think in relationships, trust is also a choice. It is not automatic, especially for those whose background, either broken homes or bad romances, makes it almost impossible to depend on others. But once they can recognize what the problem is, it would be easier to guard their heart and make the choice to believe in the one they're with. Not just in terms of integrity or honesty, but in the everyday and in the small stuff.

So what does trust mean to you?