Rebuilding Trust: The Cycle of Trouble
Written by: Seada
Every relationship is founded upon trust and respect. If either of these components of a relationship is missing, deficient, delinquent, or resistant, then the relationship will suffer in due time. This is especially true for couples. Many couples underdiagnose the severity of their troubles when trust and/or respect are lacking, often resorting to pretending that things are normal, when they’re not really feeling normal at all. Pretending to be ok when you’re not continues the cycle of trouble.
The cycle of trouble looks like this:
Triggers –> trouble communicating –> guilt and shame –> pretend everything is normal
Each of these phases has a sub-phase and each phase is unconsciously enabling the process of falling back in to old, unhealthy habits.
After numerous failed attempts to resolve quarrels, we wonder how we got to a breaking point in the relationship. We wonder, “What happened to us? To me? How did I become so cruel and bitter? How did I allow my anger to overpower me?”
These questions quickly shift to blaming the other partner, as it seems to be the most appropriate way to postpone feelings of guilt and shame. This shift in our perspective can happen so quickly–we hand control over to our feelings of anger, outrage and helplessness–that it overshadows our willingness and motivation to bring back the relationship that once seemed so strong.
Let’s transition from being stuck to making healthy resolutions. The first step is to recognize when our communication patterns are troublesome. By becoming better communicators, the cycle of trouble can be halted.
One common poor communication practice is silence or stonewalling in response to our partner. We turn cold and wish not to speak, frankly disregarding the existence of our partner in the heat of the moment. However, after a brief period of coolness, a desire for forgiveness settles in. The cycle of trouble is complex, heterogeneous, which explains why it is so difficult to recognize trouble.
Poor communication doesn’t enable growth; instead, it disables a person from even considering moving towards their partner. Vulnerability may seem irretrievable in this couple’s perception. They fear exposing the most vulnerable parts of their hearts and thoughts because their past attempts have been rejected. Again, I stress the importance of recognizing ourselves as a part of the problem:
“I know it’s difficult for me to open up about my feelings to my partner because when I used to do so in the past, they would criticize me for it and use it to their advantage when we are disagreeing in conversation.”
To be continued.