You cannot build a lasting relationship without trust. If you’re constantly second-guessing your partner’s motives or are suspicious of them, your bond will fall prey to mistrust sooner or later. A relationship is rife with this risk when trust between partners has already taken a hit due to infidelity, repeated lies, or lack of transparency. Fortunately, this damage doesn’t have to be permanent. With some effective activities to rebuild trust in a relationship, you can turn things around and relearn how to lean on each other.
To rebuild trust in a relationship, you have to commit to taking conscious steps that reassure your partner that they can count on you. These steps don’t have to be life-altering changes, but small, everyday actions that reinstate their faith in you and your relationship.
In this article, counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades, writes for Bonobology about how to fix trust issues in relationships. She offers advice and concrete activities to rebuild trust in a relationship. If you’re struggling to figure out how to save a relationship without trust, these actionable and easy trust-building exercises for couples can be a good starting point.
Couples Counselor Recommends These 9 Activities To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship
To rebuild trust in a relationship, you need to have a clear idea about what it means to trust your partner or have them place their faith in you. So, first and foremost, the task to rebuild trust in a relationship must focus on what it means. Does trust, for you, mean total and complete honesty? Is trust synonymous with the absence of secrets between partners? Or is it something more?
You need to have an unambiguous clarity about the definition of trust if you wish to learn how to save a relationship without trust. When helping couples reinstate mutual trust, I often begin with a worksheet that offers them a framework to operate within. I hope, with its help, you too will get a better perspective on what it means to build trust in your relationship:
Now that you have a better understanding of trust-building behaviors in a relationship, the next important question is: How do you practice them in a manner that makes your partner see that you’re making an earnest effort to build trust in a relationship again? To that end, here are 9 activities to rebuild trust in a relationship that you can explore:
Related Reading: Drawing The Line Between Love And Privacy In A Relationship
1. Assess where you stand, then begin to heal with kindness
The journey of learning to trust each other cannot begin unless you know where you’re starting from. This requires honest introspection. The first order of business is to honestly acknowledge what brought you to this point. Was it infidelity? If so, what kind: physical, financial, or emotional cheating? Or has trust withered away because of a lack of respect and support in the relationship?
It’s crucial to identify and acknowledge the root cause because the course taken to reverse the damage will vary accordingly. For instance, trust-building exercises for couples after infidelity can be different than the ones for couples dealing with secrecy in the relationship. And so on.
That being said, some activities to rebuild trust in a relationship can be successfully applied to different circumstances, and that’s what we’re going to focus on. The first step in the direction to trust-building exercises for couples is to practice being kind to each other. Even if you are angry or irritated, try to respond to your partner and not react. Be as neutral as possible and listen to your partner with an open mind, take the time to assimilate and process what they’ve said, and then respond. Try to be as honest as possible while attempting this.
2. 10-minute cuddle sessions – A simple trust exercise for two
Exercises to rebuild trust between two people who have lost faith in one another can be as simple as holding each other close and being in touch with how that makes you feel. Try 10-minute cuddle sessions, where you embrace each other and stay in that position for the specified time.
During this time, pay attention to the kind of feelings you’re experiencing. Do you feel uncomfortable? Are you angry? Is this proximity bringing up feelings of jealousy? See how being in such proximity to one another pans out because it will give you a chance to feel each other’s energies and vibes.
Likewise, you can also try to spend some time looking deeply into each other’s eyes. Eyes are the mirrors of the soul, so try to look into each other’s eyes for a specific duration and see how that makes you feel. This can be among the most effective trust-building exercises for couples after infidelity, as in these cases, intimacy takes a massive hit along with trust.
3. Add an element of playfulness to the relationship
How to save a relationship without trust? Learning to have fun together can be a great place to start. You can start with playful pillow fights, for instance. Running around the room and engaging with each other in a carefree spirit can bring in a lot of laughter and joy, which can be refreshing and also remind you of the good times spent together.
But, remember, this must be done playfully and not to hurt each other. Other fun trust exercises for couples include playing games like chess, Chinese checkers, cards, carrom, etc. Such activities help rebuild trust in a relationship. Perhaps, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you can make a snack together and sit down to play a board game.
All the fun and laughter from the experience can make you feel connected and closer to each other. This sense of connection can be an important stepping stone to rebuild trust in a relationship. Or you can pursue a sport that you both enjoy, like badminton or tennis or even cycling. Not only does the release of endorphins due to physical activity induce that much-needed feel-good factor in the relationship, but you will also learn how to rely on each other again. You can learn how to fix trust issues by reviving the team spirit in your relationship, and such activities allow you to do just that.
Related Reading: 10 Things To Do To Gain Trust Back In A Relationship After Lying
4. Do more and more things together
Routine, everyday tasks can be turned into activities to rebuild trust in a relationship as long as you practice mindfulness together and focus on one activity at one time. You can be in the same room and be doing different things and yet, it can make you feel more connected. Because this way, you understand and respect each other’s work or interests more.
Some other activities to rebuild trust in a relationship are to sign up for workshops and courses together, wherein you can both learn new things and evolve in sync with each other. Activities like taking notes, discussing the course material, attending classes together, helping each other out with chores like cooking so you can both have more time to focus on the skill you’re learning, and expanding your knowledge base together – all of this can help partners learn how to lean on each other for support and operate as two halves of a team, rather than as adversaries. That’s what trust in a relationship boils down to.
Speaking of activities you can do together, cooking can be a great stress buster as well as one of those fun trust exercises for couples who love good food. Exercising together, even if you both prefer different types of workouts, and doing them at the same time and in the same space, can be a helpful exercise to rebuild trust. Relationship exercises to rebuild trust can also be as simple as gardening. Not only is gardening therapeutic, but watching a sapling you planted grow and flower can feel like a collective win and serves as a testament to your own progress as a couple.
In the same way, something as routine as going out to the market, shopping together, helping each other decide what clothes or accessories to buy, telling your partner which color or style suits them the best, etc. can become a building block of intimacy and trust. To figure out the right activities to rebuild trust in a relationship for you as a couple, you can try this questionnaire:
5. How to fix trust issues? Write letters of gratitude
One of the trust-building activities for couples after infidelity, or those dealing with trust issues owing to other factors, is expressing what makes you grateful for your partner. Write letters of gratitude to each other focusing on the characteristics of the other person that fascinate you, or highlight how they have been there for you in your times of need. Keep copies of the letters you’ve written and also save the ones that your partner writes to you.
This builds intimacy and trust, and whenever something about them irritates you, you can reread these letters to remind yourselves how much you both value and respect each other. This can be a great way to mitigate any anger or angst you may be feeling toward one another.
This is among the activities to rebuild trust in a relationship that you can make an integral part of your couple dynamic. Make it a ritual that you practice monthly, as a way to remind yourselves and one another why you chose to stick together even when trust in the relationship had all but withered away.
These letters serve as a guide that help you learn and be mindful of the best about each other. This way, the minor irritants do not come to the fore and rule your life. They stay in the backseat where they belong. Having said that, I’d like to highlight that this practice is applicable for functional couples and not dysfunctional relationships that are marred by gaslighting and manipulation.
Related Reading: How To Trust Someone Again After They Hurt You – Expert Advice
6. Honestly communicate future breaches of trust
You need to create a plan to avoid any future breaches of trust. For example, if you have done something that betrays your partner’s trust, then you should come clean about it immediately and start a discussion about what happened and why, rather than putting it off so you don’t come across as looking guilty.
At the same time, the other partner should keep an open mind to understand why it may have happened. That’s why you should commit to sitting together and discussing such issues without getting angry, abusive, or accusatory. The way to achieve that is through meaningful dialogue where you talk, then your partner talks, and then you respond when it’s your turn.
Some of the questions to rebuild trust in a relationship in such situations can be: Would you like to know something more about this? Would you like to add something to this? Okay, this is what I’m hearing you say, is it what you’re trying to convey? This approach, as part of relationship exercises to rebuild trust, helps in reaffirming that you’re interpreting what they’re saying neutrally, without letting your perception color it.
These are the traits of communication between healthy couples, where the relationship is free of any gaslighting or manipulation. On the other hand, if you feel inclined to hide things from your partner and let issues simmer until they come out in an ugly way, then perhaps there is still work to be done in overcoming communication issues in your relationship. For such couples, the following questionnaire can be a good place of introspection to begin with:
7. Share secrets and practice openness
How to save a relationship without trust? By committing yourself to rebuild the lost trust, brick by brick. One essential component of trust is transparency. So you can exchange your phones and share passwords with each other, if you’re comfortable doing that, and try to not be too attached to your devices.
Trust-building exercises for couples after infidelity can also include leaving your phone around on the table, thus communicating to your partner that they have ready and easy access to it because you have nothing to hide. Likewise, if trust issues are rooted in financial infidelity, try to practice honest communication about your finances – earnings, returns, investments – without fearing that the other person is going to take advantage of you.
The key to understanding how to fix trust issues is in being vulnerable with each other. You can share one of your secrets with your partner and they with you. See what your partner does with this information. Is it being used against you or is it held in a safe place? Once you understand that you can’t use such sensitive details (like secrets and passwords) against each other, or to infringe upon the other’s privacy, you would reach an extremely promising level of trust and intimacy in your relationship.
Related Reading: I Had Blind Faith In My Partner But Now I Can’t Trust Him
8. Activities to rebuild trust in a relationship include taking stock of progress
To rebuild trust in a relationship and sustain it, it’s vital to not lose sight of your progress and how far you’ve come. Relationship exercises to rebuild trust take time. So, once in a month or in two or three, sit down with your partner and discuss where you have made progress and which areas you still need to work on. What have you gone through and survived together? What stressors has your relationship borne? How have you stood by each other through this difficult time? Do you feel supported by your partner? These are all vital questions to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Stock-taking is one of the activities to rebuild trust in a relationship that has the potential to reaffirm your belief in the bond of togetherness and teach you to have faith in your coupledom. It’s also a parameter to gauge how many feathers you have added to your healing cap and how many milestones you still need to cross.
It is important to know that you understand and value the essence of your relationship. For that, it’s essential that this stock-taking exercise is done with no blame-shifting or name-calling. You should be able to discuss things without indulging in personal attacks. To be able to do that, here is a trust-building exercise for couples. With this, both partners can try to gain clarity on their expectations about what a healthy relationship based on trust, love, and mutual respect looks like for each:
9. Schedule sexual intimacy
Scheduling time for sexual intimacy is one of the most underrated but important relationship trust-building exercises. If you’re married with children, it’s not unusual for intimacy to take a backseat. The same can be true of couples in long-term relationships without kids. This lack of intimacy is where the cracks often emerge initially, driving both partners apart, and hampering the connection, love, and trust they share.
That’s why taking the time out to schedule leisurely sessions to engage in sexual pleasures is of paramount importance. These sessions have to be different from the regular, perhaps even rushed, sex you may be engaging in routinely. At least once a week, prioritize your connection with your partner above all else – children, workload, and what have you.
Make the effort to dress up, smell good, liven up the ambience with candles, and try to invite your partner in your space and also go to theirs. This has to be more than just about physical gratification. Think of it as a soul connection where you actually take time to explore each other and truly feel welcome in each other’s physical, mental, and emotional space.
I hope these activities to rebuild trust in a relationship help you and your partner turn over a new leaf in your relationship. If you find that despite your best efforts, you’re struggling to build trust in a relationship again, know that couple’s therapy can be immensely effective in helping you work through your issues. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re unable to crack the code of how to save a relationship without trust by yourself.