Q: Me and my wife are trying to rebuild our relationship after years of controlling issues. We both went in for help with depression matters, now I want to know how I can start building the trust back with her? --Daniel, 37
Dr. Susan: It's always extremely complicated to solve one problem out of context with all the others. Both depression and control issues affect how people feel about one another, and that makes it a challenge to work on other stuff until they're dealt with. You imply that the depression has been taken care of, which, if true, is a start. I wonder why your wife lost trust in you in the first place, if that's what you're saying happened. Trust is a result of feeling safe in the company of the other person, so something messed with that sense of comfortable safety.
A good way to begin rebuilding is to commit to honesty from now on. That doesn't mean you say true but hurtful things about the other person, but that you express your own emotions as clearly as you can and take responsibility for past and present actions. Blaming is counterproductive, as you probably know. A great method for solving any problem like this is to ask your wife as open-mindedly as you can, "What would your solution look like? How would I behave differently if I were to be your ideal husband, while still being myself?" She may want you to let her know where you are at all times, or she may want you to stop pestering her about where she is at all times. You see? One size doesn't fit all. The two of you could talk about how this is a new beginning, and the key to making new beginnings successful is to forget about the possibility of failure. It's not that it's not an option, it's more that you remove the word from your vocabulary altogether. You just keep starting again, day after day, until you get it "right," which means you begin having good day after good day together, and the unhappy times get shorter and occur less often.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.