Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship but, unfortunately, knowing how to build trust can be tricky. While it may feel like an insurmountable task at times, luckily there's two people who can help. Dana and Keith Cutler have been together for 35 years, and married for 28. They're the stars of a new daytime court show, Couples Court With The Cutlers, which premiered on September 18. It features the pair as the first married couple to preside over a television courtroom. Through their example, and advice to couples in disagreement, viewers will see firsthand how to build trust in a relationship.
Funny enough, when Dana and Kevin Cutler were scouted to appear on the new television show, they themselves weren't too trusting. Dana Cutler tells Bustle she thought it had to be a joke, "They told us a little bit about the premise of the show and I thought actually it was a friend of mine trying to punk me."
When it comes to relationships, however, because they deal with disputes between couples, they know what's real and what works for couples. Overtime, they've also been able to witness how their own love and partnership has evolved, something they believe couples don't always hold out long enough for.
"When I think back over all the things we've done together, we've been through together, good and bad, the fun of our relationship now is, we weathered all that," Dana says, "I think couples nowadays are too quick to throw in the towel. They are like this is too tough, I don't want to do it. This is hard, and it's getting through those hard spots that will enrich your life and enrich your marriage. So I hope people will get to see that and it will encourage them to stay in it, and work through it and get strong. Hopefully all of that will come to pass.
After so many years together, the Cutlers have built up a true connection and trust with each other. Now they're facing couples who have lost all meaning of trust and it's up to them to try to sort it all out. They know what works and what doesn't and they're not afraid to say it. Here's how to build trust in a new relationship, according to the Cutlers.
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1. Be Aware Of Your Baggage
The one thing getting in your way of trusting your new partner? Your baggage from the past.
"Are you bringing baggage from prior relationships that are affecting your ability to give this new relationship a chance to grow and thrive," Dana says. "You've got to give that person a chance on his or her own legs and prove to you, and allow them to prove to you that they're in it to win it. I think that's probably one of the biggest things we see on couples court is that they bring all this baggage and they never give that person a chance to show. They immediately presume that they're doing wrong."
2. Evaluate Your Partner's Traits
As part of your evaluation of what bothered you in past relationships, think about which traits you wouldn't want in your next partner.
"Pay attention in the next relationship, before you commit, date and figure out if that person has those traits that you've seen in the past," Dana says. "And if they do, don't ignore them, make decisions based on them."
3. Agree On Password Access
"A number of the couples that we see in couples court, they exchange passwords at the beginning of their relationship. Maybe that is a sign of trust, or that you should trust me and I trust you enough to exchange passwords, if couples want to do that, that's fine," Keith Cutler tells Bustle.
Unfortunately couples don't always take the time to decide on what they do and don't want to share or even will makes changes behind the other's back. "Where the problems come in, and where the couples who are in front of us have conflict, is where one of the partners changes their password, and doesn't give it to the other partner," Keith says. "That sends up a red flag because the other partner is questioning, why are you changing your password, what are you hiding? As a couple ,if you agreed to exchange passwords, that's fine. As a couple, if you agreed that you're not going to exchange passwords, that's fine. The problem comes in when there's no agreement."
4. Learn How To Talk To Your Partner About A Trust Issue
If you've found yourself getting suspicious of your partner's actions or lack of sharing, the best thing you can do is bring it up to them, even if that feels difficult. "I would bring it up in conversation in a calm matter, just advise the person, 'I see that you have been through my texts or my phone, I'm not sure why you're doing that, or what you're looking for, but I don't think that is appropriate'," says Keith. Especially if the two of you decided not to exchange passwords, their violation of your trust needs to be addressed.
"'Is this a thing we need to talk about? If you think there's something going on then let's talk about it. But, I don't want to do things behind your back so I don't want you doing things behind my back, in terms of looking through our personal things, and I'm not going through your personal things," Keith says.
5. Know Your Rights If Your Partner Is Snooping
Unfortunately, there are many ways a distrusting partner can access your information. The easiest is though text or email messages, so it's very important to know your rights. "First off, did your partner give you his or her password? If they gave it to you, that's an open invitation to look. That would be one," says Dana. "The second is, who owns the phone and pays for the phone and pays for the service for the phone? That also opens you up to access that your partner can have, even if you didn't give them your password, if they're paying for the phone, they bought the phone, they're paying for the bill, they can go to their carrier and say, I would like a log of the phone calls. I would like a log of the text messages."
Some people may even want to track where their partner is going. These people might resort to putting a GPS tracker on their significant other's car. There are a variety of factors that determine the legality of this. "The owner of a vehicle can put a tracking device on their own vehicle," Keith says. "If you have the driver's consent or if the driver is in a place where there really is not an expectation of privacy. Typically you'll be OK putting a GPS on a vehicle that you own. You do have to be careful because some states have anti-stalking laws and, because the law is trying to catch up with technology, some of the laws include putting a GPS tracking device on someone's vehicle."
If you weren't creeped out enough, know that some people go through their — at this point more likely — ex's, trash. Sadly there's a very fine line between when this is illegal and when it becomes allowed. "Snooping through someone's trash, if it’s on the curb, then the owner of that trash has lost the expectation of privacy," Dana says. "So if you don't want your significant other to find out that you were at a fancy hotel without them, do not put that receipt in the garbage on the curb, because they have the right to go through it. But, if your trash is on your property, you may have like a trash bin and you move the trash cans out to the curb, but it's on your property, that is illegal, you can not come on the property."
Trust is a very fickle thing in relationships, but is arguably the most important part. Without trust, you will always be questioning your partner's intentions and any chance of having a happy relationship goes out the window. That's why it's so important to start building trust at the beginning, because no one wants to find their long-term partner on the curb digging through their trash. It is not a good look.