Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Principled Commitment: An Adult Program on Building Strong Relationships

Alternate Activity 2: Trust And Fear

Activity time: 45 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of Handout 2: Why Do I Trust? (one per participant)
  • Clock, watch, or timer
  • Bell or chime

Preparation for Activity

  • This activity can feel word-heavy for the leader. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the points you'll be making so that you can articulate them in a way that feels natural to you.
  • Find out whether there are alternative spaces at your site that couples can move to in order to have a more private discussion. Some couples will not want to be overheard or to overhear other couples discussing trust and fear.

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity with these or similar words about trust:

The level of trust between partners can influence their relationship, even though they may not be aware of it. It can affect their compatibility and ability to collaborate.

Trust levels may be affected by many things: past relationships, experiences with the current partner, issues from childhood, and observations of other couples' interactions.

Ask participants:

  • Can you name some fears that get in the way of trust? One example is "fear of being vulnerable." What are some other examples?

If participants don't name them, you can add fear of being hurt, fear of losing control, fear of rejection, fear of change.

Explain using these or similar words:

Facing such fears can be part of a healthy, growing relationship between two people.

One of the most effective ways to dispel fears is to discuss them openly in a caring and respectful manner.

Sometimes one partner discounts the other's fears by saying something like "You couldn't possibly believe that" or "It's silly to feel that way." A more compassionate way to respond to a partner's expression of fear is to respect it - to trust it - as being real for that person.

The ability to express fear is an element of trust. The speaker is saying, "I trust you to understand how I really feel, and I expect that you will respect my feelings."

Distribute Handout 2, Why Do I Trust? Explain:

This activity will give you and your partner an opportunity to talk about trust and fear openly and respectfully. In the first part of the activity, you will reflect individually. I'll give you about five minutes to write whatever comes to mind in response to the prompts on the handout. Then you will come together with your partner for discussion.

Some trust and fear issues may get raised that are too difficult or painful to discuss in this setting. I encourage you to go only as deep as feels comfortable for you in this room at this time.

When you complete the worksheets, one section may contain more statements than the other. When partners get together to discuss, one partner may have more statements than the other. Accepting those differences is part of learning to listen to and understand each other. The point of this exercise is to allow each person's feeling to be articulated and heard.

Allow five minutes for solo reflection. Then ring the bell or chime and ask participants to get together with their partners. Offer the following process for sharing:

Each partner will share one of their responses to the first statement on the handout. The role of the other partner is to listen without making any comments. You will have five minutes - two and a half minutes as speaker, and two and a half minutes as listener.

If you have alternative spaces that couples can move to for private discussion, let participants know.

At two and a half minutes, and after five minutes, ring the bell or chime. Repeat the process with the second statement on the handout.

After both partners have shared their responses to the second statement and discussed their responses together, ring the bell or chime again. Invite partners to spend two minutes discussing what it was like to hear from one another about trust.

If there is time remaining, regather the group and invite participants to share something they learned from this exercise. Ask:

  • What are some things you and your partner do that continue to enhance the trust between you?
  • What philosophical outlooks or spiritual understandings have helped you to create trust and dispel fear?