“Only trust thyself, and another shall not betray thee.” – William Penn, leader
“I just can’t trust Ida! I want to…but, I find I can’t!”
Ida and Ian had been married 2 years when they arrived at my office. They were both successful professionals in their mid thirties. Ian was an engineer working for the government and Ida owned and operated her own boutique.
Ida was tall, blondish and well turned out, probably to reflect her clothing business. The style and colours were expensive and complemented each other in a classy way. Ian, on the other hand, seemed to dress down, more casual, with beat up jeans, but expensive shoes, and just a tee-shirt under his leather jacket.
Ian has booked the consult, so, as if often the case, he was the eager one. And, Ida was the hesitant more reluctant one. Ian jumped in right away. He started with,
“I just can’t trust Ida! I want to…but, I find I can’t trust her about anything!”
“I want you to be more specific, Ian. Give me a time and place, a specific event when you couldn’t trust your partner?”
“He wants to keep me on a leash…”
Eagerly, he replied,
“Last Sunday, she was on Facebook talking to one of her friends. At supper, when I asked her who she had been talking to earlier, she told me it was an old friend, Isaac. I had never met or even heard of him before that moment.”
Then he rushed on with,
“She told me she had met him online and they had a ‘distance relationship’ for about a year and then had ended it, and just became friends. They contacted each other periodically to keep the connection.”
“So, an old friend…how is this connected to your trusting her, Ian?”
But, Ida jumped in at this point.
“He wants to keep me on a leash…like I am his pet! He doesn’t trust me to honour the commitment I made to him! And, nothing I have said makes any difference, Ken!” she said, the hurt and disillusionment clear.
“…nature does not allow it!”
“Let talk about trust as an idea, first. It may help you both in different ways. Trust is a belief someone will put your welfare before their own…put your values before their own. It is biologically and psychologically impossible…it is simply a fantasy!”
“Do you mean you can’t trust anyone?” Ian asked, incredulously.
“If you believe anyone can put their own welfare before your own…put your well being before theirs, …you are living in a false reality…nature does not allow it. If it did, our species would not have survived.” I suggested.
“Hold on, Ken…what about parenting…didn’t my parents, everybody’s parents in fact, not act selflessly by creating me?”
“Let me ask you that same question, Ida?”
“If you and Ian decided to have a child. Is it a selfless act…a giving act? And, not equally a taking act, as well?”
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet
“…they did it to be nice to their own values…”
Ida looked at me with a bewildered expression. Then, perhaps, to buy thinking time, she looked over at Ian, then back at me again, before responding.
“I’m from a large family, I love kids. So, if we had one I guess it would be because of my value of children. I would love to raise a child or even two perhaps.”
Then Ian added,
“I’m from a big family, too. But, I like my privacy, so I’m not as keen as Ida for kids.”
“So, while your body can create them, whether you have a child will depend on your individual values. Can you see that? So, where does ignoring your values ever occur? I’ve never witnessed it!” I said.
“You mean my parents had me because of their values…to satisfy themselves, correct? And, they didn’t do it to be nice to me, they did it to be nice to their own values…themselves…as everyone does!” Ida said, thoughtfully.
“… often, they are doing it without being aware of it…unconsciously!”
“Exactly! So, it wasn’t primarily about trust, it was about their value of loving a family…wanting to be able to support and challenge their offspring which would help them get wiser and strong in themselves for their own future…as every parent eventually does…which is proven by their very survival.” I suggested to them.
Ian added, showing his insight,
“That means I’m always following my values…I really can’t do anything else, can I?”
“And, me too!” said Ida, with a smile of acknowledgement.
“So, you can really only trust someone to live inside their own values…and often, they are doing it without being aware of it…unconsciously!” I added to summarize.
“So, that means then I can’t behave outside my values … and I can’t expect anyone else to either…even someone I care about, like Ida!” said Ian.
“…relationship actually helps us be who we are and fulfill our destiny..”
“So, to anchor the point in your mind you can’t trust anyone, regardless of who they are, to put their values before yours…and it doesn’t matter who…your parents, children, siblings, friends, public officials like cops, lawyers, religious leaders…no one!”
“Why then do people commit to each other in relationships, in marriages and in friendships?” Ida asked.
“Great question, Ida! It is actually a reflection of nature’s efficiency and perfection. First, biologically, we can pass on our genes which sustain our species as a whole; second, they serve as a catalyst for us to become more consciously purposeful; and third, relationships help us learn to survive more effectively!” I said.
“So, our relationship actually helps us be who we are and fulfill our destiny…is that what you’re getting at, Ken?” Ian voiced.
“That’s it, Ian! Can you see that as you look back over you time with Ida?”
“Yes…yes I can!” Ian replied, offering a soft smile to Ida.
“What about you Ida? Can you see how that fits for you?” I asked wondering where she was in her learning.
“Ken, I can see lots of examples of how true that is for me.” she replied.
“How about an example that comes to mind?”
“Being a small business operator is tough work and I’ve had many moments of self doubt. But, that’s where Ian has been there for me… so many times.”
“It is important not to trust people too much.” – V. S. Naipaul, novelist
“She was instrumental in me finishing my degree and so the job I have today.”
“And, how about you Ian? Where does Ida serve you in being more efficient and purposeful?” I asked to see if he was with us.
“I can think of lots of examples, too! But, one of the really important ones for me was when I was in school. She was instrumental in me finishing my degree and so the job I have today.” he said.
“So, can you both see your relationship is not about being happy (an illusion of pleasure without pain) but rather being appreciative of each other…for how you partner serves you in being who you are, doing what you do and having what you have?”
“So, we don’t have to worry about making each other happy, our job is to learn to appreciate each other…is that what you’re saying?” Ian replied.
Then Ida followed up with, “When I realize in detail, how my partner serves me, how my partner compliments me in my life, my gratitude grows accordingly. I get it and am starting to feel it, already! Cool, Ken!”
“I think you two have got it figured out!”
That was the start of their journey in learning the real purpose of a relationship…to learn what we need for our future well being. They were well on their way.
“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer