fbpx

Transforming Relationships: How to Build Trust Using Principles from Brené Brown, the Gottmans and the World of BDSM

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Life in General, Relationships

What do Brené Brown, John Gottman, and the enigmatic world of BDSM have in common with the archetype of Power Couples?

In the complexity of human connections, trust is often indicated as the root, the undeniable foundation upon which the structure of a relationship stands. Yet, what if this widely held belief merely scratches the surface? Imagine delving beyond the conventional, into a realm where trust transcends mere sentimentality to become an art form, a disciplined science, and a profound soul journey.

Our journey takes us through the transformative ideas of Brené Brown, guides us through the practical experiences shared by the Gottmans, and explores the intricate dynamics of power. This is where we find an unconventional guide for the perfect power couple.

Envision a bond where vulnerability is not merely tolerated but respected, where the exchange of power transcends the notion of dominance to embody mutual liberation, and where the deepest connections are not hindered by adversities but are instead forged in their vessel.

This narrative delves deep into the heart of trust, guided by Brené Brown’s advocacy for empathy and bravery, the Gottmans’ methodical blueprint for relationship longevity, and the profound understandings gleaned from the realm of Dominant/submissive dynamics.

Collectively, these perspectives sketch the silhouette of what it means to be a modern power couple — partners united not just by the strength of their mutual trust and the profundity of their connection but by their audacious willingness to navigate the less trodden pathways of power dynamics and vulnerability.

Let us venture beyond the veil, into the depths where the true essence of trust illuminates the darkest corners, and discover how these avant-garde principles have the power not only to metamorphose our relationships but to redefine our very conception of soulful connectivity. Embark on this journey with us, into the heart of what it truly means to connect, trust, and thrive together as a paradigm of power and partnership.

Welcome to the exploration.

And who better to guide us through the framework of trust than Brené Brown and the Gottman’s.

WHO ARE THEY?

Brené Brown is a renowned research professor at the University of Houston, where she has specialized in studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy for over two decades. 

She’s widely recognized for her viral TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” and has authored several bestsellers including “Daring Greatly” and “Dare to Lead.” Her work explores how embracing vulnerability can lead to living a more authentic and fulfilling life. 

Brown also hosts the “Unlocking Us” podcast, offering deep dives into what it means to be human, and has created various online courses to apply her research practically. Her contributions have made her a leading voice in discussions about emotional health and well-being. 

Brené Brown breaks down trust into specific, measurable elements—she calls it BRAVING: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault (keeping confidences), Integrity, Non-judgment, and Generosity.  

This framework helps us understand that trust isn’t just about big acts of fidelity; it’s built (or broken) in the small moments of our daily lives. It’s in the “I’ll do what I say I’m going to do,” the sharing and respecting of boundaries, the owning up to mistakes, and the kindness we extend to ourselves and others when we fall short.

Let’s Go Over Brene’s Acronym: BRAVING

•      Boundaries define where we end and others begin, serving as the foundation upon which trust is built. It’s about articulating and respecting personal limits, ensuring a mutual understanding that fosters a safe space for vulnerability.

•      Reliability highlights the importance of consistency in our words and actions. It’s the repeated fulfillment of promises that solidifies trust over time, showcasing our dependability.

•      Accountability involves owning our mistakes, offering sincere apologies, and making amends. This commitment to growth and integrity fortifies trust by demonstrating our dedication to  the relationship’s health.

•      Vault represents the sanctity of confidentiality. Trust flourishes when we know our vulnerabilities are safeguarded, creating a bond of mutual respect and understanding.  

•      Integrity challenges us to align our actions with our values, choosing what is right over what is easy or expedient, thereby embedding our relationships with a sense of honor and truthfulness.

•      Non-judgment ensures a reciprocal environment where help can be sought and offered without fear of criticism, enabling a deeper dive into trust through shared vulnerability.

•      Generosity entails extending the most charitable interpretation to the intentions and actions of others. This grace in the face of misunderstandings nurtures trust by fostering a culture of empathy and kindness.

LINK TO BRENE’s Anatomy of Trust : Brene Brown Reveals the 7 Secrets Of Trust: An Absolute Must-see Speech!

By integrating these elements of BRAVING into our daily lives, we begin to see trust not as a grand, elusive concept but as a tangible, achievable state built through consistent, small acts. Brené Brown’s framework gives us a roadmap to building deeper, more resilient relationships grounded in trust.

The Gottman Method

John Gottman, alongside his wife Julie Schwartz Gottman, developed the Gottman Method, an approach to couples therapy that emphasizes the practical understanding of relationships through research. John Gottman is a prominent psychologist who has conducted extensive research on marriage, relationships, and what makes them last. One of the key components of his work is the concept of trust and how it’s built and maintained in relationships.

The Gottman Method is grounded in the notion that healthy relationships are based on deep friendship, mutual respect, and a positive approach to problem-solving. Trust is a central pillar in this method, considered essential for creating a sound relationship house. 

According to Gottman, trust is built through a series of small moments where partners turn towards each other’s bids for emotional connection rather than away. These moments, when consistently met with warmth and attention, create a foundation of trust and intimacy that can withstand conflicts and challenges.

Gottman’s research has identified trust and commitment as the two primary ingredients for relationship success. He talks about the importance of creating a culture of appreciation, understanding, and respect within the relationship and highlights the significance of managing conflicts constructively. 

The Gottman Method teaches couples how to build trust through exercises and interventions that foster open communication, enhance intimacy, and cultivate a deeper understanding of each other’s needs and dreams.

Trust, according to Gottman, is also about reliability and accountability. It’s knowing that your partner has your back and will do what they say they will do. This reliability strengthens the relationship’s emotional bond and enhances the partners’ sense of security and belonging.

  •     Building a shared meaning: Understanding and appreciating each other’s values, dreams, and narratives.
  •     Fostering admiration and fondness: Recognizing and cherishing the positive aspects of each other, even in times of distress
  •     Managing conflict constructively: Approaching disagreements with empathy, patience, and a willingness to understand rather than prevail.
GOTTMAN THERAPISTS

Gottman-trained therapists specialize in helping couples rebuild trust and strengthen their relationships using proven, research-based methods. These professionals can guide you through the process of healing and growth, ensuring a deeper, more meaningful connection. Find a Gottman-certified therapist or coach near you by visiting the Gottman Institute’s official website. 

 The Gottman Institute

In summary, the Gottman Method places a strong emphasis on trust as a foundational element of healthy, lasting relationships. Through his research, John Gottman has shown that trust is built through everyday interactions and a consistent, positive connection, making it crucial for couples to focus on nurturing this aspect of their relationship.

The Science of Love | John Gottman | TEDxVeniceBeach

In the grand scheme of things, trust is the glue that holds our relationships together.

It’s what makes us feel safe enough to bare our souls, to be truly seen and known. Brené Brown’s exploration of trust through BRAVING provides us with a clear, actionable framework for cultivating trust in every aspect of our lives. 

It reminds us that trust is not just about big promises or moments of crisis; it’s built (or broken) in the smallest moments, through boundaries, reliability, accountability, safeguarding confidence, integrity, non-judgment, and generosity.

BDSM and Trust?

The Dom/sub (Dominant/submissive) dynamic is a pivotal element of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism), a realm of relationship that has been thrust into the mainstream spotlight, in part thanks to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. 

In a healthy and secure relationship, this dynamic revolves around a consensual power exchange between partners, where the Dominant (Dom) assumes a role of authority and control, while the submissive (sub) willingly cedes power, adhering to the Dom’s lead. This exchange is built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and the clear articulation of boundaries and limits.

Far from being confined to just the bedroom or dungeon, the Dom/sub dynamic can influence various facets of a relationship, guiding everything from day-to-day decisions to sexual exploration. It transcends mere physical interaction, touching upon psychological, emotional, and for some, spiritual aspects of connection. Each relationship is as unique as the individuals involved, shaped by their specific desires, needs, and agreements.

For those familiar with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the dynamic between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele offers a glimpse into the D/s relationship, albeit through a somewhat sensationalized lens. The series has played a role in demystifying BDSM, sparking curiosity and discussion among the uninitiated. 

However, it’s important to recognize that real-life D/s relationships are grounded in principles of SSC (Safe, Sane, and Consensual) or RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink), emphasizing informed consent, mutual respect, and the well-being of all parties involved.

Exploring a Dom/sub dynamic is a journey into trust, vulnerability, and the relinquishment or assumption of control. It offers a structured and safe space for participants to delve into their desires and the intricacies of their relationship. It’s a profound testament to the strength found in openness and the courage to explore the unknown together.

Conversations With A Real Life Sub/dom Married Couple With Andrew & Dawn

Whether you are into that sort of thing or not, trust is the foundation for any relationship. Here are a few skills you can add to your toolbox for building a trusting and powerful couple relationship.

Ways to break trust that do not include infidelity.

1.    Lying about Finances: Concealing debt, overspending, or lying about income and expenditures can severely damage trust.

2.    Breaking Promises: Consistently failing to follow through on promises or commitments, no matter how small. 

3.    Withholding Information: Deliberately hiding important information or feelings from a partner.

4.    Violation of Privacy: Reading a partner’s messages or emails without permission.

5.    Not Respecting Boundaries: Ignoring or pushing against established personal or emotional boundaries.

6.    Inconsistent Behavior: Acting in ways that are unpredictably contrary to agreed-upon norms or expectations within the relationship. 

7.    Failure to Support: Not being there for a partner during critical moments or not offering support during challenging times.

8.    Neglecting Emotional Needs: Overlooking or dismissing a partner’s emotional needs and desires.

9.    Spreading Secrets: Sharing personal or sensitive information about a partner with others without consent.

10.   Gaslighting: Manipulating a partner to question their reality or feelings, undermining their sense of self.

11.   Selective Attention: Consistently prioritizing other activities or people over time meant for the relationship, leading to feelings of neglect.

12.   Public Embarrassment: Humiliating or making fun of a partner in public, intentionally or not.

13.   Misusing Social Media: Posting sensitive or private information about the relationship without consulting the partner. 

14.   Sudden Changes in Plans: Frequently changing plans without adequate communication or consideration for the partner’s schedule or feelings.

15.   Lack of Reciprocity: Taking more from the relationship than giving, leading to an imbalance that erodes trust over time.

16.   Excessive Phone Secrecy: Being overly secretive about phone use, including passwords and messages, can breed suspicion and mistrust in a relationship.

 

 

SKILLS For Trust Building

Building trust within relationships, whether they be friendships or romantic partnerships, requires intentional effort, open communication, and a commitment to growth. Here are some practical tips, exercises, and skills that can help strengthen the foundation of trust between individuals:

Aligning Words with Actions

Ensuring that what you say consistently matches what you do, reinforcing reliability, and strengthening trust in the relationship.

Weekly Check-Ins

Dedicate a specific time each week to sit down together and discuss how you’re feeling about the relationship, and any concerns that may have arisen, and celebrate achievements or special moments you’ve shared. This creates a structured opportunity for open communication and ensures both partners feel heard and valued.

Weekly Meetings

Set aside time each week for a “logistics” meeting to discuss plans and responsibilities for the days ahead. This practice fosters intentional open communication and efficiently addresses routine matters all at once. By clearing these discussions in a dedicated session, you’ll free up your week from the logistical chatter, allowing more space for work, family, and leisure activities. 

Establishing Boundaries

Clearly communicate your needs, limits, and expectations with your partner. Understanding and respecting each other’s boundaries is crucial for maintaining trust. Consider writing them down during a shared session and revisit these boundaries as your relationship evolves.

Learning to Fight Fairly

Develop a ‘fighting fair’ protocol. 

Agree on rules for arguments that prevent escalation and promote resolution, such as avoiding blame, taking turns speaking without interruption, and expressing feelings using “I” statements. Remember, the goal is not to win but to understand and grow together.

Establishing Routines and Special Rituals

Create daily, weekly, and yearly rituals. Small daily gestures like morning coffee together, daily walks, daily phone calls or cute flirty texts, and weekly traditions such as date nights, and annual getaways can significantly strengthen your bond. These rituals create shared experiences that are unique to your relationship, fostering a deeper connection and trust.

Using a Code Word

Develop a private code word or signal. This can be useful not just in the bedroom for BDSM dynamics but also in social situations where you might need to communicate discreetly. A code word can signal discomfort, the need to leave, or even just to check in with each other, enhancing your sense of security and mutual understanding.

Practice active listening 

Show your partner you value their thoughts and feelings by giving them your full attention, summarizing their points to ensure understanding, and responding with empathy. 

Check out these videos for more information on this method. 

 Relationship Problems? This Marriage Advice Saved My Relationship & Will Change Your Life

The Imago Dialogue Script- how to use it, what to say, 3-step process

Express appreciation regularly

Acknowledge the things your partner does, big or small, that contribute to your happiness and the health of the relationship. Gratitude reinforces positive behavior and deepens your connection. This can be done during weekly check-ins and also throughout the day. 

Work on personal growth

Trust in a relationship can be bolstered by each person’s commitment to their own personal development. Attending workshops, reading self-help, or even therapy can equip you with tools to bring back into the relationship, enhancing trust through self-improvement.

Incorporating these exercises and skills into your relationship not only builds trust but also enriches your connection, making it more resilient against the challenges life may throw your way.

TAKE AWAYS:

Trust is the foundation upon which we build our lives, our relationships, and ourselves. It’s what allows us to be truly seen, to connect deeply with others, and to embrace the full spectrum of human experience with courage and openness. 

Whether in the dynamics of dominance and submission or the everyday exchanges of partnership and friendship, trust is about creating a space where we can be our authentic selves together.

Remember, trust is not just about the absence of cheating but the presence of safety and love. It’s about showing up for each other, again and again, choosing to build bridges of understanding and connection. And in that space of trust, we find the freedom to be truly and unapologetically us.

So, let’s ask ourselves: Are we building trust through our actions every day? Are we creating spaces where our loved ones can be vulnerable, where they can trust us with their hearts and souls? 

It’s a journey worth taking, filled with lessons, growth, and the kind of deep connections that make life truly rich. Let’s embark on that journey with intention and an open heart. 

Until next time, keep exploring, keep questioning, and keep building trust in every corner of your life. 

Trust me; it’s worth it.

 

 

Connect with us on social media for daily inspiration:

           

 

Explore more:

Website

My Coaching Packages

Download my eBooks

My Book: I Am Amazing

Quiz

View All Blogs

 

 

Let's Transform Together!

1:1 Transformational Coaching

Group Coaching

MILF Bootcamp