Trusting and Relying

Mar 23 / Jill Bertelsen
Welcome to blog 3 out of the Relationship Attachment Model series. This model was created by the Marriage and Family Therapist, John Van Epp. I explain it more in depth in my first blog go over the first aspect in the second blog.

After getting to know and taking time to talk with people we start to develop a picture of who they are in our mind. Trust, in this model, is what we think of a person. For example if someone tells us that they are good at school we may fill in the blank and assume that they are a 4.0 student or really smart. It could mean that, or it could mean that they are really well behaved.

As humans we make assumptions. Our assumptions are formed from past experiences and our core values from how we were raised. An example of this could be that our mom used to nag us about the dishes and we would avoid them like the plague. Years down the road our wife may ask us to do the dishes and we suddenly shut down and have ab imaginary conversation with them in our minds. “You need to do the dishes” she will say and I will say “I work all day and I just want a break, you need to do them” and then she will say …. On and on and on. John Van Epp calls this our Trust picture. What we think we know about a person or how they will react. They may or may not have ever acted this way, but we project our trust picture onto them.

Whereas the “rely” aspect is where we put that trust into action. When our potential partner tells us that they are good at school, we see how they act in class, or ask them for help with an essay or math homework. Or instead of having a fake conversation in our minds with our spouse we could actually have the conversation and see how it plays out. Most of the time we jump to the worst conclusion in our minds of how situations will go and putting it into action by having the conversation is much healthier.

The “rely” aspect of the Relationship Attachment Model needs to be lower than trust while dating. We need to first get to know them and have a good trust picture of who they are before we rely on someone. If they say they are dependable and will be there to pick you up for work when your car breaks down you are creating a trust picture of them. When they actually show up is when your reliance increases because you are putting it into action. You would not want to rely on someone more than you know them. This can put you in a vulnerable situation and cause an unhealthy or unbalanced relationship.

When you are married, try to keep all 5 aspects high. You would do this by keeping your commitments to your spouse. You say you will pick up the kids and you do. Or if something comes up you communicate it to them. Instead of assuming how they will respond to situations, actually talk about it or let it play out. Because how they were raised is different than how you were raised and usually situations will play out much better than you anticipated.

The next blog is the last one in the series. We will cover the “commit” and “touch” aspects of the RAM. I will explain how you can increase commitment and touch in your marriage and how to keep them at safe levels while you are dating and getting to know someone.