There are a lot of beliefs about broken trust in a relationship. Warren Buffett says that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Another statement you’ve probably heard is “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.” Both of these statements have truth in it – but only to a point.
Working as a therapist, I’ve learned that there is a lot of gray area in pretty much everything. It’s also a fact that 'truth' can change...depending on how you look at. In other words, our perceptions can make or break a relationship.
Take the topic of trust, for example. What does “ruined” or “un-repairable” trust mean to a relationship? If you are to hang your hat on the above quotes, it’s easy to believe that the relationship is beyond repair or at a minimum is scared, ugly and not what it once was or could have been. To combat this rather hopeless belief system, let's talk about the art of repairing broken pottery...I know it sounds boring but stay with me.
'Kintsugi' is the Japanese art form of repairing pottery that began in the 14th century. Amazingly, a 600 year old pottery repair technique gives us a perfect example of how we can look at broken trust in relationships. See, with ‘Kintsugi’ a broken cup, bowl, glass or plate is carefully put back together. It's an odd concept, isn't it? Typically when something breaks, we would just throw it away and get another one but that isn't what kintsugi is about. In fact, they not only take the time to put the broken pottery back together, they use GOLD as GLUE. You heard me right, gold. The process is lengthy and takes a lot (LOT) of effort but don't be discouraged, the end result will be an even more beautiful and stronger cup, bowl, glass or plate than the original.
Shattered relationships, just like pottery, can be put back together. When betrayal (broken trust) is repaired correctly, the relationship is better for it. The couple isn’t scarred or permanently damaged. Feelings of shame or feelings of resentment dissolve as they identify and work through weak points in their ‘pottery bowl’. The relationship goes from broken to beautiful; fortified with love, understanding and commitment. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Instead of 'incident' being hidden away or stuffed down from view, the cracks and blemishes are strengthened and beautified resulting in a rare piece of art. The broken object is more enduring and valuable than it was prior to breaking. The same can go for a relationship.
Broken trust doesn’t have to “ruin” a relationship. A shattered heart isn’t easy to “repair” but it is absolutely possible. Just like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, repairing hearts takes time and effort – with the result being a piece of art that is admired by others but more importantly, means the world to you.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC