Relationship Fitness

S19 E3: Building Trust and Commitment

In Episode Three “Building Trust and Commitment,” host Vince Vasquez engages with Luis Maimoni, a licensed marriage and family therapist, to explore the elements necessary for cultivating trust and commitment in relationships. They discuss the practical application of the ATTUNE method, developed by relationship experts John and Julie Gottman, which includes awareness, tolerance, understanding, non-defensive responding, and empathy. The conversation delves into common pitfalls such as defensive reactions and the importance of intentional actions to build and maintain trust. This episode provides insightful strategies for men striving to deepen connections and build lasting commitments in their relationships.

Guest Luis Maimoni is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships of all kinds, including men having relationship difficulties. Luis offers a no cost, no obligation consultation. Schedule a visit via his website:


Welcome to relationship workout for men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional and choosing a better partner and being a better partner for the person they choose. I’m your host, Vince Vasquez.

Today, I’m speaking with Luis Maimoni. He’s a licensed marriage and family therapist for people in all kinds relationships. This is season 19, building and keeping commitments. Episode three: building trust and commitment. In this episode, we’re going to discuss what are the building blocks for trust and commitment and how do we put them into place? 

Luis, what are your thoughts?


We often rush into relationships without doing the work to build trust and commitment. Then, when things go wrong, we wonder why we are even in the relationship because it feels like we don’t truly know the person we’re with. This ties back to what I mentioned in Episode Two about asking the right questions to get to know the person and establish a foundation. Now, let’s talk about building trust. Trust is not something you can instantly create; it’s built over time through effort.

John and Julie Gottman, renowned relationship researchers, have developed an acronym, ATTUNE, for trust-building, which I will incorporate with my insights. We often talk about trust in a functional sense—I trust my banker to cash my checks, or the grocery store to stock food—but the trust we discuss in relationships involves a deeper, more intimate connection.

To access this intimate trust, we must navigate past emotional defenses to truly connect with our partners. The ATTUNE method starts with ‘A’ for Awareness—being aware of your partner’s emotions and being sensitive to what they are feeling. ‘T’ stands for Turning towards rather than away from those emotions. If your partner is sad, acknowledge it rather than ignoring or trivializing their feelings. The second ‘T’ is for Tolerance—recognizing that differences in opinion are natural. For example, if one wants HBO and the other prefers Netflix, it’s essential to tolerate these differences.

‘U’ stands for Understanding—striving to comprehend why these preferences matter to your partner. ‘N’ is for Non-defensive responses—avoiding dismissive comments or attitudes. And finally, ‘E’ for Empathy—expressing genuine understanding and respect for your partner’s preferences, such as acknowledging how much they enjoy baking shows that remind them of baking with their mother.

By consistently applying these six steps—awareness, turning towards each other’s emotions, tolerance, understanding, non-defensiveness, and empathy—we create a space where trust can naturally grow. Trust and commitment are intertwined; you cannot have a genuine commitment without trust. Trusting in each other’s commitment is essential for a meaningful relationship.


“I want to touch on two of those points. First, it seems that when you become defensive, it’s really challenging to be empathetic simultaneously. I might be projecting my own feelings, but it appears difficult not to become defensive when you perceive your partner’s viewpoint as vastly different or somewhat attacking.

You aim to be empathetic, and when you’re outside the heat of conflict, you might agree, ‘Yes, I want to be an empathetic partner.’ However, when you’re in the midst of conflict and feeling defensive, it becomes really hard to maintain empathy. What are your thoughts on that?


Well, it depends on how defensive you’re feeling. If you’re screaming, yelling, and getting ready to throw something, take a break. If you’re more emotionally aware, a good question to ask yourself is, ‘Where is this defensive reaction coming from?’ I don’t actually care that much whether it’s HBO or Netflix. Why am I even in this argument? She wants Netflix. Let her have Netflix. They both have movies. I don’t care. But something’s bugging me. It’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, she says I can only watch TV in the garage,’ so we’re fighting over the whole TV situation. It’s kind of a bigger issue, and it feels like she’s taking away one more thing from me, which is a diss on my masculinity, making me feel less manly because we’re going to have more family-centric, female-centric programming in the house. What we really need is NFL sports and wrestling 24/7. Realizing that this is the source of my frustration will help me overcome my defensiveness.


When I review my journaling over the last two years, it seems like most things—almost everything I was getting defensive about or arguing over—didn’t matter beyond that day or moment. It appears that many things that distract us from building trust are, in the grand scheme of things, quite irrelevant.


It’s a classic scenario in couples therapy, where couples come in and tell me, ‘We just have these giant blowout arguments about nothing,’ and it really is a thing. So, if you find yourself having major arguments about trivial matters, you’re probably fighting over something deeper, often a power struggle. If you notice that you’re getting defensive over issues that seem insignificant and are forgotten a day later, it’s time to consider what’s really going on. Why am I behaving this way? I’m not being my best self, and I’m not bringing my best self to this relationship. I love this woman and want her to see the best of me. What is preventing me from being that?


And that involves taking action. It ties back to Episode One about how to act so that you can build trust. It’s amazing how little it takes to lose that trust. Therefore, being intentional in your actions on an ongoing basis is critical, especially for maintaining trust in a relationship.


Yes, really, any relationship can be damaged by overly defensive reactions. And I will also say that for some families, arguing and yelling is normal—it’s just how they communicate. I don’t agree that it’s the best method, but if that’s your way and you’re content with it, then I’ll stand back and let it happen. It’s not my house, after all.


Alright, that will wrap up Episode Three on building trust. We could discuss this topic for a long time, but I really appreciate you sharing your insights with us, Luis. In the next episode, Episode Four, we’re going to talk about investing in your relationship.

Thank you so much, sir.


My pleasure. See you next episode.

Luis Maimoni is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relationships of all kinds, including men having relationship difficulties. Luis offers a no cost, no obligation consultation.

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