Being dependable is one of the top qualities people look for in a spouse, and it should be. If one, or both of you cannot depend on each other, the viability of the marriage is questionable.
When you make a promise to your spouse or say you will do something for your spouse or family and then you do not keep your word, you are letting your spouse down and hurting your marriage. Keeping your word and following through on your promises helps to reinforce the trust that your spouse has in you.
Not keeping your word tells your spouse that you simply do not care. If may even make your spouse feel unloved or unimportant.
"Interdependency," or being able to depend on each other, is part of what makes a marriage special. Some people minimize their need for others. This is often a result of early childhood experiences where there was not a reliable caretaker available. So, these people learn to take care of themselves and not reach for others for help or to depend on. Another possibility is that a person was raised in a household filled with chaos. There was no consistency and a poor model of a mature marriage was not available.
How to Keep Your Word or Follow Through on Promises
- Do not say you will do something if you can't do it. Be up front and honest.
- Do not say "I didn't intend to _____ (forget/hurt you/not do it, etc.) This is meaningless.
- If you realize that you can't keep your promise, be honest and say so. It is important that you are up front with the reason you can't keep your word.
- If you changed your mind and don't want to keep your promise, you need to be honest with your spouse about why you think you made the promise in the first place and why can't now follow through.
- If you broke a promise because you are often forgetful, consider using some of the high tech ways to be reminded of things you said you would do. You can receive email alerts, popup reminders from your calendar program on your computer, and receive text or voice reminder messages on your cell phone.
- You can give your spouse permission to remind you, too, with the understanding that you won't consider the reminder to be nagging.
- Think about how it feels to you when someone does not come through for you or keep their promise. Put yourself in your spouses shoes.
- Explore and understand the reasons why you do not keep your word. Do you need some counseling to work through some childhood problem? Do you need treatment for ADD or some other mental health concern? Is there another problem in your marriage and you are being passive-aggressive?
Regardless of the reason, it is critical for both spouses to be able to depend on each other. Both spouses need to follow through on their promises and not be constantly nagged or reminded to do so. Not keeping your word is damaging to your marriage and leave it at risk for divorce.
*Article updated by Marni Feuerman