Little Broken Promises

I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good husband.  I do most of the big things right and I avoid almost all of the big things that I’m supposed to.  I spend time trying to speak my wife’s love language.  I love with abandon and invest like crazy.  I try to put her interests before my own (Philippians 2.3-4).  Usually, I’m pretty good at this whole husband thing.


chefkeem / Pixabay

But I have a persistent problem, a easily-repeated blunder.  I make little promises and then don’t keep them.  Example: We finish dinner and I say, “I’ll do the dishes before I go to bed.”  Then, the next morning, the dishes are still in the sink (like they were this morning).  That’s a little broken promise.

Here’s a doozy from this week: Our dog, who is awesome by the way, is getting old and she needs to have checkups at the vet pretty regularly.  Three weeks ago I said that I would take care of it.  I finally did it…after weeks of saying I would!  The time between the little promise and completion was just full of me breaking that promise day after day.

You may be thinking something like this: Meh, this isn’t a big deal; it is a LITTLE broken promise.  It’s not like you broke your wedding vows or something.  And, you’d be right…objectively speaking.

But subjectively speaking we’re dealing with a different deal altogether.  Each time I break a little promise it erodes my credibility with my wife a little bit.  Rebuilding that trust invariably takes up WAY more time than it would have taken to just fulfill the promise.

And keeping little promises is a sign of respect.  When I actually keep one of these promises it says to Alida that she’s important enough for me to remember what I said and to actually do it.

Luckily for me I have a loving and forgiving spouse.  She gives me the time and space I need to figure things like this out.  But I shouldn’t take advantage of Alida’s patience about this.  I should be more intentional about keeping all my promises, whether big or small.

Here are some pieces of advice (mostly for me):

  1. Make fewer promises.  There’s no point in promising to do things as often as I do.  Maybe if I was more consistent in doing things in the first place I wouldn’t feel the need to make promises.
  2. Accept help if needed or wanted.    A common mistake that I make in these situations is not accepting help that is offered.  If I did, then I wouldn’t need to do whatever it was that I end up make a promise about (e.g., the dishes).  So, if I need help or would rather do something else, when my wife offers to help I should take her up on it.
  3. Keep track of promises made.  I’m not sure exactly how I could do this, practically speaking.  Maybe I could write my little promises down and put them in a prominent place (like on the screen of my laptop).  But an issue for me is that I simply forget.  So I need to facilitate some memory helpers.
  4. Apologize and start at #1 again.  I’m a human so I am going to mess this one up.  When I do I should give a real apology, fully owning my mistake and the pain it caused.  Then I should start back and #1.  Hopefully, over time, I’ll have to do #4 less and less.

Do you have a problem with keeping little promises too?  Let me know in the comments below.