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.
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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.