A person’s word is directly linked to their honor, trustworthiness, and integrity. If someone’s word is their bond, they always keep a promise.
I like to say, “Words are Cheap. It’s your behavior that tells the truth.” A person can talk all day long about their ideas, theories, solutions, goals, how they would fix this problem or that.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage that says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Many people are good at pointing out problems, but it’s what they do to find a solution that really counts.
Also, when a person doesn’t follow through with what he/she says, their talk is cheapened.
Yet, words followed up with action gain value. A person’s word only has value when it is proven to be true. Whereas, if something is false, inaccurate, or not followed through by actions it is considered “cheap talk” and has little or no value.
In days past people used the statement, “My word is my bond,” or “ A man is only as good as his word.” That means, if someone’s word is their bond, they always keep a promise. When not kept, they can no longer inspire confidence or trust in their fellow man. In other words, your word is directly linked to your honor, trustworthiness, and integrity.
“Action is difficult. You must be bold to activate a change or an idea because it will cost you.” — Trinity Café.
Jessie, a fun-loving dude, was always out having fun with the guys. He played drums in a band, playing the local scene, never really trying to make it big. They played mostly on weekends and occasionally during the week for special events. He rarely got home before midnight and usually an hour or so after.
Eventually, all the guys in the band got married. Jessie and Janice were the last. When they got married it was understood that he played in a band almost every weekend.
The wives were usually in attendance, at the club of the night, to cheer their husbands on. Some nights they made up the majority of the audience. Nobody really cared. They played music because they loved to play. It had never been envisioned as a possible career. All the guys had good jobs. The band was just for fun.
A year or two into the marriage, Janice got tired of hearing the same songs over and over. She got along with the wives, but they weren’t best friends. Janice began begging off to go out with her friends. They made the agreement that if either of them weren’t home by midnight they would either call or text with an update on their status.
Janice wasn’t really good about calling or texting. It started out with being a half-hour late with no call or text.
Jessie would ask, “Why didn’t you at least text?”
Janice’s standard answer was “Sorry, I forgot” or “Sorry, I lost track of time.” She always played it off like it was no big deal. One night it was 3 am when she came in, avoiding Jessie as long as possible.
“Where have you been?” he asked.
“At Pauline’s. We were playing Nerts and I lost all track of time.”
“Nerts until 3 am. I don’t believe you.”
“We were watching movies too. Honest,” Janice said. “We started watching the Fast and Furious Series. We got through three movies, but we didn’t start the third one until about midnight. I just couldn’t leave until I saw the ending.”
“Why should I believe you. You don’t keep your word. You could text while watching the movie. It’s easy,” Jessie said. “I’m beginning to not trust you.”
“Honest, I was at Pauline’s. Call her, if you want.”
“That’s not really the point, is it? We had an agreement and you seem to only keep the agreement when you want to or when you think about it. Yet, you want me to trust you. It is a choice. I’m beginning to think you don’t care,” he said.
Being able to depend on your spouse is what makes marriage special. If one or both partners are not dependable, the success of the marriage is questionable. Without honest dependability, the marriage cannot grow into a strong union that is able to function adequately.
When you say you’re going to do something for your family or you make an agreement with your spouse or other family member and don’t keep your word, you are letting them down and hurting your relationship. Following through on your promises and keeping your word reinforces your spouse’s trust in you.
Conversely, not keeping your word tells your spouse that you simply don’t care, whether that’s actually how you feel or not. It makes your spouse feel unloved and unimportant. It says, “You aren’t worth the effort.”
Behind Breaking Promises
Janice revealed that from the time she was about ten she basically took care of herself. Both of her parents worked and had very busy social lives. She was the oldest of three kids and it was her responsibility to get her siblings to feed and in bed at the right time.
As she entered her teen years there were days and nights where neither mom nor dad checked in on the kids. They knew the younger kids were in good hands with Janice.
She wasn’t used to checking in with anyone. Most of the time it didn’t even cross her mind that she needed to check in. The only time she ever reached out to her parents was if there was an emergency that she couldn’t handle. She never really learned what it meant to be able to count on someone other than herself.
Since she was basically on her own from an early age, she really didn’t know how to honestly explain it all to Jessie. She wanted to please him and make him happy so she’d agree to call or texting or whatever, but then didn’t follow through. She didn’t know how to say “no”.
Janice also admitted that sometimes she felt controlled. She had been the boss since she was ten. She really didn’t have anyone to answer to as a teenager. Sometimes it just didn’t sit right with her. She realizes that sometimes she didn’t honor her word to stop the feeling of being controlled.
Both Janice and Jessie wanted their marriage to work so they started working on ways for both of them to keep their word and not feel controlled or threatened.
Plan For Keeping Your Word
- Don’t say you’ll do something if you can’t do it or are unsure if you can.
- Always be upfront and honest.
- Reach compromises when necessary.
- If you realize you can’t keep your promise, tell the other person as soon as you know.
- Don’t say things like, “I intended to…”, “I forgot”, “I didn’t have time”, “I lost track of time”, “I was busy”, “I was trying to get finished…”
- Excuses are meaningless and often create hard feelings and chip away at the trust. Excuses usually are a cover-up for the real reason that the person just didn’t want to do it. It is a choice.
- If you make a promise and change your mind, be honest about the reason you made the promise and why you changed your mind. Reach a compromise.
- If you are honestly forgetful or get distracted, use a calendar or memo on your phone. Set alarms of when you need to do something. Don’t count on your memory.
“Think about how it feels to you when someone doesn’t come through for you or keep his or her promise. Think about how every time the person does this, your disappointment and trust in him or her deteriorates more.” — Sheri Stritof, Do You Keep Your Word?
Some people, especially men, need respect, which is a very powerful emotion. Respect means that people can count on and trust you. When a person’s actions speak louder than their words, they gain respect from others.
The opposite is also true. You will lose respect if people cannot count on or trust you. Your actions speak louder than your words.
“You Are What You Do — Now What You Say.”
Originally published at www.denawarfield.com on March 30, 2019.