So what do you do when your husband goes back on his word – breaks his promise?
Say he told you that from now on weekends would be family time – he wouldn’t take on any odd jobs, he wouldn’t spend the whole weekend with his parents, etc. And now, you are left alone on the weekends cursing him for ruining your weekends! I’ve been there!
There could be many reason he did this, so let’s explore a few:
He made a promise just to please you, not because it was the right thing to do:
It could be that he made the promise because he wanted to please you – and not do what he felt was the right thing to do. When men are still in “little boy wanting to please mummy” mode – they will often please anyone before thinking if that is what is best for them. If your hubby is now doing what he thinks is the right thing to do – you should support him on his journey and let him discover what really is best for him… he may mess up in the beginning, by deliberately doing the opposite of what you would like – but that’s just him testing the waters to see if you really will let him do what he want!
He genuinely broke the promise and feels he let you down:
It could be that he really meant to do keep his promise, but because he wasn’t strong enough to define his limits – he has ended up breaking it. This will be hard on him too, as he knows that he has let his woman down – and men don’t like that! They do like to be always there for you, to look after you, to cherish you – and in the event that they don’t, they do kick themselves.
He changed his mind after making the promise but doesn’t want to admit it:
It could be that he made the promise and then changed his mind! Yes, he has gone back on his word but he doesn’t want to tell you that he realised he made the wrong choice. That would mean apologising, and if you’re both not great at communicating with each other and have a power struggle going on, his is really not going to say he’s sorry – he would much rather go back on his word and have you cross, than to admit defeat.
He made a promise out of obligation:
It could be that by breaking the promise, he is getting to do something he really wants to do, but he is afraid you will go mad if you found out. So he does it behind your back and now you have found out! You are upset that he has broken his promise, broken trust; but for him, the promise has nothing to do with it – he just fears your anger!
Give your hubby time to grow and develop – especially if he has never made real decisions before. If he breaks his promise, try to understand the reason he did it. If he is a people-pleaser then this will give him the opportunity to realise that his destructive habit is causing him to let down the woman he adores.
Now is the time to get out of the battle-arena, and come back home. It’s not a competition on who wins and who loses. This is a marriage where both spouses should feel safe to make mistakes. And safe enough to admit that they have made a mistake. If a man messes up, he shouldn’t ever have the added pressure that his wife will be crowing over his mistake.
Express How Your Feeling:
If he has let you down, express your hurt to him. Tell him that you were really looking forward to x,y,z and it’s a shame that it’s no longer going to happen. Look into why you are upset – what was the promise he broken to you – and find the underlying desires/fears behind that.
A few examples:
He is working more than you want:
You want to enjoy his company more and miss him badly – he’s never around these days!
You are having a hard time coping with the kids and can’t do it alone – you miss his presence as a father.
He doesn’t exercise:
Your afraid he is going to get sick or end up with a heart problem.
You are scared of losing him.
You are scared he will get sick and don’t want to see him in pain.
He doesn’t work and bring in money:
You are scared you will lose the house
You are scared that you won’t have enough money for food or shelter
And in the rawness of your desires and fears – let him know. Gently. With full trust that he hears you. Without hurting his male pride. Without accusing or pointing fingers. The reality of it is that you have desires and fears that need to be addressed, but we women can get so caught up in the principle of the broken promise that it becomes a fight against good and evil – the fact that he has not kept his word and you can never trust him again. Look at the bigger picture and understand where you are both coming from.
In NLP there is a theory that all behaviour comes from a positive intention.
A person may lie to protect his self-image, maybe aggressive because they want to protect themselves; another maybe scared because they want to feel safe; another person may even lie because they want to protect themselves from heartbreak. Instead of thinking “he lied to me”, try to understand what his intention is behind it, and try to understand that his lying brought up a negative emotion in you swell – what is the intention behind your negative emotion? What can you do to bring some light into your spouse’s life?
An excellent article on positive intentions can be read here, by Robert Dilts
“It is very important to realize, however, that ‘darkness’ is not a ‘force’, it is merely the absence of light. Light can shine into darkness, but darkness cannot ‘shine’ into light. Thus, the relationship between light and the shadow that it casts is not one of a struggle between opposing forces. The question is, “What is obstructing the light?” and “How can we get some light to where it needs to be?”