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Broken Promises

Thanks again to Tammy from Creating Success Stories for this great question.

When we were married, my husband and I agreed that I would take care of the inside of the house and he would take care of the outside…he is lazy and does nothing and I want you to help me do something about it! What should I do to make him do what he promised to?


Keeping promises is a personal thing. People do or they don't. You can fail to keep your own promises in retaliation, but you're not likely to feel very good about yourself when you do.

Assume Love

So what happens if you assume love here? You didn't marry a man lacking integrity. You didn't marry a lazy bum. What would lead a man who loves you completely and intends to keep his promises to fail to take care of the outside of the house?

You know your husband much better than I do. I'll speak of spouses in general. You choose the explanation which fits your circumstances.

A person might fail to keep such a promise to someone he loves if:

  • His health or physical fitness changed since he made the promise, requiring more effort to keep it than he expected.

  • He's retaliating against you for failing to keep some other promise to him.

  • He's delivering a lot more than he promised in another area, such as working more hours or doing more inside the house than he'd expected, and he believes it compensates for what he's not doing outdoors.

  • The thought of doing the outside chores triggers unconscious resistance -- he's dealing with some earlier wound and not the actual weeding or painting, and he hasn't yet figured out how to get past the feelings these chores stir up in him.

  • He's already doing all the outside work he ever expected to do when he made the promise, and he's content with the results of his efforts.

  • His addiction or mental disease has rendered him incapable of acting in accordance with his intentions. (If this is the case, deal with this first, then the yardwork.

If it's possible he's skipping those outdoor chores for a reason that has nothing to do with his love for you or the sort of man he is, don't make the mistake of using it as a measure of him or his love for you.

Fair or Unfair?

When you feel you are keeping a promise, but he's not, life can seem unfair. But is it? How much would you be doing, inside and out, if he were never in the picture? The grass would still grow. The dandelions would still sprout. The fence would still lean. Whatever you would do about them single, short of exchanging sex for chores, you are free to do while married. You might even have more resources and free time available for them while married, if your husband has an income or even occasionally cooks dinner.

If you choose to feel put-upon by your husband instead of Mother Nature when outdoor work needs doing, you're actively pushing away love with your resentment. You're cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do whatever you can to end this resentment, even stopping everything you're doing indoors, if it takes such an extreme measure. Better to let your house get messy and your porch light stay broken than to push away the love of a good man who has promised you a lifetime of love.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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