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Tool #5 to Rebuild Trust in Your Marriage: Follow Through

By Samuel Rainey

First posted on EverThineHome.com




Note from Dennis: This post is part of a six-part series by my son, Samuel, on rebuilding trust in marriage. Samuel is a professional counselor and, with his wife Stephanie, is part of the speaker team for FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. This series offers great help from a man who has helped many couples in their marriage. 


by Samuel Rainey


"But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation."

~ James 5:12


“Samuel, did you remember to … ?” was a common question my parents asked me during my teenage and college years. My problem was a lack of “follow through”; I wouldn’t do what I promised, or I wouldn’t complete a task.


When Stephanie and I married, I was 23 years old. I quickly realized that this issue was not quite resolved. Instead of my parents asking the question, it was now Stephanie, my wife.


If you’ve watched any of the old Superman movies, or read the comics, you know that kryptonite is the mythical substance that neutralizes Superman’s powers. He becomes a mere mortal human when that green glowing substance is brought near him. In a similar fashion, though I don’t have superpowers like him, my kryptonite is following through with things. I’ve been in a lot of therapy, read a lot of books, and have pleaded with God for healing in this area, and yet it still remains a problem at 45 years of age.


At this point in my life I’ve moved on from this being my flaw that I am going to conquer. Now I see it as a limitation that I need to live with and take care of. This is a massive shift of perspective for me. Needing this aspect of my life to “go away” made me resent, hate, and feel ashamed of myself. There is no doubt today that those feelings made the problem worse.


I still have difficulty following through with things. I’ll over (or under) estimate my ability, which sets me up to procrastinate. Then I either don’t finish what I started, or I give up. I’m not proud of this part of me, but this is an area in my life that has one of those “work in progress” signs posted.


Stephanie can attest to the countless stories in our 22 years of marriage when I have broken trust between us because of my lack of follow-through. When my promise of something is not held in concert with the previous four tools I’ve discussed in this series (especially “Make Amends”), I tend to make more errors on following through. Here’s why.


My ego (or PR firm, as I previously discussed) would rather believe that I am perfect just the way I am. That I don’t need change. That if there is a problem, it’s with someone else. Simply telling Stephanie that I am going to do something without recognizing my tendencies (own my mistakes) sets me up to disappoint her. Furthermore, if I am impulsive in making a promise to her (not delaying gratification), I don’t think through what it is that I can actually get done. Another setup for disappointment.


Following through with your commitment lets others know that they can trust you when you say yes and when you say no.



It would have been better for me to disappoint Stephanie by saying “I can’t be home at 5” than to say “Yes, I can” in the hope that I could make it home by then. Because if I didn’t make it home as I said I would, then she is disappointed and she is hurt by my lack of follow through.


I had to learn the hard way that it was better to proactively address my lack of follow through and only explain why if asked. Following through with my commitments helped Stephanie to trust my “yes” and my “no.”


Broken trust happens when we break our commitments. Therefore, building trust requires that we keep our commitments. Do not commit to something if you are not able to follow through with it.


Following through ...


Builds in you: DisciplineHelps others trust in your: Strength


Samuel Rainey, son of Barbara and Dennis Rainey, is a marriage and family therapist. He and his wife Stephanie have four kids.

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