Building a house from the ground up has many challenges and headaches. Yes, you get the house you want, but along the way, are multitudes of decisions you make.
You make decisions on fixtures, faucets door knobs and so much more. There are choices about the home and about the contractors.
One day, when my wife and I were building a home in the tiny coastal community of Shoreacres, Texas, I pulled our builder aside and asked him a personal question.
“How do you know which contractors you can trust?”
I wanted to know how he went about knowing who is trustworthy and who isn’t. With any construction project there are plenty of contractors wanting the job.
With all the choices, how do you decide? Do you make choices on convenience? On reputation? on trust? or some combination of everything?
With me, trust was important. It’s not just trusting someone to do the job, but also trusting them to show up on time, do the job right, be safe and not steal from the job site.
When you don’t know all your contractors, you have to have some formula or way of deciding who to trust, which is why I asked him how he determines who is trustworthy.
Fourteen years ago, I found myself sitting outside of Harris County courtroom #2 stunned in disbelief. The judge that we were led to believe would be impartial was anything but.
He listened to the claims of the other party then refused even allowing us to present our evidence or hear us out. The word of the other party was considered more proof than the black and white evidence we had in hand. (Perhaps the fact that he was golf buddies with the other parties attorney was a factor which I discovered later).
I felt like a deflated balloon. Hope, optimism and open mindedness all left me in that moment. I can handle when people lie about me, but when a judge refuses even hearing me out, I felt… discouraged.
That experience helped me relate to Brittany when she told me about how the judge in a Cobb County, Georgia allowed her husband to marry his lover before her divorce from him was final. Having been burned by a judge, his outrageous act didn’t surprise me.
She hoped that law would prevail, but a judge with an agenda trumps the law faster than pair of aces beats a pair of kings in a poker game.
It’s at such moments after you’ve been ‘kicked in the teeth’ by a rigged legal system that you realize you don’t trust anyone. You’ve lost faith in judges, lawyers, your spouse, and doctors. You start viewing the legal system as a ‘game’ where the rules are hidden from you.
A few months ago, the car that grabbed my attention was the Alfa Romeo 4C. After reading the literature and researching it, I thought I wanted one. It’s dangerous getting excited about a car without ever having driven it.
An opportunity came for me to try out an Alfa Romeo 4C. On driving into the dealership, I was greeted by the George the ‘Sales Consultant’. I told him what model I was interested in and George led me to a shiny yellow (they call it ‘Giallo Prototipo’) 4C spider and promptly went for the key.
While he was obtaining the keys, I studied the showroom perfect lines and details of the car, thinking “This is Great!”. George arrived, unlocked the car and opened the door.
Although excited about finally testing one out, I found myself bending my body into uncomfortable contortions just to enter it. Once in the cockpit, my knees hit the steering wheel. There was no way I could comfortably drive it.
The car was not everything I imagined it to be. Reality brought my dreams crashing down with a thud. Testing things out, including test driving for fit, and drive-ability prevented me from making a mistake.
When something is as important as your marriage, you’ll want to ‘test before you trust’. This is especially true when you are working on rebuilding damaged trust.
One of my grandmothers made it a point of leaving out an ingredient when she gave her recipes to others. People often liked her cooking, in fact, to this day, people still rave about her enchiladas.
When I asked her the reason for leaving an ingredient out, she said "So they won't taste the same. When other people make the recipe, something is missing. They'll still prefer mine since it tastes better." When she explained it, the situation suddenly made sense to me.
Since then, I've discovered other women who have some similar habits.
In a similar way, when it comes to trust and rebuilding it, I've found that an ingredient is often left out. I included it in my "Trust Formula", yet the other products are often missing this key ingredient.
I'm not sure if they are like my grandmother and intentionally left it out, or they haven't discovered it yet. The missing ingredient makes a huge difference when it comes to rebuilding trust.
That missing ingredient is 'commitment'. When your marriage is missing commitment or the commitment is conditional, your trust will suffer.
One of the weaknesses of second marriages is that your commitment is conditional at best. You're willing to commit up to a certain point. Once that point is reached, you have little hesitancy about bailing on the marriage.
Growing up, one of the fascinating stores worth visiting was Radio Shack. In those days, there were numerous kits for building your own radio and other electronic gadgets.
With those kits, you made your own electronic gadgets along with getting an education in elementary electronics.
One of the lessons I learned from those kits is that you need good connections. The reception for my home made radio was only as good as the connections I created. In my search for connections, I gained appreciation for soldering irons, which used molten material forming better connections.
You learn quickly that the quality of material and wires make all the difference in the quality of connections you create.
The power of the circuit was limited to the quality of my connection. A bad connection meant my circuit wouldn't function like it should.
Those early lessons taught me the basics about electronics and about relationships.
In relationships, the quality of your connection makes a difference as well. A poor relationship connection means that your relationship can't handle much stress. It also means that it can't handle much of the communication load either.
You may have thought that the key to communication with your spouse is a better vocabulary. A better or more precise vocabulary is not the key to getting your point across. The key is 'making good connection' with your spouse.
When a family member looked at me with tear-filled eyes and asked ‘Why won’t he listen to me?’ my gut knotted up. I wanted to tell her the truth she needed to hear, yet I knew she wasn’t in a place to hear what she needed to hear.
That’s a funny thing about truths. You have to be ready to hear them, otherwise they are wasted. There’s a popular idea in the media and in some religious circles these days, that all you need to do is “Speak truth to power”. That mindset sounds convincing, yet it’s misleading.
Truth is always a good thing, yet HOW it’s presented and unfiltered truth present some challenges.
Speaking the truth, whether it is one person’s version of the truth, the gospel or public consensus, and expecting it to be heard, sets you up with unrealistic expectations. This kind of thinking gets you believing that all you have to do is be truthful and it’ll fix everything, including the affair.
Like magic, you’re led to believe all you have to do is say the right words and ‘presto’ all is healed.
You assume that telling the cheater your truth about the affair will suddenly fix it. If you believe that, you need to prepare yourself for some heartaches.
Assuming that speaking the truth or “truth to power” will heal your marriage is a fairy story for adults. It’s a half-truth, which,… if you get technical, is a lie.
At times I wonder if the person who said “Honesty is the best policy” knew what they were talking about. Some of the most embarrassing moments of my life happened when I was honest.
For years, one of my best friends reminded me incessantly about the time his mother offered me some chocolate cake. Being unfamiliar with her cooking at that time, I dared asking “Is it good?”
My friend often reminded me of my daring to ask such a question. For me, it was about being honest, for him, it was sacrilege questioning his mom’s cooking.
There was another time when I worked for a drug rehab hospital. While attending a planning meeting, the decision makers were wondering what speaker to invite to an upcoming grand opening. The list of speakers contained many trendy and popular speakers of that time.
At hearing the mention of one name, I found myself in disbelief. I was familiar with her from her advocating using hallucinogens as a way of awakening consciousness.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Being puzzled by this suggested candidate, I spoke up and shared my concern about her advocating illegal drugs with the group.
I expressed my reservations about having an advocate of LSD promoting the opening of a drug rehab. In my mind, it was a contradictory message.
Lies damage relationships. How that damage happens depends not on whether it's big or little lies but rather who the lies are told to.
Among the many horror stories I can tell you about my mother-in-law, one trait that stands out are the lies. Although at one point she had a reputation of "just tellin' the plain truth", the reality is that even then, there was enough of a lie embedded to make her truths dangerous.
Her plain truth was coated with a thick layer of southern charm, which made it more believable to some people.
She inflicted massive damage on others by carefully telling lies disguised as plain truths to key people in positions of influence. At times I thought she would have made a great politician with how she did that. Since she was a mayor's daughter, perhaps she learned that bad habit growing up.
Since she was my mother-in-law, I wanted to believe her, but found I couldn't.
After discovering her true nature, I found myself double-checking just about everything she told me. I learned to ignore half of it and to take the other half with a grain of salt.
When neighbors made her cookies, she threw them out without a taste. When the neighbors later asked her if she like them, she smiled and responded "I loved them!" completing the gesture with a gentle clasping of her hands together giving an expression of sincerity.
While watching a presentation from Annie Pratt where she shared ways of taking a business from nine to ten figures a year, I was struck by many items she mentioned. I was amazed that the smart businesses realize the importance of 'trust' in reaching their goals.
I was also excited hearing her as a business consultant sharing items of trust similar to what I've shared with people, yet on a different level.
At one point, I jumped from my seat, and rushed to the bedroom for my favorite moleskin. I hurriedly opened it and began jotting down her insights on trust while thinking "This is stuff that couples can use".
One of those insights was that "You need to repair trust ASAP". When you are dealing with large companies, delaying your response has devastating impact.
I thought to myself "This is pure gold!"
I know from when I was in the corporate world that some problems demand fast responses. Delays in dealing with them makes them worse. The other side of that was that you get into bigger trouble delaying your response that you would have dealing with it right away.
It struck me that since trust is an ASAP item for ten figure businesses, it should also be important in marriages as well. Even though repairing trust should be an ASAP item, couples often delay doing something about it.
June this year marks the 50th anniversary of the record “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I recall being fascinated by the cover of the album and identifying the many figures on it.
Having the lyrics on the back was an added bonus. The album was one of those items that people talked about in terms of what it means, unlike the CD releases of today.
Although it’s release 1967 is often viewed as part of the ‘Summer of Love’, the theme of loneliness it conveys is rarely discussed. The very name of the album lets you know you’re dealing with a bunch of lonely people.
Being young when the album was released, I found myself fascinated with lonely hearts clubs and what they were about.
One of the struggles you go through with an affair is that of loneliness. Being lonely was a problem back in 1967, and now it’s even worse. Going through times of loneliness are painful. When you’re lonely any pain you experience is magnified since you are carrying it by yourself.
There are times you may want to be alone, but that’s very different from feeling lonely. Feeling lonely has a prison term quality to it. It’s like something you are sentenced to.
The loneliness prison is one where you are trapped inside of your own pain and fears. Your own imaginations are your personal torturing committee.