How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

“Commitment Questions” are tricky to answer, because the tendency is to come across either as too unrealistic or too uncertain. If you’re interviewing for an Analyst position, you don’t want to say you’re 100% certain you’ll be a banker for life – but you should say it’s what you’re most interested in doing, and that you do have plans to stay in finance or business. MBAs will need to show more commitment and assure the interviewer they are serious about making a career out of it. Common questions on this topic include where else you’re interviewing, why you’ve switched careers in the past and testing the old “Why banking?” question again in slightly different forms, just to make absolutely certain you’re committed.

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

1. Where else are you interviewing? Is it just banking? Consulting? Other companies?

Just banking. You’re not interested in consulting / other options and don’t want to waste recruiters’ time.

You need to say this even if you’re so uncertain that you’re deciding between opening a zebra ranch, going on a spiritual journey to Nepal, going back to McKinsey or starting a laundromat with your roommate’s uncle.

2. Are you mostly interviewing at larger banks like us? What kinds of options within banking are you considering?

Mostly larger banks, but you have received some interest from other places so you’re looking at a couple options. If you can mention specific names, that makes your answer even better.

If you’re interviewing in a group like M&A or Healthcare, talk about how you’re mostly speaking with similar groups to show you’re serious about that one area.

3. Before you entered business school, I see you switched jobs about once a year. How do I know that you’re here to stay for the long-term?

Although you switched jobs pre-MBA, it’s quite common to move when better opportunity arises. However, you’ve done a lot of research, spoken with friends, alumni and other connections and are certain banking is for you after doing your own due diligence. You’ve actually looked into other career options and nothing is as attractive to you as banking.

4. Recently some Analysts and Associates have left “early” and jumped to hedge funds or private equity. If the opportunity comes up, why would you stay here instead?

You looked into investing but realized you don’t like the nature of the work – there’s too much due diligence and “looking at deals” rather than taking action and actually doing deals. As a result, after all your research speaking with alumni and other connections, you’re set on banking.

5. Tell me about a time when you failed to honor a commitment.

The key with this type of question is to bring up a “failure” briefly and then to spend most of your time talking about what you’ve learned from it and how you’ve improved rather than dwelling on the failure itself.

6. If I gave you an offer right now on the spot would you take it?

“Yes, show me the dotted line and I’d sign it right now.”

Even if this is a lie, you still have to say it in an interview or you won’t get an offer.

7. Let’s say that we were to give you an offer – how long would you need to decide whether or not to accept it?

“Show it to me and I’ll sign and accept it right now.”

Some people think this is “unethical” if you’re really not certain, but keep in mind that until you’ve signed something in writing you can do whatever you want.

No, they won’t like you if you verbally accept and then renege, but it’s not the end of the world – just the end of your relationship with that bank.

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

We make commitments every day. They can be simple or life-changing — from simply promising to complete a task to making a lifelong commitment such as becoming a parent or asking for someone’s hand in marriage. But do we take our commitments seriously?

Some folks make commitments at the drop of a hat, thinking they can walk away from the obligation if they change their mind. Don’t they understand that commitments come with responsibility? Don’t they care that they may be hurting someone they care about? Don’t they understand that their actions have consequences? If the answer is yes, why don’t people honor their commitments?

Broken Promises. Broken Commitments.

Commitments often fail because people:

Lack personal responsibility. Some people make commitments too easily. Then, as soon as the wind changes direction, they head for the exit.

Make a minimal commitment. Some folks are afraid of getting hurt so they dip their toe in the water rather than jumping in.

Play the field. Some people don’t like to be tied down. They’d rather settle for several superficial relationships than one meaningful one.

“Jump ship” for a better offer. Some folks are opportunists. They’re always on the prowl for a better situation.

Look out for number one. Some people are strictly out for themselves. These selfish folks have a hard time making a commitment that requires even minimal sacrifice.

Keep score. Some folks treat a relationship as a competition. They can’t stand being on the losing end, even for a short period of time.

Make too many commitments. Some people can’t find the words or courage to decline a request. They end up breaking their promise; one that they never felt comfortable about making from the start.

“Chicken out” during tough times. Some people have no character. As soon as something goes south, they’re nowhere to be found.

Do You Understand the Meaning of Commitment?

Here are nine ingredients of a successful commitment. Use them as guideposts through your life.

Go all in. Think twice before making a commitment. Once you do, take the plunge rather than making a half-hearted effort.

Honor your word. Accept responsibility. When you make a commitment, you’re giving your word and putting your honor on the line. Act like it.

Expect the best. Put your complete trust and faith in the commitments that you make. That will encourage you to focus on long-term potential rather than seeking immediate gain.

Keep the relationship front and center. Focus as much on the journey as on the end result. Never sacrifice the relationship for results.

Give first. Give with an open hand. The odds are high that your deed will be reciprocated. But remember, there’s no need to keep score.

Make yourself vulnerable. Be honest and transparent. That will promote a healthy, trusting relationship.

Demonstrate your loyalty. Live up to your commitments in good times and bad. Tough times say a lot about us. Make sure they say only good things about you.

Watch each other’s back. Promote opportunities where everyone wins. Focus on their best interests and have faith that they’ll focus on yours.

Think as one. Build together, grow together, and win together. It’s that simple.

Is Your Commitment as Binding as a Contract?

People are way too quick to make commitments and too quick to abandon them. When you make a commitment, you’re not saying I’ll give it a shot, you’re saying, I’m all in –– and nothing less. When you make a commitment, you’re not saying you’ve got more than I’ve got, you’re saying I’m so happy that you’re happy. When you make a commitment, you’re not saying I’ll honor my responsibility when times are good, you’re saying count on me to be at my best when times are worst. The truth is, when you make a promise, you’re not giving your word in erasable pencil, you’re inscribing your commitment in indelible ink.

Making a commitment is serious business and not something to be taken lightly. When you make a commitment, you’re not only keeping your commitment for their benefit, you’re also keeping it for yourself. That’s because your honor and self-respect hang in the balance. What’s that worth? Everything! Be very careful about making commitments and always be faithful in keeping them.

Do You Keep Your Commitments?

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How to cope when you fail to honor a commitmentWhen it comes to leadership sins, there’s perhaps nothing more consistently offensive than failing to do what’s been promised. Why? Because when leaders fail to follow through on commitments big or small, it’s hard on others. People notice, remember and care when they’re let down. Consequently, they lose respect for their leader, and this impacts their motivation and productivity. If you’ve ever struggled with follow-through, remember that your direct reports are watching and evaluating your ability to honor commitments simply because you are a leader. You’ve just got to do what you say you’re going to do. For example, if you tell employees you’ll address their concerns about an issue, honor that commitment. You expect that of them, after all, so set the example, foolproofing your follow-through to support a culture of responsibility and respect.

Having a disciplined, conscientious approach to managing follow-through will make you better at keeping commitments. So here are a few related thoughts to keep in mind…

Define and communicate. When you say you’re going to do something, don’t just assume you’ll remember your promise or obligation. Write it down and then define and communicate — at least in writing if not also verbally — what that follow up looks like. You want to clue people in on what to expect and when to expect it, as well as who will likely be impacted or involved. Use iCalendar or another time management tool to set reminders, and you’ll be less likely to forget or overlook what you’ve promised. Also try to send out communications that keep people in the loop and demonstrate that you haven’t forgotten your commitment. For example, if your company has recently surveyed customers and promised survey results at the end of the month, sending out a mid-month email reminding them that survey results will soon be published tells customers that you’re on the ball and about to deliver according to plan.

Take commitments seriously. Every commitment you make is a moment of truth — an opportunity to create positive impressions about your leadership abilities and character. The more positive impressions you make, the greater your chances will be of winning the trust of those around you. But do you really need that trust? Yes! Because trust is the seed for growing relationships, and healthy relationships are at the heart of building successful, sustainable business ventures. If you break that fragile trust by not keeping a commitment, your company could tank in an instant and relationships could fall apart forever.

Don’t over-commit. A lot of leaders often say yes because they don’t know how to say no. Others over-commit because they’re afraid of how it might appear if they don’t. What they fail to understand, however, is that it’s far worse to over-promise and under-deliver than to not commit in the first place. What’s more, people actually have respect for leaders who know when to say no and can recognize their own limitations. So when you’re faced with the decision to make a commitment or promise, don’t take it lightly no matter how trivial the commitment seemingly appears. Make sure it’s something you can do, want to do and — most importantly — will use good follow through to do. Only then should you agree to commit.

What happens to profitability when the most trusted, reputable leaders break commitments?

Give me an example of a time when you failed to meet a deadline.

Similar interview questions:
Tell me about a time where you delivered a project late.
What do you do when you have two conflicting priorities and can only deliver one on time?
When was the last time you were unable to deliver within the timeframe originally specified?
What happens when you realize you will be unable to deliver by the set deadline?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
This is a tough interview question because it forces the candidate to talk about a failure. The interviewer is looking not only for how you failed, but more specifically why you failed. The answer typically comes down to the circumstances and the resulting blame game. Do you take personal responsibility for failing to meet a deadline? Or is the blame entirely on others?

The best approach to answering this question:
Your best approach is to talk about a specific situation where you missed a deadline due to unforeseen or unplanned circumstances, yet take personal responsibility for the shortcoming and talk about what you are doing to keep it from happening again in the future.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
“In my current role, I have both a direct line manager and a dotted line manager. I recently had my primary project interrupted due to a critical firefighting request by my dotted line manager. Although my direct line manager approved me working on this request, it put me off my delivery timeline for my primary project. In the end, I was able to solve the firefighting issue and deliver on my primary project, but it ended up being over a week late due to the diversion. I talked about this with my direct line manager and we agreed to put in place contingency buffer time into future projects to allow me to divert if and when necessary to the dotted line department. I also met with my dotted line manager and discussed training another person in the department so that I wouldn’t be the sole person to cover in these types of situations…”

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
“In my recent internship, I delivered my primary project ahead of schedule and was then given a secondary project to deliver by the end of my internship. Since it was a project area where I did not yet have experience, it took me some time to come up to speed. Yet the original time estimate was based on someone already working within the department. When I got to within two weeks of completing my internship and returning to college, I knew that I was not going to be able to complete the secondary project by the end of my internship. I met with my mentor and we worked out a situation which allowed me to continue to work on the project part-time after the official end of the internship. She told me that they typically would not do this, but understood the circumstances and were willing to flex to make it happen. I was able to complete the secondary project a few weeks later and got a high overall rating for my work…”

An example of how you should not answer this question:
“Well, my current project deadline has long since passed and we still have no idea when everything will be finished. It was a really aggressive time estimate from the start. My boss just gave it to me and I said I would try, but I knew it couldn’t be completed in that amount of time. Now everyone is mad that the project is running over time and over budget, which is why I want to leave, so here I am, interviewing with you…”

Further review: know the answers to these 100 Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

While not the most common job interview question, the failure question—should you get it—is rather perplexing. How do you answer this honestly while also not scaring away your potential future employer by bringing up that time you lost your company a lot of money?

It’s a tricky situation to be in. You want to impress, but you’re explicitly being asked to talk about something you failed at. So, what do you do?

First things first, stay calm. Take a deep breath and say something like, “Wow, that’s a great question. I’m going to have to think about that for a second.” Then, think about it for a second and follow these four steps.

1. Pick a Real Failure

Step one is to pick a failure. Don’t try to weasel your way out of this by talking about that one time you got a B in a college class. You’re not fooling anyone. At the same time, you probably also want to shy away from any colossal failures related to the kind of work you’re applying for. If the interviewer specifically asks for something related to work, try to at least pull the story from something that happened a long time ago. Choose a story in which something fairly important didn’t go right due to your personal actions (or lack of actions).

Note that I said “something” and not “everything”—the reason people so frequently trip up on this question is because they’re looking for a situation in which everything went wrong. You only need one thing to go wrong for your answer to work.

2. Define Failure in Your Own Words

The reason why you don’t need to talk about some immense failure in which everything goes catastrophically and comically wrong is because you’re going to spell out why you felt this situation was a failure.

After you’ve picked your story, define failure in a way that works for it. Once failure is defined, your story no longer needs to be an obvious failure; it just has to be whatever you define failure to be.

What This Sounds Like

To me, failure is about not meeting expectations—others’ as well as my own.

As a manager, I consider it a failure whenever I’m caught by surprise. I strive to know what’s going on with my team and their work.

I think failure is more than just not meeting a goal, it’s about not meeting a goal with the resources you’re given. If I end up taking more time or supplies than I was originally allotted, that feels like a failure to me.

3. Tell Your Story

Now that you’ve established how you evaluate failure, tell the story that you chose. Try not to spend too much time setting the stage, and get to the punch line quickly. Interviewers don’t ask this question to see you squirm, they want to know how you handle setbacks—so get to the part where you’re dealing with the failure as quickly as possible.

Start with the situation, and explain why it was challenging. Then go into what you specifically did to try and rectify it. Presumably, since this is about failure, you will not be successful or will only be partially successful. That’s fine. Do not try to cover up the fact that things didn’t all go as planned. It’s impossible to do well in an interview if the interviewer doesn’t believe what you’re saying, so don’t try to sugar coat things.

4. Share What You Learned

Finally, at the end of your response, after you relay the awful outcome of your story, you get to the good stuff. You want to wrap up with your lessons learned.

Talk about why you think things went badly, maybe what you would have done in hindsight, and, of course, what you’ll be doing going forward.

What This Sounds Like

Our big problem was assuming that we would be able to get clean data from users. It’s one of my biggest takeaways from the experience: Never make assumptions about the data. I haven’t made that mistake again.

If I had just communicated the first few bumps in the road, we could have managed our client’s expectations, but because we didn’t, we damaged the relationship. Now, I never let an uncomfortable conversation prevent me from communicating the status of a project transparently.

The failure question frequently takes people by surprise. Even if you’re prepared for it, talking about failure is difficult. The key to answering this question well is first framing the way you evaluate failure and then finishing with your key takeaways from the experience. If you sandwich your story with these two components, you’ll definitely have a strong answer.

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

Lily Zhang is a career counselor at the MIT Media Lab, where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers on crafting their own unique career paths. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her website.

This question can be the most important determinant of landing the job, but this depends on your story and the impression it leaves on the recruiter. From your answer, the interviewer can deduce if you are growth-oriented or flounder in the face of challenges.

It’s challenging to detail one’s failures or setbacks to a potential employer. But, these questions are often necessary. The interviewer wants to know whether you can acknowledge your weaknesses and take responsibility for your failures. This can also reveal the kinds of risks you take and the habits you possess, and define your own perceptions of success and failure.

In this article, we’ll share some tips for how to provide a satisfactory answer to this question while increasing your chances of getting hired.

“Describe a time you failed” example answers

An effective approach to the “failure” interview questions have a story about the failure. While creating a few talking points is helpful, it can be even more helpful to use those points to create a narrative free of loopholes or unoriginality.

Use the STAR method (Situation/Task, Approach and Results) to prepare your story, detailing what you learned from your experience. The format is an effective way to approach the important points of your story while keeping it short.

In the example answers below, you’ll see the failure type followed by context sentences:

Example failure 1: Task errors

“My current job involves processing claims for our client. In this instance, I unknowingly made an error regarding the client’s information, and as a result, the company received major pushback from the client. This put a lot of stress on my team in particular, as it is our responsibility to remain accurate and thorough. The error was alarming, and our team suffered because of it. I was determined to not make a mistake like this again, so I spoke with my manager about work strategies I can implement to prevent an error like this occurring again. Since then, I have not made task errors like this, and am able to keep track of my work in a more efficient way.”

Example failure 2: Procrastination

“When I first started the position, I would find myself falling behind on work due to procrastination. This affected my work, as I was not meeting production standards, making things harder for my team overall. After speaking with my manager, I realized that my procrastination was a symptom of my lack of confidence in my abilities in my role. Upon discovering this, my manager and I decided it would be best if I shadowed other team members to watch how they work and ask questions. I have now been at the company for two years, no longer procrastinate, and regularly review training materials to remain current about my job functions.”

Example failure 3: Management

“I manage a team of 10 people in our department. It is my job to inform the team of system updates via meetings and emails. In one instance, I sent an email about a system update, but forgot to include a key detail. Because of this, the team was confused, and the department endured several hours of back-and-forth conversation through email and instant message. Because of this, our harmony and workflow were disrupted. As leader of this team, I called an emergency meeting to clarify the changes made. I also apologized to my team for the error, ensured any errors made due to mine would not be counted against them and promised to update everyone accurately moving forward. I also let the team know that if they have any other questions or concerns, they can observe my open door policy and express their thoughts with me in person.”

How to prepare your answer

When preparing your answer, consider these tips:

Think deeply about the answer

When choosing an instance of failure to discuss, think hard about the outcome of the failure and whether it will boost your chances of getting the job. We all make mistakes in life, but some failures are best kept to ourselves. Choose a story that highlights some of your key qualities relevant to the position you are applying to.

For example, if the position involves quick thinking and adapting to change, describe an instance when you struggled with rapid change and have since learned from that experience.

Also, when choosing your answer, stay away from examples that end in poor decision-making or a skewed view of the workplace. Instead, focus on stories whose ending shows you as a person who is self-aware, willing to accept good counsel and learn from mistakes.

Practice your answer

Regardless of your level of preparation, the question may still meet you unawares. However, you can reduce the chances of this happening with practice. A good way to practice interview questions and answers is through role play.

Give your prepared answers to a friend or family member and tell them to pretend to be the interviewer. They will ask you the questions and you provide timely and concise answers. Make sure your rehearsals mimic the conditions of the real interview as much as possible. Practice will improve your confidence and make it easier to recall your stories and key points during the real interview. With this and other methods, you can prepare well for the interview.

Ask co-workers for honest feedback

It’s often difficult to assess yourself objectively when you fail. To get an honest assessment of your shortcomings and how it contributed to the failure, encourage a colleague to share their honest feedback over the event.

Look for someone whose position or role was affected by your poor decision and they will probably give you honest, unadulterated input. This can help put your own views on the issue into a better perspective and enable you to highlight the key points of the event in your discussions with the interviewer. Not only will the coworker help you see things from a subjective point of view, but the insights you gain from such a conversation may help you in your interview.

Printable Word and Excel Templates

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

Reply Letter to Client Who does not Honour the Meeting Commitment

The foundation of a business mostly lies in trust. When a relationship of trust is developed between the business and its clients, the business grows rapidly. Trust usually develops when both parties are upright and know the importance of committing and then fulfilling those commitments.

When to write the reply letter to those who don’t fulfill commitments?

There comes a situation when it becomes extremely important for a service provider to meet his clients. There are lots of things that are required to be discussed in the meeting. For this purpose, you might have asked your client to meet you in-person. Sometimes, the client also asks for a meeting. However, the client does not show up on the specified day. This makes the client lose his credibility. In this situation, you can write a letter to your client.

Why the reply letter to the client is written when he does not fulfill the commitment?

Companies or individual service providers always reply to their customers and clients because they know that communication is the key if they want to make their business successful. Due to this, they never let the communication die and reply to every email and letter of the clients.

Sometimes, clients request the business or service providers to meet them in-person. For example, if you are a consultant and you render consultation services, you might have been asked by your client to take some time for meeting with you. Sometimes, some clients don’t bother to fulfill the commitment and don’t visit you on the promised day. Such clients are replied by the business by writing a reply letter. The basic purpose of writing this letter is to let the client know that his non-serious attitude has been noticed by you and you are not happy with this behavior.

Tips for writing this letter:

As it has been told earlier, this letter holds a lot of importance for a business. Therefore, a business must consider writing this letter by ensuring its full effectiveness. Here are some tips:

  1. Although you are unhappy with this behavior of your client and you writing this letter to express your unhappiness, you can never go beyond certain limits especially when you are writing a business letter. Therefore, you are needed to make sure that your tone is professional, and you have chosen a reasonable way to express your anger.
  2. Keep the letter brief and to the point. For this purpose, add some pertinent details in the letter that can keep your letter short and comprehensive at the same time.
  3. Make the reader know how he has not honored his commitment. You can explain this by adding certain details to the letter.
  4. Tell the reader when he did not fulfill the commitments; he caused a lot of inconvenience to you. You can explain that in what you way you have suffered from the non-serious behavior of the client. For example, if you canceled your important appointments just for meeting with the client, tell your client about it
  5. Talk about the consequences of the non-serious behavior of the client. For example, due to this non-serious behavior, if you think that you might not be able to meet that client again in-person and you are only willing to him over the phone, mention this in the letter.
  6. Provide your contact details at the end of the letter where your client can contact you.

Sample letter:

RE: Failing to meet commitment

Dear (name of the client),

This letter is being written in response to your message in which you have requested to meet you. You have been asked several times by our company to visit our office during (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) upon your request that you sent via letter. You also showed a willingness to meet with us and gave us a date on which we can expect you to come over. However, on that day, you did not show up and you dishonor the commitment.

We have appointments with many other clients, and we put off some of them because we committed to meeting with you. This behavior of yours has caused us so much inconvenience.

We are hereby writing this letter to tell you that we are not available for a meeting on any date from now onwards. If you want to discuss something really important to us, you can talk to us over the phone. Furthermore, we would like to request you to please fulfill your commitments.

You can contact us on (mention the number) for discussing the matter with us in detail. Feel free to contact us.

Your name
Your designation in the company
Your signatures

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

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Sometimes you can get a new job, leave a bad relationship, or even move to a new place. But how do you survive a situation you can’t change? These tips won’t make your problems disappear, but you’ll see you’re not alone. And you may find some strength and hope for your journey forward.

On 7 Tips for Dealing With Controlling Parents a She Blossoms reader said she hates her life but can’t change her family situation. Here’s part of her comment:

“Sometimes people have to endure the pain and just go through life because the situation can’t change. I can’t get help and there’s no solution. I hate that I have to be with my mom every day. I’m sorry if this sounds like a rant. I feel like when I write to someone, I feel better. No one can ever know at school or in my family that we have problems at home. I always want to be seen as someone who has everything together. I like it that way. Anyways, I bet your tips can really help others. I feel helpless and stuck here, and could use some ideas on how to survive a situation that won’t ever change.”

She’s right: sometimes you just have to learn how to make the best of a situation – survive – because you’re unable or unwilling to make serious changes. Maybe you can’t change your life because your children, pets, elderly parents or even a group of people is depending on you.

Even though you can’t change your situation, you can learn how to survive. You might even find ways to see through the struggle, pain and grief to a bigger purpose in your life. Maybe surviving an unchangeable situation is about digging deeper into who you are and why God created you, instead of changing your external circumstances. Or, maybe you have to prepare to survive a season of sadness after breaking up, or move through grief after someone you love dies.

How to Survive a Situation You Can’t Change

There are no survival tips that work for everyone; our situations are different, unique, and complex. So are our personalities, lifestyles, choices, dreams and future plans! And what may have helped you survive a situation you couldn’t change last year or ten years ago may not help you through today.

To truly be a survivor, you need to explore different ideas and possibilities until you find what works for you. Your situation may never change – or it may change in a few weeks, months or even years. How will you survive? It depends on how curious you are about your own life!

Know you are not alone

In Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, popular advice columnist and bestselling author Cheryl Strayed describes her past job as a youth advocate for teenagers. She worked with abused, neglected girls; her job was to help them not get pregnant, not get locked up before they graduate, and get a permanent job at Taco Bell or WalMart.

In her book Strayed described the “ghastly, horrible, shocking, sad, merciless things” her girls repeatedly experienced. One girl’s grandpa molested her every weekend. Another girl’s mom’s boyfriend held her face under ice-cold running water outside in the back yard in November, and locked her out of the house for hours. Yet another teenage girl slept outside in a falling-down woodshed in the alley while her mother drank and raged all night long.

“I called the state’s Child Protection Services every day, and no one did one thing,” writes Strayed. “Not one person. Not one thing. Ever.”

So, Strayed tried something different:

I told her it was not okay, that it was unacceptable, that it was illegal and that I would call and report this latest horrible thing. But I did not tell her it would stop. I did not promise that anyone would intervene. I told her that the situation would likely go on and she’d have to survive it. That she’d have to find a way within herself to not only escape, but to transcend it, and if she wasn’t able to do that, then her whole life would be shit, forever and ever and ever. I told her that escaping would be hard, but that if she wanted to not make her mother’s life her destiny, she had to be the one to make it happen. She had to do more than hold on. She had to reach. She had to want it more than she’d ever wanted anything. She had to grab like a drowning girl for every good thing that came her way and she had to swim like f*ck away from every bad thing.”

Learn the art of bouncing back (resilience!)

Strayed realized she couldn’t change the girls’ external environments. So, she tried to teach the girls resilience. She decided to help them learn how to survive situations they couldn’t change. She stopped trying to change the system, stopped calling Child Protective Services, stopped fighting what could not be changed. She started trying to help the girls build resilience and internal resources so they could survive their childhoods.

Sometimes we can’t change our family, our friends, the environment, or the community. Sometimes the only thing we can change is ourselves. Even if we have to survive life with an angry man because we can’t leave, we can learn different ways to fight for ourselves.

Let yourself be vulnerable

Most of us want to appear strong, capable, even perfect. We care what others think and we want them to believe we have it all together. Remember my She Blossoms reader’s comment at the beginning of this article? She likes people to think she has no problems. She refused to tell anyone how hard it was for her to survive her home situation. I understand and respect her feelings…but the older I get the more I learn how important it is to reveal our true feelings, thoughts, situations and lives.

Reaching out to others and letting them see us for who we are is the only way to truly come alive. Being known and vulnerable isn’t won’t just help you survive an unchangeable situation, it’ll unite you with others in stronger, deeper ways.

Taking risks and being curious are two ways I survive situations I can’t change. How about you? How have you survived past situations that you had no control over?

Is your marriage just so-so, or is it toxic? Are you unsure about whether you ever really loved your partner or are you just going through a difficult time?

By Terry Gaspard Updated: August 24, 2020 Categories: Considering Divorce

How to cope when you fail to honor a commitment

Is your marriage just so-so, or is it toxic? Are you unsure about whether you ever really loved your partner or are you just going through a difficult time? Should you get a divorce?

Maybe you worry about whether you should stay together for the sake of your children even though your marriage has been a disaster for a long time.

Before you make a final decision about something as important as divorce, it is important to examine your situation carefully. While there is no foolproof way to know if divorce is the best solution to an unhappy marriage (or even one where infidelity is present), many people consider it to be a viable option to chronic unhappiness, high conflict, or even falling out of love with their partner.

The following list of questions will help you to examine your thoughts, feelings, and options prior to making a decision about whether or not to proceed with a divorce.

Should You Get a Divorce? Here Are 10 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do I feel constantly criticized and put down by my partner and this leaves me feeling less than good enough? According to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, criticism is one of the main reasons why marriages collapse. It can be lethal to a marriage because it can lead to contempt.
  2. Do I feel disrespected by my spouse? Does my partner honor my boundaries? When you lose respect for your partner, or vice versa, you may feel they are damaged goods. If left unchecked, this dynamic will destroy your marriage.
  3. Does my partner engage in a pattern of chronic, overt, destructive behavior? This would include activities such as internet gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse, porn, or illegal activities.
  4. Is my marriage characterized by persistent high conflict without many periods of harmony or happiness in the relationship?
  5. Do I experience emotional, physical, or financial abuse in my marriage that causes me to feel unsafe and/or disrespected? For the most part, experts agree that any type of abuse erodes feelings of security, trust, or sense of belonging in a relationship and these issues can’t be resolved in the context of a marriage.
  6. When I argue with my partner, do we seldom repair our relationship and get back on track? Have we fallen into the trap of blaming each other and fail to compromise or apologize? As a result, we experience less warmth and closeness? One of the most important solutions to this problem is to get really good at repair skills. Couples need to get back on track after a fight if they don’t want issues to fester.
  7. Do we rarely have sex or spend time together and have no desire to change this pattern? After all, intimate relationships require nurturing and couples who spend time together and have sex regularly report that they are more emotionally connected.
  8. Is one of you involved in an ongoing affair? The crucial aspect of an affair is betrayal. If a spouse fails to end an affair, take responsibility for their actions, and make a commitment to stop the betrayal, there is little chance that a marriage can be saved.
  9. Does your partner refuse to talk at all when you have a dispute? If so, she or he may be “stonewalling.” Unfortunately, stonewalling or shutting down is one of the predictors of divorce.
  10. Does my partner refuse to work on our relationship? If your spouse doesn’t care enough to spend time on improving your relationship, that’s a big sign that they’re done with it. It takes two to tango and one person can’t save a marriage. This includes refusing to spend time together and/or attending couples counseling sessions.

Many people ask me “Should I get a divorce?” By far, this is one of the most commonly asked questions clients and bloggers ask me. And even though I’ve lectured on this topic many times, I still find myself pausing and choosing my words carefully. The reason why this question is so difficult for me to answer is because every couple and family is different and one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to divorce.

Other reasons include whether or not you have children: parental conflict plays a large role in children’s emotional and psychological adjustment (in both intact and divorced families) and there is quite a lot of controversy about research findings.

Whether parents should stay together for the sake of their children depends to a large degree on the level of stress and disruption in family relationships associated with an unhappy or conflictual marriage. An important question is: would the well-being of the children be enhanced by a move to a divorced, single-parent family? If the answer is yes, then a divorce can be advantageous. However, if a divorce will expose children to diminished resources, such as more conflict and more difficulty parenting, the answer may be to stay together.

In her landmark book For Better or For Worse, eminent psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington highlights the results of her study of 1,400 families and the importance of examining the type of conflict children experience. She notes that high-conflict that involves the child, is physically violent, threatening or abusive, and conflict in which the child feels caught in the middle, has the most adverse consequences for children.

In another review of this topic, Paul Amato states “When parents engage in a pattern of chronic, overt, destructive conflict, children may be no worse off (and perhaps better off) if the marriage ends in divorce.” The main finding highlighted by Amato and Hetherington is this: while parental divorce may expose children to more risk factors for subsequent social and psychological problems, that association is moderate and the majority of youth (75%) reach adulthood as well-functioning individuals.

Even the late divorce expert Judith Wallerstein who tended to emphasize the detrimental impact of parental divorce writes “Children raised in extremely unhappy homes or violent homes face misery in childhood and tragic consequences in adulthood.” She goes on to say, “I don’t know of any research, mine included, that says divorce is universally detrimental to children.”

Truth be told, many factors are involved in determining whether or not a couple should divorce. Every relationship and family has unique dynamics and characteristics. Deciding whether to divorce is a tough, complex, and controversial subject. There are no right or wrong answers, nor are there any simplistic solutions. However, if a couple has the maturity and fortitude to re-connect and work on their marriage (and abuse is absent), it may give them the chance to heal and improve over time.