Splitting wood, all the way to the bottom
In his post Splitting wood, Seth Godin explains that the way to split wood is to aim at the bottom of the piece of wood, not the top. Aim at the finish point, the goal, not the starting point. As Seth said “…don’t focus so much on starting something. It’s the follow through that will get you there, so the beginning must be with the end in mind.”
I see many men making this mistake, some of them repeatedly. They act as if starting something in their marriage is the goal, that just making an effort to do better, be better, or do something they have not been doing, is worthy of praise and love (and sex?). If we had this expectation at work, we would soon be out of a job. No one at work cares about our starting; they care about the end result. If we are great at starting but horrible at follow through, we are useless. If we promise to be on time to work from now on, but fail to do so after a day or two, what does that communicate to our boss and co-workers? Why should marriage be any different?
By the way, if you have a long standing habit of starting and not finishing in your marriage, your bride will, rightly, not expect you to finish the next effort at improvement that you make. Please, DO NOT blame her for this, as you are the one who has shown her this is what to expect. Also, don’t think that finishing something once or twice wipes the slate clean – if you have rarely finished in the past, it will take consistently finishing over time for her to have a reason to think you have changed.
Bottom Line: If you can’t finish, don’t start – it’s like making a promise you know you can’t or won’t keep, and it’s very harmful to your marriage.