What do you think of when you see the word "integrity"? Morals? Ethics? A sense of justice? When I think of those things, I most often think of integrity in terms of areas like the workplace or public life - not romantic relationships.
But according to relationship expert Dr. Margaret Paul, integrity can play a big role in maintaining - or harming - your relationship with your significant other.
It's important to start with some definitions. Here's how Dr. Paul describes integrity in her article for The Huffington Post:
>> Being reliable and trustworthy with your word - doing what you say you are going to do.
>> Being honest, telling the truth about yourself.
>> Not doing anything you would not want announced in the papers.
>> Walking your talk - adhering to the moral principles and standards that you profess are important to you.
>> Being accountable for your actions and taking responsibility for your feelings.
She goes on to tell the story of a man crippled by his own sense of constantly betraying his integrity with his wife in two main ways: not doing what he said he was going to do, then not being accountable for his actions. In this case, the situation had to do with coming home very late from work, then not letting her know that he was going to be delayed (even though she said it was fine, as long as he let her know what was going on).
Apparently, his disappointment with himself when he broke his word and anticipated his partner's disappointment would leave him paralyzed, leading to him piling on another layer of negative behavior - disengaging from her and not taking responsibility by communicating his changing schedule. You can read the details of the situation and her analysis of it in the article linked here.
Dr. Paul's central message seems to be that "Our essence has a deep and natural sense of integrity. We cannot ignore this without harming ourselves."
She ends with this advice: "Take a moment to look over the characteristics of integrity at the beginning of this article. Think about any areas where you are not being in integrity with yourself and others. Think about how you feel when you are not reliable with your word, when you are not honest about yourself, when you behave in ways that you do not value, and when you are not accountable for your actions and feelings. People may choose a lack of integrity when they think that the outcome will be worth it. But is it worth any outcome -- emotional or financial -- to do harm to your own soul? We can get away with it only when we are not aware of the harm we are doing to ourselves."
This article is leading me to think about other areas in my relationship that I haven't thought of in terms of integrity. What are your thoughts?