7 Codes to Creating a Strong, Healthy, Happy Relationship Taking his personal experience from Vietnam POW camps, the author has created a code of honor and accountability to strengthen your most intimate relationships. BY LEE ELLIS
When you hold each other accountable in your marriage, you are able to become who you want to be.
“ Accountability provides the guard rails that help us keep our commitments and be who we want to be.”
Whatís trending in our culture regarding relationships? Unfortunately, we see from time to time a negative, declining trend in responsible and honorable behavior. Dishonorable behaviors are a problem, especially where there is power or money at stake. So, having a dishonorable and dishonest foundation in a relationship is a recipe for disaster, especially when challenging times come. If youíre as concerned about it as I am, what can we do?
In preparing to write my new book, "Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability," I read several excellent books on the subject of accountability. "The Oz Principle" is one of the most famous. I was especially attracted to their third principle which basically says that when youíre disappointed in the performance of your people (or your partner), you have to point the finger at yourself first. When we hold ourselves accountable in professional (and personal) relationships, itís the right step in building a foundation for better mutual respect and communication.
Learn From Others
Life lessons came fast in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" POW campóit was literally a school of hard knocks. I was an Air Force jet fighter pilot and prisoner of war in the camps of Vietnam. For more than five years, I served as a young lieutenant with senior leaders who demonstrated honorable behavior under the most horrific circumstances. More importantly, I personally experienced the sacrifice that it takes to live and lead with honor and accountability. This direct relationship between these two virtues is undeniable, but itís most powerful when we personally apply them in interpersonal relationships.
If youíre specifically looking for strong foundation for a strong and healthy relationship, it requires clarity about what honorable behaviors look like. Hereís an "Honor Code" developed by my team that pinpoints seven ways everyone should live and lead in our culture:
1. Tell the truth, even when itís difficult. 2. Treat others with dignity and respect. 3. Keep your word and commitments. 4. Be ethical. 5. Act responsibly; do your duty and be accountable. 6. Be courageous. 7. Live your values.
They may sound simple, but theyíre quickly realized as difficult when applying them in everyday life and work. No one is immune when the dark side of human nature emerges with self-serving, rationalizing thoughts and actions like pride, fear, or laziness that look for shortcuts and loopholes. In contrast, accountability provides the guard rails that help us keep our commitments and be who we want to be. It is the faithful "guardian companion" of honor.
Commit to Your Purpose and Plan
Choosing the "hard" right decisions over the easy, short term, self-serving ones is the essence of a strong relationship. By holding each other accountable to a standard of character, courage, and commitment, youíll be able to withstand any challenges that come your way.
So take steps now to engage your relationships with honor and accountability. Itís worth the effort, and your significant other will feel loved and empowered in the long run.