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Relationship Maintenance

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

It has been almost 10 years since my wife Jennifer and I began building our house in 2003. In the years since, the HVAC has been repaired a couple of times, a toilet had to be replaced, holes patched, repainting done and the carpet in the living room has been stretched twice because it was not installed properly. Outside, the natural areas have been re-needled and re-planted several times, plants and trees moved and fence posts concreted. All of this has been in addition to the normal maintenance that any house requires both indoors and out. The cleaning, mowing, washing, scrubbing and vacuuming. The filter changing, light-bulb changing, organizing, de-cluttering and purging that goes on all of the time.

This got me to thinking about how marriage and other relationships are like the care you put into a house.

Many people see marriage as a relationship that you form, flip a switch, and everything goes smoothly. However, this would be similar to buying a house and never expecting to clean or maintain it. It will degrade faster than you think, and before you know it, it will not be worth living in. Marriage requires work. It requires that you do the everyday maintenance, such as saying kind things to your loved one, helping with chores, and generally doing things that show that you recognize their needs and desires and will strive to help them meet them. I think most married couples get this but this is not the hard part.

It gets hard is when the AC goes out in the middle of the summer.

What I mean by this is that couples that love each other often struggle when it comes to large obstacles. They may be great at helping each other out when things are going well, but when one loses their job and it’s hard to make the bills, or when a spouse makes a bad choice that leads to injured feelings or worse,  the relationship frequently starts to suffer. This is where relationships can fail, or they can be made stronger.

When your AC goes out, or a water pipe breaks, you know it’s going to cost you,  but you also know that what is put in is likely better than what it replaced. How many people think of just getting rid of the house when these things happen? Some I am sure, but not many. Our investment in the house is much greater than the cost of overcoming a temporary issue. It is the same way with our relationships. When we have invested in each other, caring for one another, we should not be ready to let it all go when rocky times are encountered. It is through hard work and love that these temporary struggles can forge trust and strength that just cannot be found on smooth waters.

When things get difficult, it can be very tempting to remove ourselves and follow the path of least resistance to an easier place. But to do that is to give up on what can and should be one of the most rewarding things a human can do. Marriage is work, but it takes work to accomplish truly great things. Don’t give up on it.

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  1. February 18, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Great post Mike. I think the unfortunate part is that we are living in a society that sees everything, by and large, as disposable, including relationships. So people are more likely to just dump a ‘starter marriage’ and look for greener pastures. Of course, the unfortunate flip side to this is that there are times when the continued investment outweighs the eventual value (‘throwing good money after bad’), and a lot of people have difficulty seeing this as well. Ultimately, I think you should be actively thinking about your life and trying to steer it in the direction that you want it to go.

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