I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face the day the bank manager handed me the keys to my dream car. I was mesmerized by everything about that day. Driving to work in traffic felt so much less trying than the day before. The sun felt a little bit warmer and looked a little bit brighter. I placed both hands on the wheel and leaned back as I sighed a sigh of satisfaction. I was totally in love with this little blue wonder.
About 2 months later, I was in a regular routine of spending the morning of my day off cleaning her up from top to bottom. Every two weeks she needed me to refill her gas tank with enough fuel to ensure I didn’t end up sitting on the side of the road (you remember my running out of gas stories). And every 3000 miles, I scheduled an oil change. My dad taught me that checking the oil, cleaning the windshield and topping up other fluids should be done while I was waiting for the the gas tank to fill. All regular checks and maintenance. They were just part of owning a car and making sure that I continued to enjoy and depend on it.
No big deal.
It never occurred to me to be upset about the maintenance that was required even if it wasn’t enjoyable or convenient.
I remember my wedding day even more fondly. I was full of hope and excitement for the future.
It didn’t take very long after the honeymoon to discover the need for relationship maintenance. My shiny new beginning was being tainted with faulty communication or conflict resolution. And I was becoming less thrilled by the necessary maintenance with each passing day. I even began to become resentful of my partner because he didn’t function perfectly when his love tank was empty or his stress light came on or his temperature gauge stopped working like it did when we were dating.
To be honest, I didn’t want the responsibility because, after all, “happily ever after” was just supposed to happen because we were in love.
Strong, healthy, happy relationships don’t just happen. They require regular maintenance.
Taking time to reflect on your relationship is an important part of growing as a couple. It’s important to get you thinking and talking about what is working or what is not working.
Every relationship has strengths. Identify them.
Every relationship has areas (weaknesses) that need improvement.
It’s important to give your relationship attention, maintenance and direction to keep running smoothly.
There are 9 Core Values for couples that require regular maintenance:
Roles and Responsibilities
Family and Friends (Social interaction)
Leisure Time (as couples and as individuals)
Partner Style and Habits
It’s a good idea for you and your partner to evaluate your level of satisfaction with each of the core values (Rate your level of satisfaction from 1-10). Identify which are your strongest, “on the same page” values and which need maintenance. (You might be surprised that you both recognize similar issues that need improvement.)
Then do some research. Ask for help from a Counselor, mediator, pastor or experienced couple. Make a plan. Do the work.
And just like standing back looking at a freshly painted room in your house, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and success because you’ve given your relationship the care that it needed.
Good things take time, it’s true. They also require regular maintenance.
So, check your love tank.
You’ll be glad you did.