My adolescent son, who loves all things mechanical and auto related, ran his car dry of oil. In his exuberance to live his life, he neglected routine maintenance and ended up with a very broken car. He had two options: scrap it or rebuild it. The rebuild process is slow, filled with delays, frustrations, late nights and greasy coveralls. Getting a different car seemed more appealing. Easier. Except at his price point, he would just be buying someone else’s problems. I urged him to do the work to resolve his issue, rather than find a quick fix. Months of excruciating research, mistakes and successes got the car running again. And then more months of tweaking, honing and gentle repairs to get it running well. He now values basic auto maintenance at a whole new level. And he built a skill set that he will use forever.
Healthy marriages take maintenance. In the blur of life, tiny thoughtful moments get sent to the back burner, because there are more pressing issues. And then one day, a couple looks up from their life to realize their relationship is broken. Really, really broken. And they have a choice: scrap it or rebuild it. Many couples opt for the first choice, believing it is easier to divorce than to rebuild. A quick fix. However, divorce doesn’t end the pain, it just changes it. Rebuilding a healthy marriage takes work. Painful truths. Changing patterns of behaviors. Choosing selflessness over selfishness. If a couple can work together on the repairs, they will experience the satisfaction of a deeper, more intimate relationship that will benefit them for the rest of the lives. Many couples make an appointment for marriage counseling hoping for a quick fix. An “expert” will either provide an easy solution or decree their relationship is indeed dead. A good counselor will do neither. When a marriage needs a rebuild, a counselor will act as a repair manual as the couple engages in the work. The couple has to set aside the time and energy to diagnose issues, replace broken parts that don’t help the marriage and install new habits that make things work. And then once the relationship is up and running, regular maintenance will still be required to keep things healthy.
The difference between a beloved classic and an old junker is the time and energy that is invested into the vehicle. A classic has been restored, taken care of and protected. It is a focused priority. And a classic has a higher value, both financially and intrinsically. When a couple takes the time to restore a marriage, the payoff will be a highly valued treasure.