If you've ever owned a car, you know it takes a lot of maintenance. You have to fill it up with gas, make sure the tires have enough air, change the oil, go to scheduled mileage appointments, and occasionally go to a car wash. For owners of vintage vehicles, even more maintenance is necessary to keep those cars in top shape. Brand new cars don't take too much work at first, but the older they get, the more work they need.
You should see where I'm going with this analogy. Maintaining a car is like maintaining a relationship. Newlyweds, engaged couples, or dating couples in brand new relationships don't have to do a lot of maintenance in the beginning. They are in the honeymoon period where everything is new and exciting. However, if those couples forget to maintain their relationships, they will break down much faster and take a lot more time, energy, and money to repair (just like a car). By going on regular date nights, communicating in healthy and respectful ways, using humor, learning how to manage conflict more effectively, and having a fulfilling sexual connection, couples are more likely to have successful relationships and thriving, happy lives together. The couples who forget (or don't even know) they need to maintain these things as the relationship grows start to experience a breakdown more quickly than the couples who continue regular maintenance.
Too often, couples come see me who didn't even know they needed to maintain their relationships from the beginning. They wonder why things are so bad between them and feel blindsided by being on the brink of separation or divorce. They aren't able to identify the warning signs and red flags from years of breakdown in the making. When I ask these couples when their last date was, how they speak to each other, and how their sex life is, I usually receive responses filled with hurt and pain. This is not to say these couples are doomed to divorce. They have just neglected the necessary maintenance needed over the years. At this point, they have a choice to start making repairs or consider it a total loss. It's up to them if they think their relationship is worth working on or not.
A great tool I share with every couple I work with is the "Couple Checkup". By going to www.couplecheckup.com, you and your partner can take a short, online assessment to examine each area of your relationship. You'll discover your strength and growth areas and get some insight into how to boost your relationship. I urge couples to use this tool as a maintenance reminder and do it regularly to see where they stand.
Relationships take regular maintenance, upkeep, and care to work properly. Just like a car, you have the choice to maintain your relationship or not. However, if you don't, don't be surprised when it falls apart on you.
If you find that your relationship is lacking maintenance, give me a call (720-381-2755) or send me an email (tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com) and I'll help you get back on track.