Recently our family’s lawn more started getting problematic— uses a lot of oil and is not the smooth running machine it once was. My husband (who is quite handy) consulted several (paid and unpaid) “experts” about what the problem is with the mower and how to fix it. Nearly everyone had a different opinion. Some people suggested different parts, while others advocated buying a new mower. So how does one choose what is the best course of action?
Although on a smaller scale, this example of mower problems is similar to the broader and more high stakes problems with partnerships or marriages when they are no longer the “new and shiny” relationship that we first “bought” in to.
Sometimes couples “fall out of love.” This is close to the desire to part with an object, such as my mower. This is often not an easy decision, but it facilitates cutting some ties and moving on. In turn, some people reach a place of indifference where leaving a relationship is the easiest option.
But what about relationship repair? Just like a decision to repair my family’s mower and hope that the repair brings that object back to what it once was, we can think of relationship repair as an opportunity for renewal. Relationship repair reflects active efforts to restore a relationship to what is once was. Common repair strategies include keeping positive about the relationship in discussions with a partner, offering assurances to a partner that the relationship is important, engaging in openness in what one reveals to a partner, sharing tasks as a couple, and making sure that a couples shares social networks and asserts their partnership to others in the network. All of these efforts, at times, may result in more conflict and frustration. But if partners maintain a commitment to “keeping the machine alive,” people often find that their relationships are strengthened, happier, and rejuvenated.
(By the way, we “tuned up” the mower and are committed to keeping it.)