We all hate it when our vehicle breaks down. One minute we are driving, next, we are parked with the hood up standing there scratching our heads. Or, our furnace has been making weird noises, but instead of tending to it, we simply shut the door to block the noise. Preventative maintenance is what we should be doing, but instead, most simply keep trying to get one more day out of something.
The purpose of preventative maintenance is to look for problems before they occur. This is the whole reason companies who have fleet vehicles have mechanics who do routine maintenance. It’s the same reason we replace the shingles on our roofs; the same reason that we take our cars for tire rotations and oil changes and change drive belts. It’s not that these parts are completely done for, but rather, we are changing them in anticipation of a failure.
Related: Resources to help your marriage
The difference is, when we schedule it before it breaks, we can save money and we can avoid being stuck at the side of the road. Often, when something finally breaks, it usually breaks things attached to it too. When a rotating drive belt breaks, it comes flying apart with great velocity, and can break more delicate plastic parts around it. When your shingles wear out and allow water past, the wood structure starts rotting and your floor gets wet. However, this isn’t limited to just physical items, but also, our relationships.
Preventative maintenance in relationships
Our relationships with others need maintenance too. We have working parts that wear down over time and if they aren’t tended too often enough, they can experience a breakdown. This is true for our physical bodies, but also, for our emotional health too.
If you constantly neglect your spouse, breakdown is imminent. It’s just a matter of time before they have a blowout. This can result in them giving you a verbal beating, or it could result in them packing up and heading out the door. People, like mechanical equipment, can only take so much abuse before something breaks.
If we are wise, we plan ahead with anticipation, and we give attention to areas of potential failure. This is good, because if we let our relationship get to the point of breakdown, it usually causes carnage at the same time for anything attached to it.
For example, if a husband and wife fight day after day without tending to the root cause, it can often escalate to divorce. This is complete breakdown, or failure of a relationship. Suppose there are kids involved; they are the surrounding carnage of the failure. Now, instead of a whole, happy home, the couple is split, and the children must learn to deal with their new reality.
Preventative maintenance here would be a counsellor or a marriage course. Broken relationships can often be overcome with some preventative measures applied, which would not only be relatively simple, but the overall cost would be far less too. I highly recommend Mort Fortel, he has awesome resources both free and paid for improving your marriage (note, the link will open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place)
7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage, with Mort Fertel.
Applying preventative maintenance in a relationship
To avoid failure in any relationship, we need to be attentive to each other. We need to be aware of the overall condition of the relationship. Communication is necessary to accomplish this. You say, “I say hello to my wife and give her a kiss everyday when I get home from work”. That’s great, except then you are off to the television, and the next conversation or intimacy you have is the next day after work when you greet her with a “hello” and a kiss.
I don’t mean to be harsh here, but this is relatively common. We think all is well because nobody is fighting, and nothing is flying around the house, but deep down, the wife might be falling apart. She might not want to say something in hopes that it will one day work out. But when it doesn’t, eventually, she has a breakdown and leaves.
Instead, coming home and greeting your wife with a “hello” and a kiss, and then grabbing a seat beside her and giving her 20-30 minutes of your time each day would result in a completely different outcome. She, and yourself, would have that half-hour to talk about whatever is on your minds from the day. This simple communication can release tension, as well as, allow us to become aware of the condition of our partner.
Another method I recommend; marriage seminars and marriage counselling. When the going is good, educate yourselves. Go to a marriage retreat together and have fun while you learn some new techniques to apply at home. Having fun together is an important aspect in a healthy relationship. Find something you both find enjoyable and play, laugh, enjoy spending time together. This is a good way to be and stay irresistible to one another in your relationship. Oh, and marriage counselors don’t always have to repair; they help prevent failures too. They can often give great advice for building a healthy relationship, before things go bad.
Preventative maintenance with children
We have relationships with our kids too. I know, our teens have become adults in their minds and want nothing to do with us, right? While this might be true for some, there is still a relationship. Trying to understand what your child is going through is the first step to preventative maintenance with them.
Next, is showing them support. You might not like what they are doing but show them that you still care about who they are. This is very important for children of all ages. They won’t often tell us their true feelings until they finally have enough of whatever weighs them down, and they explode on the parent saying, “you don’t understand; you don’t care; you only care about yourself…”
The simple, consistent attempt to be there for them can show them that you do in fact care. They likely won’t want to become your best friend and offer you to come sit down and read their diary with them, but when there is a breakdown in their life, at school, in a relationship, they are likely to remember that you are there for them. I realize parenting is tough, and we don’t have a perfect world, or perfect conditions, but making ourselves available to them as often as possible makes the difference.
Even if your child doesn’t build a fortress around themselves, we can practice preventative maintenance by maintaining open communication with them. Be involved. Ask lots of questions, without prying. Get excited with them. We parents might not be cool anymore (wait, is the word cool even cool anymore?), but we can be available to listen and let our kids unwind, or vent, when necessary.
As we can see, preventative maintenance is necessary in all areas. We can apply it to our stuff, to our jobs (work harder, learn new material, etc.), and to our relationships. Preventative maintenance is often just a small time-commitment, not a large cost. If you have even a trace of imminent failure in your life, look for ways to start tending to it sooner than later. You will be happier enjoying good results from your effort, rather than reaping the consequences of chance.
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How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.