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February 17, 2013 / Dale Melchin

How to Get the Guy or Girl Part 6: Maintenance and Damage Control

This is where we talk about the more day to day or tactical approaches to marriage and relationships.  I can’t guarantee this post will be fun, but it is a necessary conversation to have.

Maintenance
Regardless of the level of relationship you are in they require work and discipline.  To borrow from Dr. Covey, the disposition of a relationship may be measured in terms of accounts.  If the relationship account is high, trust is high, communication flows freely and things are generally good.  If the relationship account is low or overdrawn, parties tend to be mistrusting, combative and things are generally bad.

The way to keep the accounts on both sides high is to ensure you are saying and doing things with each other that are meaningful to each other.  This will require, deep, non-judgemental, but candid conversation.  The foundation is listening, hearing, and true empathy.

I will use my relationship as an example.  Two of my love languages are acts of service and physical touch.  If I come home from work and Erica has a hot dinner and a back rub ready for me, that means I’m going to be a very happy camper.

My wife’s primary love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation.  So that means if I give her a backrub and kind, affirming words… well things are gonna escalate quickly. ;-).

Now let me use some counter examples.  If I come home after a long day and my desk is a mess (after she’s used it), dinner isn’t ready, but she buys me a new pipe, I’m probably going to appreciate the present, but I’m going to be disappointed.  Its going to make a withdrawal.

Now if I come home from work with a gift, and then I turn around and tease her, and try to spend a bunch of time with her, its going to make a withdrawal as well.

So to drive the point home, this is why every kind of deposit into the account must be perceived by the other person as a deposit, not just by the giver.

As long as there are consistent deposits into the respective parties love accounts, things will be fine, if not great.  If there is a failure to listen, there will be problems.  This leads me to my next point.


Damage Control

Now I grant, in every relationship, there are going to be degrees of negative and positive.  As long as the positive outstrips the negative, things will be fine.  Just like in business as long as revenue exceeds cost and profit is present, things will be fine.

However, there are points in a relationship where cost may either meet or exceed revenue, while like in business this needs to be monitored in order to prevent problems, so it is in a relationship.

Doing damage control is similar to maintenance and at the same time, it is altogether different.

Damage control requires both parties to step back and breathe for a moment.  It may even involve getting a counselor involved to make sure both are staying objective.

My advice in a situation like this would be to first of all address the issues, make a commitment to change over time, and then start making deposits, quickly and immediately to pay off the withdrawal and get the love account back into the black.

Being too hasty can be a problem, but if the deposits are made consistently over time, the relationship will get back into good health in relatively short order.  Obviously more egregious offenses will take more time, but any obstacle can be overcome if there is good will.

Sometimes, just the commitment and consistent action is going to be enough to repair things.  But remember, if your relationship did get to this point, it is because you screwed up.  Both sides must own their problems and fix the issue.

Remember, that no situation is static and can be repaired as long as there is integrity, commitment and willingness and both sides.

Again, like getting into the marriage, while this is serious and solemn.  Make it light.  Laugh at your own mistakes (as long as they aren’t too egregious) and focus on the good things about each other.  It will make all kinds of things possible.

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