Relationship maintenance

Do you maintain your home better than you maintain your relationships?

Relationships are like buildings. Both get old over time, and both need lots of care and regular maintenance to keep them in a good condition. Build a beautiful home, move in and then just leave it – don’t do any maintenance on it. At first everything will be fine. It will take years, but eventually cracks will appear and all sorts of other plumbing and electrical problems will emerge. Without regular maintenance, time will destroy that beautiful home.

Most homeowners understand the importance of regular maintenance. They understand that if you allow your home to fall into disrepair, you run the risk of not being able to get an appropriate value for it when you eventually wish to sell. For that reason, all responsible homeowners make sure that they attend to problems when they’re small. It’s easy to repair cracks when they’re small. It’s easy to repaint before the paintwork has deteriorated too far. It’s easy to maintain exterior woodwork before it gets too bad and rot literally sets in.

But what about our relationships? Sometimes we look after our homes more than we look after our relationships. All relationships experience the stress of modern living. Family members have busy programmes and don’t have time to sit together and interact at a close and personal level. Teens SMS their parents from their rooms telling them they’re not coming to supper. Colleagues and subordinates at work rub one another up the wrong way. Disagreements happen and are left unresolved for days, weeks and sometimes months. The cracks that appear are at first very small.  They’re hairline cracks and are hardly noticeable.

But if ignored, hairline cracks get bigger, and bigger, until eventually the plaster is falling apart and the brick work is exposed and the water has penetrated into the wall cavity and damp has set in. Buildings that get too bad can be condemned as unfit for human habitation. Some relationships get so bad that they should be declared unfit for human habitation.

If you fail to do regular maintenance work on your personal and professional relationships, you’re going to allow yourself and these relationships to age fast and prematurely. When this happens, you find yourself unable to relate to those around you because the cracks have just become too big to repair. You then lose your relevance, your influence and your purpose. No one is an island. None of us can truly achieve our purpose in life without others, much as we may like to think we can.

Repair Work

One of the ways to repair a relationship, whether at work or at home, is to apologise for something you may have done to upset or offend someone working or living close to you. People who are reluctant to apologise to others are usually insecure, self-righteous (always right in their own eyes), arrogant or insensitive. They really just can’t bring themselves to admit to themselves that they are wrong, let alone admit that to another person.

When we refuse to admit our faults to others, we isolate ourselves from them. That’s when the cracks appear. At first we don’t think it’s a problem because the crack is not very large and we’re quite happy to live with it. But cracks never sleep and relentlessly widen until, too late, we realise that things are beyond repair.

Another simple (but not easy) way to repair relationships is to forgive those who have offended or hurt you. Forgiveness does not set others free. They have to carry the consequences of what they have done, but when you forgive them, you set yourself free. Until you do so, they will have a power over you. When you genuinely forgive others, you walk free. So forgive others. You will slow down your ageing process by a number of years.

Take Action

Have you allowed your relationships at work and at home to age? Why not make a decision to start the repair work by rebuilding and repairing those relationships that are important to you first?

Enjoying vibrant, healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with those around you will take years off your life. Do you know what will be important to you on your death bed? It won’t be your mansion, your car, your company or your cash. It will be your relationships. That is what you will cherish.

Why wait until it’s too late to enjoy rich and warm relationships? Get your house in order and you will live a more youthful, effective and productive life at work, at home and in your community.

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