Maintaining Maintenance in Relationships


(This is a product of many, many days of work, re-work, editing, and more work.  Still not sure just how clear it is.  I think I’ve spent too much time on it.)

For things to work, things need maintenance.

Here’s some parallels that hopefully get this point across to my readers (what few I hope I have) as they have to individual people I’ve talked to over the years.

For you car/boat lovers:  Vehicles of all kinds need maintenance to run well.  That’s a no brainer.  And regular maintenance at that.  You don’t just buy it and expect it to work perfectly all the time without the maintenance and putting gas in it, and all that fun stuff.  It’s work, but it’s worth it to have something nice/have some fun!

For you health buffs:  The body needs maintenance, right?  Stretching, working out, eating right.  It’s work!  But it keeps you in the shape you want to be in, right?

I’m sure y’all are starting to get the point.  The things we like often need maintenance to do what we want them to do.

The house?  A good foundation.  A strong structure.  And maintenance needs to happen on a lot of parts that make up the house.  Occasional updates on core aspects like wiring, plumbing, windows.  And for looks, sometimes things need to be updated or sometimes overhauled.

The same goes for relationship, with or without kids.

The foundation starts with the couple.  A strong, solid, well-built foundation is required for everything else to be built off of.  Which means a good, strong partnership where both are sensitive to each other, but also willing to work hard at maintaining the strength.  Fixing the cracks.  But it has to be done as a partnership.  Both are responsible for the solidarity it takes.

The foundation is also where the child/ren will find their footing.  I’ve definitely learned this from the things I’ve seen over the years, and have come to light in memory now that I’ve had my first child.  All those things that you hear?  Most of them have some nugget of truth to them.  And as hard as it is sometimes to constantly put forward what can feel like the “perfect parent” facade around the kids…it actually is incredibly important.  Because they really do feed off of us, our energy, our moods.  Things tend to snowball.  Maintenance needs to be done on ourselves and how we do things from seemingly small, everyday things to the big things.

It’s not just about doing some primping as a woman (if you’re into that) to feel better.  It’s not just about getting a little time with the guys to feel better.  It’s about taking the time to consciously and actively pay attention to your feelings on a regular basis.  Consciously making the effort to communicate better with yourself and with those around you.  But the biggest thing is being honest with yourself.  If you can’t be honest with yourself, then you aren’t being fully honest with those around you.

It’s hard to be able to know and acknowledge things in your own head sometimes.  This much I do know.  Sometimes it’s just so second nature to just think you’ve let something roll off your back when it really hasn’t and it’s just getting put into that little invisible bucket.  And when things finally fill it up to the point where it just spills over seemingly out of nowhere…it’s hard to really sit back and not blow up.  This is something that I still battle with from time to time.  Though, I’m hoping that writing more often will help keep this from happening as much.

It’s hard to deal with the issue of stuffing things away when you don’t realize you’re doing it.  I’ve been trying to figure this one out for a long, long time.  And I hope that I do.  I can only guess at the kinds of things I can do to try to eventually stumble upon something that will work.  I’m hoping that remembering to blog more often does the trick.  Or at the very least will help me remember to face my emotions head on on a regular basis.

I know that this kind of thing isn’t the best method for everyone.  But sometimes just having a little notebook to scribble things into sometimes for no one else but you, can help.  You don’t need to be a wordsmith.  You don’t have to be writing it for anyone but yourself.  It doesn’t even have to contain full sentences.  It can simply be a scribble (literally), a few words that pop into your head, or jotting down an idea or thought.  Sometimes just seeing it down somewhere other than your brain can help us evaluate our own thoughts and feelings in a more effective way, which hopefully translates into our verbal communications with others.

Communication doesn’t have to be lengthy or wordy, either.  The more concise, the better it is ofttimes.  (Oooh, check out that word.  :D)  I just happen to like words.  They tend to come out more interestingly in my typing than my speaking, but they do pop up now and then in the spoken form for me.  Much to the amusement of my husband and friends.

Now, communication is ofttimes (there it is again!) emotionally charged.  Which is both good and not necessarily good.  We communicate constantly, both verbally and non-verbally pretty much every second of every day.  Communication isn’t limited to the times we sit down and talk pointedly with people for a purpose.  And if we just try to be more plain and more immediate about our needs, wants, and feelings…then the blowups and the serious sit downs don’t have to happen as often.

Part of communication is definitely the ability to listen.  To quiet your own inner voice at times, to REALLY listen and hear what the other person is saying, or trying to say.  It seems like such a simple thing, but often we have our own inner monologues going that actually do more harm than good when it comes to really internalizing the things someone else is saying to us.  Sometimes we think we’re great listeners.  Often, that is not the case.

Feelings are feelings.  (I may have said this before, here and elsewhere.)  Feelings aren’t controllable.  Reactions because of feelings can be relatively controlled.  However, when someone tells you how they feel, don’t invalidate their feelings by just telling them they’re misinterpreting you and leave it at that.  If they are misinterpreting you and you didn’t mean it that way, you need to re-evaluate the way you’re saying things.  It isn’t just on the person who is feeling something to take sole responsibility for how they are feeling.  Those feelings definitely stem from outside influence.  The point of someone talking about their feelings, whether it be good or bad, is to communicate something, and to get some communication in return.  The reciprocity of communication, if effective and forward moving, is good.  If the reciprocity doesn’t do anything but push things back, and in reverse, then there’s a major issue.

And when it comes to our own feelings, we can’t let our reactions to our feelings lead to taking them out negatively on people that had nothing to do with those feelings inherently.  It’s not fair.

Life is entirely too short to let our personal relationships devolve into a “tit for tat” kind of mentality.  We shouldn’t take out our frustrations and stress on those we love, regardless of whether or not their part of the source of that stress.  We should make the feelings known, then work TOGETHER to try to figure out how to change things in order to reduce stress.

We should help each other in any way we know how, and learn some new ways to help each other (you know, that whole…maintenance thing) in order to make life less stressful for yourself, your partner, your family.  The responsibility is shared.  It’s not completely delegated out and left to one person or the other all the time.  That is also not fair.  The love we have for each other isn’t just about the physical.  And the physical shouldn’t be treated as some kind of manipulative reward system.  (Bloody hell, I hate how this is constantly portrayed as ok in different media.)   Doing something nice should also not be some kind of bargaining tool.  Manipulation is not healthy for any relationship.

Being more self-aware of how we are really reacting to our feelings is so incredibly important.  And so incredibly hard.  But it’s worth the work.
It doesn’t have to look picture-perfect all the time.  Neither do our lives.  Or our homes.  LOL  But if the effort is put in, it should get recognized.  On a decently regular basis.  We all like to feel valued, appreciated.  And when we need help, we need to learn to ask before it becomes unbearable.  And when we do ask, we need to not feel like we’re some kind of burden for asking.  We all need to feel these things.  And when we feel like this, we need to realize that sometimes we make others feel like this.  If we don’t want to feel that way, we shouldn’t do things to make others feel that way.

Communication is vital.  I can’t honestly say it enough.  It will never be perfect.  It will never be at a place where you’ll never have to re-visit the methods of communication ever again.  It is a forever project.  It will need to be adjusted and updated.  But working on better communication every single day, will make for a much better connection, and a much better life.  And when you find the change in your relationship because of it, you will probably find that it seeps out into your everyday life as well, making that better.

I really do hope that my thoughts on this aren’t as muddled and haphazard and wandering as I think they are.  I hope that this will remain my personal reminder, and perhaps reach a couple people somewhere.

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Mary

Wife, student, new first time mother. Crafter and creator. Animal enthusiast. I had a miscarriage in March 2011. But we tried again. March, 2012 was the birth of my first child. Off and on I have been dabbling with small business, trying to get it off the ground since, every so often changing direction.

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