-- Good for Cars, Great for Marriages
by Pastor Brian Eastman
“Prevention is better than cure.”
My mechanic, Charlie Furlong, back when I first started taking my car to him, asked me the following questions: “So, how do you want me to take care of your car? Do you want me to look for possible problems so they can be fixed before they break? Or are you going to act like most car owners and come sobbing to me because now it's broke?”
Granted that Charlie comes across as a bit of a curmudgeon and cynic. He's earned that right after nearly 50 years in the car repair business and seeing all sorts of mistreated cars. He's also earned that right because he has been correct about my family's cars. They're all older than 15 years; two have more than 200,000 miles. In the nearly 18 years Charlie has been taking care of them, we've only experienced two breakdowns where we had to be towed -- and he could not have foreseen either one. Few emergency repairs either.
I wish more married couples used preventive maintenance on their marriages. So often a couple comes to me when they've already had a breakdown and they're towing the marriage behind them into the meeting. By then the damage is often a deep hole, and the couple will have a hard climb to get back to a happy relationship.
As a contrast, let me tell you about a couple I'll call John and Marsha. They weren't married then. But they are now, thanks to a bit of preventive maintenance.
John is a performing artist. Even though he is well-regarded both in Europe and the United States, he still makes a pittance of an income. He started dating Marsha. She is a very successful business woman and makes tens of thousands more a year. They were compatible and had a lot of fun together.
Then John got booked for a four-month tour in Europe. Off he went, with Marsha's blessings. But while he was in Europe, he began fixating about their relationship. His thoughts ran something like “I love this woman so much. But sooner or later she's going to get really tired of being with a guy who can never spend fancy money on her and she's going to dump me. That's going to hurt so bad. So when I get home, I probably ought to break up with her so it won't hurt either of us more later on.”
When John’s tour was over, Marsha picked him up at the airport. On the way home she told him she had made an appointment with a good counselor to help them re-connect after the long absence.
“Great,” thought John. “That'll be a good place to break up with her.”
At the counseling session, John explained his decision that they should break up, and why.
The counselor turned to Marsha. “What do you have to say?” he asked.
“Hell, I knew he'd never make much money when I started dating him,” she said. “But I love it when he does his art. Besides, I make more than enough money for both of us . . . ”
My wife and I took that example to heart when we married 18 years ago. Both of us were carrying plenty of scars from our childhoods and past relationships, so we recognized the need to catch problems before the little sprouts turned into big spiky weeds. For the first two years we visited a competent therapist once a month. The next two years we saw her quarterly. By the fifth year we were down to twice a year. By the tenth year we went only as-needed.
Sometimes while on the way to our appointment my wife would say to me -- or the other way around “You know, I'm not sure we have anything to talk about this time.”
We soon learned, that was when the weeds had grown the highest. The therapist could see it; we could not. But by the end of the session, that weed had been pulled . . . and our marriage was stronger than ever.
While it is often difficult to find a competent counselor, I do encourage every couple to find someone with whom to engage in relationship preventive maintenance. Even if your marriage seems perfect now, it's a good idea to see if you can make it even better.
But if you are finding your marriage relationship less-than-perfect, it is especially important to bring it in for some preventive maintenance and a tune-up . . . so you don't end up in a dead or wrecked marriage down the road.
Pastor Brian Eastman
Lead Pastor Revelation Spiritual Church
Speaking of preventive maintenance, when some couples want to get married, they discover their minister, priest, or rabbi won’t perform the wedding if the relationship is one of mixed religious beliefs. So, they come to us (Marriage Chaplain) looking for an officiant to perform their ceremony. Many of our officiants are happy to oblige, but the issue of religion often isn’t resolved. In the metaphor of Brian Eastman’s article, it’s an accident waiting to happen. Who decides what faith the children will be raised in? What if someone changes beliefs over the course of time and how does that affect the relationship?
A little preventive maintenance is in order.
Religious Recovery meetings provide an atmosphere to express those concerns. This becomes especially helpful when one partner feels the other is using their religious beliefs to manipulate, hurt (intentionally or unintentionally), or abuse the other.
The good news is, Religious Recovery meetings are free. Donations are accepted but not required. One-on-one sessions can be arranged but may require a fee depending on the individual. If you’re interested in a Religious Recovery meeting, check their web site at ReligiousRecovery.org. For individual preventive maintenance contact Pastor Brian Eastman. As Brian says:
“Any time you think that some one-on-one conversation might be useful in strengthening your marriage, contact me. We know many counselors and healers who provide great support to couples, and it is my pleasure to help you connect with someone who is a good fit to help you move forward in your loving and working relationship. Calling me usually gets a quicker response: 513 853 6180, but e-mail: Pastor@OurChaplain.com or text: 513 703 8196 will also work.”