When relationships are not going well

Most of the time, when you buy something that requires assembly, it comes with instructions.

If you are like me, you usually decide to install or assemble it yourself, but about halfway through, you wish you would have gone ahead and paid to have it done. Sound familiar? I still haven’t learned my lesson with instructions. I don’t always read them, but even when I do, I don’t always read them thoroughly. I do a quick overview. You might say I am a skimmer when it comes to reading the instructions.

A few weeks ago, I installed a new garage door opener. There were 14 steps in the installation guide. This time, I decided I would try to do every step in the proper order. This was a new experience for me. The installation was problem-free. I had it all done. I was so excited. Then I tried to raise the door, and it wouldn’t go all the way up.

My garage door was a little higher than usual. When that is the case, you must buy an extension for the track. I didn’t know that. Nobody told me. I never thought about it. I came to find out that little tidbit of information wasn’t in the instructions.

Upon closer examination, I did find it in the small print on the bottom of the box. The entire unit had to come down. The wires were too short now. I had holes where holes were no longer needed. It would have been so much easier to do it right the first time.

Assembling things can be a challenge. Fixing things is usually a greater challenge. And that includes relationships. Most people are pretty good at starting relationships. Most of us can maintain or continue relationships reasonably well.

But when a relationship breaks, that is where we get in trouble. We struggle to know how to handle it when things become awkward, distant or uncomfortable.

Even when we do try to fix or repair the relationship, we often attempt to do it the wrong way because of a lack of knowledge or understanding. We typically default to one of the go-to tactics when people don’t see things our way. We’ll attempt to convince, convict, coerce or control the other person. These seem to be the default tools we reach for when relationships are not going well.

If we are honest, we would have to admit these methods don’t work. Do you know anyone who likes to be convinced, convicted, coerced or controlled? I don’t. Still, we quickly move toward one of these four approaches whenever we are in a relationship that is facing turmoil. What if we try something different? We’ll go there next time.