During a client session this week, I listened to a couple discuss how an incident in their marriage made them realize just how fragile their relationship is. I hear couples identify the frailty of their connection countless times a day: “If only I would have known” or “Why did it have to take XYZ to realize…”
This common phenomenon highlights the importance of prevention because when we realize that our relationship might be fragile, we can see how to nurture it better.
Often times we get impatient. We are in a hurry or we think our relationship is “OK” and we leave it alone. But what happens when a destabilizing event comes along and shakes the relationship up? We find ourselves in the rubble, asking what happened, “I wish you would have told me,“ or “Why did it come to this?”
I moved a while back and during the hurry of the move, a special picture given to me by a dear friend broke. My not paying attention, thanks to my hectic schedule, led to my unawareness of what I was packing which led to my gift breaking. I hurriedly ran to the store to buy what I needed and started to fix it. The directions said to wait 24-48 hours; I waited 12 — impatiently willing 12 hours to be long enough for my picture to be fixed. Sure enough, as soon as I picked up the picture to hang, it broke again; this time in even more pieces. I then told myself to slow down, to follow the directions, and I realized I had to wait and be patient. Time is sometimes not our friend but if we want things to truly be fixed I had to wait. Sure enough, waiting this time 48 hours I went to the picture and it was all glued back together and it stuck this time. I went to go hang it and it looks beautiful. You can’t even tell it was broken in one section about 50 times.
When listening to the couple who shared how unaware they were of their relationship’s frailty, it made me think about my broken picture; it was important to me, but I didn’t handle it with care. Relationships are the same: they can break in a many different pieces and it’s up to us to slow things down in the relationship and start putting the pieces back to together. Often times we are in a hurry, because we are hurting and we don’t want to anymore, we feel uncomfortable and just want things to “go back to normal” or back to the way it used to be. The reality is, when crisis hits in the relationship, it never goes back to exactly the way it was. It can’t or you both go back to something that wasn’t working.
What we have to do is realize that we can have an even better relationship with more awareness of how fragile life and relationships are. And we have to be patient. We have to accept time as our friend and not our enemy. We have to embrace being uncomfortable for a little while — while we heal, grow and learn. Then we realize we have a different relationship in front of us and it’s beautiful. We also have the knowledge that this time around, it is up to us to handle our relationship with care. Just like my painting, we can look at the relationship every day and remember not how it broke, but more importantly how it was fixed and just how fragile it can be.
Slow down, enjoy small moments together, appreciate one another and handle each other with care, kindness and love.