Keeping Relationships Afloat - Sunday, August 17, 2014
A wise ship captain keeps his vessel in constant repair. He knows that a small leak today can grow into a sizeable hole tomorrow and sink the boat. He would never postpone even a small fix, because it could not only save a costly repair later but could also save the very lives of his passengers.
This seems logical and responsible when applied to leaky ships, but many of us don’t take similar immediate action when small cracks appear in our relationships. Too often it seems easier to ignore little problems, hoping they’ll just resolve themselves and go away. Yet our relationships are infinitely more important than boats, car engines, rooftops, or other things that get our attention the minute trouble arises.
Our connections with family members and friends can be the central satisfaction of our lives. These relationships deserve our finest efforts, even when it may be uncomfortable to sit down and iron out difficulties together. If we procrastinate this mending process, we learn, too late, that the old idiom is true: A stitch in time saves nine. In other words, a timely effort now can avert a crisis later.
One man asks his wife and children to have what he calls a “maintenance meeting” with him once a month. By asking about misunderstandings when they’re fresh, he finds he can smooth over hurt feelings before they grow into resentment. He can show he cares, apologize if necessary, and keep harmony in the family. His children now look forward to their monthly appointments with Dad. They know their voices will be heard, their opinions respected and valued. And they’ve learned, from their father’s example, to cherish relationships and to fix small problems before they become big ones.
We can take a similar approach in our homes, in the workplace, wherever we are. When we wonder if someone is hurt or upset, instead of shrugging it off, we can, with love and respect, invite them to talk about it. In this way, we can ward off potential disaster and, like the wise captain of an airtight ship, keep our relationships afloat.